COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) officer-in-charge Gov. Mujiv Hataman yesterday foiled an attempt by former regional education officials to withdraw P77.5 million in unspent funds.
Hataman told reporters that the amount was labeled as “differentials” for the 2011 maintenance and other operating expenditures (MOOE) in the records of the Department of Education of the ARMM (DepEd-ARMM).
The P77.5 million was to be distributed to the different division offices in the ARMM provinces, Hataman said.
The attempt to release the funds was made despite Hataman’s order for the suspension of any disbursements, except for salaries of personnel and payment of statutory obligations, pending evaluation by representatives of the Commission on Audit and the cashiers in each of the offices and devolved agencies under the ARMM governor’s office.
“Surprisingly, the P77.5 million was not disbursed from January this year up to the day I assumed office if it was indeed ‘MOOE differential’ intended for the year 2011,” Hataman said.
Hataman said he thought of returning the amount to the national government, but was advised by the central office of the Department of Budget and Management to keep it instead in the governor’s bank account and use it for the construction or rehabilitation of school buildings and feeding programs for school children in impoverished communities.
Hataman said he wanted to have all the statutory obligations of the DepEd-ARMM settled immediately, but its cashier’s office surprisingly “ran out” of checks after he took over the regional government last week.
Hataman issued last week a memorandum to all heads of offices in the autonomous region to conduct an immediate inventory of all funds in their official bank accounts and the manpower complement in each of their agencies and support offices.
Lawyer Anwar Malang, Hataman’s newly appointed executive secretary, said they are still in the process of determining the administrative and fiscal issues besetting each of the line agencies and support offices under the governor’s office before they can introduce reforms in the regional bureaucracy.
Malang and Hataman have been presiding over dialogues with personnel in the different ARMM offices since last week. - By John Unson (