Thursday, September 13, 2012

ARMM removes 'ghost' employees, saves P208 million

MANILA, Philippines - Congressmen learned yesterday that the new leadership in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is attaining some success in eliminating its “ghost” employees. ARMM officer-in-charge Mujiv Hataman told his former colleagues at the House of Representatives that since his appointment by President Aquino in December, withholding funds for personnel found to be non-existent saved some P208 million in payroll money. “In our own education department, we have saved P141 million, which otherwise would have been paid to ghost teachers, while in the public works department, we have generated P47 million in savings,” he said. He said he continues to tell ARMM officers to remove non-existent employees from their payroll. “Pursuant to the President’s daang matuwid (straight path) policy, we are determined to implement reforms to achieve peace and development, which eluded us for decades,” he said. The House, upon the motion of Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, approved ARMM’s P13.9-billion budget for next year. Of the region’s outlay, P8.3 billion will go to education. In the past, Hataman said corrupt officials pocketed payroll money for non-existent teachers and other employees. Education personnel compose the bulk of the autonomous region’s workforce. Hataman and other ARMM officials defended their 2013 budget before the Senate finance committee chaired by Sen. Franklin Drilon last Monday. After the hearing, Drilon said he was satisfied that the new leadership of the region was doing well in its campaign against graft and corruption. “We have confidence in the leadership of Hataman. The OIC governor is our new ghost buster. We are pleased that under the leadership of Governor Hataman, these ghosts are starting to vanish and the corruption is being firmly addressed,” he said. Drilon said his committee and the Blue Ribbon Committee chaired by Sen. Teofisto Guingona III would look into fund irregularities committed by the previous ARMM leadership. The Commission on Audit has reported to the House that among its 2011 findings in the Muslim region was the use of P1.8 billion in cash advances for transactions that were “either denied by suppliers or the suppliers were of questionable existence.” There were also payments amounting to P1.1 billion to 112 public works contractors, who did not submit supporting documents or whose documents “may be considered spurious.” - By Jess Diaz