COTABATO CITY, Philippines - The planning board of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) on Thursday endorsed the Inclusive Agricultural Competitiveness (IPAC) Project of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and sought its massive implementation in ARMM cities and provinces.
Members of the ARMM’s Regional Economic and Development Planning Board (REDPB) are convinced the IPAC is essential in fostering economic stability in the autonomous region.
The content of the resolution was discussed and approved by the board during a meeting Thursday.
The IPAC is a national project of the agrarian department.
Regional planning chief Engineer Baintan Adil-Ampatuan and the ARMM’s chief executive, Gov. Mujiv Hataman, were both signatories to the resolution.
Ampatuan, a career service director of the Regional Planning and Development Board, said the Hataman administration recognizes the need to empower the peasant communities in the autonomous region, which is agriculture-based and whose residents rely mainly on farming and fishing as main sources of income.
The REDPB, by implication of its resolution, adopted the IPAC as another “vehicle” for the ARMM’s economic growth.
The board is comprised of regional secretaries of agencies the national government devolved to the ARMM based on the region’s charter, Republic Act 9054, and chiefs of support entities operating under Hataman’s ministerial control.
The RPDO is the region’s key planning outfit that formulates implementable socio-economic initiatives needed to improve productivity of farmers and the fishery sector, promote peace and security in the ARMM provinces and hasten the delivery of education, social welfare and public works services to the local communities.
The ARMM covers Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, which are both in mainland Mindanao, and the islands of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
Among the agenda of Thursday’s REDPB meeting, jointly presided over by Ampatuan and ARMM’s executive secretary, lawyer Laisa Alamia, were the status of ongoing infrastructure projects being implemented by Hataman and his regional public works secretary, Engineer Don Mustapha Loong.
Loong said the projects are being implemented religiously and that records for each project, including budget details and programs of work, are open to scrutiny by media and interested civil society organizations.
Also present in the meeting was ARMM’s agrarian reform secretary, Amihilda Sangcopan.
Sangcopan said the ARMM government is now focused on empowering the region’s peasant communities in relation to the ongoing implementation of infrastructure projects by the region’s Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
The DAR-ARMM held last Tuesday in Cotabato City an agrarian reform congress which leaders of farming communities from across the region attended.
The congress brought together more than 400 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) from the ARMM’s five provinces.
“Ang highlight ng event ay ang pagpapalabas ng success stories ng ARBs sa ARMM,” Sangcopan said.
One of the successful ARBs recognized during the congress, held at the Shariff Kabunsuan Complex in the ARMM’s 32-hectare compound in Cotabato City, was farmer Benjamin Querido Jr. from Wao, Lanao del Sur.
Querido earns almost P600,000 annually from his corn and sugarcane farms on a land awarded to him by the government on May 3, 1993 as a qualified ARB.
He now owns a farm tractor and other farm equipment he managed to buy out of his earnings.
The region presently has a total of 68,087 ARBs based on records of DAR-ARMM.