COTABATO CITY - Officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the provincial government of Lanao del Sur are mapping out an anti-poverty strategy that would effectively bring down the province - within two years - from the top of the list of poorest provinces in the country.
First quarter 2015 data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, the latest available, showed Lanao del Sur was the poorest province in the Philippines with 74.3% poverty incidence.
During a special ARMM cabinet meeting and executive consultation on February 22, involving top officials of the regional and provincial governments, Lanao del Sur line agency heads presented the status of ongoing projects as well as accomplishments for fiscal year 2016.
Presided by the Regional Vice Governor Haroun Alrashid Lucman Jr., the consultation also discussed areas where they could improve and have better focus on in the coming months. This is the first in a series of provincial consultations this year covering the five ARMM provinces.
Lanao del Sur Vice Governor Mamintal Adiong, Anak Mindanao Representative Atty. Makmod Mending Jr., and the province’s local chief executives were also present during the special cabinet meeting and executive consultation. ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman, who was present in the consultation meeting, encouraged Lanao del Sur’s Department of Agriculture to work on expanding the province’s agriculture coverage and on making the province rice sufficient by 2019.
Gov. Hataman also urged officials of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to expedite the bidding process on partner conduit to speed up the payout process of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. The two districts of Lanao del Sur with combined 92,191 program beneficiaries have not received the amounts due them since last year.
Provincial social welfare officers of Lanao del Sur's two districts explained this was because of the absence of a partner conduit that will serve the beneficiaries. DSWD-ARMM Assistant Secretary Pombaen Karon Kader said no bidder participated in last year’s call for a partner conduit, which was the reason why the agency’s central office has not downloaded the program’s funds for the province.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health-ARMM, through the Integrated Provincial Health Office, reported improvements in health statistics for Lanao del Sur citing the period 2009 to 2016. These are as follows: maternal mortality rate dropped from 81 in 2009 to only five in 2016; infant mortality rate was also down from four to 1.46; malnutrition among children dropped from 15.20% to 5.65%; tuberculosis cure rate increased to 83%; and immunization for children was up to 86.84%, the highest in the region.
Regional Health Secretary Kadil Sinolinding said these improvements in the health sector are credited to improved facilities development and increased deployment of health professionals in all the provinces of the region.
The Humanitarian Development Action Plan (HDAP) was also discussed during the consultation as a special program that will cover the province’s conflict-affected town of Butig. ARMM-HDAP is a program of the regional government under the Hataman administration that implements various government initiatives.
These include relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction of both “horizontal” – in reference to school buildings, houses, and health centers – and “vertical” infrastructures – or roads and bridges. It also covers livelihood projects that will promote peace and order and help improve the economic situation in calamity-affected communities, specifically in 15 Maguindanao towns. (Bureau of Public Information)