COA starts audit of ARMM

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 17 2010 10:56 PM | Updated as of Dec 18 2010 06:56 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Audit has started a widespread audit of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to find out how government funds are being spent.

President Benigno Aquino III said the audit is important to determine why the ARMM remains one of the poorest regions in the country despite receiving billions of pesos in allocations. Local officials found guilty of stealing government funds will be sanctioned, he added.

Aquino said the ARMM audit is part of his plan to wipe out graft and corruption in government.

Originally created on August 1, 1989 through Republic Act No. 6734, the ARMM is composed of all the Philippines' predominantly Muslim provinces namely: Basilan (except Isabela City), Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, and the Islamic City of Marawi.

The President announced the ARMM audit during the launch of the coffee table book "The Inaugural" at the Ninoy Aquino stadium. The book published by Maria Montelibano features photos and essays on the death of Aquino's mother, Cory Aquino, Aquino's whirlwind presidential campaign, his electoral victory and first few months in office.

During the book launch, Aquino expressed hope that peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front will finally succeed and allow government to focus on other problems in Mindanao such as lack of infrastructure and energy supply.

The President said the Department of Health is also studying how to use cell phones and the Internet to allow poor people in the provinces to tap medical specialists without having to go to Manila. He said the administration is also focused on building more health centers and expanding the Botika sa Barangay program. Report by Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News