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WHO anxious over ARMM’s imminent political turn-over


World Health Organization (WHO) officials in the Philippines are worried over possible ill-effects that undue political squabbles may cause on the continuity of sound health services in the 21-year-old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), a regional health official disclosed.

Ali G. Macabalang of the Bureau of Public Information-ARMM disclosed that WHO officials led by Country Representative Dr. Soe Nyunt-u have “expressed worry” over imminent disruption of health services in the region arising from frequent change of guards in ARMM leadership, Dr. Kadil “Jojo” Sinolinding Jr. said at the ARMM Cabinet meeting in Metro Manila Friday.

Sinolinding, a recipient of foreign and national citations including the 2010 Haydee Yorac Awards, said that on the eve of the Friday ARMM Cabinet meeting, he attended a meeting in Metro Manila with Nyunt-u and other WHO officials, during which the current debate on the planned deferment of the Aug. 8, 2011 elections was tackled in the sidelight.

A twist in the debate happened when Pangalian Balindong (2nd District, Lanao del Sur) withdrew on Wednesday his House Bill (HB) 3542 earlier seeking deferment of the ARMM elections for the eight time and pushing for the retention of sitting officials on holdover capacity, saying his effort would be futile in the “mounting supports” for HB 4146 also seeking the deferment but calling for Presidential appointment of officers-in-charge (OICs) instead.

Sinolinding admitted that replacing sitting ARMM officials led by acting Gov. Ansaruddin A. Adiong would also mean changes in the regional bureaucracy including the regional health structure that the WHO has acknowledged for enhancing health services delivery since 2010.

“We are comfortable with the present (ARMM) setup in its enhanced health programs and projects,” Sinolinding quoted Dr. Nyunt-u as saying at the Thursday meeting.

Sinolinding, upon his appointment as regional health secretary by Adiong a year ago, has attracted unprecedented national and foreign supports in the massive deployment of nurses and midwives in the ARMM rural communities alongside intensified interventions against malnutrition and mortalities.

WHO is the latest of foreign and national institutions, which have rated “satisfactory” the performance of the present ARMM leadership.

Earlier, the World Bank (WB), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) had given a “satisfactory” rating for the Adiong administration.

Meanwhile, ARMM Executive Secretary Naguib Sinarimbo urged the rank and file personnel of the regional bureaucracy to “continue doing our respective jobs” as enjoined by Adiong amid varied moves concerning the regional polls, which Malacañang wants Congress to synchronize with the 2013 national and local elections.

“Let us not be affected by issues and intrigues and, instead, continue to pursue our mandated duties until September 30,” Sinarimbo said at the recent Tapatan sa ARMM media forum in Cotabato.

He assured the public that “you could expect us to be just doing exactly what we are supposed to do nothing less and nothing more,” though expressing hope that President Aquino and his allies in both chambers of Congress would be “rational” in their moves concerning Muslim Mindanao autonomy. (AGMacabalang/PIA9-BST/rvc)

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