By Ali G. Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – Officials of the Moro Islamic Liberation front- (MILF-) Bangsamoro Autonomous governance has enumerated some of several unprecedented current and completed projects in component five provinces, three cities and 63-village special geographical area (SGA) in apparent rebuttal of political quarters’ accusations.
The new regional government has 15 ministries and some line offices operating with two main tasks: To enhance the life of almost five million constituents; and flesh out the mandates of R.A. 11054 in building parliamentary entity and transforming the MILF’s 40,000 combat members into peaceful and productive civilian life.
For one, the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government (MILG) has been capacitating LGUs via training and hiring of local government operations officers, erecting municipal buildings, police stations, and barangay halls in continuing strides unprecedented in the evolution of autonomy in Mindanao, officials said.
“Currently, 11 municipal buildings, 4 police stations, 64 barangay halls are being built. Additional 56 barangay halls, 5 public markets, and 3 MILG provincial office buildings have been bid out,” Minister Naguib Sinarimbo said Tuesday.
More municipal buildings, public markets, police stations, tourism centers, water systems, and barangay halls will be implemented soon, Sinarimbo said, even as he posted some photos of the almost completed buildings.
About two months ago, the MILG awarded five fire trucks, some ambulance units and police patrol cars to constituent LGUs, some which have elected officials who had openly opposed the BARMM transition extension, officials said.
In a separate post, Sinarimbo refuted claims by Cotabato City barangay chairpersons presented in a video by Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi to say they have not asked or received relied foods and aids from the regional government.
He posted photos showing some of the village chairpersons personally receiving bulks of food assistance, saying the barangays officials’ recorded remarks were understandable because these could have been dictated upon them.
Sinarimbo said any official has the right to refuse assistance from the regional government, but it is not proper for him or her to block the humanitarian aid to city residents amid the health crisis.
Apart from the MILG, the Ministry of Health has also provided assistance in forms of millions of cash allocations to the Cotabato Regional Medical Center and hundreds of oxygen-filled tanks, regional officials said.
The Ministry of Public Works has also allocated P370-million for infra projects in this city. But because the city hall kept resenting regional support, MPW Minister Eduard Guerra had opted to “go direct” to villages to implement the funded projects, including the lighting of the road towards the panoramic Bolkiah Mosque, Sinarimbo said.
He said the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) government has downloaded P33-M cash to city hall. But Mayor Sayadi said the fund did not come from BARMM coffer but from the national revenue, from which the city is entitled to a periodic share.
Mayor Sayadi had produced video clips, through which she accused the BARMM government of instigating disunity among political families in this city and in Maguindanao.
She insisted that the BARMM has “no administrative authority” over the city, which became a part of the autonomy area via the 2019 plebiscite. She has a standing petition in the Supreme Court questioning the plebiscite result and has openly opposed the just-approved extension of BARMM transition.
But Sinarimbo disputed the claim, citing the official turnover by DILG Secretary Eduardo Año to the MILG of the DILG field office in this city.
He said the mayor opposed the inclusion of her turf in BARMM, the regional transition extension, and the transfer of administrative supervision over the city. In all stages, he lady mayor failed, Sinarimbo said.
No political coercion, use of state funds
The city mayor’s criticisms had been echoed on occasions by Maguindanao Governor Matriam Sangki-Mangudadatu to accuse the BARMM, MILF and the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP) of undue meddling in local politics.
Gov. Sangki-Mangudadatu charged that BARMM funds would be channelled to the UBJP’s campaign for its standard bearer, Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu.
BARMM Senior Minister and UBJP Secretary General Abdulraof “Sammy Gambar” Macacua belied the allegations, saying the regional government has committed “no single centavo” from its coffer to the Rep. Mangudadatu, who is bidding to gain back the gubernatorial post he had held for nine years (2010-2019).
“We will not spend a single centavo for our candidate (Rep. Mangudadatu) because he has a lot of money,” Macacua said, adding that the lady governor should not question the UBJP participation in the 2022 because she avidly sought his help when she ran for governor in 2019.
BARMM Chief Minister Ahid “Hadji Murad Murad” Ebrahim, concurrent MILF and UBJP chairman, told the Philippine Muslim Today news that they fielded candidates in Maguindanao because the lady governor and her husband-Gov. Suharto “Teng” Mangudadatu did not agree to a covenant of support to the transition extension call.
Nevertheless, Ebrahim assured that the UBJP and its candidates would not use coercive means of participation in the 2022 elections.
“The (voting) people should be given free space to select their our leaders,” Ebrahim said in Maguindanao, noting the need for close cooperation between and among the BARMM government and would-be elected officials in provinces and cities within the autonomous region.
The UBJP has also field its full slated in Cotabato City led by resigned City Councilman Bruce Matabalao. (AGM)