By Ali G. Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – Amid the city leadership’s continuing dissent against services and assistance coming from the Bangsamoro autonomous governance, the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government (MILG) has tapped workers of the Red Cross and the Commission on Audit (COA) to deliver relief goods for fire-affected village residents here.
“Sa pangunguna ng Philippine Red Cross (PRC)-Cotabato City/Maguindanao Chapter, kasama ang representatives ng COA-BARMM, naiabot ang tulong ng Bangsamoro Rapid Emergency Action on Disaster Incidence (READi)…sa mga residenteng nasunugan noong Lunes, March 28 sa Poblacion 4 ng Cotabato City,” READi worker Jennifer Tan Sia said.
The PRC and COA- assisted relief goods dispersal was successfully conducted on Wednesday morning, March 30, with the READi workers providing all 35 fire-affected residents at Barangay Poblacion 4 with packages containing10 kilos of rice, canned sardines, coffee sachets and jerrycan alongside sleeping mats, Sia said.
Relief workers conveyed to the MILG, which administers the READi unit, the pleas of the fire victims for further help in their desire to rebuild their houses gutted down by the March 28 fire.
MILG Minister Naguib Sinarimbo reportedly expressed instant approval of the pleas, saying though that the mode of helping the residents rebuild their houses has to be planned well due to the policy of the city hall against any of its 37 constituent-barangays receiving services or assistance from the Bangsamoro government.
The city hall’s resenting stance has reportedly begun after City Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi had lodged a petition in the Supreme Court questioning events involved in the conduct of the plebiscite in 2019 that ratified the Charter of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and included this city in the new region’s territory.
In 2020, Interior and Local Government Sec. Eduardo Año officially turned over to the MILG-BARMM his supervision authority over the city government and other LGUs that joined the new autonomy. But city officials have not given the turnover rite any credence, invoking reportedly the pendency of the mayor’s petition before the High Tribunal.
Last March 25, BARMM top officials constituting the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP) held a proclamation rally at Barangay Kalanganan here, and took turns in deploring the city leadership’s opposition stance, which they called “harang system.”
BARMM Senior Minister Abdulraof Macacua alongside Ministers Sinarimbo and Mohagher Iqbal (of education) said the regional government has since 2020 allocated P570-million annual fund for regular services and projects for this city at an average of P10-million per barangay.
The dissenting stance of the city hall has prompted the accumulation of the annual allocation to as much as P1.6-billion for the years 2020, 20211 and 2022, Macacua said as he lamented the deprivation of city resident’s share from the fruits of regional autonomy resulting from city officials’ disobedience.
Sinarimbo cited the case of Barangay Chairman Nelson Morales, who once asked for BARMM relief assistance for constituents in the early advent of COVID-19 and imposition of city-wide lockdown.
“We provided truck loads of relief goods on Kapitan Morales request…but the problem is he was accosted by police elements and compelled him to return the goods to us purportedly on order of the lady Mayor,” Sinarimbo said in the vernacular.
Late last year, officials of the BARMM’s Ministry of Health confessed to reporters their difficulty in providing health and medical services in this city because they feared for their physical security from city hall officials and followers running after regional workers serving the city.
At the March 25 rally, BARMM Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim underscored the need to end the flimsy city hall practice, asking city voters to vote for UBJP candidates for a better change.
Ebrahim serves as president UBJP, which has fielded as full city slate led mayoralty candidate Mohammad-Ali Butch Matabalao, a veteran city councilor and part-time journalist. (AGM)