By Noralyn A. Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – Lawyer Benjamin “Benhur” de Castro-Abalos Jr., the Interior and Local Government secretary of the Marcos administration, is “delighted” about related government strides in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
This, according to BARMM’s Minister of Interior and Local Government Naguib Sinarimbo, who had a dinner-meeting with Secretary Abalos alongside the latter’s team in Metro Manila on Tuesday, July 12.
“We met with DILG Secretary Benhur Abalos and his team including Atty. Alfred Bayan and briefed him on the work of its counterpart institution in the BARMM, the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government (MILG), Sinarimbo said in a social media post.
Sinarimbo, also a lawyer, said he discussed with his national counterpart “wide-ranging issues including devolution and the Mandanas ruling as well as developments in the BARMM and key strategies for optimizing performance of LGUs.”
Sec. Abalos “was delighted to learn of our complementation on several areas such as provision of municipal police stations, police cars and our support to other DILG-linked institutions such as the BFP (Bureau of Fire Protection),” Sinarimbo said.
In return, he said, Abalos “committed to continue to support us including our LGOO (local government operations officers) induction training, NEO training, and other areas of mutual interest.”
“We also agreed to immediately address in partnership with us the issue of policing in the 63 barangays from North Cotabato that joined the BARMM,” he added.
Sinarimbo expressed gratitude to Sec. Abalos “for taking time to meet us despite his very busy schedule,” citing as well the DILG chief’s “demonstrated deep sense of respect and cultural sensitivity by ensuring that we meet in a place that serves Halal food.”
Abalos brief profile
Abalos, born on July 19, 1962, is the son of former Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr. Before his designation as DILG secretary, he served as chairman of the Metro Manila Development Authority (2021 to 2022) under the Duterte administration.
Abalos previously served as the city mayor of Mandaluyong for five terms, as congressman and as councilor of the same city.
He obtained his A.B. degree in history and political science at De La Salle University in 1982. He completed Bachelor of Laws degree at Ateneo de Manila degree in 1987, and was admitted to the bar in the same year.
Sinarimbo’s latest official representation to Abalos and other higher authorities has ostensibly dispelled a rumor that he had resigned as BARMM minister and opted to get designated as administrator of the Cotabato City hall.
The rumor reached the Philippine Muslim Today news from a source apparently allied with politicians opposed to the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP), a political bloc of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and top incumbent BARMM officials. (NAM)