By Ali G. Macabalang
KIDAPAWAN CITY – Cotabato City Mayor Mohammad-Ali “Bruce” Matabalao has enjoined his constituent-village officials to accept projects and services from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) government, even as he lamented vestiges of “harang system” in his domain.
Matabalao issued on Monday, July 18 a memo order enjoining chairpersons and members of the city’s sangguniang barangays to “cooperate and assist in the implementation” of all BARMM projects in their villages, pointing out that such regional interventions “are essential to the promotion of the general welfare.”
In his memorandum, he declared his administration’s policy of accepting all BARMM projects and programs to boost the city’s development strides.
On Friday, July 15, the mayor broadcasted live via social media on Friday to deplore Barangay 13 Chairman Umboy Ala for allegedly opposing the installation of street lights in his village long programmed by the BARMM’s Ministry of Public Works (MPW).
He made the broadcast in the presence of MPW-contracted workers, who took turns in narrating how Ala confronted them that day with an alleged threat to uproot the strait light posts if installed.
He said he promptly met Chairman Ala, but the latter stood firm in rejecting the project implementation due to alleged lack of prior coordination with his office.
The mayor downplayed Ala’s alibi, saying the city hall and the MWP have long publicized an impending execution of P800-million worth of projects in the city including the installation of solar street lights in the city.
Matabalao said he was considering filing appropriation actions against Ala, adding that the latter was also allegedly remiss in proper waste garbage collection in his own village.
In earlier narratives, BARMM Senior Minister Abdulraof Macacua and Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo said the Bangasamoro government had allocated P800-million annual infra projects in 2021 and 2022 for Cotabato City.
But the funds were frozen because the administration of City Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi rejected all services and development interventions of the BARMM government in the city.
Running under the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP) of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and BARMM key officials, Matabalao defeated Guiani-Sayadi in the recent mayoral election.
Sayadi-Guiani has a pending protest questioning the processes in the conduct of the 2019 plebiscite where resident-voters opted for the inclusion of Cotabato City in the BARMM territory.
The Philippine Muslim Today news tried but failed to get words from village Chairman Ala. (AGM)