Cotabato City—The city’s turnover on Tuesday may just have been overemphasized, observers said and was much misunderstood to mean the entire local government powers and administrative machinery were placed under the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
But sources privy to details, said the document signed by Secretary Eduardo Año of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and his Bangsamoro counterpart Atty. Naguib Sinarimbo covers the turnover of resources, assets, equipment, and fixtures of the DILG Region 12 field office to BARMM’s Ministry of the Interior and Local Government (MILG).
Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Hadji Murad Ebrahim welcomed the turnover, saying: “We are committed to upscaling services that can further boost the potential of Cotabato City, unique with its own context and in support to its existing resources.”
Sinarimbo had earlier said one possibility was that the DILG 12 would be taking in along the personnel of Cotabato City Local Government Operations Office (CLGOO), and that the BARMM-MILG would bring in its human resources to run that office.
Later, Año said under the guidelines of the Intergovernmental Relations Body (IGR) Body, the transfer of supervision to MILG-BARMM also covers resources of the city’s DILG –CLGOO personnel plantilla.
“That (CLGOO) has a plantilla that is now under the control of the MLG-BARMM,” Año told reporters in a press briefing following the turnover ceremonies at the Old Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Center in the city.
Done in two hours, including a press briefing, the turnover proved to be peaceful despite fears raised on purported threats of bomb attacks in SMS messages from anonymous texters.
In an official statement, City Mayor Atty. Frances Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi said nothing much really will substantially change the city’s administrative setup and operations, as a chartered independent-city, and not on its internal revenue resources provided under Republic Act 7160, the Local Government Code of 1991.
Trying to “bridge” the gap even in one’s own spirituality, businessman Narciso Yu Ekey said may the leaders be instrument in translating fruitful plans into reality, according to God’s Will.
Yu-Ekey, fondly called “Ongpin”, is a member of the Bangsamoro Transitional Parliament, and his father Moya Ekey is a close kin of the city mayor’s maternal family. Ekey said we implore upon God “to help us realize the Message that (He’s) trying to Tell us through these events.”
“Cotabato City is now officially a part of the BARMM,” Año said during the press briefing, but was quick to add that the city “remains a part of the national government,” citing that it “stood tall to challenges of our time.”
National Citations, Awards
Año has underscored fact that Cotabato City has been cited by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) as the Most Business-Friendly City in 2019. Also, in November last year, the city won Presidential Award for the Child-Friendly City.
Transfer of entities covered by Republic Act 11054, the Bangsamoro Organic Law, has been considerably slow for BARMM, as each individual case must be bilaterally reviewed and approved by officials designated as members of IGR bodies.
Still debatable, preferably in a civil atmosphere, is whether supervision of offices devolved to LGUs under the Local Government Code (RA 7160) could still be transferred to BARMM’s corresponding agencies. Such already devolved offices are health, social services, and health.
Many observers, however, said BARMM is up for complementation of efforts on welfare programs, projects, and activities on social services and even on infrastructure development.
A separate IGR body has been ostensibly working on public works concerns, from both the national government’s Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the BARMM’s Ministry of Public Works (MPW).
It can be recalled that House Deputy Speaker Mujiv Hataman and several Muslim congressmen, had opposed the transfer to BARMM of the supervision of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), since the BOL “only provided” BARMM with powers over public works and not on highways, which remained under the jurisdiction of the national government.”
But pending resolution of that issue, Sinarimbo, as overall spokesperson for BARMM, said Cotabato City can benefit from the region’s infrastructure development programs for city roads improvement projects and rehabilitation.
The city’s DPWH Engineering District, now under Engineer Lugaya Abas-Ampatuan, was created in the time of the late Maguindanao Representative Simeon A. Datumanong as Secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways in 2001.