By Ali G. Macabalang
Despite odds ranging from natural and man-made challenges to limited budgets, three government entities continue to render regular and extra-curricular thrusts in even more enhanced fashions and earn public plaudits in the advent of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The one-year old Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) government as well as the new regimes of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) and the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), both operating without capital outlays, have exemplified successes in their respective operations unexpected in the social-movement constraining COVID-19 pandemic.
From July this year up to press time on Thursday, hundreds if not thousands of people and groups have posted on Facebook pages messages in commendation of the BARMM, NCMF and MinDA leaderships and workforces for their trailblazing services.
They were highly impressed of the ways BARMM Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad “ Ebrahim, Environment Minister Abdulraof Macacua and Education Minister Mohagher Icbal have exemplified “fast transformation” to bureaucratic life from decades of rebellion stance in the once outlawed Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Ebrahim, Icbal and Macacua, concurrently MILF chair, vice chair, and front armed wing chief, respectively, “are so far faring impressively as to prove me wrong in my past notion of their chances of transformation from rebel life to public administration,” an academic official said in a messenger message sent to the Philippine Muslim Today.
The commentator, who asked to be named only as “professor in public administration post-graduate study,” added: “I hope they (three MILF big wigs) can finally make the difference in the handling of public funds to realize their avowed moral governance in the Bangsamoro region.”
Other prominent Facebook netizens cited the contribution to the BARMM bureaucracy of Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo and Public Works Minister Eduard Guerra, describing the duo as the “winds behind the wings of the regional government.”
Minister Guerra draws good feedbacks for his aggressive implementation of vital infrastructure projects, including the ones mitigating flood adversities in Bangsamoro communities, opening isolation centers for COVID-19 cases, and building of permanent core shelters for residents in war-torn Marawi City, among others.
Minister Sinarimbo, for his part, continues to earn the “star feather” from media practitioners and Facebook nitizens for institutionalizing responsive local government units’ administrative and operational functions, for ably representing the regional government to local, national and foreign convergences, and for spearheading the sustained dispersal of relief goods to VOCID-19 affected residents within and even outside BARMM territory.
Among traditional and social media practitioners, Sec. Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol has surfaced as the most followed Mindanao-based public servants.
Sec. Piñol draws more than 300,000 followers in the Facebook alone (with the figure still increasing rapidly) for his innovations in MinDA operations, rendering unprecedented promotion of development potentials in Mindanao as well as the Bangsamoro region.
He drew latest accolade from Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Damagoso for the big success in the conduct on Oct. 23-25 of the “MinDA Tienda” that opened the gate of the premiere city’s markets to products from Mindanao.
The “MinDA Tienda,” which showcased and sold aqua-agricultural products including fruits and cottage industry outputs from Mindanao provinces and BARMM territory, was a chance for the Manila people appreciate not only the island-region’s products but also its true image as a culturally rich investment zone in contrast to misperception, the popular mayor said at the opening day of the event.
Sec. Piñol produced a video clip of the event, showing also a part of the voyage from Mindanao of products-carrying vehicles that helped organizers to witness some odds in the national highways for referral to authorities for remedy.
The former veteran journalist-turned-politico-bureaucrat Piñol echoed at the three-day event the need for a review in the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL), saying the edict has initially turned affront to the welfare of Filipino farmers, whose rice produce currently face record low price as a result of unlimited import of rice.
BARMM spokesman Miinister Sinarimbo in a recent virtual media forum has corroborated the need for government action to cushion the oddities of RTL among rice farmers, saying the regional government had allocated P700-million to buy local rice as a remedial measure.
The Maranao community, which once doubted Piñol’s attitude towards Muslims due to his past role in the abrogated state deal with the MILF on ancestral domain claim, is now impressed about his campaign for self-reliance among local government units in Lanao del Sur.
The municipal government of Lanao Sur’s Taraka town has recently conducted bidding for the implementation of a P280-million soft bank loan for the building of solar-powered water works and irrigation systems in the locality. Sec. Piñol helped broker the grant of the loan from the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).
DBP, a partner agency of MinDA in its enhanced operations, is one the verge of opening ATM kiosks in the towns of Malabang and Balabagan, also in Lanao Sur, on intercession also of Sec. Piñol.
In similar vein, the current workforce of the NCMF led since July 2018 by Secretary Saidamen Pangarungan has also been drawing public praises for its “exemplary operations” for the well-being of over 11 million Muslim Filipinos.
Pangarungan, who holds the distinction of having caused the abolition of over 1,000 “ghost” barangay in two Lanao provinces and saved huge money in internal revenue allotments under the Cory Aquino government, is cited for his successes in organization of Muslim consultative councils in Philippine cities and provinces to abate cases of wrong perceptions about Muslims, and build better partnership between the minority sector and government authorities.
Facebook nitizens have also lauded Secretary Pangarungan for his reforms in the annual hajj operations leading to the substantial decrease in pilgrims’ air fares and improvement in their hotel accommodations in Saudi Arabia.
Bangsamoro people also credited the Pangarungan administration in the opening of Muslim cemeteries in cities and provinces in Luzon, Vizayas, Mindanao and Metro Manila amid persistent coordination with local government units.
NCMF central and field officials including agency spokesman Jun Alonto-Datu Ramos share the public accolade for translating to actions the vision and policies of Pangarungan, notably in the unprecedented exposure of the works via the traditional and social media.
The agency, which has no capital outlays, has been prominently cited in Facebook pages for its continuing conduct of relief foods dispersal among Muslim Filipinos across the nation, tapping donor institutions.
(Expect in The Philippine Muslim Today some specific news stories supplementing this article. – AGM)