By Ali G. Macabalang
Administrative operations in this fast booming city will be placed officially under the supervision of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) governance this coming Dec. 15 pursuant to a standing agreement brokered by higher authorities led by President Duterte.
Officials of the Inter-Governmental Relations Body (IGRB) during its 5th regular meeting on Friday, Nov. 27, “agreed to undertake the turnover ceremony” that will formally place this city under the autonomous government, according to BARMM spokesman cum Interior and Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo.
The IGRB was created in early 2019 to facilitate the smooth transfer of corresponding national assets and powers to the BARMM governance after President Duterte formally inaugurated the regional bureaucracy and parliament on March 29, 2019.
“We thank the President for keeping the spirit of the discussion last year in Malacañang to carry out the mandate of the Organic Law to transfer supervision over Cotabato City to the (BARMM governance),” Sinarimbo said his social media post immediately after the IGRB virtual meeting.
Sinarimbo was referring to the agreement forged between Cotabato City officials led by Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi and BARMM leaders led by Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim in a Palace meeting presided by Mr. Duterte early this year.
He also thanked Interior and Local Government Sec. Eduardo Año and Finance Sec. Sonny Dominguez “for promptly implementing the directive of the President to transfer Cotabato City to BARMM this December 15.”
Sec. Dominguez co-chairs the IGRB, for the national government, with Año as key member. His counterpart from the BARMM is Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal.
“Now the mandate of the people expressed in the (Jan. 21, 2019 plebiscite) will be fulfilled,” Sinarimbo added.
Majority voters in Cotabato City and 63 villages (barangays) in North Cotabato decided for inclusion in the BARMM territory in such plebiscite, implying automatic placement of their respective local government units under the regional government supervision.
The North Cotabato provincial government formally turned over to the BARMM officialdom the supervision authority on the 63 villages on Nov. 20, 2019.
Concerned officials expected a similar turnover between Cotabato City and BARMM. But city officials led by Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi opposed supervision by BARMM, invoking some reasons to include her unsettled electoral protest and absence of ordinances required for full autonomous governance.
The stalemate had brought about exchanges of tirades between the two camps, prompting Sec. Año and government representatives to the IGRB to elevate the issue to the President.
The Chief Executive listened to viewpoints from the two camps alongside Sec. Año, and later decided that the formal supervision transfer be made in December this year. (AGM)