(UPDATED) Cops’ removal of BARMM pennants on fete day deplored

By Ali G. Macabalang

COTABATO CITY

Officials and supporters of the interim governance of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) have deplored acts by some police elements of removing commemorative flags from city streets here during the recent celebration of the region’s second anniversary foundation.

Concerned citizens posted photos in Facebook pages showing uniformed city police elements uprooting a number BARMM pennants along sidewalks of Sinsuat Avenue and other main streets here early morning of January 18, the first day of anniversary celebration staged simultaneously in component provinces, cities and villages.

Some photos on the wayward incident are shown in this link: https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=227472808996902&set=pcb.227472855663564&__cft__[0]=AZWUB6qR2tILfb_MNedkvWZ5Ys0IQSp9HMIry-pqgxQoBQ2BqlYz0VXXzPxgSGJHvRE5imHR5jtjLNw6ktSzA7dpNGKMrtGM_WmHcRH5HQYhRbtKOn4nTMFPxrufcJhiV0s&__tn__=H-R.

The post, authored by one Morro Matutanged, generated at least 2,000 shares and 272 comments from 491 nitizens. It btagged as a show of “disobedience” by authorities in Cotabato City, which which has been officially placed under BARMM supervision by national officials led by Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año effective Dec. 15, 2020.

It also berated the same incident as an “insult” to authorities, civilian and police alike, in the city and regional entities.

Reactors were surprised that media establishments here have been mum about the incident. Only a few broadcast entities operating outside BARMM areas made commentaries about the incident, calling for cohesive moves to end the city leadership’s stance about the new autonomy.

BARMM cabinet officials reportedly learned about the incident but had issued no official statements ostensibly to avoid undue spoilage in the momentum of the four-day commemoration that culminated on Jan. 21.

A cabinet member said there would be a “day of reckoning” for the incident, especially on the involvement of city police elements in the power play among city and regional officials.

But interim Regional Parliament member Jose Lorena had taken the cudgel to say he would file a resolution calling for an investigation into the incident.

Lorena, a lawyer from Sulu, said at the sidelight of a press conference here on Jan. 19 that “disciplinary action” ought to be done on cops involved in the incident.

The police should not play partisan acts in politics, he said without elaboration.

The eve of the BARMM kick-off commemoration events fell on a Sunday, which has been declared as “no movement day” in this city in observance of government protocols against spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Police elements assisted by some civilian individuals imposed stiff inspection along entry points to this city, causing a traffic jam for some three hours along the Quirino Bridge access road. One of the cops was overheard as saying that a “memo” was purportedly issued in the evening of Jan. 17, Sunday to prevent entry to this city.

Affected in the stunted vehicles’ movement, this writer talked over the phone with City Police Director Richard Fiesta lengthily before my car and that of fellow journalist Ferdinandh Cabrera were able to pass though.

Dozens of other vehicles swiftly followed through as a result of this writer’s representation. AGM  

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