By Ali G. Macabalang
The Ministry of Interior and Local Government (MILG) has released to host town governments the initial funds for the construction of their modern two-level town halls, pointing out that another tranche of funds will follow after an assessment of actual work accomplishments.
MILG Minister Naguib Sinarimbo said he handed over the corresponding checks in “sweep” visits on Feb. 3 to four towns in Lanao del Sur – Butig, Poona-bayabao, Lumbac-a-Unayan and Sultan Dumalundong – particularly to their respective elected officials led by their mayors in symbolic rites.
“I did a sweep of the four municipalities of Lanao del Sur that we have provided funding for the construction of their 2 storey municipal buildings. We handed to them their checks representing the first tranche of their funds and from then on subsequent releases will be based on their actual accomplishment,” Sinarimbo said in a recent Facebook post.
He said made four stopovers – first in Lumbac-a-Unayan, followed by Sultan Dumalundong, then in Butig and finally in Poon-a-Bayabao.
The travels-filled day was “capped with a meeting with my former boss now Congressman Hooky Adiong,” who once led the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARRM) as acting governor and tapped Sinarimbo as his executive secretary in early 2010 to late 2011.
Similar check was handed on Jan. 29 by Sinarimbo on elected officials led by Mayor Zihan Mangelen-Mangudadatu of Pandag, Maguindanao – the fifth town in the Bangsamoro region selected this year to acquire uniform municipal hall buildings worth P25-million each.
Of the five recipient-towns, Butig and Pandag have been considered in utmost need of municipal hall buildings. Butig lost its town hall when resident-violent militants led by brothers Omar and Abdullah Maute attacked the town in 2016 and burned some government structures. Pandag, which has existed for over a decade with a regular share from the national Internal Revenue Allotments (IRA), subsisted in a makeshift town hall edifice.
On his travel back from Pandag, Sinarimbo said, he took the opportunity to drop by in Talayan and huddle with town leaders led by Mayor Hadji Ali Midtimbang on community concerns requiring attention from the BARMM government, particularly the MILG.
BARMM Executive Secretary Abdulraof “Sammy Gambar” Macacua, representing Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim, and Minister Sinarimbo signed the memorandums of agreement with the mayors of the five-recipient towns in this city in late December last year.
Macacua acknowledged the active campaign of the MILG in fostering dynamic and responsive governances among the 118 municipalities, five provinces, three cities and 2,590 in BARMM archipelagic territory, and underscored the importance of institutional local government buildings as “plain symbol” of authority and public service existence.
“We cannot speak about good governance when we do not have government centers,” Macacua told the mayors and spectators at the memo singing ceremony at the MILG compound here.
In another Facebook post, Minister Sinarimbo also described his regular field visits as opportunities to feel the pulse of people in rural areas and witness realities on the ground.
While return back here from his way back “sweep” visits to the four Lanao del Sut towns, Sinarimbo said, he “noticed as reported by mayors a lot of unfinished projects like rows upon rows of unfinished housing projects, uncompleted road projects and bridges and water systems nowhere to be found.”
He described the unlikely sites as “gross” across BARMM. He did not elaborate, but his staff said he was hinting at lapses by the administration of the abolished autonomous governance. AGM