By Ali G. Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – The officialdoms of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and Lanao del Sur have sealed a formal undertaking to reinforce national government initiatives for the rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi City.
Due to the vitality of the intervention, BARMM interim Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim and Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal “Bombit” Alonto-Adiong Jr. did not wait for an official work hour and signed the memorandum of agreement (MOA) last Sunday for the construction of water supply systems in five areas of Marawi City, Interior and Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo announced on the same day.
The MoA was signed at Camp Darapanan in Crossing Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, where ICM Ebrahim – since the inauguration of the BARMM governance in March 2019 – has been holding office on weekends for urgent transactions, in general, and for comrades in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), in particular, Sinarimbo said.
Gov. Adiong, alongside Marantao Mayor Akhira Alonto and Parliament Member Zia Alonto-Adiong, visited Ebrahim, who is incumbent MILF Central Committee chairman, for brief conference on mutual concerns, but the latter opted to make the visit more meaningful by holding the MOA signing promptly, witnessing officials said.
The MoA prescribed for the speedy construction of waterworks systems for five vital areas in Marawi City, namely: The Mindanao State University (MSU) Area Zone 1; MSU Area Zone 2; MSU Area Zone 3; Bless Area; and the area spanning the 121Islamic Barangay covering Sugod, Ambulong, Patani, Kilala, Timber, and Gadongan, among other, it was learned.
The five projects will cover 40 thickly populated barangays in Marawi City lacking potable water supply for decades. Because they are outside the most affected areas (MAA) or Ground Zero of Marawi City, the 40 barangays entailed no priority funding for water systems development under the Task Force Bango Marawi (TFBM), it was learned.
“Addressing the gaps in the plans and programs of the TFBM,” the signed MoA necessitated the allotment of P400-million for the 40 barangays out of the Chief Minister’s P1-billion committed rehabilitation support fund for the city, said Sinarimbo.
MP Adiong said the P1-billion support fund has been appropriated by the interim regional Parliament under the BARMM 2021 budget. In 2020, the BARMM government has released P500-million as a support fund for Marawi and residents, earlier reports said.
Sunday’s MoA signing came about two days after the Office of the Chief Minister I was quoted in reports as echoing its pledge that “it will not abandon (fulfilling its commitment) for the welfare of Marawi and its people.”
It also followed an announcement by Palace Spokesman Harry Roque that Malacañang would complete all rehabilitation works in the war-torn city before the end of the Duterte administration.
Both regional and national announcements ostensibly came on the heels of continued skepticism about dismal feats in the government efforts to bring back Marawi City from the vestiges of destruction caused by occupation of violent militants of the Dawla Islamiya (Maute) and Abu Sayyaf groups in May 2017 and the subsequent military offensives.
Some residents have also been suspicious about alleged mishandling of rehabilitation funds for the city structures and its displaced residents. AGM