By Ali G. Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – Constituent local government units (LGUs) have started harmonizing their development projects with the priorities of the Bangsamoro autonomous administration in what facilitators described as a bold step to curb instances of contrasting thrusts and undue duplication in fiscal expenditures.
The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) officialdom held pre-summits on July 13, 15, 16 and 17 in Basilan, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Sulu, respectively, for municipal and provincial officials to draw up security and socio-economic programs and projects for funding by the regional government, organizers said.
They said the pre-summit leg in Tawi-Tawi will be held before the conduct of a regional summit proper here where all harmonized proposals would be collated and finalized in prelude to deliberations by the cabinet and the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) Parliament for funding in 2022.
BARMM Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim partly presided and addressed via zoom the Basilan event, with Senior Minister Abdulraof “Sammy Gambar” Macacua, Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo and Minister Ed Guerra leading the Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Sulu episodes, it was learned.
Brainstorming sessions among provincial and municipal officials with representatives of BARMM ministries and line agencies characterized the four pre-summits, organizers said, hinting at applying the same processes for Tawi-Tawi.
Minister Naguib Sinarimbo told reporters Saturday the provincial engagements were necessary for a “summit proper” here on July 23 where pre-charted security, social welfare, education and other pro-people programs will be collated for harmonious planning and implementation in the autonomous region.
“The summit proper will enable us to converge together the programs of the region and those of the local government units so that there would be a common development thrust for all (of us) to pursue,” Sinarimbo said.
The 27-month old BARMM governance replaced the 29-year Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in 2019, and is now covering the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and the cities of Marawi, Lamitan and Cotabato as well as 63 autonomy-opting barangays in North Cotabato.
Unlike in the ARMM government’s troublesome plights in defending yearly its regional budgets before Congress, the new BARMM administration receives an annual block grant and other national funds sans Congressional grills.
The BARMM cabinet led by Chief Minister Ebrahim decides on regional-impact projects, and proposes corresponding appropriations for approval by the regional parliament.
Sinarimbo said closer cooperation and cohesion on peace and development initiatives among mayors, governors and regional ministries can hasten the pace of the regional growth and do away with duplicated funding of projects.
He lauded the hosting of the pre-summits by Governors Mamintal “Bombit” Alonto Jr. of Lanao del Sur, Jim Salliman of Basilan and Sakur Tan of Sulu, who reportedly required the attendance of their respective mayors. The episode in Maguindanao was led by Senior Minister Macacua, he said.
In Lanao del Sur, senior leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front like Deputy Chairman Alem Solaiman and field commander cum Parliament Member Abdullah “Bravo” Macapaar actively participated in the brainstorming session, he said.
Sinarimbo, who has direct supervision over all LGUs in the region, has earlier launched unprecedented initiatives for all 2,590 barangays, 118 towns, three cities and five provinces.
His ministry had recruited young local government operations officers from rigidly trained incumbents and applicants for assignment in the provincial and lower government units, and programmed the building of uniform municipal and barangays halls across the region.
The same ministry has also purchased ambulance vehicles, fire trucks, and police patrol cars that were distributed to deserving LUs in the region, Sinarimbo’s informational officer Valerie Lambo said. (AGM)