Creation of 2 hospitals in memory of MILF leaders pushed

By Ali G. Macabalang

COTABATO CITY — Four bills have been filed at the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) parliament to build two hospitals in memory of two leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and to upgrade two existing hospitals in the new autonomous region.

Member of Parliament (MP) Saffrullah Dipatuan, a physician from Lanao del Sur, filed on August 25 BTA Bills 97 and 98 to build a Ghazali Jaafar Memorial Hospital in Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, and an Ustadz Hashim Salamat Memorial Hospital in Pikit, North Cotabato, both with proposed 50-bed capacities, the BTA information division said.

The late Jaafar, a native resident of Sultan Kudarat town serving as MILF Central Committee 1st vice chairman, was incumbent BTA Parliament member when he died of lingering ailment on March 13, 2019 at the age of 74. He was the chair of the MILF panel in peace talks with the government that gave birth to Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

Building a hospital at Barangay Simuay will memorialize Jaafar’s humble role in the negotiation for BOL, also known as R.A. 11054, and at the same time boost the services of the existing Sanitarium hospital in Sultan Kudarat town, it was learned from MP Dipatuan’s supporters who helped craft BTA Bill 97.

The BOL, a legal translation of the 2014 MILF-Government Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), is the Charter of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

On the other hand, a Ustadz Hashim Salamat Memorial Hospital proposed under BTA Bill 98 shall be constructed in Pikit town to serve residents in villages there and the rest of 63 barangays in North that opted for including in BARMM, according to MP Dipatuan, who is a physician himself.

Pikit is the native hometown of Salamat, the MILF founding chairman, who died of lingering ailment in Lanao del Sur on July 13, 2003 at age 61.

“The reason why I propose the establishment (of hospital) in North Cotabato is that, currently, there is no hospital in the 63 barangays that opted to join the BARMM,” said Dipatuan, who once served as health minister.

Dipatuan pointed out: “More than 200,000 Bangsamoro brothers and sisters are living in this area without the benefit of having a hospital of their own.”

He said his Bills 100 and 101 seek the upgrading of Datu Sakilan Memorial Hospital in Tawi-Tawi and Buluan District Hospital in Maguindanao from Level I to Level II hospitals to increase their 50-bed capacities 100.

Medical facilities in BARMM started spiking to “critical bed count due to continuing increase” in Covid-19 patients, the BTA information division quoted Dr. Dipatuan as asserting.

He also reportedly stressed that aside from reaching capacity limits, medical staffing has also been a long-standing problem since the start of the pandemic.

MP Dipatuan urged his colleagues in the Parliament to support his bills and help ensure ample health services in the autonomous territory and memorialize also the exploits of personalities in the struggle for self-determination. (AGM)

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