SPECIAL GEOGRAPHIC AREA—Residents of the 63 barangays in Cotabato Province, which make up the Special Geographic Area (SGA) of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region and Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), continuously reap the result of their inclusion in the region since the 2019 plebiscite.
On Wednesday, December 6, the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government (MILG) successfully turned over three completed government infrastructures in three barangays in Midsayap cluster. The project included a two-storey barangay hall for Damatulan, a community activity center for Olandang, and a Level 2 water system for Mudseng.
Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, who was still the MILG minister at that time, personally graced the three separate events. Speaking in Maguindanaon vernacular, he said that these developments are all part of the continuous effort of the leadership of Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim in rebuilding communities and strengthening governance.
“With these facilities, we are bringing the government closer to you [constituents]. We [Bangsamoro Government] aim that every constituent will benefit from all the infrastructures and soft projects that we implement down the barangay level,” he said.
The P3-million water system in Barangay Mudseng is solar-powered and equipped with four common tap stands strategically placed in different areas, while the P5.5 million community activity center in Barangay Olandang will serve as a venue for community events, gatherings, and other recreational activities. The P3.5-million barangay hall in Damatulan will serve as a government center.
With little retrospection, Sinarimbo shared that a rapid assessment carried out in 2019 indicated potential governance challenges in SGA if the result of the plebiscite favored the inclusion of identified barangays to BARMM. Therefore, during his tenure as MILG minister, their ministry ensured that SGA would get all necessary support to maintain the service for the people.
Accordingly, all 63 barangays in SGA received a barangay hall, with majority nearing completion while others were already turned over. This is on top of the capacity development provided for the barangay officials implemented through the Bangsamoro Integrated Rehabilitation and Development (BIRD) program — a five-year all-inclusive development initiative of the Office of the Chief Minister, funded by the Special Development Fund (SDF).
SGA Development Administrator Butch Malang was elated to witness that the former war zones are slowly transforming into progressive communities hence he sincerely asked community members to become good stewards of the BARMM projects.
“Take care of these projects as these are all results of our collective efforts,” Malang said in Maguindanaon vernacular.
Military Officer 1st Lieutenant Jerson Balagot of Charlie Company of the 34th Infantry Battalion under the 11th Infantry Division, who also witnessed the events, emphasized that men in uniform are always in support of whatever cause beneficial to the people.
“Completion of projects in former war zone area is an implication that the area is becoming peaceful,” Balagot said. (Abdullah Matucan/BIO)