STATEMENT ON THE UNREASONABLE ACTS OF THE CITY GOVERNMENT OF COTABATO
The Bangsamoro Government strongly condemns the unreasonable acts recently committed by the officials of the City Government of Cotabato and some elements of the Cotabato City Police Office against our employees, particularly the apprehensions on April 13, 2020 of our personnel using vehicles bearing the IATF stickers issued by the Bangsamoro Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 or Bangsamoro IATF, and threats and insults hurled against BARMM employees, especially in roadblocks and checkpoints.
We take such acts as unreasonable, even bordering on the illegal. In the guise of an enhanced community quarantine, there is an insidious move to restrict the movement of the workers of the Bangsamoro Government, especially those in the frontline offering health assistance, welfare aid and relief supplies.
It bears stressing that national guidelines, even the ones issued by the City Government of Cotabato, allow for the unhampered movement of government personnel. The March 16, 2020 Memorandum of the Office of the President thru Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea clearly states that “work from home arrangement shall be implemented in the Executive Branch, except the PNP, AFP, PCG, and health and emergency frontline services, border control and other critical services, which shall ensure a skeletal work force.” Those arrested on April 13 were part of the designated skeleton force and personnel of the Emergency Operations Center of the Bangsamoro IATF.
We also take issue on the Announcement of the City Government of Cotabato about the need to secure Workers’ Passes from City Hall. In said announcement, all essential establishments in the city, including government agencies inside Cotabato City, are requested to submit the names of employees who are serving as skeleton staff during the Enhanced Community Quarantine to the City Hall on or before April 15, 2020.
We emphasize that the BARMM, whose regional seat of government is inside Cotabato City, strictly adheres to guidelines and issuances of the National Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases.
As it is, the Bangsamoro Government already operates under skeleton/skeletal staff while continuously serving five (5) provinces, three (3) cities including Cotabato City, 116 municipalities, and the 63 barangays in North Cotabato that opted to join BARMM. It must also be noted that the regional bureaucracy has already been downsized even before the COVID-19 pandemic because of the phasing-out of former employees as spelled out in the transition plan.
Based on the updated list of Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APOR) released by the Joint Task Force CV Shield on April 11, 2020, those involved in basic services, including medical services, emergency responders, such as, members of the Bangsamoro Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19, Emergency Operation Centers personnel (Bangsamoro READi, in the case of BARMM), social services personnel (Ministry of Social Services and Development, in the case of BARMM); company officers and security guards; delivery personnel of cargoes; government skeletal force of the Executive Branch (various ministries, in the case of BARMM); other government officials and their support staff, among others, are considered as APOR. Inter-Agency Task Force ID will be honored but basic ID is enough.
Thus, we urge the City Government of Cotabato and the Cotabato City Police Office to honor, acknowledge and give due respect to officially-issued IDs of all APOR that work for BARMM.
This would be in conformity to Paragraph 22.214.171.124 of DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2020-062 dated March 21, 2020 which provides that all LGUs are hereby ordered to, among others, prevent serious disruption of the functioning of the government and the community.
Finally, we state that should these objectionable acts be committed again, we will take all and every legal action against any erring individual, be they officials or not.