COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/10 January) – The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) is now the official caretaker of the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque or Grand Mosque in Barangay Kalanganan II here.
This development ended a nine-year impasse between the then Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Cotabato City, which belonged to Region 12 until the plebiscite on BARMM in January last year, on which entity would manage the country’s largest mosque.
On Wednesday, BARMM Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim received the documents from the previous caretaker, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) national office through Undersecretary Emil Sadain.
Ebrahim promised to improve the internal and external sections of the mosque, BARMM Minister for Interior and Local Government Naguib Sinarimbo said.
“We will start the renovation effective immediately,” he said.
Around 11 million pesos has been allotted from the Bangsamoro fund to beautify the religious site. The Bureau of Cultural Heritage and the Religious (Mofti) department of the region will oversee the operations.
Sinarimbo recalled that Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III had offered to the regional government the mosque’s management in initial talks in November last year.
Dominguez heads the national contingent to the Inter-Governmental Relations Body, which the President created last year to coordinate the devolution of functions and powers to the autonomous government. His counterpart in BARMM is Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal.
The Grand Mosque, designed by Filipino architect Felino Palafox, was completed in 2011 at a five-hectare lot in barangay Kalanganan donated by the Dilangalen clan.
Brunei Darussalam Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah donated US$43-million for its construction.
The DPWH, which administered the construction, could not decide whether it should turn over the mosque to the regional government or to Cotabato City.
This prompted the national government to take charge of the mosque’s maintenance with the help of some generous individuals, Sinarimbo said.
He said Ebrahim had invited Sultan Bolkiah to visit the mosque sometime this year or the next.
The ruler of Brunei Darussalam is known for his financial contributions to the construction of mosques.
The Grand Mosque is the second largest in Southeast Asia after the Istiqlal Mosque in Indonesia. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)