COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 17 June) – The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) Parliament opened its second regular session Tuesday under the “new normal” – those present were seated far apart from each other, most of them wearing masks, and some even opted to join via video conference.
After not being able to hold sessions the past two months because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the Parliament resumed its session following the “minimum health standards” set by the Bangsamoro Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) on COVID-19.
With only 52 of the 80 members of parliament physically present, there was enough room for “social distancing” at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex (SKCC) at the Bangsamoro Government Center here. With a seating capacity of more than 1,000, the parliament members sat two to three seats apart, aside from wearing face masks.
Seventeen members of parliament opted to attend the session via video conference.
Chief Minister Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim joined the Parliament in the opening session.
He hailed the legislators for their continuing legislative works amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our session today marks the Parliament’s preparedness to embrace the new normal in order to assure that our mandate gets fulfilled despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic,” the chief minister said during the session broadcast live over social media.
Ebrahim also recognized the efforts made by different Bangsamoro leaders in battling COVID-19, which he said was testament to their commitment to prioritize the welfare of the people.
“We made sure that the people feel the presence of the Bangsamoro Government,” he stressed.
Ebrahim earlier said during the installation of the 100-bed capacity isolation facility in the municipality of Sultan Kudarat in Maguindanao that the region’s expenditures against COVID-19 has already reached P2 billion.
Meanwhile, Parliament Member Maisara Dandamun-Latiph has proposed Resolution No. 230 directing the committee on social services to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the alleged anomalies in the distribution of social amelioration program (SAP) amounting to P5,000.
BARMM’s Ministry of Interior and Local Government has sought the assistance of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to determine if there is truth to the complaint that some local officials are in cahoots with social workers in not giving out all the money for the poor constituents affected by COVID-19 crisis.
“In order to preserve public trust, an inquiry shall determine the veracity of the complaints against certain social welfare workers regarding the anomalies in the distribution,” according to the resolution authored by Latiph. (Ferdinandh Cabrera / MindaNews)