BARMM welcomes Cotabato City to its fold on December 15

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 12 December) — The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) is ready to accept Cotabato City to its fold for a journey towards “healing and further prosperity,” Bangsamoro Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim said Saturday.

In a statement, Ebrahim appealed for the cooperation of the city’s officials once the supervision over the city  formally turned over to the BARMM from Region 12 (Soccsksargen) on Tuesday, December 15, acknowledging that the political process towards Cotabato City’s formal turnover was not easy.

A landmark in Cotabato City. MindaNews file photo by FERDINANDH B. CABRERA

“There were differences in opinions (and) principles and apprehensions that paint a stark contrast to the result of the historic plebiscite (last year),” said Ebrahim, also chair of Moro Islamic Liberation Front with the nom de guerre of Al Haj Murad Ebrahim.

“Continuing the lines of division, however, will not help us in making our collective aspirations a reality. As such, there is a need for all of us to come together as one community dedicated to the city’s collective advancement, he added.

Based on the results of the plebiscite in Cotabato City for the ratification of Republic Act 11054 or the Organic Law for the BARMM, 36,682 voted in favor of the city’s inclusion against the 24,994 “no” votes, or a difference of 11,688 votes.

Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi early this year appealed to President Duterte  to “hold in abeyance the turnover of the city to BARMM” and asked  for a status quo until the end of the transition period on June 30, 2022.

Ebrahim stressed the need for the constituents of BARMM and Cotabato City “to find commonalities among our differences, to choose hope over fear, to choose unity over division, and to work together in co-creating the Bangsamoro — reflective of our shared stories as Moros, Christian settlers and indigenous communities.”

He added there’s a lot of work to do to realize genuine autonomy and to manifest the agreements in the peace process.

Cotabato City is the seat of government of the BARMM.

The establishment of the BARMM is a key component of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the final peace deal between the government and the MILF signed in 2014 after 17 years of peace negotiations.

Four days before the scheduled turnover of Cotabato City to BARMM, the Department of Labor and Employment-12 (DOLE-12) on Friday formally handed over supervision and controle of its field office in Cotabato City to BARMM’s Ministry of Labor and Employment (MOLE).

Raymundo Agravante, DOLE-12 regional director, and MOLE Minister Romeo Sema led the turnover ceremonies in Koronadal City, where DOLE-12 is based.

“It must be emphasized that the transfer of the powers and functions of the DOLE-12 and its attached agencies to MOLE is not the end of our working relationship but a beginning of a more cohesive and stronger collaborative partnership,” Sema said in a report from the Bangsamoro Information Office.

Aside from the Cotabato City field office, MOLE will also undertake the governance and delivery of services in the 63 barangays from the six municipalities of North Cotabato—Midsayap, Aleosan, Pigcawayan, Pikit, Kabacan and Carmen — that voted for inclusion to the BARMM. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)