New Cotabato City mayor to appoint 4 deputy mayors, form Council of Leaders

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GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 6 July) – Newly elected Cotabato City Mayor Mohammad Ali Matabalao on Tuesday outlined 15 areas of concern that his administration will focus on during his first 100 days as city mayor, among which include the appointment of four deputy mayors and the formation of a Council of Leaders.

Cotabato City mayor Mohammad Ali Matabalao during the campaign. Photo from the Facebook page of Bruce “BM” Matabalao

He said they are about to complete a list of those they have chosen to be deputy mayors, along with the composition of a Council of Leaders.

Matabalao, barely five days into office, delivered a “State of the City Address” during the inaugural session of the Sangguniang Panlungsod held at the Sharif Kabungsuan Cultural Complex in this city.

There will be four deputy mayors for the city’s inhabitants – the Bangsamoro, Indigenous Peoples, Filipino-Chinese, and Non-Moro settlers. 

“We are in the process of completing the list. We will make an announcement on this within the week,” the mayor told newsmen at the end of the session.

He said the four deputy mayors will be part of the Council of Leaders, which will have a diverse representation of sectoral leaders, including the religious.

“They are not a regular part of the official structure of the city government. We will meet them as needed to consult on very vital concerns,” Matabalao said.

In his first 100 days, Matabalao said he will focus on 15 concerns to lift the lives of residents in the city, which he described as having been in the dark for so long a time.

The inaugural session became more significant when the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BRMM) hymn was played for the first time since the city became part of the autonomous region in December 2020. The past city administration has repeatedly rejected help from the BARMM government.

Among the pressing concerns that Matabalao vowed to deliver at once include free hospitalization for all residents. A P50-million fund has already been earmarked for this.

He said the city will have an efficient drainage system to finally resolve perennial problems of flooding. Construction works, he said, are underway using a drainage master plan which considers the fact that Cotabato City is below sea level.

The city will see a transformation into vibrant communities with the much needed infrastructure that will be put in place, like the rehabilitation of the city mega market, close circuit cameras in key locations, and street lights, he said.

Bulk of the deliverables are for the welfare and benefit of the vulnerable and disadvantaged sector – elderly, solo parents and persons with disability who were neglected on their needs especially during the pandemic, the official said.

Newly elected Vice Mayor Butch Abu said the mayor has the full backing of the City Council in attaining the people-focused deliverables of the new administration. Abu and seven members of the legislative council are political allies of Matabalao under the MILF-led United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP).

He expressed confidence in the attainment of what they promised residents, citing that they have the funds needed to pursue projects.

BARMM has set aside P845 million to help its capital city build roads and a drainage network, improve its ports, put in place solar street lights, and provide 400 houses for indigents.

BARMM Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo said they will help make Cotabato City a cosmopolitan area. (Rommel G. Rebollido / MindaNews)

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