Last of two parts
DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 09 November) – Improving relations between the Bangsamoro Governemnt and the local government units needs to be attended to, to improve service delivery to the Bangsamoro residents, especially during disasters.
The differences in statistics presented to the President by the province of Maguindanao and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) for example, is a clear manifestation of poor, if not absence of communications between the provincial and regional governments.
That the province of Maguindanao and the BARMM have strained relations is public knowledge.
Governor Bai Mariam Sangki Mangudadatu opened her presentation by greeting President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and Cabinet members present, describing Benhur Abalos, Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) as “very supportive DILG secretary.” She also greeted her “fellow public servants, all the mayors, my vice governor Bai Ainee Sinsuat.” She acknowledged last “all BARMM officials” without mentioning BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim.
Throughout her presentation, Mangudadatu talked about seeking help and thanking national government agencies such as the DILG, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and DPWH when the BARMM has its own Ministry of the Interior and Local Government (MILG), MPW and its own Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD) and social service delivery has not been devolved to the provincial level, hence Maguindanao’s provincial and municipal and social welfare officers are employees of the BARMM.
Mangudadatu was among the first to support the extension of the BARMM transition period to 2025 instead of June 30, 2022. The provincial legislature of Maguindanao passed a resolution on October 15, 2019 urging the extension of the BARMM’s transition period to 2025. She later joined the camp of Sulu Governor Sakur Tan in opposing the extension bid and pushing for the May 2022 regional election.
The transition period was extended until June 30, 2025 by RA 11593, resetting what would have been the first election of the Bangsamoro Parliament on May 9, 2022 to May 13, 2025.
Mangudadatu, reelected governor in the May 2022 polls, won against former Governor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, cousin of her husband, who ran under the United Bangsamoro Justice Party, the political party of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The MILF, which is leading the 80-member Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the Bangsamoro Government during the transition period, signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro with the Philippine government in March 2014 under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III, after 17 years of peace negotiations. The CAB’s enabling law, RA 11054, was passed in 2018 and ratified in 2019 under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, paving the way for the establishment of the BARMM.
Divided, undivided Maguindanao
Maguindanao’s division into Maguindanao del Norte and Maguindanao del Sur was ratified in a plebiscite on September 17. The plebiscite was expected to be held in August 2021 but was reset after the May 2022 elections.
On October 20, Maguindanao Governor Mangudadatu assumed the post of Maguindanao del Sur Governor and her Vice Governor Bai Fatima Ainee Sinsuat as Maguindanao del Norte Governor, along with their Vice Governors, Datu Nathaniel Midtimbang and Datu Sharifudin Tucao P. Mastura, respectively.
The BARMM’s MILG, headed by Sinarimbo, has yet to issue a certification of recognition of the new officials as it posed a legal question, that the condition precedent that would allow the Vice Governor to assume as Governor of Maguindanao del Norte was no longer present as the plebiscite was held after the May 2022 elections.
Section 50 of RA 11550 provides that the officials of the newly-created provinces are to be elected in the May 2022 polls provided that “if this Act is approved and ratified within six months or more prior to the 2022 national and local elections, the vice governor and the next ranking elective member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the present Province of Maguindanao, who are residents of the new Maguindanao del Norte shall assume as its acting governor and acting vice governor, respectively, and both shall continue to serve in office until their successors shall have been elected and qualified in the 2022 national and local elections.”
In the November 1 briefing, Major General Roy Galido, 6th ID Commander, introduced Mangudadatu as Governor of Maguindanao and Sinsuat as Vice Governor. Even Mangudadatu, in her greetings, referred to Sinsuat as “my Vice Governor.”
Mangudatu’s report on the impact of Typhoon Paeng was on the undivided Maguindanao. The worst hit towns – Datu Odin Sinsuat, Datu Blah Sinsuat and Upi, are in Maguindanao del Norte.
President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. asked the BARMM what their food packs contain and said the DSWD has a standard package that it (BARMM) should follow.
“If you are going to make your own pack — kasi mayroon naman kayong calamity fund na ginagamit — so if you are going to make your own packs, puwede siguro gawin natin na pareho doon sa binibigay ng DSWD because that comes from a long experience na what are the needs of the victims of a calamity like this,” he said.
The MSSD’s provision of relief packages comes as well from a long experience in a region wracked by disasters and decades of mass displacements due to armed conflicts.
The DSWD’s family food packs contain six kilos of rice, four cans of corned beef, four cans of tuna flakes, two cans of sardines, five sachets of coffee, and five sachets of cereal drink.
The MSSD’s family food packs consist of 25 kilos of rice, six cans of sardines, three cans of tuna flakes, three cans of corned beef and 12 sachets of 3-in-1 coffee.
The MSSD also distributes water kits consisting of a 20L water container with faucet and water purification tablets, cooking kits, leaning kits, sleeping kits, and dignity and protection kits which include underwear for men, women, boys and girls; and family and individual hygiene kits, including sanitary napkins.
It also provides community kitchen sets and construction materials for evacuation centers for temporary latrines.
MSSD Minister Jajurie on Monday said MSSD will be providing emergency shelter assistance to families who lost their homes due to Typhoon Paeng, from 10,000 to 30,000 pesos, depending on the results of the shelter assessment if their houses are partially or totally damaged.
“For other survivors of Typhoon Paeng, MSSD shall also provide a multipurpose cash assistance worth PhP 5,800 per family. This amount is based on the minimum expenditure budget,” she said.
MSSD also covered the burial, hospitalization and medicines of injured victims.
It also conducts regular mental health and psycho social support sessions and psychological first aid.
In the November 1 briefing, Marcos issued a policy statement that shocked those doing humanitarian work.
He recalled having been surprised during a visit to the evacuation centers in the aftermath of super typhoon Yolanda in Leyte, that people holding “tickets” were queueing to receive relief goods. He said he approached the barangay captain to ask why he was requiring tickets and the barangay captain replied there might be duplication.
“Eh ano kung magdoble, ibigay nyo na lahat. Just give everything,” Marcos said, adding the person queueing won’t get rich if he receives twice. “It just means the family will eat for another two days, three days. So ‘wag na natin masyadong intindihin yung bureaucracy basta’t paratingin natin yung relief,” Marcos said, adding it could be a life and death situation for the person. “Huwag na tayong mag-antay na may ticket. Punthana na lang natin ibigay natin” (Let us not wait for those with tickets. Let us go there and give them).
“We have to make our SOPs (standard operating procedures) more efficient,” he said.
Marcos, a former Governor, said the LGUs “have a bit of .. advantage” because “matagal na nilang ginagawa ito kaya’t may mga procedure na” (they’ve been doing that for a long time so there are already procedures).
He said these procedures are given to the governors by the national government.
“So let’s just follow those procedure. Bilisan na lang natin (Let’s hurry). The point of all these relief goods is to get as much relief goods as — to rescue immediately… There is no such thing as sobra na relief goods. No such thing. Kung ano ‘yung mayroon tayo, ibigay natin kaagad, ibigay natin kaagad (whatever we have, let us give them immediately) … It doesn’t matter kung may papel. Huwag niyo nang papirmahan. Basta bigay na, bigay na. Walang kakainin ‘yang mga ‘yan. (It doesn’t matter if there are papers. Do not let them sign. Just give, give. They have nothing to eat).
“Tickets” or coupons, however, are not only meant to prevent duplication, it is to ensure an orderly distribution and to ensure accountability.
The Commission on Audit (COA) requires proof of receipt of the goods.
COA Circular 2014-002 provides guidelines on accounting and reporting on the receipt and utilization of National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (NDRRMF), cash and in-kind aids/donations from local and foreign sources, and funds allocated from the agency regular budget for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) program, while COA Circular 2014-009 provides guidelines on the Audit of DRRM funds.
Before Rodrigo Duterte stepped down as President on June 30, 2022, the NDRRMC issued Memorandum 083 on June 10, addressed to NDRRRMC member agencies, regional and local DRMM Councils on Joint Memorandum Circular 2 on the guidelines on camp coordination and camp management (CCCM) and protection of internally displaced persons, superseding Joint Memorandum Circular 1 issued in 2013.
The JMC-2 was jointly developed by the DSWD as Vice Chair for Disaster Response of the NDRRMC, the DILG, the Department of Health and the Department of Education. It was approved in December 2021 to provide “timely and well-coordinated humanitarian assistance and augmentation support in the management of evacuation centers.”
JMC-2’s guidelines, which cover all activities – before, during and after the displacement of families affected by natural and human-induced hazards – “will guide LGUs, National Government Agencies including its Regional/Field Offices, Non-government Organizations, private groups, and international organizations; and include key stakeholder responsibilities, implementation of CCCM activities, camp facilities and corresponding standards, and protection services. The guidelines are to govern “both localized and major disasters.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)