Sec. Abalos to BARMM: ‘You’re just in the right direction’

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 24 Jan) – Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr. said on Monday that the Bangsamoro regional government is on the right track in pushing for development and good governance.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin Abalos meets with BARMM officials on Monday (23 January 2023). MindaNews photo by FERDINANDH CABRERA

Abalos was guest of honor during the “Governance Day” of the fourth founding anniversary celebration of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

He led the recognition and awarding of performing local government units and executives.

During the “Pagkilala: 3rd awarding ceremony for performing Bangsamoro LGUs,” Abalos – accompanied by BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim, Senior Minister Abduraof Macacua, and Interior Minister Naguib Sinarimbo – handed over the Salamat Excellence Award for Leadership (SEAL), Lupong Tagapamayapa Incentive Award, winners of Search for Model Barangays, Anti-drug Abuse Council recognition and awards to deserving LGUs and local chief executives.

“I would like to congratulate you for this, for this occasion. You’re just in the right direction,” Abalos said.

The secretary was elated, albeit surprised, to learn that BARMM, since its creation, has completed the construction of about 40 barangays halls, two municipal halls, three municipal police stations and two public terminals across the region.

“Sec. Abalos said he has never heard of accomplishments like these in infrastructure in other regions. ‘I have not seen it in any parts of the country, only in BARMM,’” lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, BARMM Interior Minister, quoted the secretary as saying.

In his speech, Abalos noted the importance of local officials to be on the ground working for the people and would not get offended if feedback of constructive criticisms will be sent to them.

Sinarimbo said that Abalos felt the need for BARMM officials to join foreign trips of President Marcos to sell the region to Muslim countries.

Abalos has directed Brig. Gen. John Guybuyon, police director for BARMM, to now include the 63 villages in North Cotabato considered as “special geographic area” of the region to be now part of his area of jurisdiction.

Secretary Benjamin Abalos poses with performers during a BARMM awards night on Monday (23 January 2023). MindaNews photo by FERDINANDH CABRERA

“As what we have agreed in Manila, [Regional Director] Guyguyon made sure that everything is safe there [in the SGA],” the secretary said.

Abalos rallied for the BARMM to support the DILG campaign against illegal drugs, as well as the alleged proliferation of illegal drugs in detention facilities.

“You must give them an environment of a drug-free society. It’s about correction. It’s about rehabilitation. For me, kung may drugs sa loob our campaign is useless,” he said, referring to persons deprived of liberty (PDLs).

Talking about the case of PDLs, Abalos directed the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) to review programs for them, like the “after care programs,” so when they return to the outside world they will become productive citizens again.

“When they come out of detention, they should have work to do, they should have decent sources of income,” he told the BJMP in the BARMM.

Abalos has met officials of the BJMP, police and barangay officials at the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government where he announced that his department is glad that only 10 police officials have not yet submitted their courtesy resignation after his call, which he said was aimed at internal cleansing in the police force after exposing that few of them are part of the narco problem.

He said he is thankful of the police officials’ cooperation, and pointed out that “some of those who have not yet submitted [their resignation letters] are retiring.” (Ferdinandh Cabrera / MindaNews)