Future Bangsamoro gov’t urged to give Marawi a special focus

Carmela Fonbuena
Future Bangsamoro gov’t urged to give Marawi a special focus
In his last address as ARMM governor, Mujiv Hataman says the Bangsamoro government – if and when ratified – will have the power that the region doesn’t have to help Marawi residents significantly

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Mujiv Hataman on Wednesday, December 19, said the new Bangsamoro government, if ratified by the people in 2019, should give “special focus” on Marawi City and help its war-devastated people to recover.

“I emphasize this message for the future leaders. I hope our brothers and sisters in Marawi will get special focus. My heart bleeds knowing about their situation,” Hataman said during his “Ulat sa Bayan” report, his last major address as ARMM governor.

Hataman said ARMM doesn’t have enough powers to help Marawi residents significantly. But the new Bangsamoro government will be more able. (READ: Hataman calls for ‘Yes’ Bangsamoro vote in emotional ‘last address’ of ARMM governor)

The Marawi siege was in part blamed on the delays that hit the peace process, giving way to a narrative of government betrayal that extremists used to recruit a following. 

Crucial plebiscite

Hataman’s “Ulat sa Bayan” came about a month before the plebiscite, which will be held January 21 and February 6, 2019, to ratify the law that will create a new Bangsamoro government. The new political entity will have greater fiscal autonomy, a regional government, parliament, and justice system. It is the fulfilment of a political settlement with the dominant Muslim rebel Group Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

“If the BOL (Bangsamoro Organic Law) is passed, the next leaders will have wider powers over funds to be able to implement projects. I am appealing to the future leaders of Bangsamoro, let’s give the people of Marawi the help that they rightfully deserve. Let’s show them the true meaning of cooperation and kinship among the Moro and Filipino people,” Hataman said. 

Tens of thousands of Marawi residents remain displaced as government fails to deliver a promise to immediately rehabilitate the former city center that was ravaged by a 5-month-long war.

There is no update on the status of the second China-led company to bid for the rehabilitation project, even as demolition of houses in the former battle area has begun. 

‘Moral obligation’

ARMM Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong welcomed Hataman’s call. A displaced resident of Marawi City himself, Adiong was the crisis spokesman during the siege. 

“As a Marawi residnet, and an IDP (internally-displaced person) at that, I’m grateful to Governor Hataman for making Marawi rehabilitation a central issue in his Ulat ng Bayan,” said Adiong. He said it is not just the duty but also the “moral obligation” of the regional government to ensure that help and assistance to Marawi is unhindered.

“How we properly manage Marawi rehabilitation even at the prospect of moving towards a new government structure by virtue of the BOL will definitely determine the effectiveness of this administration strategy to counter the threat of violent extremism,” said Adiong. – Rappler.com

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