GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – An organization of local chief executives in Maguindanao del Norte on Tuesday, February 28, called on the Marcos Jr. administration to intervene and put an end to the ongoing crisis in the new province, which has caused suffering to provincial employees and residents.
Northern Kabuntalan Mayor Umbra Dilangalen, president of the United Bangsamoro Development Council (UBDC), urged the national government to install an officer-in-charge or an acting governor for the new province to end the confusion among local leaders and residents.
“Five months after the plebiscite, we are confused and left wondering to whom we must report,” Dilangalen said.
He recently met with mayors from several towns in the new province who voiced their frustration with the current situation.
The newly-formed province has a budget of P1.8 billion, included in the 2023 General Appropriations Act, which can be used for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) and basic services.
But according to Maguindanao del Norte provincial administrator Mohajiroe Lauban, the provincial government cannot access the funds as it still has no provincial treasurer recognized by the national government.
Lauban said they have requested the Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF) regional office in Koronadal City to allow the former Maguindanao treasurer to be designated as acting treasurer during the transition period so funds can be released.
The BLGF has yet to respond to their request, Lauban said.
Based on Republic Act 11550, the law that split Maguindanao into two provinces, it is the finance secretary who should designate the provincial treasurer.
Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) leaders have raised concerns about the legitimacy of Ainee Sinsuat’s assumption of the gubernatorial post of Maguindanao del Norte without an appointment from President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
BARMM Interior Minister Naguib Sinarimbo said Sinsuat’s assumption was in violation of the law and should have been made by the President as required by law.
“The problem started with Sinsuat taking the governorship of Maguindanao del Norte even without an appointment by the President,” Sinarimbo said.
Despite these claims, Sinsuat has repeatedly argued that she had a legal basis for her assumption of the governorship, citing RA 10550.
Meanwhile, former presidential spokesman Harry Roque weighed in on the ongoing controversy in Maguindanao del Norte, blaming the leadership of the BARMM for the crisis in the newly created province.
Roque cited the BARMM as the main obstacle to the allocation of funds to Maguindanao del Norte, saying that the region’s officials have not recognized Sinsuat’s assumption from Maguindanao vice governor to Maguindanao del Norte governor.
He called on the national government to intervene and simply recognize Sinsuat as the acting governor of Maguindanao del Norte to end the crisis. – Rappler.com
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