GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – Officials and employees of the two Maguindanao provinces attended their last flag-raising ceremony under the old and undivided province in the Bangsamoro region at the capitol grounds in Buluan town on Monday, January 9.
The event saw the folding of Maguindanao’s old flag – it was not raised anymore. The two new provinces – Maguindanao del Sur and Maguindanao del Norte – will have their separate provincial anthems, flags, and emblems.
The ceremony marked the end of an era in the once undivided political territory and a 60-day transition period for the two provincial governments.
Officials and workers were emotional because it was the day the old Maguindanao’s officialdom and workers bid each other goodbye. About half of the provincial government’s workforce, officials included, joined Maguindanao del Norte under new Governor Ainee Sinsuat who will be establishing a seat of government in Datu Odin Sinsuat town in the northern part.
Sinsuat and Maguindanao del Sur Governor Mariam Mangudadatu graced the emotional event and addressed the concerns of workers in a forum after the flag-raising rites.
Maguindanao del Sur provincial administrator Cyrus Torreña said the workforce was divided “almost in the middle” by the two new provinces.
At least 230 regular employees will remain at the capitol in Buluan, the seat of the government of Maguindanao del Sur. Nearly the same number of employees will move to their new workplace at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Building in Datu Odin Sinsuat town starting on Tuesday, January 10.
Shortly after the flag ceremony, the provincial board of Maguindanao del Sur held its inaugural session presided over by acting Vice Governor Nathaniel Midtimbang, and the first thing they did was to adopt the local legislature’s internal rules of procedures and organize its various committees.
The provincial board also started deliberations on Maguindanao del Sur’s proposed 2023 budget of P1.9 billion.
In Maguindanao del Norte, Sinsuat proposed a P1.8-billion budget for 2023, the bulk of which would be spent on the construction of a provincial capitol and the purchase of equipment and vehicles.
The creation of the two provinces came after the ratification of a 2021 law that split the old province into two via a plebiscite on September 17, 2022. At least 706,558 voted to ratify the law, and only 5,209 voters opposed it.
Under the new set-up, Maguindanao del Sur retains 24 towns while Maguindanao del Norte has a dozen municipalities under its jurisdiction. – Rappler.com