BARMM officials ask Congress to create province for 8 new towns

Rommel Rebollido

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BARMM officials ask Congress to create province for 8 new towns

PLEBISCITE RESULTS. BARMM Chief Minister Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and Elections Chairman George Garcia share a light moment as the regional government receives the plebiscite results for the formal creation of eight new municipalities in the Special Geographic Areas.

BARMM Chief Minister Ahod B. Ebrahim FB page

With the election period only five months away, a BARMM parliament member doubts that the creation of a new province would be completed in time for the 2025 polls

GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) officials have called on Congress to create another province in the Muslim-majority region for eight newly established towns currently under their special political jurisdiction in Cotabato province.

“It is imperative that these eight towns have their own province and a congressional district,” said Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) Member Mohammad Kelie Antao on Tuesday, May 28.

BARMM Interior Minister Sha Elijah Dumama-Alba earlier said the eight new towns in the region will remain under the supervision of the Special Geographic Area Development Authority (SGADA).

“SGADA will oversee these eight towns until a new province is established, in accordance with the Bangsamoro Local Governance Code,” Alba explained.

The new towns, comprising 63 barangays carved out of Cotabato, were created following a plebiscite ratifying a regional law establishing the municipalities in April. The new towns are as follows:

  • Pahamuddin
  • Kadayangan
  • Nabalawag
  • Old Kaabakan
  • Kapalawan
  • Malidegao
  • Tugunan
  • Ligawasan

SGADA, working closely with BARMM’s Ministry of the Interior and Local Governance (MILG), has been addressing the concerns of the 63 SGA barangays since 2019 when they voted to join BARMM.

Antao said the BARMM parliament would pass a resolution formally appealing to Congress for the creation of a province for the newly established towns.

Alba said in an earlier interview that the creation of a new province requires congressional action.

“So, we need to lobby for this to happen,” she said.

In April, Commission on Elections Chairman George Garcia said the recent SGA plebiscite was a prerequisite for the first BARMM elections in 2025.

However, with the election period only five months away, Antao expressed doubts that the creation of a new province would be completed in time for the 2025 elections.

The 63 SGA villages mainly came from Pikit, Cotabato province’s most populous town. Pikit ceded 22 of its villages, about half of the town’s total, to BARMM. This was followed by Midsayap with 13 villages, Pigcawayan with 12, Carmen and Kabacan with seven each, and Aleosan with two.

These 63 villages were collectively referred to as SGA-BARMM, an area considered a stronghold of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), whose leaders now govern BARMM after a peace deal with the government in 2014.

The SGA is also referred to as “Ligawasan province” by the MILF, situated along the Ligawasan Marsh, an extensive wetland spanning Maguindanao del Norte and Maguindanao del Sur in BARMM, and Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat in the Soccsksargen region.

On August 17, 2023, the interim BARMM parliament enacted eight laws, each for the creation of the towns, which were overwhelmingly ratified during the April 13 plebiscite.

With the addition of the eight new towns, BARMM now encompasses 125 municipalities.


Meanwhile, a shortlist of aspirants for positions in the eight newly established towns has been submitted to BARMM Chief Minister Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim, according to BARMM spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Asnin Pendatun.

During a press briefing on Monday, Pendatun said an ad hoc screening and review committee had completed the evaluation of over 300 applications for various local positions in the eight towns.

Ebrahim is expected to appoint interim officials within the next 45 days from the May 15 deadline for the submission of application documents.

According to Pendatun, 40 individuals aspire to be appointed interim mayors, 39 aspire to be vice mayors, and 288 aspire to be municipal councilors. –

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