Cotabato City now officially part of Bangsamoro region


COTABATO City —Nearly two years after its residents voted for inclusion through a plebiscite on Jan. 21, 2019, Cotabato City is now officially part of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) following a ceremonial turnover held Tuesday, Dec. 15, in the city.

National Secretary of Interior and Local Government Eduardo Año and Interior and Local Government Minister  Naguib Sinarimbo led the ceremony through signing of documents to facilitate the transfer of supervision of Cotabato City to the BARMM, as well as properties and assets, and movable properties and records of the DILG Cotabato Field Office.

“Nagagalak akong makasama kayo sa ating makasaysayang paglipat ng Lungsod ng Cotabato, kasama ang iba pang mga barangays, pag-aari at kagamitan, sa pamamahala ng BARMM,” Año said in his speech.

During the ceremony, Año also formally turned over the supervision for the 63 barangays from North Cotabato to Sinarimbo.

“The people have spoken, their outcry for autonomy resounding loud and clear throughout the archipelago,” Año said.

“The Bangsamoro Organic Law was ratified, thus fating the transfer of Cotabato City, 63 barangays from North Cotabato, DILG Regional Office, properties, assets and records to the BARMM government,” Año added.

He underscored that through the leadership of Chief Minister Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim and MILG Minister Sinarimbo, “we will continue to improve the standard of governance and steer public service to cater to the needs of our Moro brethren.”

“Rest assured that in allowing you, our Muslim fellowmen to retake control of your destinies, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) will not let you tread through this rocky and unfamiliar path alone,” Año said.

Sinarimbo said the ceremony "marks another significant milestone" in the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement of the Bangsamoro as well as the Bangsamoro Organic Law.

“I commit to implement the law and provide all the necessary technical assistance to ensure that this (Cotabato City) local government unit, like all of the LGUs under the jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro Government, are able to optimize their performance,” Sinarimbo said.

Meanwhile, Ebrahim said the Bangsamoro Government was pleased and honored to accept the responsibility of supervising Cotabato City and the 63 barangays of North Cotabato as part of the BARMM.


“Sa turn over na ito, tayong lahat ang panalo, walang talo. In shaa Allah,” Ebrahim said.

“The historic vote for its inclusion during the 2019 plebiscite on the Bangsamoro Organic Law signals the people’s shared desire for lasting peace, development and understanding to the Bangsamoro people’s right to self-determination,” he added.

The chief minister assured that BARMM’s development will echo in the city and the 63 barangays, with no constituency left behind regardless of faith, ethnicity, or affiliation.

“We ask our dear constituents to find commonalities among our differences, to choose hope over fear, to choose unity over division, and to work together in co-creating the Bangsamoro – reflective of our shared stories as Moros, Christian Settlers, and Indigenous communities,” Ebrahim said.

Witnesses to the ceremony were National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Philippine National Police Chief Debold Sinas,  BARMM Grand Mufti Abu Huraira Udasan, Executive Secretary Abdulraof Macacua, Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal, DILG Undersecretary Marjorie Jalosjos, provincial governors, and municipal mayors, among others.

Also present were Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Undersecretary David Diciano and, via zoom, Department of Finance Undersecretary Bayani Agabin.

Meanwhile, Cotabato City officials led by Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi maintained their opposition to the inclusion in BARMM.

In her statement, she said they are still awaiting the result of the petition filed before the Supreme Court.

Wearing red shirts, employees of the city showed their support for the mayor.

Security measures were tight around the city to ensure the safe and orderly conduct of the turnover ceremony.—LDF, GMA News