BARMM rejects ‘national DPWH’ unit to preserve autonomy

Published October 2, 2019, 10:59 AM

by Patrick Garcia

By Ali Macabalang

COTABATO CITY – Interim Bangsamoro government spokesman Naguib Sinarimbo has explained that the rejection by their regional parliament of Muslim lawmakers’ proposal to infuse into the region a “national DPWH” office was an assertion for essential autonomy.

(Keith Bacongco/ MANILA  BULLETIN)
(Keith Bacongco/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Sinarimbo, a lawyer, appreciated the intention of eight members of the House of Representatives (HoR) in proposing an office of the “national Department of Public Works and Highways” in the bureaucracy of the Bangsamoro region purportedly to ensure the “smooth” implementation of nationally funded infrastructures in areas of autonomy.

But he quickly added that allowing the proposal to take its course would set a “precedent (that) will surely kill the very essence of autonomy and am sure many of the Moro patriots will not allow this.”

He was referring to eight Muslim HoR members led by House Deputy Speaker and Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman who filed last month House Resolution No. 333 seeking the creation of “National DPWH” units in the bureaucracy of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Hataman, alongside Reps. Ronnie Sinsuat Sr. and Esmael Mangudadatu of Maguindanao, Munir Arbison of Sulu, Rashidin Matba of Tawi-Tawi, Yasser Balindong and Ansaruddin Adiong of Lanao del Sur, and Amihilda Sangcopan of the Anak Mindanao party-list, believed the BARMM’s Ministry of Public Works and Highway (MPWH) could not ensure efficient proceedings of nationally funded infrastructure projects in the Bangsamoro region.

All eight solons are from BARMM and four of them had served as elected officials of the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). They cited in their resolution their perceived inefficiency of the defunct ARMM-DPWH office in relations to construction and maintenance of national infra projects such as highways and bridges.

In the 29-year existence of ARMM, the DPWH central office had designated its field units in Regions 9, 10, and 12 in implementing nationally funded projects as well as maintenance of national highways and bridges in the region, with the ARMM’s DPWH relegated to mere “monitoring.”

House Resolution No. 333 proponents believe that their proposal is possible under the provisions of R.A. 11054, the BARMM charter.

But Sinarimbo, a former ARMM executive secretary now serving as BARMM-Interior and Local Government minister, argued that the BARMM basic law has “no provision” allowing the national government to establish a national DPWH regional office in the Bangsamoro.

Sinarimbo, who helped craft the enabling bill of R.A. 11054, even cited some Supreme Court jurisprudence that sustained the preservation of autonomy in past legal disputes.

The 80-member interim BARMM parliament passed last September 20 Resolution No. 103 “strongly objecting” to the proposed creation of a “national DPWH” in the Bangsamoro region.

The regional resolution was deliberated by 59 parliament members present in a marathon session here, with 40 of them voting affirmatively, nine dissenting, while 10 others abstained.

Sinarimbo said BARMM Chief Minister Ahod “Murad” Ebrahim, his cabinet, and the “overwhelming majority” of the regional parliament are unanimous in their belief that nationally funded projects in the Bangsamoro region can proceed smoothly via a memorandum of agreement between the MPWH and the DPWH central office.