BARMM takes over Sultan Bolkiah mosque in Cotabato City

Published January 9, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Ali Macabalang

COTABATO CITY – The Bangsamoro autonomous government has officially assumed as caretaker of the panoramic Grand Masjid of Brunei Sultan Bolkiah in this city, ending finally a nine-year limbo in its maintenance and operation.

Undersecretary Emil Sadain (PIA)
DPWH Undersecretary Emil Sadain (PIA/ MANILA BULLETIN FILE)

The Department of Public and Highways (DPWH), represented by Undersecretary Emil K. Sadain, turned over official documents transferring the management responsibility over the religious facility to the officialdom of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in symbolic rites here on Wednesday.

BARMM Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim received the enabling documents and assured to improve the internal and external sections of the Grand Golden Mosque, according to regional spokesman Naguib Sinarimbo.

“We will ensure the efficacious operation of the facility and preserve its value as a place of worship and one of the tourist spots in the region,” said Sinarimbo, who assisted the chief minister during the turnover ceremony.

Sinarimbo, concurrent BARMM’s Minister for Interior and Local Government, recalled that Finance Secretary Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez III had offered to the regional leadership the mosque’s management in initial talks in November last year.

Dominguez heads the national contingent to the Inter-governmental Relations Body (IGRB) which the President created last year to coordinate devolution of functions and powers to the autonomous governance. His counterpart in BARMM is Regional Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal.

The building of Golden Grand Mosque, designed by international Filipino Architect Felino Palafox, was completed in 2011 at a five-hectare lot in barangay Kalanganan here. It entailed US$ 43 million donation from Brunei Darussalam Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, official data showed.

The DPWH, which administered the construction, faced the dilemma of choosing where to turn over the mosque management – whether to the Cotabato City hall or the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The city hall reportedly refused to assume responsibility, while the ARMM government did the same since Cotabato City was not yet part of the area of regional autonomy.

As a result, the national government took over maintaining the facility, tapping a few locals to undertake maintenance efforts, Bulletin sources said.

Even after the inclusion of Cotabato City in the BARMM territory through the February, 2019, plebiscite for R.A. 11054, sources said, the city hall continued to refuse responsibility because of funding requirement. RA 11054, the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), created BARMM in replacement of the 29-year old ARMM.

With Cotabato City becoming its component area this time, the BARMM government “gladly accepted” responsibility for the management of the grand mosque, Sinarimbo told the Bulletin in an earlier interview.

He said the regional government will allocate ample portion of its subsidies and local revenues for the maintenance and operations of the mosque, adding that the BARMM’s office of the Grand Mufti will likely manage the facility.

Sinarimbo on Thursday said they started laying out a plan for the “quick” renovation of the mosque.

He echoed Chief Minister Ebrahim’s desire to invite the Sultan Bolkiah to visit the mosque sometime this year or next.