BARMM parliament allotted 16,000 sacks of rice for distribution to COVID-19-affected residents

By Ali Macabalang

COTABATO CITY – The 80 members of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) will be getting a total of 16,000 sacks of rice which they could distribute to constituents who were adversely affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the BARMM’s Bureau of Public Information (BPI) said.

Attached is a file photo of BARMM Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim and Parliament Speaker Ali Pangalian Balindong File photo of BARMM Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim and Parliament Speaker Ali Pangalian Balindong (via Ali Macabalang / MANILA BULLETIN)

BARMM Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim officially informed Parliament Speaker Ali Pangalian Balindong on Monday about the grant of 200 bags of rice for each parliament member to distribute to their constituents. This would be apart from the relief goods and the cash aid the local residents have received from other government line agencies, the BPI said.

"These (rice allocations) will be distributed to affected residents of BARMM, especially those who reside in the far-flung areas and provinces each of the Parliament members represent," Ebrahim was quoted as saying in his letter to Speaker Balindong.

The offices of the executive secretary and the parliament speaker were already crafting the mechanics of the rice allocation dispersal.

The 16,000 bags of rice cost a total of P33.6 million, with each parliament member getting a share of 200 bags worth a total of P420,000.

Earlier, the BARMM Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on COVID-19 said the Office of the Chief Minister (OCM) was looking into a proposal of granting P1-million cash for each parliament member to be used in the purchase of goods that they may want to donate to needy sectors or individuals.

It was not known whether or not the rice allocation formed part of the proposal.

Meanwhile, Parliament Secretary General Raby Angkal expressed his gratitude to the OCM, saying the rice allotment “will be of big help in reaching out the poor members of our society (affected in the pandemic).”

In his message on the advent of Ramadan, Ebrahim said the COVID-19 has substantially subdued the usual festive mode of celebrating the month-long Islamic fasting.

Alms and donations during Ramadan earn Divine rewards 1,200 times over similar acts on ordinary months, according to Islamic narratives.

But Ebrahim, in his Ramadan message, said the COVID-19 pandemic has “awakened us to a situation where taking care of each other means maintaining a distance from one another.”