By Ali Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has asked for a meeting with the leadership of this city to iron out kinks in operational coordination, and ensure smooth implementation of measures against a common enemy – coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
“It has to be said that even last month, we have already sent a letter to the local government unit concerned to have a meeting (with us) para magkaroon ng discussion and resolution on some issues affecting our operations regarding community quarantine,” Mohammad Asnin Pendatun, spokesman of the Bangsamoro Inter-Agency Task Force, said in his latest virtual presser Tuesday.
Pendatun, who is also the BARMM cabinet minister, said he has followed up the request with another letter “inviting them (city government officials) to sit down (with us) and discuss things.”
City hall is supposed to be under the supervision authority of the regional government after the electorate voted for inclusion in the territory of BARMM in the plebiscite held in January 2019.
But the city leadership, led by Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi, refused to submit to regional supervision, citing a petition she had earlier filed to question some issues surrounding the plebiscite, and the lack of a local government code that BARMM is mandated to pass.
The stalemate on the city government-BARMM leadership relationship had caught the attention of Malacañang, even as President Duterte reportedly presided over two meetings with Mayor Sayadi and Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim on last February.
Reportedly on the recommendation of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, the President proposed a temporary arrangement that would allow city hall and the regional government to maintain status quo until December 2020.