BARMM parliament OKs split of 2 Maguindanao del Norte towns | Inquirer News

BARMM parliament OKs split of 2 Maguindanao del Norte towns

Members of the BangsamoroTransition Authority (BTA) parliament convene on Dec. 19 to take up on second reading the proposed creation of parliamentary districts in the Bangsamoro region.  barmm maguindanao towns

COLLECTIVE DECISION Members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) parliament convene on Dec. 19 to take up on second reading the proposed creation of parliamentary districts in the Bangsamoro region. —PHOTO COURTESY OF BTA PARLIAMENT MEDIA OFFICE

COTABATO CITY — The parliament of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) on Wednesday gave the green light for splitting two towns in Maguindanao del Norte province in order to create three more.

The move came just over a year after the once vast Maguindanao province split into Maguindanao del Sur and Maguindanao del Norte, raising hopes for more focused social service delivery to the local population, at least a third of whom are poor.


But the split of Maguindanao, and the further splintering of Sultan Kudarat and Datu Odin Sinsuat towns, are bound to change the traditionally clan-dominated sociopolitical landscape in the heartland of the Moro revolution.


On Wednesday, the region’s interim legislature approved Parliament Bill Nos. 190 and 191 creating the towns of Datu Balabaran Sinsuat and Sheik Abas Hamza, respectively, to be carved out of the current Datu Odin Sinsuat town. The measures were authored by Deputy Speaker Lanang Ali Jr.

Formerly known as Dinaig, Datu Odin Sinsuat is a first-class municipality with a population of 116,768, per the 2020 census. It hosts the Awang airport and military airbase, and the Army command covering Central Mindanao.

Republic Act No. 11550, which decreed the split of Maguindanao, designated Datu Odin Sinsuat as the capital of Maguindanao del Norte province.

Also firmed up on Wednesday was Parliament Bill No. 223, authored by member of parliament Baileng Mantawil, decreeing the creation of Nuling town, to be carved out of Sultan Kudarat town.

Formerly known as Nuling, Sultan Kudarat is a first-class municipality with a population of 105,121. It used to be the seat of Maguindanao province and is host to Camp Darapanan, the administrative base of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The three measures are now pending the approval of Chief Minister Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim. The plebiscite to ratify these is expected to be held within the first quarter of 2024.


Mixed reactions

The creation of the new towns has earned mixed reactions from the public, with supporters of the MILF’s political vehicle, the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP), among those vocal about their support for the measures.

Among those expressing opposition to the move were supporters of Datu Odin Sinsuat Mayor Lester Sinsuat.

The split of Datu Odin Sinsuat and Sultan Kudarat is seen to provide new space for former Moro revolutionaries entering electoral politics as a result of the 1996 and 2014 peace deals. Datu Odin Sinsuat is dominated by the Sinsuat clan while Sultan Kudarat by the Mastura clan.

Already, the MILF’s military chief, Abdulraof Macacua, has taken the helm of Maguindanao del Norte province through an appointment by President Marcos, trumping Sinsuat’s wife who was relegated to vice governor.

These developments increase the chances of the UBJP expanding its political power base in the run-up to the 2025 elections which would be the first time voters in the autonomous region will elect the members of the 80-seat parliament.

Earlier, the parliament had also approved the creation of eight new towns out of the 63 villages of Cotabato province, which has over 200,000 people, that joined the BARMM through the 2019 plebiscite to ratify the Bangsamoro Organic Law.

When the creation of the 11 new towns is ratified, Ebrahim, who also chairs the UBJP, will have the power to appoint their respective interim set of officials.

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READ: Duterte OKs bill splitting Maguindanao into two provinces 

TAGS: BARMM, Maguindanao del Norte

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