Bangsamoro prospect spurs infra projects in Maguindanao

Maguindanao Rep. Sandra Sema inspects one of many congressional road projects in Cotabato City, intended to complement Malacaaang’s peace overture with local Moro communities.


MANILA, Philippines The office of Maguindanao Rep. Sandra Sema implemented more than P20-million worth of infrastructure projects in the city in recent months in anticipation of its rise as a component area of the proposed Bangsamoro political entity.


Cotabato City, which has 37 barangays, is seat of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which could possibly be replaced soon with a Bangsamoro government through the Bangsamoro Basic Law, now pending in Congress.


“All of these new projects complement the efforts of Malacaaang to restore normalcy and economic stability in areas covered by the Mindanao peace process,” Sema on Wednesday said in an emailed statement.


The office of Sema implemented more than a hundred projects in the first district of Maguindanao and the 37 barangays in Cotabato City in the past five years, designed to expedite the economic growth of recipient-areas, all covered by the 1997 ceasefire accord between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.


Sema is co-sponsor of the enabling measure for the ARMM’s replacement with a Bangsamoro government, the Bangsamoro bill, now undergoing plenary proceedings at the House of Representatives.


Among the projects being presently implemented by Sema in Cotabato City using congressional grants are roads straddling through seven mostly predominantly Moro barangays.


One of the flagship projects Sema’s office is helping oversee is a multi-million eastern diversion road that could connect Cotabato City to nearby Sultan Kudarat and Datu Odin towns in Maguindanao, traversing peasant communities.


The on-going construction of the diversion road, traversing vast swaths of rice farms east of Cotabato City, is bankrolled by the Saudi Fund, which is helping push the Mindanao peace process forward.


The grant was approved after the signing on Sept. 2, 1996 of the final peace agreement between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front, brokered by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).


Saudi Arabia is a member of the OIC, a bloc of more than 50 Muslim states, including petroleum exporting nations in the Middle East and North Africa.