Conflict ravaged community now has P3.5M worth barangay hall

John Unson - Philstar.com
Conflict ravaged community now has P3.5M worth barangay hall
The newly-constructed barangay hall in Balacayon in Pigcawayan, Cotabato is now open to the public.
Philstar.com / John Unson

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Residents of an area rocked by deadly clashes between soldiers and Moro guerillas in decades past now boast of having a P3.5 million worth barangay hall, for them an icon of peace in their community.

Traditional Moro leaders and representatives of the Bangsamoro government together opened to the public last Thursday the newly constructed barangay hall in Balacayon in Pigcawayan town in the province of Cotabato.

Pigcawayan Mayor Juanito Agustin told reporters Saturday while Barangay Balacayon is no longer under his administration, he appreciates the Bangsamoro government’s having built, via its Ministry of the Interior and Local Government, a P3.5 million worth barangay hall in the area.

Balacayon is one of the 63 barangays in different towns in Cotabato province in Region 12 where voters approved of the inclusion of their barangays in the core territory of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in a plebiscite in early 2019.

The 63 predominantly Moro barangays scattered in different towns in Cotabato province are now grouped as BARMM’s Special Geographic Area, where there are enclaves of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that has two peace compacts with Malacañang, the 2012 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro and, subsequently, the 2014 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro.

The new barangay hall in Balacayon, one of several BARMM barangays in Pigcawayan, was constructed by the office of Bangsamoro Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo.

“Thanks to Local Government Minister Sinarimbo and Bangsamoro Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim. Now we shall  feel the real presence of the government in our midst,” Tato Akmad, barangay chairman of Balacayon, said Saturday.

A rice trader, Samsudin Mansur Atal, said he and members of his family are proud of having a newly-built barangay hall in Balacayon.

The barangay was the scene of bloody encounters between state troops and Moro rebels before the government had crafted separate peace agreements with the Moro National Liberation Front and the MILF.

“Barangay Balacayon is no longer under our local government unit but its residents come to Pigcawayan’s town center for commerce and trade,” Agustin said.

Agustin, a first-termer mayor, said the peace and development now spreading around the BARMM barangays in their municipality will also benefit their local communities.

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