Geographically closer to Malaysia than to Manila, the country’s farthest constituents are assured of better access to Philippine government’s services, through the governance support programs being provided by the Bangsamoro Region to its component-local government units.
A P 25-million municipal hall building has been slated for completion in April in Turtle Islands, Tawi-Tawi by the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (MILG-BARMM).
MILG Minister Naguib Sinarimbo said the municipal hall projects granted to a number of BARMM’s 116 towns formed part of the 2021 Support to Local Moral Governance Fund of the Office of Chief Minister Ahod Al-Hadj Murad Ebrahim.
The same program, Sinarimbo said, also supports provision of barangay hall buildings to BARMM villages whose development had been stalled by armed conflict, initially, in Mindanao mainland.
Consisting of six small islands—T ganak, Baguan, Langaan, Boan, Lihiman, and the Great Bakungan– Turtle Islands municipality is closer even to Malaysia than to Tawi-Tawi’s capital town of Bongao.
BARMM’s municipal hall buildings are designed to improve the services of the region’s LGUs and ensure the presence of moral governance in the country’s farthest town within the Bangsamoro autonomous region.
Sinarimbo said geographical isolation in terms of distance would not be a hindrance to BARMM government efforts to bring governance to the region’s farthest LGU.
“Despite its distance, we are also constructing a municipal hall for this farthest municipality to ensure that the people feel the presence of governance,” Sinarimbo said.
“We thank the local government unit of Turtle Islands led by Mayor Haji Faisal Jamalul for this partnership,” he added.
Engineer Bob Sali, MILG-BARMM’s construction division chief, said the town hall will not only serve as a help desk for the government’s bureaucracy in implementing governing policies for the betterment of its constituents. It will also provide symbolic functions in the community.
It would serve as a venue for holding local government business, implementing the government services, and in the conduct of public related services and activities within the offices or in furnished council meeting rooms, Sali said.
Turtle Islands is a fifth-class municipality inhabited by a population of over 4,000 people, and is a protected area as a natural breeding ground for green sea turtles (pawikan).
Presidential Proclamation No .171 issued in 1999 declares Turtle Islands as a protected area pursuant to RA No. 7586, known as the National Integrated Protected Area System (NIPAS) Act of 1992 and RA No. 9147, the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, both of which prohibit the collection of turtle eggs.