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Basilan Bishop laments lawlessness


ISABELA CITY, BASILAN – Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad, DD has expressed his dismay and laments the seemingly uncontrollable lawlessness in the island province of Basilan and calls on the national government to stop the senseless criminal acts in the island.

“We are now restless and we fear for our own life as we are not free to roam around,” Bishop Jumoad told reporters as he lamented that murders and kidnappings have become rampant in the province, making it unsafe for civilians to go out into the streets.

The Bishop said that he even boycotted the consultation meeting with local governments in ARMM initiated by the Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo in Zamboanga City last week to express his dismay over government’s inaction on the Basilan situation.

Reports said that before flying to Sulu, Secretary Robredo made a surprise visit to Isabela City and met with Bishop Jumoad to assure of government’s sincerity in dealing with the problems of the island.

The Bishop said that the DILG Secretary did not, however, gave a concrete plan to address the security problem in Basilan, but he assured that the national government will closely monitor the situation of the island and promised to hold local governments accountable and responsible.

Jonas Cabiles Soltes, communications officer of the office of DILG Secretary, when asked about the bishop’s statements, only reiterated the directive of Sec. Robredo cautioning the regional and local government officials of the ARMM to refrain from absenteeism, reminding them that such act is subject to disciplinary actions.

Seemingly, absenteeism of local officials has been pointed out during one of DILG’s consultation as one of the pressing issues that needs to be addressed.

The directive was issued to the regional governor, provincial governors, vice governors, city and municipal mayors, city and municipal vice mayors, sangguniang members, and the DILG regional secretary of the ARMM.

The statement said that pending the investigation of a complaint on absenteeism, preventive suspension may be imposed on the official and disciplinary actions maybe imposed as prescribed by the Muslim Mindanao Act or the Local Government Code of the ARMM.

The Bishop hopes that the national government will keep its promise and see concrete action from the national government in holding local chief executives responsible for the uncontrolled criminalities in their area of responsibility.

“People want to feel that the national government is doing something,” the Bishop told reporters, saying that with the way crimes are being committed with impunity in Basilan, only two kinds of fate await residents of the province—get killed or be kidnapped.

Meanwhile, the civil society group in Basilan appealed on the good Secretary to compel its provincial and city/municipal offices to exercise its mandate to discipline erring local government units (LGUs), especially on the issue of local governance.

In response, Soltes further reiterated Sec. Robredo’s call on ARMM regional governor to support the enforcement of disciplinary actions of the provincial governors on absenteeism of erring officials, as well as impose appropriate sanctions, in accordance with pertinent laws, against local chief executives for non-compliance with the law and the DILG directive.

By Rene V. Carbayas-PIA9-BST

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