COTABATO CITY ― Bangsamoro lawmakers are pushing for the establishment of hospitals in Maguindanao del Norte and declaring the Dimapatoy watershed as a “protected area” in the BARMM.
Two proposed measures entered on first reading, seeking to construct hospitals in the municipalities of Datu Blah Sinsuat and Northern Kabuntalan to serve the Bangsamoro constituencies with highly accessible, affordable, comprehensive health care, and hospital services.
Filed by Engr. Baintan Adil-Ampatuan, Parliament Bill No. 123 calls for the construction of a municipal hospital in Datu Blah Sinsuat, Maguindanao del Norte.
In October 2022, severe tropical storm Nalgae, locally known as ‘Bagyong Paeng,’ wreaked havoc in the Bangsamoro region.
Barangay Pura in Maguindanao was one of the villages severely impacted by the tropical storm.
“The tragedy left the situation impenetrable. Worse, the local government of the municipality and its health response units did all they could but could not effectively respond to those who were badly affected and injured because they had no local hospital,” Ampatuan explained.
The proposed Pura Municipal Hospital will begin as an infirmary with a capacity of at least 10–15 beds.
The said hospital may be upgraded into a higher facility with a larger capacity based on the Ministry of Health’s evaluation and recommendation.
Another Bangsamoro legislator, MP Hashemi Dilangalen, a medical doctor, is also advocating for the establishment of a hospital in Northern Kabuntalan, Maguindanao del Norte.
The Northern Kabuntalan Municipal Hospital (NKMH), a level I general hospital with fifty beds, will be under the direct administrative and technical supervision of the Integrated Maguindanao Provincial Health Office.
Northern Kabuntalan is home to 26,000 people, and according to MP Dilangalen, they rely solely on a rural health unit for their medical needs.
Cases that exceed the RHU’s capabilities are referred to hospitals located outside of the municipality.
“The lack of a local hospital adds logistical and financial burdens for the patients, especially the less fortunate,” said Dilangalen, noting that the situation presents an immediate need to provide residents with an accessible hospital service.
Once PB No. 139 is passed, the IMPHO will prepare a hospital development plan in consultation with the BARMM’s Ministry of Health, in accordance with sound hospital administration principles.
The BARMM’s MOH will consult with the local government units of Maguindanao del Sur and the municipality of Northern Kabuntalan, as well as other relevant stakeholders, to determine the location of the hospital.
PB No. 139 was also co-authored by MPs Eddie Alih, Suharto Esmael, Amilbahar Mawallil, Nabila Margarita Pangandaman, and Abdulraof Macacua.
Meanwhile, other Bangsamoro lawmakers are also eyeing to declare the Dimapatoy Watershed in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao del Norte, as a protected area in BARMM.
The Metro Cotabato Water District, which serves the cities of Cotabato and Maguindanao, also suffered severe damage from Tropical Storm Paeng.
“This is attributed to the lack of trees that could hold the heavy rains around the area,” said Ampatuan, the main author of BTA Bill No. 126.
Among the proposed bill’s protection and preservation measures for the Dimapatoy Watershed are annual tree planting inside the watershed and within its adjacent areas, as well as the deployment of forest guards in stations at the watershed’s entry and exit points.
PB Nos. 123 and 126 were co-sponsored by MPs Romeo Sema, Suwaib Oranon, Amilbahar Mawallil, Atty. Laisa Alamia, Atty. Suharto Ambolodto, Engr. Don Mustapha Loong, Atty. Rasol Mitmug Jr., Rasul Ismael, Khalid Hadji Abdullah, Jaafar Apollo Mikhail Matalam, and Bassir Utto (LTAIS-Public Information, Publication, and Media Relations Division)