- ATTY. NAGUIB G. SINARIMBO, Minister, Ministry of the Interior and Local Government, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM-MILG)
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LUGUS ISLAND, Sulu — Our journey continued on to the island municipality of Lugus in Sulu. To get to Lugus, we needed to cross the Siasi Channel, a body of water that separates the group of islands in the province of Sulu and the cluster of islands of the province of Tawi Tawi. This is also where the Celebes Sea meets the Sulu Sea. The old folks in South Ubian were telling us any newcomer to the islands will always be greeted with a rough sea by the channel.
(Editor’s Note: Interior Minister Naguib G. Sinarimbo joined the Philippine Airlines (PAL) inaugural flight to Tawi-Tawi on June 9, 2022, marking PAL’s flights from Cotabato City (capital and seat of government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao or BARMM to the island province. This is his third chronicle of his trip with PAL. BARMM has three island provinces, all in Western Mindanao or Region IX. Its landlock provinces are Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao.)
It was raining when we left before noontime the island of Tabawan on our way to Lugus. True enough, the sea was rough and I was concerned, though I maintained a stoic face, because some of us do not even know how to swim. Eng’r Bob, our PMDD Chief, was monitoring our progress thru an app in his mobile phone and was complaining that the direction of the speedboat is towards Pangutaran and not Lugus. Our expert speedboat navigator nonetheless persisted and we were all showered with seawater as the boat battles the wave. In the end we were all relieved when the operator gradually moved towards the right and we saw the island municipality of Lugus. These expert sea navigators are a master of their craft.
In Lugus we were greeted by the smiling Mayor Hadar M. Hajiri who ushered us into his house which also serves as the temporary Municipal Hall of Lugus. When asked by the accompanying journalists in our Team why he has bed in his office, he jokingly said that he has been hosting this municipality in his house for a long time. A lunch of some of the most exotic seafood in the island concluded our brief meeting.
We immediately proceeded to the groundbreaking of our Municipal Hall Building for this island municipality. We also handed over to the LGU (local government unit) half of the budget of the Php25-million project. It was here last year when we committed to give this to the municipality its permanent Municipal Hall. We also signed the MOA (memorandum of agreement) for the desalination machine for this municipality.
It was in this island municipality, too, where I first saw how difficult it is the situation of lack of potable water in the islands. As we were docking here last year, I saw a boatload of people with plastic containers and I asked the Mayor where are these people heeding. He told me they were bound for Siasi to fetch drinking water. Imagine crossing that channel everyday to fetch water! It was then that I made a resolve to provide solution to this urgent problem of our people in the islands.
I am glad we are fulfilling that promise now. (✓)
Featured image by Interior Minister Naguib G. Sinarimbo showing a seascape of Lugus Island.