|About the LGU|
|EXISTING GOVERNMENT MACHINERY|
Cotabato City is a chartered City geographically surrounded by the Province of Maguindanao that belongs to the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Yet the City is considered part of Region XII, not of ARMM. Based on the 2001 Plebiscite, ARMM would also include the provinces of Lanao del Sur (located north of Maguindanao), Tawi Tawi, Sulu and Basilan, with Marawi as the lone City of the Region. On the other hand, Region XII, as provided under Executive Order No. 36 issued on September 2001, includes the provinces of North Cotabato, South Cotabato Saranggani, Sultan Kudarat and the cities of Cotabato, General Santos, Kidapawan, Koronadal, and Tacurong.
This unusual situation makes local governance a bit tricky and complicated because of the influences of these two inherent administrative and political bodies on the social, economic, and political aspects of Cotabato City. The City has physical and economic linkages with the surrounding towns of the Maguindanao Province. These connections are further enhanced by the transport links primarily through the port and the airport, which are both located outside the City. In terms of planning procedures mandated by the Local Government Code, the City's development plans would have to be integrated with that of Region XII, not of ARMM. Already, there have been issues, like waste disposal and water resource development, whose resolutions have been constrained by territorial and jurisdictional difficulties.
Other issues impact on the conduct of commerce. Businessmen could not expect direct action by City officials on the alleged high fees and double charges at the port, simply because it is beyond the jurisdiction of the City. The same goes to securing LTO permits and franchises on public transportation, which the traders have to do twice – one with the City and one with the Maguindanao province – in order to bring their goods to and from Cotabato City.
The local government's efforts on peace and order are also affected. Although many would say that there has been a decrease in the frequency of crime and violence in the City, these are not appreciated by outsiders who still equate the City with the untoward incidents in the provinces of Maguindanao, North Cotabato and South Cotabato, or even in other parts of Mindanao. Thus, investors and travelers alike shy away from the City because of this image problem. Efforts should be exerted by all sectors in Cotabato City to mitigate this negative image. This will be a key and a part of the development proposals for this sector.