MANILA -- Cotabato City can thrive, even without partaking of a P80-billion annual grant under the proposed Bangsamoro region, its mayor said.
The city of nearly 300,000 people is unlikely to join the Bangsamoro should a plebiscite be held today, said Mayor Cynthia Guiani.
While Maguindanao province, where Cotabato is located, is part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the city is an independent component of the larger SOCCSKSARGEN region.
"Naniniwala ako kahit ano pa ang ibigay mong development, if the leader—'yung talagang ulo ng Cotabato City will not move, wala ring mangyayari. But even with meager resources, kayang pausbungin ang ekonomiya ng Cotabato City," she said in an interview that aired on ANC Monday.
(I believe that no matter what kind of development you give, if the head of Cotabato City will not move, nothing will happen. Even with meager resources, we can make the economy of the city grow.)
Cotabato is the "primary urban center" in SOCCSKSARGEN and is home to an economic zone, an airport and Halal businesses, according to the National Economic Development Authority.
The Bangsamoro Organic Law, which seeks to supplant the ARMM, calls for a plebiscite in the cities of Cotabato and Isabela, 6 towns in Lanao del Norte, and 39 barangays in North Cotabato for inclusion in the new political entity.