Cotabato City mayor names 4 deputy mayors

Cotabato City’s four deputy mayors will have a say before executive decisions are made about matters that would impact the sectors they represent

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – Cotabato City Mayor Mohammad Ali Matabalao named a former vice mayor and three other influential community leaders as deputy mayors to advise, and help him ensure smooth and impartial delivery of services to residents.

The new appointments, made on Friday, July 8, came just days after Matabalao announced that he planned to seek the help of a group of influential residents to advise him before he makes important decisions that would impact four major groupings in the city: Muslims, indigenous peoples, Chinese-Filipinos, and descendants of non-Mindanao settlers from Luzon and the Visayas in the 20th century. 

Appointed as Matabalao’s four deputy mayors are Hadji Abdullah Andang, Art Thomas Calingasan, Jun Panalag, and Ongpin Yu Ekey.

Andang, an academic who was a city councilor and vice mayor, will serve as Cotabato City’s deputy mayor for Muslim communities. 

Calingasan, a 65-year-old businessman who traces his roots to Southern Luzon, will be Matabalao’s deputy mayor for Christian settlers. 

Panalag, a tribal leader, will serve as Matabalao’s deputy mayor for indigenous peoples in Cotabato.

The fourth deputy mayor, Ongpin, is a scion of an old and wealthy Cotabato family that owns a popular hardware store. Ongpin was tasked to focus on Chinese-Filipino concerns in the city.

Matabalao said he picked the four because he was certain they could work on the same principles and advocacies that he has.

But he said none of the city deputy mayors would duplicate the functions of existing city hall officials, and neither would they be above the city’s vice mayor.

Neither did he say if the deputy mayors would draw salaries or allowances from city hall, or if their services would be given pro bono and voluntarily.

Matabalao said the four deputy mayors would have a say before executive decisions are made about matters that would impact the sectors they represent.

The four deputy mayors would also be members of Cotabato’s “council of leaders,” a group that has yet to be organized by the local government. 

The council, according to Matabalao, would be composed of representatives of religious, business, public transportation, agriculture, academic, senior citizens, youth, persons with disability, solo parents, and overseas Filipino workers’ groups. –