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COVIDCOTABATO CITY – Additional medical supplies and personal protective equipment are on their way to the island-provinces of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to combat the onslaught of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

The supplies – prepared by the BARMM's Rapid Emergency Action in Disaster Incidence (BARMM-READI) workforce – were transported Thursday via a navy vessel of the military’s Western Mindanao Command to BARMM referral hospitals and health offices in the islands of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi (BaSulTa) through the Polloc port in Maguindanao.

Mohammad Asnin Pendatun, BARMM cabinet secretary and concurrent regional Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Covid-19 spokesperson, said the supplies aim to augment the dwindling medical supplies of health units in the BaSulTa area.

"This is a continuous effort to strengthen our fight and protect our front-liners against Covid-19,” Pendatun said.

The supplies included boxes of PPE clothing, surgical and N95 face masks, face shields, isolation gowns, gloves; gallons of alcohol, disinfection solutions, thermal scanners; and assorted medicine and vitamins.

Only recently, the BARMM also augmented the PPE and medical supplies in the three Covid-19 referral hospitals in the region – the Cotabato Sanitarium Hospital in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao; the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center in Cotabato City; and the Amai Pakpak Medical Center in Marawi City.

The BARMM's Ministry of Health (MOH) also turned over medical supplies and equipment to the provincial health office, rural health units (RHUs), and district hospitals in Lanao del Sur.

Moreover, the MOH has allotted additional PHP20,000 to all the RHUs' monthly maintenance and other operating expenses to maximize its crucial role in combating Covid-19.

In a separate interview, lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, the BARMM’s interior minister and concurrent head of BARMM-READI, said the regional government has begun releasing the additional PHP155 million to the local government units' (LGUs) quick response funds.

"This is an initiative from the regional office of the chief minister to intensify the LGUs’ efforts in containing the spread of the disease," Sinarimbo said.

Under the quick response allotment, each of the BARMM’s five provinces – Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi – will receive PHP5 million; the three cities of Cotabato, Marawi, and Lamitan, PHP2 million each; the 116 municipalities, PHP1 million each; and the 63 barangays in North Cotabato, PHP8 million. (PNA) By Albashir Saiden