COTABATO CITY, Philippines – The House Committee on Appropriation on Tuesday approved a proposal by Maguindanao First District Rep. Sandra Sema to establish another Regional Trial Court in Cotabato City.


Sema’s district also covers Cotabato City, which has 37 barangays.


Sema introduced House Bill 5910, which seeks the creation of one more RTC in Cotabato City, in response to clamors from Muslim and Christian communities in the first district of Maguindanao.


Lack of courts and judges have partly been blamed for the worsening peace and order problems in the city, where more than a hundred people have been killed, in one attack after another, in the last 15 months.


The nagging security issues hounding the city has prompted the city council, chaired by Sema’s spouse, Cotabato City Vice-Mayor Muslimin Sema, to hold two peace summits, where participants discussed possible solutions to the unabated rise in local criminal cases.


There is a big roadside tarpaulin sign at the Tamontaka area here which states that Cotabato City is a gunless area, an absolute contrast with the wanton attacks by suspected guns for hire, high incidence of motorcycle theft and robbery cases that happen in the area, mostly unsolved.


Sema said HB 5910, which she introduced just recently, is soon to be submitted to the House Justice Committee for its study and approval.