Standing in Cotabato City is the Capitol building of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which the only region in the Philippines that has its own local government. (That’s what the “autonomous” in its name is for.) This makes Cotabato City the de facto regional center of the ARMM, which is ironic since Cotabato City itself is not part of ARMM—it’s part of the neighboring SOCCSKSARGEN region.
ARMM, which is currently composed of the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Shariff Kabunsuan, Basilan (except Isabela City), Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, was created by Republic Act No. 6734, otherwise known as the “Organic Act of the ARMM,” in 1989 and was expanded by Republic Act No. 9054 in 2002.
Among the autonomous powers devolved to the ARMM government is the power to create or dissolve local government units in its jurisdiction, a privilege normally reserved for the Congress of the Philippines. This power was exercised by the ARMM with the creation of the province of Shariff Kabunsuan from the 1st District of Maguindanao on October 28 of last year. (Shariff Kabunsuan was the missionary that introduced Islam to Mindanao back in the 15th century.)