Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to get P100 billion


Manila, Philippines, MINA — The proposed Bangsamoro government will be getting at least P100 billion annually in various appropriations, share in taxes, revenues and block grants to help it wipe out poverty and promote sustainable growth, according to the proposal approved by Congress to create the new autonomous region in Mindanao.

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives approved the proposed “Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao” this week. It also annually aims to ratify this on Monday, just hours before President Duterte delivers his third State of the Nation Address (SONA).

The political entity to be created by the proposed Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) is to be called the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, replacing the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Under the BOL, the new autonomous region gets a 75-percent share of the total national taxes collected within its territory. It will also receive a block grant equivalent to five percent share of the net national collections of the bureaus of Internal Revenue and of Customs from the third fiscal year immediately preceding the current fiscal year.

The revenue share for the block grant, earlier estimated to be about P60 billion, will be reviewed five years after the enactment of the law and every five years thereafter.

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Aside from that, BOL also mandates a P50-billion special development fund to be allocated by the national government for conflict-affected communities over a period of 10 years and allows local government units within the Bangsamoro region to continue receiving its internal revenue allotments.

The region will also get all revenues from the exploration, development and utilization of natural resources, including mines and minerals, although the revenues from petroleum, other fossil fuels and uranium from the region will be shared equally by the national government and the Bangsamoro government.

A proposed intergovernmental fiscal policy board shall provide for the sharing of the national government and the Bangsamoro in the income of government-owned and controlled corporations.

The national government is also expected to shoulder the livelihood and other needs of members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and its armed wing, Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Force; the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)/Bangsamoro Armed Force; and their women’s auxiliary forces through various rehabilitation, reconstruction and development packages as part of the normalization process mandated by the proposed law.


All for financing peace

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto however said that, based on his initial calculations, the annual allocations and revenues for the envisioned Bangsamoro region could go higher as there are other expenditures that the national government is expected to shoulder despite the grant of fiscal and political autonomy.

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“We are all for financing peace. I want a costly peace than a cheap war. But the nation must be told how heavy the burden on the taxpayers will be,” Recto said at the start of the debates on the landmark bill earlier this year.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian commended yesterday the MILF and the MNLF for their contributions to making the BOL a reality.

“We recognize the sacrifices of the MILF and MNLF and we thank them for their patience and their willingness to set aside political differences for the sake of lasting peace in Mindanao,” he said after the approval of the BOL by the bicameral conference committee.

Gatchalian said the inputs of both groups were vital in making sure the BOL was inclusive and would end all conflict with various secessionist factions.

“The support of both groups for the BOL means there is a greater chance for the new Bangsamoro region to succeed,” he said. “Peace always fosters greater economic development. When there are more economic opportunities, it will be easier for people to rise from poverty and be financially independent.”

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Meanwhile, the local government executives of 22 towns in Lanao del Norte are taking steps to avert untoward incidents in case Duterte fails to sign the BOL into law before he delivers the SONA.

In a meeting with the Department of the Interior and Local Government, local executives were briefed on the steps needed to prevent negative reactions from sectors that favor the inclusion of Balo-i, Pantar, Nunungan, Tangkal, Munai and Tagoloan towns in the Bangsamoro Territory.

Those who favor the inclusion of the six towns claim that this may not happen as people will surely vote against it in a plebiscite.

The latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed that only about four in 10 Filipinos believe the BOL will bring peace to Mindanao.

In the survey conducted from June 27 to 30 using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adult Filipinos nationwide, only 37 percent agreed that the passage will bring peace with 24 percent disagreeing, bringing the ratings to a net agreement of +13 (moderate).

It was a moderate +29 in Metro Manila (47 percent agree, 17 percent disagree); and +19, also moderate, in balance Luzon (34 percent agree, 15 disagree).   (T/RS5/RS1)

Mi’raj Islamic NewsAgency (MINA)

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