President Rodrigo Roa Duterte administers the oath to the members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority during a ceremony at the Malacañan Palace on February 22, 2019. RICHARD MADELO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Duterte pledges to provide budget for BARMM

Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao-President Rodrigo Duterte has pledged to provide a budget for the Bangsamoro autonomous region to support its development, the Manila Times said in its report.

He assured members of the Bangsamoro transition government that the region’s resources will belong to the Bangsamoro people, said the Manila Times report.

“Violence visited us every now and then. I hope that we can end this. And I assure you — there is one contentious issue about your resources. It’s all yours,” Duterte told the 80-member Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) during the launching and oath taking of members of the transition government.

The BTA will govern the newly formed Bangsamoro Region in Mindanao that will replace the ARMM.

“It belongs to the Mindanaoans. Do not be afraid that you will be deprived of this. It will always benefit the Mindanaoan and that is the purpose why we are here. We do away with greed. We do away with oppression,” he added.

The President, however, admitted that the government could not afford to give the budget to the new autonomous region in one go.

“We will provide the budget,” Duterte told reporters in a chance interview after administering the oath of the members of the interim government led by Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim.

“But it will not be given in one time. It’s impossible. We cannot afford to do that,” he added.

Under the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the new region will have an annual block grant or a 5 percent share in the national internal revenue. The block grant is estimated to reach P60 billion, the Manila Times report said.

The law also mandates a 10-year special development fund worth P50 billion to help rebuild communities affected by conflict.

Duterte said the government must collect ample revenues that would be allocated to the Bangsamoro region.

He added that the region’s funds would be given “as the need arises and as we collect the funds.”

The creation of the BTA is one of the major steps in the peace process between the Philippine government and the MILF, which once led a secessionist rebellion in Mindanao. (Source: The Manila Times, 02-24-19)