Too early to judge BARMM, says Moro exec
COTABATO CITY—A member of the interim government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has cautioned critics of the new political entity against imposing on its officials high expectations for an early turnaround of the region’s situation.
Dr. Safrullah Dipatuan, BARMM health minister, said it would be too early to judge the BARMM’s performance and its capacity to meet the expectations of the Bangsamoro and other people.
In his social media posts, Dipatuan cited the lack of resources needed to operate the regional government as among the hurdles its officials had to surmount.
He feared that President Duterte was not given the correct information by his people on the true state of the BARMM transition.
Dipatuan said that four months after the BARMM’s inauguration in February, it was still negotiating with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for the release of the P1.5-billion transition fund.
This is crucial “so that it can operate in full blast while waiting for the initial release of the annual block grant,” as provided for in the Bangsamoro Organic Law, Dipatuan said.
The annual block grant is an automatic appropriation for the BARMM, amounting to 5 percent of net national revenue collections.
“Without the transition fund, it is grossly unfair for any national government official, including the President, to say that the BARMM is too slow,” he said.
Dipatuan likens the current state of the BARMM to a car “running low on gas.”
In earlier pronouncements, Duterte said he wanted to see a hastened pace in regional development, hence the need to have a “point person” from the national government to oversee the BARMM.
Dipatuan said that after the inauguration of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) in February, its members were advised to recruit five staff members each, among them a lawyer, to ensure that everyone is able to perform well as legislators, he said.
The 80-member BTA serves as the interim Bangsamoro parliament, composed of presidential appointees who will serve until June 30, 2022.
Dipatuan said it was only during the first week of July that BTA members started receiving their salaries and were advised to reduce their staff from five to only three.
“This is the truth. So next time national government officials complain that the BARMM is slow, they better check first if the problem does not emanate from them,” he said.
“At this juncture, I’m afraid the President is barking up the wrong tree,” Dipatuan added.
In a statement last week, the DBM said P59.4 million in cash allocation and special allotment release orders were released to the BTA after it completed documentary requirements.
The release will cover additional funds for salaries and other personnel services of 273 support staff for the second half of 2019.
In June, the DBM released P180.6 million to cover personnel services of the 80 BTA members for fiscal year 2019. The DBM, in May, also released P214.9 million to the Regional Legislative Assembly (RLA) for its operations.
The release for the RLA included P184.7 million for personnel services and P30.2 million for maintenance and other operating expenses. —WITH A REPORT FROM BEN O. DE VERA
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