Gov’t allots P2.7B for Bangsamoro autonomy even before bill is filed in Congress
MANILA, Philippines—The government has earmarked P2.7 billion for the implementation of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) even though a draft of the bill has not even been submitted to Congress.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad on Wednesday told the appropriations committee of the House of Representatives that the allotment was placed there in anticipation of the passage of the Bangsamoro law at the end of 2014 or early 2015.
“We anticipate it (enactment). The President has made his appeal to Congress that if we can enact the organic act at the end of this year or early next year then the Bangsamoro Transition Authority will take over and begin to govern the Bangsamoro area,” he said.
It would be difficult to scramble and provide for the necessary legislative requirements if the administration would wait for the passage of the law, Abad said in reply to a question by Cebu Rep. Gabriel Luis Quisumbing, a vice chair of the committee.
“The appropriation is also an expression of willingness to help the executive make provisions once the authority is there. This show of support is necessary. I think there will be discussions with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on how we will implement this program,” he said.
Abad also stressed that the BBL budget is different from the budget for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
In his budget message to Congress, President Benigno Aquino III said a total proposed budget of P2.7 billion would be lodged in various agencies to implement the BBL.
The appropriation shall be used for the disarming of combatants, the conversion of bases into productive economic hubs, and other interventions, as agreed upon in the peace treaty between the government and the MILF.
“The regions that will be covered by the BBL have a potential to become a new point of economic interest. These interventions which will be undertaken through this law, will allow the people in the region to create the road toward their own prosperity,” Aquino said.
The appropriations committee chaired by Davao Rep. Isidro Ungab began hearings on the 2015 national budget with a briefing from Abad, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas governor Amando Tetangco Jr.
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