The allocation, contained in the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020 submitted to Congress this week, includes various funding mandated under Republic Act 11054, which created the BARMM in July last year.
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Bangsamoro region to get P70.6-billion budget next year
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - August 24, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) will be given some P70.6 billion next year to help boost peace and development in the region.

The allocation, contained in the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020 submitted to Congress this week, includes various funding mandated under Republic Act 11054, which created the BARMM in July last year.

Of the amount, P63.6 billion represents the annual block grant; and P5 billion as Special Development Fund. Included in the total allocation is P17.7 billion for infrastructure development.

The BARMM, however, will also have its own internally generated funds in the form of retained taxes estimated at P1.4 billon annually; allocations from national government agencies, P15 billion; and Internal Revenue Allotment, P25 billion.

In January, provinces under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao except Sulu voted to ratify RA 11054.

National Economic and Development Authority director general Ernesto Pernia earlier said the BARMM must immediately address poor economic performance and poverty.

He said the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Sulu had the highest poverty incidence in the country.

“Apart from the power and authority granted over certain sectors and activities to create its own sources of revenue and advance the region’s economic development, the increased budgetary support to the BARMM will likely result in more economic activities and socioeconomic interventions beneficial to BARMM,” Pernia said.

On the other hand, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) yesterday signed an agreement formalizing their partnership in implementing the decommissioning process for 40,000 armed fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

At the signing ceremony, AFP chief Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr. underscored the importance of collaboration with the OPAPP in pushing forward the Bangsamoro peace process.

“The MOA that we signed today is not only about the transfer of funds from OPAPP to the Armed Forces but more importantly, it signifies our commitment to continue with the process of healing, and the process of normalization in the Bangsamoro,” Madrigal said.

“We have long dreamed for peace in the Bangsamoro region,” Madrigal added, emphasizing that maintaining mutual trust between the government and the MILF is crucial in the normalization process.

One thing that they should further develop is the willingness to work together, Madrigal said. 

He said that this can only happen with the start of the healing process, and confidence building between AFP and the MILF.  

“And the process of normalization will trigger our dream of a peaceful and developed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region,” Madrigal said.

Under the MOA, the AFP will provide basic military training to 3,000 MILF-Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) fighters in order to prepare them as members of  the composite Joint Peace and Security Teams (JPST). 

The 6,000-strong JPST will be composed of 3,000 MILF-BIAF members, 1,600 policemen and 1,400 soldiers. 

Currently, there are 220 MILF combatants undergoing training in Camp Lucero in Carmen, North Cotabato.

Under the MOA, the AFP will also be present in securing the actual decommissioning of MILF combatants and their weapons, as well as to develop a program for small arms and light weapons management.

OPAPP said 30 percent of 12,000 former combatants of the MILF will undergo decommissioning starting 2019.

The decommissioning of MILF is part of the normalization track of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

President Duterte is expected to witness the public launch of the decommissioning process in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on Sept. 7.

The President signed Executive Order 79 “Implementing the Annex on Normalization under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro,” which aligned the efforts of concerned government agencies in the implementation of the normalization process. – With Jose Rodel Clapano, Jaime Laude

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