By Francis Wakefield
Deputy Presidential Peace Adviser Nabil S. Tan on Friday emphasized that the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will provide the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) a much-needed boost to prepare it once the national government shifts to a federal system.
Speaking in front of barangay leaders during the 2nd regional convention of the Liga ng mga Barangay-ARMM Chapter in Manila, Tan said the BBL will allow funds to pour into the region to address its development gaps.
“There is a special development fund for the Bangsamoro which is P100 billion for 10 years. This will rehabilitate the damages caused by the 40 years of armed conflict. In addition, there will also be annual block grants estimated to be at P72 billion which is also for 10 years. This is different from the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) that you are receiving. If we level up (in terms of development), then we can be ready for federalism,” revealed Tan, the Government of the Philippines (GPH) implementing panel chairman and a former vice governor of ARMM.
The BBL seeks to address the historical injustices committed against the Moro people through a genuine autonomy that will replace the current ARMM.
Both the House of Representatives and the Senate are currently deliberating on the provisions of the law to enact the proposed bill by March. Public consultations were also held in several cities and municipalities in Mindanao.
Tan also assured the barangay leaders that competent ARMM employees will continue to serve the government under the new Bangsamoro autonomous region.
“The new political entity cannot forego the people who have the competence and skills to run the government bureaucracy,” he stressed.
The undersecretary concluded that BBL will be the solution to the lingering problems the region has endured for years.
“This is a very good opportunity, while addressing our commitment with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation [Front] in terms of implementing the peace agreement. We also do the other things that will provide the whole Bangsamoro region comparable [benefits] to other regions in the country,” he said.
The two-day event tackled several issues, such as terrorism, anti-drug abuse, and Federalism. The theme of this year’s convention is “ARMM in partnering for change: Strengthening barangay leaders and enhancing the role of the barangay on the rise of Federalism.”