MILF official wants Bangsamoro funds in 2019 budget

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 24 2019 10:24 AM | Updated as of Jan 24 2019 11:16 AM

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MANILA - Lawmakers should include the intended budget for the new Bangsamoro region in the 2019 budget, a Moro separatist leader whose group will lead the transition after the ratification of the law said Thursday.

While the autonomous government is not created until the Bangsamoro Organic Law is proclaimed ratified, the government should include its block grant in the national budget because "we're almost there," said Mohagher Iqbal, chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front implementing panel.

The grant is equivalent to 5 percent of the internal revenue tax collection and the net collection of the Bureau of Customs in the last 3 fiscal years.

"Probably, before Congress can finally approve the national budget, the Bangsamoro Organic Law has already been ratified so we have a feeling it should now be considered as part of the national budget," he told ANC's Early Edition.

"Otherwise, we would be operating on the budget approved for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. I think it’s about P32 billion," he said, adding that the grant would bring their budget up to P100 billion.

Lawmakers are looking to reconcile by next week the Senate and House of Representatives' versions of the proposed P3.75 trillion 2019 budget. The bicameral conference committee will resume its meeting on Monday, January 28.

After an impasse that lasted beyond the end of last year, legislators are hoping to submit the budget for President Rodrigo Duterte's signature by February 14.

Iqbal said the MILF, which will lead the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, has identified their priority programs as education, social services and health services. These will make the people "feel that there really is a difference."

Residents of ARMM, Cotabato City, and Isabela City in Basilan on Monday cast their vote for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law and the inclusion of their area to the new self-governing region to be created.

Unofficial results say ARMM and Cotabato City voted to ratify the law and be part of the region, but Isabela City and the province of Sulu rejected it.