By Christine F. Herrera in Manila Standard Today


The Bangsamoro will have a P25.7-billion budget next year once the Bangsamoro Basic Law is enacted into law, the biggest allocation to a single region in all of Mindanao, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad announced Wednesday.


Abad said the Bangsamoro was allocated P2.7 billion in next year’s proposed P2.606-trillion national budget that was submitted to Congress.


“But once the BBL becomes law, the P23.5- billion budget for the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao for next year will be transferred to the Bangsamoro political entity, making its budget amount to P25.7 billion,” Abad told a joint press conference with House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., House Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora and other top House leaders.


But opposition Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz asked what was so special about the Bangsamoro when there were areas in Mindanao that were devastated and in need of more funds.


Dela Cruz said Zamboanga City only received P3.2 billion in rehabilitation funds after the siege by guerrillas of the Moro National Liberation Front. Davao Oriental received P10 billion after it was hit by Typhoon Pablo while Cagayan de Oro received only P10 billion after being devastated by Typhoon Sendong.


“These are very productive areas,” Dela Cruz said, adding that he suspected the Bangsamoro was being eyed as a milking cow because people would not question its fund allocation for the sake of peace in Mindanao.


But Dela Cruz recalled that there had been no accounting of the P8.269 billion that the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao received from the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program.


Under the Bangsamoro peace agreement, the ARMM will be dissolved to make way for the Bangsamoro political entity.


“The Aquino administration anticipates the next major milestone in the peace process: the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law or BBL by the end of the year,” Abad said.


He said the P2.7-billion allocation for the Bangsamoro was for certain phases. He said the so- called “confidence-building programs to demonstrate the sincerity of our government in assisting them have already been in place and will be implemented in the Bangsamoro areas.”


“But I think a lot more of that will have to be generated later on when the Organic Act is enacted and the Transition Commission is organized,” Abad said.


“For the regional operations of ARMM, about P23 billion has been set aside, which is an increase of about P3 billion over this year, which is about P20-billion.


“So the P23 billion of ARMM plus P2.7 billion for the Bangsamoro would be P25.7 billion.”


Abad said the Bangsamoro would get more because some of the programs of the national agencies like Public Works’ national roads and bridges were being implemented there.


“The Bangsamoro will get more. Aside from the DPWH, the CCT programs or conditional cash transfer program are also being implemented there. The PhilHealth program are also being implemented there so it should be more than that,” Abad said.


He said the proposed P2.7 billion for Bangsamoro would be lodged in various agencies such as Social Welfare, Agriculture, TESDA, PhilHealth and the Education Departments.


“The interventions include the disarming of combatants and the conversion of bases into productive economic hubs that were agreed upon in the peace treaty,” Abad said.


“The regions that will be covered by the BBL have a potential to become a new point of economic interest.”