Abad defends proposed P2.7-B Bangsamoro budget for 2015

By Lilibeth G. Ison

MANILA, Aug. 6 (PNA) — Budget and Management Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad on Wednesday defended the earmarking of P2.7 billion of the Aquino administration for the implementation of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) for 2015 despite the non-enactment yet of the organic act.

At the opening of the House of Representatives appropriations committee hearing on the proposed P2.606-trillion national budget for next year, Abad said the BBL appropriation was proposed in anticipation of the enactment of the organic act at the end of this year 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 explained.

During the hearing, Cebu Rep. Gabriel Luis Quisumbing, vice chairman of the committee, questioned the appropriation for the BBL implementation when Congress has not yet enacted the organic act for the Bangsamoro.

In response, Abad said it will be difficult to scramble and provide for the necessary requirements of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority if this is done in 2015.

“We are anticipating it. The appropriation is also an expression of willingness to help the Executive to make provisions once the authority is there,” he explained to the members of the House appropriations committee.

“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 added.

The DBM chief also stressed that the BBL budget is different from the budget for the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

In his budget message to Congress, President Benigno Aquino III said in anticipation of the BBL, a total proposed budget of P2.7 billion, to be lodged in various agencies, is being set aside to implement the law.

He said the proposed BBL budget shall be used for the disarming of combatants, the conversion of bases into productive economic hubs, among other interventions agreed upon in the peace treaty.

“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,” the President said.

The Chief Executive also said what was achieved in the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) would serve as an inspiration in continuing to push for the peaceful settlements of other internal conflicts, as well as in implementing social and economic interventions, such as the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) program that was allocated with P7.3 billion budget for 2015.

“The CAB signing with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on March 27, 2014 was a landmark achievement. The government anticipates the next major milestone in the peace process -– the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law by the end of the year,” the President said.

President Aquino said he believes the way to inclusive development includes an important process — the settlement of internal conflicts through peaceful means.

“We will continue to address the lack of social and economic services in conflict-affected communities. We will intensify the presence of the government in these areas by nurturing the economic potential of these areas where violence and distrust previously thrived,” he said. (PNA)