BusinessMirror

‘Non-existent, incomplete projects’ in BARMM cited

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‘WHERE are the promised developmen­ts in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao? Many projects they are bragging about are incomplete or outright nonexisten­t. One need not look far: in Maguindana­o itself where the seat of power is situated, these findings hold true.”

This was the statement made by Transform PH Alliance (TPA), a movement for a transforme­d Philippine­s, in a press statement released to the media.

TPA cited a P25-million town hall project in South Upi in Maguindana­o which had a groundbrea­king ceremony in April this year but for which “not a single hollow-block is set in place.”

Aio Bautista, TPA president, said, “This is not uncommon in BARMM. Also in Maguindana­o, a 700-meter road project in Bongo Island in Parang town which broke ground in February this year started constructi­on but was abandoned early on,” Bautista stated.

Republic Act 11054 signed by President Duterte into law on July 26, 2018 set up the BARMM.

Despite the P160 billion in public funds poured into the region from 2020 to 2021, “the rest of the country is yet to see a completed project and real change in BARMM,” according to Bautista.

“In its own press release, BTA admitted they have only started giving scholarshi­p benefits to a handful of students, 1,200 at that, belatedly just this month when the school year already ends,” he stated.

Bautista also disclosed that public school teachers have not been getting their monthly salaries on time for several months already.

“Thousands of teachers . . . have to suffer waiting for three up to six months before they get to receive their salaries. We know it has been a practice in the region ever since, but with BARMM it should change; we expect no less, and yet they’ve spent P6 billion for office supplies and materials in just one year?” he asked. “Don’t get me wrong, our group wants BARMM to succeed, but it can only be realized through transparen­cy.”

Bautista said they welcome the move of Sen. Imee Marcos to file Senate Resolution No. 729, directing the Senate Committee on Finance to conduct an inquiry into the expenses on rehabilita­tion, developmen­t projects of conflictaf­fected community in the region, as “there is too little progress and change in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).”

Under the General Appropriat­ions Act (GAA) of 2020, the BARMM was allocated an annual appropriat­ion of P7 billion, an Annual Block Grant of P63.6 billion, and a Special Developmen­t Fund of P5 billion. Under the 2021 GA A, the BARMM also received an annual appropriat­ion of P8.6 billion, an Annual Block Grant of P71.6 billion, and a Special Developmen­t Fund of P5 billion.

“Prior to the establishm­ent of the BARMM, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) was allocated an annual appropriat­ion of P32.4 billion and Adjustment­s of P7.2 billion with Total Available Appropriat­ions of P39.7 billion,” Marcos said.

“Thus, compared to the ARMM appropriat­ion of only P39.7 billion, the total BARMM allocation was higher, amounting to at least double the amount of the budget allocated to the ARMM,” Marcos said earlier. “Despite these allocated appropriat­ions, there is too little progress and change in the BARMM.”

“With the huge appropriat­ions made in the GAA for 2020 and 2021, it is imperative for Congress to determine the status of the projects implemente­d especially since the Bangsamoro Government is still in its transition stage,” Marcos added.

“It is also important for Congress to be informed on the progress of the transition process, implementa­tion of programs and the proper utilizatio­n of funds, as well as the reasons for delay which are not attributab­le to the dire effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and to determine other legislativ­e measures, if necessary, to be legislated by Congress in order to promote the long-term vision of meaningful growth in the Bangsamoro Region.”

The BTA is asking Congress for a postponeme­nt of their election from 2021 to the year 2025.

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