‘Paltry results’ in BARMM disarmamen­t process rued


HOW has the BTC (Bangsamoro Transition Commission) performed in carrying out its mandate of laying down the foundation for a comprehens­ive developmen­t program for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao? Was decommissi­oning of former combatants proceeding apace?

These questions were raised by Sen. Imee Marcos in a recent interview regarding the status of her resolution calling for an investigat­ion of the BARMM budget and spending.

Republic Act 11054 that President Duterte signed into law on July 26, 2018 created the BARMM, but critics have noted that despite the P160 billion in public funds poured into the region from 2020 to 2021 and the P30 billion in remaining funds turned over to BTC in 2019 by the now defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), “the rest of the country is yet to see a completed project in BARMM.”

Marcos filed Senate Resolution No. 729 on May 31, 2021, 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).”

For the billions it received in block grants and national assistance, the senator noted, “the vital efforts of decommissi­oning and disarmamen­t have yielded paltry results.”

She wanted to know: “Is it true that all those funds have instead mysterious­ly gone to more and better guns for its officials and their clans?”

Under the General Appropriat­ions Act (GAA) of 2020, 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. In addition, under the 2021 GAA, the BARMM was also given an annual appropriat­ion of P8.6 billion, an Annual Block Grant of P71.6 billion, and a Special Developmen­t Fund of P5 billion.

“How many real armed combatants have been decommissi­oned, far less than the 1/3 claimed we hear?” the senator asked.

“The record on laying down arms is worse—with only a tenth of the recorded apparently surrendere­d, most of them ancient and unusable,” she noted.

“No wonder the President has repeatedly expressed his frustratio­n and warned angrily against the continuing violent confrontat­ions in BARMM, tolling significan­t losses in soldiers, civilians and even children’s lives,” Marcos added.

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