Recto presses funding for Bangsamoro in 2019 budget

SENATE President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto has pressed for the need to include the P2-trillion fund for the implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) in the yet to be passed, ratified, and signed 2019 budget.

“The Bangsamoro Organic Law is one big promissory note we have issued to our brothers in the South. The consequences are great if we default on this. The first down-payment in realizing the many promises of BOL must be in the 2019 budget,” Recto said.

He noted that the BOL was signed ahead of the approval of the 2019 budget.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 11054, or the “Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao” (BARMM) last July 26, three days after his third state of the nation address (SONA).

He submitted the proposed 2019 national budget to Congress on SONA day.

The law creates the region that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The BARMM will cover the current provinces of ARMM, six towns in Lanao del Norte, 39 barangay (villages) in North Cotabato, Cotabato City, and Isabela City in Basilan.

The six towns in Lanao del Norte and 39 barangays in North Cotabato will be included in the BARMM only if their “mother units,” cities or provinces, agree to it in a plebiscite scheduled on January 21.

Recto had earlier urged the government to include part of the estimated P2-trillion fund for the BOL in this year’s national budget.

“It is up to this government to make the first down payment through the 2019 national budget. The cost of the BOL must be included in this year’s General Appropriations Act,” he said.

“Whatever the amount, we must fund it. A costly peace is better than a cheap war,” he added.

Recto estimated that the implementation of the BOL would cost P109 billion in the first year, P369 billion in the first three years, and would reach P1.981 trillion for a period of 10 years.

Recto warned that the government’s “failure” to peg the costs of the BOL may risk the law of “becoming an unfunded mandate.”

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno earlier said some P100-billion allocation for BOL was not included in the proposed P3.757-trillion 2019 national budget.

He said the agency would address it once the BOL is ratified through the plebiscite. (The Manila Times)