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COTABATO CITY — The Bangsamoro Parliament has unanimously approved on third and final reading a bill appropriating Php10-billion from the 2020 and 2021 Special Development Fund (SDF).
A total of 40 members of the Parliament, both physically and virtually present, voted in favor of Parliament Bill 139 sponsored by the Government of the Day, with no other member voting against it or abstaining from voting.
Following a series of committee hearings, Atty. Ubaida Pacasem, vice-chair of the Committee on Finance, Budget, and Management, presented the committee report to the plenary on Friday, which includes the measure’s final amendments.
The Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) provides a special development fund of 5 billion pesos a year for 10 years to rebuild, rehabilitate, and develop conflict-affected communities in the Bangsamoro region.
Eduard Uy Guerra, chair of the Committee on Finance, Budget, and Management, stated that the Bangsamoro Government would provide additional projects to conflict-affected communities in the region as a result of the measure’s passage.
“The SDF is the result of negotiations between the MILF and the Government of the Philippines to rehabilitate conflict-affected communities,” MP Guerra explains, adding that the Bangsamoro Government will not only implement infrastructure projects but also provide programs for widows and orphans.
The SDF will be utilized based on the Bangsamoro Development Plan (BDF), which the Parliament and Bangsamoro Economic and Development Council (BEDC) approved in 2020.
Composed of 13 chapters, a 354-page document, the region’s development plan articulated the overall direction of the BARMM and was consistent with the development thrusts of the national government.
The plan serves as the roadmap for the region’s development, containing strategies and priority projects responsive to the needs of the Bangsamoro people.
The Bangsamoro government has identified eight development goals for which priority actions would be focused, including:
● Establishing the foundations for inclusive, transparent, accountable, and efficient governance;
● Upholding peace, security, public order and safety, and respect for human rights;
● Creating a favorable enabling environment for inclusive and sustainable economic development;
● Promoting Bangsamoro identity, cultures, and diversity;
● Ensuring access to and delivery of quality services for human capital development;
● Harnessing technology and innovations to increase socio-economic opportunities and improve government services;
● Increasing strategic and climate-resilient infrastructure to support sustainable socio-economic development; and
● Improving ecological integrity and promoting and enhancing climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction to sustain the resilience of communities.
Under the approved bill, releases from this fund shall be made by the Ministry of Finance, Budget, and Management (MFBM) to the implementing ministries and offices subject to the approval of the Chief Minister (which currently is Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim) and upon the submission of a special budget request.
The MFBM is authorized to issue the necessary guidelines for the effective implementation of the cash budgeting system.
For transparency of infrastructure projects, ministries and offices shall post a detailed description of the projects and actual cost on their respective websites. Ministries are also required to submit their quarterly financial and physical reports to the MFBM.
A technical working group will be formed to facilitate the development and consolidation of the programs, projects, and activities and ensure that it is consistent with the BDP. (Publication and Media Relations Division) — (✓)