SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
House Members on Thursday expressed concern over the absence in the 2019 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) of the P857 million budget for the holding of the plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) ratification, which has been scheduled on January 21, 2019.
The absence of the BOL plebiscite budget cropped up during the House plenary deliberation on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) proposed budget of P10.079 billion for next year.
Upon interpellation by Rep. Makmod Mending (Party-list, Amin) about the BOL plebiscite, Committee on Appropriations Vice Chairman and Comelec budget sponsor Rep. Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo (2nd District, Lanao del Norte) said the budget for the BOL plebiscite is not found in House Bill 8169 or the 2019 GAB.
Mending asked how much the Comelec has allotted for the conduct of the BOL plebiscite.
“Do we have funds or appropriations intended for the plebiscite on January 21, 2019?," asked Mending.
Dimaporo said the BOL plebiscite will entail a budget of P857 million.
He said it would be unfortunate if Congress fails to provide an adequate funding for the Bangsamoro to hold a plebiscite for the BOL ratification.
The ratification assures the Moro people inside the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) that they can finally experience the fulfillment of the promise for them to have a Bangsamoro during the time of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Dimaporo also said the House of Representatives of the 17th Congress under the leadership of Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo must fully support the wish of President Rodrigo Duterte for peace to reign in Mindanao.
“This budget deliberation should resolve the P857 million funding shortage of the Comelec,” said Dimaporo.
He further stated that in the event the funding problem is not settled, the Comelec can source some of the funds from its savings from the conduct of the Barangay elections and the rest will be up to Malacanang to resolve.
“I put my faith in our President that he will not fail the people and he will not fail the Bangsamoro,” said Dimaporo.
Mending said the 2019 GAB should contain the necessary appropriation for the BOL plebiscite.
“I believe there is enough time for us here in the House of Representatives to be able to put in our General Appropriations Bill the necessary fund or appropriation to cover the expenses for the conduct of the plebiscite and ensure that our constituents will be able to determine the sovereign will of the constituents involved in this exercise,” said Mending.
President Duterte signed Republic Act No. 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). Meanwhile, 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 would cover the current provinces of ARMM, six towns in Lanao del Norte, 39 barangays 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—also agree to it in a plebiscite. | Eddie Galvez