WHILE the Philippine Congress prepares to tackle the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) leading to its approval, a Mindanao legislator is calling on the Duterte administration to address various issues now hounding the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) before it could be transformed into a new political entity.
Just recently President Rodrigo Duterte has urged the Lower House to approve the BBL without delay.
If the government does not act on its passage soon, Duterte said Mindanao may be “headed for trouble.”
Prior to the transition of Armm into a Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, reforms on all government branches and units in the area must be introduced first, said Lanao del Norte 1st District Rep. Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo.
Although he is not from the Armm, Dimaporo has expressed his concern on the government’s lack of support for the region and its inhabitants as it affects its neighboring provinces.
“This is why the people of Armm clamor for change. It is difficult to get the national leadership to sympathize with the needs of the regional government,” he said in a statement e-mailed to the media over the weekend.
One concrete example Dimaporo cited is the P8 billion worth of development funds which was taken out of the ARMM budget and was transferred to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) when Senator Panfilo Lacson questioned it. It was later converted to fund Commission on Higher Education’s free tertiary education tuition.
“If the good senator (Lacson) had a problem with transfer of funds by the House of Representatives, why did they not just return it to the Armm? Especially since it is a region wrought with poverty and in need of development,” he said in a statement.
Dimaporo said there is no reason for the national government to give Armm its share of the pie since the new regional leadership, under Governor Mujiv Hataman’s term, has made significant changes in governing the region.
“What the Hataman Administration showed me is that government in ARMM can work. But the critical ingredients for true change to happen in Muslim Mindanao is the financial commitment by the national government to fund key socio-economic programs and good leaders who are willing to institutionalize public service,” he explained.
Armm’s growth, he said, is a necessity and is seen to counter the extremist movement and violence perpetrated by some armed groups in the region.
“If there is a high incidence of poverty and a culture of corruption then there exists a socio-economic environment that is the breeding ground for internal security threats such as insurgents and terrorism,” Dimaporo added.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on November 14, 2017.