By Francis Wakefield
The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) urged members of civil society to go over the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) in its entirety as this will be the key in developing a better appreciation of the landmark measure.
“Please read it. This is the best way to understand it,” OPAPP Undersecretary and GPH (Philippine Government) Implementing Panel Chair Nabil Tan said in his remarks at the “Civil Society Organization’s Assessment and Planning Workshop” held at the New Dawn Plus Hotel in Cagayan de Oro City on October 8.
The two-day forum was organized by the Initiatives for Peace and Development in Mindanao (IPDM) and supported by the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP).
Tan said there were still apprehensions regarding the law because many have yet to read its actual content.
“Get hold of the law. So there will be no misconceptions about it,” he said as he highlighted key provisions of the BOL covering the areas of governance, employment, resource-sharing, revenue collections, and peace and security.
Tan said among the major economic features of the BOL is the Block Grant, a five percent share of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) from the total national revenue collections of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
The fund, he said, will be automatically appropriated to the Bangsamoro government and will be reflected in the General Appropriations Act (GAA).
“This will address underdevelopment in the region,” Tan said, emphasizing that under the new setup, the BARMM leadership “will no longer need to beg for funds from Congress” as what had happened during the past administrations.
Tan said aside from the Block Grant, the region will also be given a Special Development Fund that will enable conflict-affected communities in the area to catch up with their more progressive counterparts and partake of the benefits of economic growth.
On the concern of what will happen to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Tan said once the BOL is ratified by residents during the plebiscite in January 21, 2019, the ARMM will be replaced by the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao or BARMM.
“If they vote for yes, the ARMM will be abolished and become the BARMM,” he said, explaining the yes vote will have to be made by the region as whole. “But if they vote no, they will remain in the ARMM.”
The ARMM is composed of the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.
With regards to the six municipalities in Lanao del Norte — Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagaloan, and Tangkal — which voted for their inclusion during the 2001 ARMM plebiscite, Tan said a majority “yes” vote to be cast by residents across the province is needed for these municipalities to become part of the BARMM.