DAVAO CITY – A bill that seeks to create the Bangsamoro Veteran Mujahideen/Mujahidat Affairs Office and grant privileges to veteran male and female combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) is now underway.
In a statement, the Bangsamoro government said Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) Bill No. 25, or the Bangsamoro Veteran Mujahideen Act, was referred Tuesday (June 22) to the parliament’s committees on Finance, Budget and Management and on Social Services.
The bill seeks to create the Bangsamoro Veteran Mujahideen/Mujahidat Affairs Office. The bill has initial funding of P30-million.
“Once established, the office will provide financial, medical, social and other assistance to the veterans of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) who are underprivileged and have no chance for employment because of old age, lack of required education, and other requirements for employment,” it said.
Member of Parliament (MP) Aida Silongan, the principal author of the bill, said the office aims to recognize the contributions and sacrifices of veteran mujahideen which helped establish the Bangsamoro Government.
“Napapanahon at nararapat lamang na magkaroon ng isang mekanismo upang maibigay ang tamang ayuda sa mga beteranong mujahideen at mujahidat (female) at ang kanilang mga benepisyaryo, sa pamamagitan ng pagpasa ng panukalang ito (Setting up this mechanism to give the proper aid to veteran mujahideen and mujahidat and their beneficiaries is timely and proper),” said Silongan.
The bill defines veteran mujahideen as the MILF and MNLF combatants who took part in the “protracted wars for self-determination between the Bangsamoro people and the National Government,” and who are sixty (60) years old from the time of the bill’s effectivity.
Under Section 12, the veterans and other qualified beneficiaries shall be entitled to receive a P6,000 monthly cash allowance; free medical aid from the Ministry of Health; and a 20% discount on the sale of goods and services from any establishments within BARMM.
They shall also be exempt from taxes, fees, and other charges imposed by the Bangsamoro Government and will have a 10% discount from electric, water, and other similar utilities computed proportionally based on the numbers of their household occupants.
The veterans will also enjoy exemption from fees for skills, socioeconomic, and education training or seminars conducted by any public or private institutions within BARMM. They will also be granted other benefits and privileges that will, later on, be determined by law.
However, the Bangsamoro government said the benefits shall not be available to those who are already beneficiaries of the decommissioning process under the normalization track of the Bangsamoro peace process.
The bill was also co-authored by MPs Susana Anayatin, Maisara Latiph, Zul-Qarneyn Abas, Sahie Udjah, Alzad Sattar, Don Loong, Diamila Ramos, Baintan Ampatuan, Laisa Alamia, Nabil Tan, Jose Lorena, Jamel Macaraya, Hamid Barra, Musa Diamla, Eddie Alih, and Abdullah Macapaar.