Romualdez guarantees repair, rehab funds for BARMM after 'Paeng'

The destruction caused by severe tropical storm (STS) "Paeng" still heavy on his mind, House Speaker Martin Romualdez vowed during the Philippine Congress-Bangsamoro Parliament Forum to find additional funds that the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) could use for repairs.

House Speaker Martin Romualdez (leftmost) attends the Philippine Congress-Bangsamoro Parliament Forum on Nov. 15, 2022 (Speaker's office)

Romualdez made this commitment as part of his speech at the event, which took place Tuesday, Nov. 15 at the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City.

"To ascertain further that progress in BARMM will remain in spite of natural calamities, the House of Representatives also intends to seek additional funding for BARMM to cover the cost of repair and rehabilitation in areas most affectiied by the severe tropical storm Paeng, particularly in Maguindanao and Cotabato," he said.

The House and the Senate are nearing the final stage in the approval of the proposed P5.268-trillion national budget or General Appropriations Bill (GAB) for 2023.

Romualdez said right in the aftermath of Paeng that next year's national budget would be made responsive to the needs of agencies as far as the calamity is concerned.

"On behalf of the House of Representatives, I assure you today that we are committed to supporting the Bangsamoro Transition Authority in passing all crucial laws that will secure the welfare of the people of the ," the Leyte 1st district congressman added on Tuesday.

"We at the House of Representatives have acted swiftly on approving the 2023 based on the proposed 2023 National Expenditure Program that was carefully crafted under the able leadership of Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, the first Muslim budget secretary and the only Muslim in the Cabinet," he further said.

Romualdez said this includes the allocation of P74.4 billion for BARMM – specifically for the BARMM block grant, special development fund and share in national taxes collected – to ensure that the Bangsamoro Transition Authority or BTA will be able to deliver on its commitments.

"I echo the encouragement made by President Marcos for the Bangsamoro Parliament to also pass measures that will secure the welfare of the Moro people particularly in agri-fishery, healthcare, transportation, communication, digital infrastructure, and e-governance.

"Given the challenges of the times, we really need to rise to the call for unity and development. I am certain that as we respond to this call, the Bangsamoro Region will rise to be a major player in achieving our unified agenda for prosperity," added Romualdez.