Sat. May 25th, 2019

BTA seeks release of national funds for BARMM

Light moment – President Duterte and regional interim Chief Minister Murad Ebrahim (Ahod Balawag Ebrahim in real name) share light moment at the March 29 official inauguration of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in Cotabato City. The two officials did not mention in their speeches anything about fund woes that prompted the BARMM parliament to pass two resolutions requesting for funds from the national government. (Facebook photo via Ali Macabalang/Manila Bulletin)

COTABATO CITY – The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) has authorized Interim Chief Minister (ICM) Murad Ebrahim to make official representation for the release of national funds for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), which President Rodrigo Duterte formally inaugurated last Friday.

In its first parliamentary session Friday morning, the BTA passed four resolutions, two of which empowered Ebrahim to “request the release of the transition fund” and “to request for the transfer of the current year’s appropriations for the ARMM to the BARMM.”

R.A. 11054 or the Bangsamoro Organic Law prescribed for the national government to allocate P1.2-billion “transition fund” for BARMM initial operations. It abolished the 29-year Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) after Congress appropriated it P32-billion budget for this year. BARMM inherits such appropriation, authorities said.

The parliamentary resolutions were passed earlier purportedly for the presentation of the excerpts on the two budget-related measures to President Duterte during his inauguration of BARMM Friday afternoon.

But in his nine-minute speech on Friday’s event, the President did not mention about budget concerns for the infant geopolitical entity, reiterating only his general description of BARMM as a potential avenue to help “correct historical injustices of the past” among Moro communities.

President Duterte aired his ”trust” that the BTA will “chart the course of (BARMM’s) future” and “wield this power with utmost care (since) the future of succeeding generations of the Filipinos, especially the Moro of Mindanao, depend on its.”

In his welcome address at the inauguration ceremony, Ebrahim also did not mention about BARMM’s financial woes, pointing out only the prospects of the fledgling geopolitical entity in the dawning of “new beginning for Bangsamoro” and his administration’s adherence to good governance prescribed by law and Islamic principles.

In a radio interview here Thursday, Ebrahim said the BARMM leadership expected the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to release within this April funds for maintenance and operations as well as salaries of close to 37,000 workers serving the new regional government on holdover capacity from the defunct ARMM.

In three-week BARMM initial operations, officials and staffs appointed by Ebrahim in 10 initially constituted ministries as of last Feb. 27 as public servants in the “stage of voluntarism” amid absence of funds inflow from Manila.

Ebrahim’s radio announcement followed some posts in the Facebook purporting that BARMM’s holdover rank and file personnel were anxious about their delayed salaries in March and partly in February this year.

Manila Bulletin sources from the regional education sector said the delayed release of funds had reportedly forced many teachers as well as elementary and secondary public school officials in BARMM to avail of usurious loans used in the conduct of their respective graduation ceremonies.

The claimed that the deal in fund releases were caused by late submission of BARMM officials’ statements of assets, liabilities and net-worth (SALN) to the national government and the DBM’s non recognition of regional officials named in their Presidential appointments by their pseudonyms or nom de guerre like that of chief minister Ebrahim.

The two parliamentary resolutions named the BARMM chieftain by his real name Ahod Balawag Ebrahim. (Ali G. Macabalang)

Ali Macabalang

Ali Macabalang, Senior Correspondent of The Manila Bulletin, Tempo newspapers and various private and government media entities in different positions, one of very few Filipino Muslim scribes that newspapers readers may have noticed their bylines in various stories on different issues.