Marcos mulls pegging the funding of the Bangsamoro region

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PASAY CITY (MindaNews / 10 June) – A day after the public hearings at the Senate ended, Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said he is considering to peg the amount of the funding for the proposed Bangsamoro region on its specific functions.

Marcos, chair of the Senate committee on local government, said he is considering this after government peace negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer failed to explain how the proposed Bangsamoro government will spend the money from the block grant and other subsidies.

Ferrer appeared during last Tuesday’s public hearing on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law at the Senate.

“What are the functions and powers that the Bangsamoro is willing to take on? And we will give the commensurate funding so that it would be able to carry out those functions properly. Then we will determine what kind of funding is necessary and try to put in the law,” Marcos said in a statement.

In the June 9 public hearing, Senator Ralph Rector said the proposed regional government should have clear-cut responsibilities on who will build its schools, roads and other infrastructures.

Ferrer said these concerns are already covered under Section 35 of the Article 12 in the draft BBL that created an intergovernmental fiscal policy board that addresses regional financial needs and its imbalances.

Marcos complained that the intergovernmental fiscal policy board is vague and offers no explanations in its fiscal policies.

Meanwhile, advocates for greater protection and control of Lake Lanao, which is the source of water for six hydroelectric power plants along the Agus River situated in the two Lanao provinces, told Marcos that a government agency assigned to protect the second largest lake in the country is not adequate.

“This agency is based in Cagayan de Oro City. It meets only once or twice a year. Why not give the duties to protect the lake to the Bangsamoro residents?” asked Drieza Liningding, secretary general of the Bangsamoro National Movement for Peace and Development.

Liningding said powerful interests in Manila have already set in motion to acquire the six power plants along the Agus River from the government-owned Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) and the National Power Corporation.

He proposed that revenues from the Agus dams, which draw water from Lake Lanao, should be shared equally by the national government and the Bangsamoro government.

Liningding and his group are batting for higher revenue shares and control of the six Agus hydropower plants and Lake Lanao.

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