SouthCot’s Gov. Fuentes: ok to Bangsamoro but “be sure it will solve problems”

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/27 Oct) — South Cotabato Governor Daisy Avance-Fuentes does not have anything against the establishment of the Bangsamoro government but wants to be sure that the Bangsamoro Basic Law “will not create problems.”

“In general, I don’t have anything against the establishment of the Bangsamoro government. We just have to be sure that it will solve problems. It should provide an environment that will provide every Bangsamoro a chance of bettering themselves,” she told the public hearing on the Basic Law or House Bill 4994, at the FB Hotel here Friday.

Fuentes, one of three female representatives who raised several concerns in the run-up to the signing of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement under the Ramos administration, recalled there were a lot of “gray areas” in that agreement between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Fuentes clarified some provisions in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, among them the provision on block grant, which she said, is comparable to the internal revenue allotment of LGUs. It will be sourced from the national revenue collections and released annually by the Central government to the Bangsamoro government

In the Annex on Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing, the “block grant shall be based on a formula provided in the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which in no case shall be less than the last budget received by the ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) immediately before the establishment of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.”

The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, now HB 4994, provides for an annual block grant as share of the Bangsamoro in the national internal revenue of the government, at % of the net national internal revenue collection of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, less the internal revenue allotment of local government units.

Fuentes said % “must be too big.”

“Na compute na ba ito kung magkano? Baka sobrang laki naman. (Has this been computed? It might be too big). Why do we extend this kind of privilege?” Fuentes asked.

Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat, who arrived shortly before the hearing adjourned, addressed the participants saying that he does not want the BBL to fail like the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD).

The MOA-AD was initialed by the government and MILF peace panel chairs in late July 2008 and scheduled for signing on August but the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order on August , barring the government from signing the MOA-AD. The Supreme Court later declared the MOA-AD unconstitutional.

“We are for peace. We are not anti-peace. We want the BBL to be fair, equitable, feasible, and most importantly, consistent with the Philippine Constitution. We want this law to stand legal scrutiny,” explained Lobregat, who had earlier joined the public hearing in Sultan Kudarat province.

Tupi Mayor Reynaldo Tamayo questioned the BBL, saying that it may not be the solution to the decades-old of conflict in Mindanao.

“Is this the solution? I doubt if all of our Congressman from Mindanao believes in this,” an emotional Tamayo said before the crowd.

But Fuentes further said their comments are not out to destroy the BBL. “Nobody wants to believe in this (BBL), but I want.”  (MindaNews)

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