Not enough funds for Bangsamoro block grant in proposed 2019 budget
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on Wednesday, August 8, admitted there are not enough funds for the Bangsamoro block grant in the proposed 2019 budget.
Upon the questioning of Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, the DBM said the financial implications of the recently signed Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) have yet to be included in the proposed allocation for next year.
Drilon pointed out that the law provides for an annual block grant, or a 5% share in the national internal revenue. This shall be automatically appropriated to the Bangsamoro region without any conditions.
DBM Undersecretary Janet Abuel said the proposed budget has a P32.2-billion allocation for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which the BOL will replace after a plebiscite.
“Sir, indeed it is not yet incorporated in the 2019 proposed budget. But we have a proposed budget for ARMM, which amounts to P32.2 billion and we can be able to reallocate that considering computations for the requirements under the BOL,” Abuel said.
Drilon asked if this would be adjusted, as the mandated block grant is estimated at around P60 billion.
“What we intend to do is study and try to adjust within the amounts. We need to reallocate because what we have now is indeed insufficient to cover the estimated amount of block grant,” Abuel said.
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, for his part, said this would be “manageable,” as the DBM could submit a supplemental budget for the Bangsamoro region.
“That's more manageable. We can submit a supplemental budget like we did in the free tuition [law] – we can do that. We'll look for some money inside [the budget to realign],” Diokno said.
President Rodrigo Duterte had actively pushed for the passage of the BOL this year. It remains unclear why it was not considered in the preparation of the 2019 budget.
Duterte signed the landmark measure on July 26. The BOL has to win the plebiscite before it gets to be implemented.
The Commission on Elections would need an estimated P854 million for the plebiscite, which Comelec chairman Sheriff Abas said would likely happen in December this year or early January 2019.
Chief Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza, for his part, said the plebiscite would be held in either November or December. This is in conformity with the law's provisions that a plebiscite must be held not earlier than 90 days and not later than 150 days after the effectivity of the law. – Rappler.com