‘Unfair’ appropriation of BARMM funds hit anew
MANILA — A good governance group which is seeking total transparency on the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is calling on the Senate committee on finance to conduct an investigation on BARMM’s “unfair” appropriations of funds.
Malayang Lipunan Movement Mindanao Director Jhannah Villegas said BARRM has a combined P160 billion budget for fiscal year 2020 and 2021 but a substantial amount has been allocated to Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) that includes but not limited to Supplies and Materials while wantonly forgetting more important ones.
Most glaring of this discrepancy in “unfair” budgetary allocation Villegas said is the kind of budgeting BARMM made for the Office of the Speaker and that of the Chief Minister so big that all the other ministry offices paled in comparison.
The Office of the Chief Minister got an allocation of P998,228,111 for the year (2021) while that of the Speaker received P179,142,000.
Now, compare that to other more important ministries like the Ministry of Indigenous People which only got P5,229,472; Labor, P3.5M, Safety, P2M, and Human Settlement, P1.5M.
“So how can the people of BARMM feel about progress in their turf with this kind of budgetary allocation,” Villegas asked.
The group’s petition for the Upper Chamber’s finance panel to launch an investigation also came on the heels of a request by three lawmakers of BARMM who jointly filed a bill seeking an additional P50-million fund for the region’s response against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in addition to the P380 million the ministry of health earlier allocated.
The bill was authored by BARMM Parliament Deputy Speakers Ziaur-Rahman Adiong and Nabil Tan, and Ubaida Pacasem.
“BARMM has so much money but is unfairly and unjustly distributed or appropriated,” Villegas said. “For instance, prudent dictates that a P6 billion budget for supplies for a year is highly questionable, unconscionable, extravagant and highly immoral.”
Records show that in 2020, the total Supplies and Materials of BARMM Government was P2,717,741,060 and it ballooned to more than P6 billion for 2021, around 120.20% increase.
In an official statement for media earlier sent, Villegas said “it is worth noting that the BARMM Government is still in the process of recruitment such that various field offices in the five (5) provinces are still not in its full capacity.”
“It is a blunder that it has a huge budget for supplies and materials and no personnel are doing administrative or clerical works. Still, the amount is very huge and mind-boggling,” Villegas stressed.
Before the senate went on recess, Sen. Imee Marcos filed Senate Resolution No. 729 on May 24, 2021, directing the Senate Committee on Finance to conduct an inquiry into the expenses on rehabilitation, development projects of conflict-affected community in the region, saying “there is too little progress and change in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).”
The lady senator said under the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2020, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) was allocated an annual appropriation of P7 billion, an Annual Block Grant of P63.6 billion, and a Special Development Fund of P5 billion. In addition to this, under the 2021 GAA, the BARMM was also given an annual appropriation of P8.6 billion, an Annual Block Grant of P71.6 billion, and a Special Development Fund of P5 billion.
“Prior to the establishment of the BARMM, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) was allocated an annual appropriation of P32.4 billion and Adjustments of P7.2 billion with Total Available Appropriations of Php 39.7 billion,” Marcos said.
“Thus, as compared to the ARMM appropriation of only P39.7 billion, the total BARMM allocation was higher, amounting to at least double the amount of the budget allocated to the ARMM,” Marcos said. “Despite these allocated appropriations, there is too little progress and change in the BARMM.”
“With the huge appropriations made in the GAA for 2020 and 2021, it is imperative for Congress to determine the status of the projects implemented especially since the Bangsamoro Government is still in its transition stage,” Marcos added.
“It is also important for Congress to be informed on the progress of the transition process, implementation of programs and the proper utilization of funds, as well as the reasons for delay which are not attributable to the dire effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and to determine other legislative measures, if necessary, to be legislated by Congress in order to promote the long-term vision of meaningful growth in the Bangsamoro Region.”
The BARMM law (RA 11054) was signed on July 26, 2018 by President Duterte.
Meanwhile, in a recent news conference, BARMM interior minister lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo clarified that fiscal transactions of the region are “transparent, above-board, legal, and with no irregularities.”
“We are open to audit anytime,” Sinarimbo told reporters.
For her part, Villegas retorted that “we’re not after the expenditures, what we are after is the proper or fair appropriation of funds on priorities like housing and development of communities, creation of jobs, sports development, and other pro-people projects.”
Sessions in the Philippine Senate would resume next month 26th of July coinciding with President Duterte’s sixth and last State of Nation Address (SONA).
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.