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BBL has mechanism to monitor Bangsamoro block grant -Zubiri.

Senator Juan Miguel 'Migz' Zubiri assured on Tuesday that the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) has a mechanism to monitor and review the use of the Bangsamoro region's P72 billion block grant.

Zubiri's statement comes after Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the BBL should ensure fiscal discipline for the autonomous region by making sure that its programs are in line with the programs of the national government.

'May constant monitoring naman and under the block grant or section 134 or 137 there is a monitoring mechanism at review. Kailangan i-review ito every five years kung maganda ba ang implementation ng block grant,' Zubiri told reporters after the Senate subcommittee on the BBL adjourned its last hearing.

'Ayaw natin na panay personal services lang, panay sweldo mapupunta yung block grant. We have to make sure that education is prioritized, health, basic services are delivered to the people,' he added.

Zubiri, chair of the Senate subcommittee on BBL, also clarified that the block grant or development fund, which would be automatically appropriated to the Bangsamoro region annually, is not exclusive to the autonomous region.

'This is not unique to the region, for example Region 10 (Northern Mindanao) is getting P83 billion, Region 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula) P77 billion, Region 11 (Davao) P78 billion on block grants or development funds for their region,' he said, noting that at present, the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) receives a measly P33 billion.

'The block grant only guarantees that they are at par or equal with other regions in terms of development funds,' he said. 'Baka magulat ang tao sabihin ang laki ng P72 billion, hindi po malaki yan in fact, other regions in Mindanao are receiving more.'

'It's about time that our brother and sisters sa Bangsamoro region also receive the same as the other regions of Mindanao,' Zubiri added.

Zubiri explained that under the BBL, the Bangsamoro parliament would have the power to decide on the specific appropriations of the fund.

'Pangit naman, didikta na naman muli tayo. Yan ang ayaw na ayaw ng mga kapatid natin sa Bangsamoro na ididikta ng Metro Manila o tinatawag nilang imperial Manila kung saan gagamitin ang pondo. Let them decide their fate, that's what we call true fiscal autonomy,' the senator said.

The P72 billion annual block grant, he said, would come from the net internal revenue of the county's collections by the Bureua of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

Zubiri said the subcommittee would begin its technical working group discussions this weekend, to make sure they remain on track with their target to pass the BBL by March 22.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Feb 13, 2018
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