There is forever in the Bangsamoro—or so it seems, according to lawyer and peace activist Naguib Sinarimbo.
Sinarimbo, a peace adviser to the United Nations Development Program on the Moro political transition, said the Bangsamoro Organic Law does not set a term limit as to how many years the national government would adhere to its commitments on wealth-sharing and block grant provisions for sustained development of the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
BOL creates the BARMM, which will replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindana once the law is ratified in a plebiscite set by the Commission on Elections for Jan. 21, 2019.
“There is no truth that the fiscal commitments of the national government provided under the BOL will last for only 10 years. This is forever; so there is forever in BOL,” Sinarimbo said.
Earlier, a post on a Facebook page account named “CotabateNO”—which campaigns for the exclusion of Cotabato City from the new region in the Jan. 21 plebiscite—said the national government’s fiscal commitments to BARMM in terms of wealth-sharing and block grant provisions will last only for 10 years.
The same FB page says only Cotabato City, based on local tax records, has the capability to survive from self-sustaining revenue generation, compared to other local government units included in the BOL to constitute a proposed BARMM.
But Sinarimbo said under Section 15, Article 12 of BOL, a block grant that is due to the BARMM is made up of five percent of the total net nationwide collections of the Bureau of Internal Revenue; and five percent also of the annual net collections of the Bureau of Customs.
“These fiscal shares of the Bangsamoro Government from wealth-sharing and block grants will commence upon the administrative inception of the BARMM; will remain and will not end in 10 years,” Sinarimbo said.
He said the Bangsamoro government’s share from taxes, fees, and charges (internal revenue taxes) collected from BARMM areas will be 75 percent, which is higher by five percent than the current ARMM share of 70 percent. In 10 years, this will increase to 100 percent, because the national government will revert back its 25 percent share to the BARMM.
“After 10 years, the BARMM can still request for extension of the 100 percent grant of taxes collected from its territories, under Section 10 of Article 12 of the BOL. In short, it’s not also true that this part of the law will end after 10 years,” Sinarimbo said.
He said the P50-billion Special Development Fund will be granted by the national government to the BARMM in yearly tranches of P5 billion in 10 years.
Sinarimbo added that under Section 34, Article 12 of the BOL, the BARMM has the sole disposition in allocation of resources from incomes derived from “exploitation, development, and utilization of natural resources”—except for oil, coal and uranium—within its territorial jurisdiction. This power, he pointed out, “does not end in 10 years.”
Moreover, Sinarimbo said under Section 20, Article 13 of the BOL the Bangsamoro has its shares from “non-living resources in Zones of Joint-Cooperation in the Sulu Sea and Moro Gulf.” “This is provided under IGR or Intergovernmental Relations Mechanism. And again, this is not designed to end in 10 years,” he added.
“A Bangsamoro Government does not end in 10 years. In one word, it is ‘forever.’ So there’s forever in the Bangsamoro,” he said.