Solons worried over lack of budget for BOL plebiscite

Lawmakers are worried over the lack of funds allocated for the Bangsamoro Organic Law plebiscite in the proposed P3.757-trillion national budget for 2019.

Rep. Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo of Lanao del Norte noted that the Commission on Election’s proposed budget of P10.079 billion for next year does not include the P857 million allocation for the holding of the plebiscite for the ratification of BOL, which has been scheduled on Jan. 21, 2019.

Dimaporo made the disclosure after AMIN Party-list Rep. Makmod Mending asked him how much the Comelec has allotted for the conduct of the BOL plebiscite.

“Do we have funds or appropriations intended for the plebiscite on January 21, 2019?,” Mending asked.

In response, Dimaporo said the BOL plebiscite will entail a budget of P857 million.

He said it would be unfortunate if Congress fails to provide adequate funding for the Bangsamoro to hold a plebiscite for the BOL ratification.

The ratification will ensure that the Moro people inside the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao can finally experience the fulfillment of a commitment to have a Bangsamoro law during the time of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Dimaporo said the House of Representatives of the 17th Congress under the leadership of Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo must fully support the wish of President Duterte for peace to reign in Mindanao.

“This budget deliberation should resolve the P857-million funding shortage of the Comelec,” said Dimaporo.

In the event the funding problem is not settled, Dimaporo said the Comelec can source some of the funds from its savings from the conduct of the barangay elections and the rest will be up to Malacañang to resolve.

“I put my faith in our President that he will not fail the people and he will not fail the Bangsamoro,” said Dimaporo.

Mending said the 2019 GAB should contain the necessary appropriation for the BOL plebiscite.

“I believe there is enough time for us here in the House of Representatives to be able to put in our General Appropriations Bill the necessary fund or appropriation to cover the expenses for the conduct of the plebiscite and ensure that our constituents will be able to determine the sovereign will of the constituents involved in this exercise,” said Mending.

President Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11054, or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao last July 26, three days after his third State of the Nation Address. Meanwhile, he submitted the proposed 2019 national budget to Congress on SONA day.

The law creates the region that will replace the ARMM. The BARMM would cover the current provinces of ARMM, six towns in Lanao del Norte, 39 barangays in North Cotabato, Cotabato City and Isabela City in Basilan.

The six towns in Lanao del Norte and 39 barangays in North Cotabato will be included in the BARMM only if their “mother units”—cities or provinces—also agree to it in a plebiscite.

Meanwhile, two militant lawmakers assailed the zero allocation for mass housing in the proposed national budget for 2019 even as billions are being “parked” in several agencies including the Department of Public Works and Highways as alleged pork barrel.

“There is not a single centavo for the construction of mass housing units in the 2019 national budget despite the country’s 5.7 million housing backlog but there are billions allotted for pork barrel funds. This is the budget proposal coming from a President that has vowed “malasakit” and of ridding corruption in the government,” said Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas, referring to the recent ruckus over the P55-billion insertion in the proposed national budget.

“This brazen persistence of corruption combined with the neglect of the housing crisis by the Duterte regime will surely fuel more occupations of idle public housing units and foment more protests among the growing ranks of the homeless,” Brosas added.

Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus, for her part, said the P52 billion out of the P55 billion pork barrel funds, which are supposed to be realigned to the DPWH, should instead be allocated for mass housing projects catering to poor families and to other social services.

The 2019 budget for shelter agencies, which stands at an aggregate amount of P2.86 billion, is actually composed of housing loans subject to interest rates and of funds for resettlement and demolition of communities, according to the women’s partylist.

For 2019, P360 million has been allocated for the National Housing Authority (NHA) or P2.9 billion lower than its budget this year. The NHA admitted during the pre-plenary budget hearing that a portion of this amount will be used for the resettlement of families to be affected by the Supreme Court mandamus on the Manila Bay coastal cleanup, which is technically for the demolition of communities.

Meanwhile, P1.8 billion is allotted as housing loans dispersed across the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation, Home Guaranty Corporation, and Social Housing and Finance Corporation.

The remainder of the P2.86 billion fund for “housing and community development” is allotted for the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) which are operating as GOCCs and are engaged in ventures with the private sector, Brosas said.

Topics: Bangsamoro Organic Law , BOL plebiscite , 2019 national budget , Rep. Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo , Lanao del Norte , Commission on Election
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