By Ali G. Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – The Bangsamoro government now provides regular monthly subsidies to 12 constituent towns created over a decade ago by the legislature of its defunct predecessor sans internal revenue allotments (IRA), the Ministry of the Interior and Local Government (MILG) announced.
The 12 towns are Shariff Saidona Mustapha, Datu Hofer, Datu Salibo, Anggal Midtimbang, Blah Sinsuat, Pandag, Mangudadatu, and Northern Kabuntalan, all in Maguindanao; and Akbar, Mohammad Ajul, Hadji Muhtamad, and, all in Basilan.
“They (12 towns) have been receiving regular internal revenue allotments since last January,” MILG Minister Naguib Sinarimbo told The Philippine Muslims Today over the phone Wednesday.
Such towns have been established one after another since 2006 by the Regional Legislative Assembly (RLA) of the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). But the national government refused to accord them IRA because of reported failure to meet the requirements set under R.A. 7160, also known as the Local Government Code of 1991.
For humanitarian and political considerations, the 12 municipal governments subsisted on special fiscal aids from the national, regional and provincial administrations in cumbersome fashions with fluctuating sums of contribution, it was learned.
Ironically, old barangays absorbed by the 12 towns have been receiving regular IRAs from the national government, it was learned.
The past ARMM administrations, notably of former Regional Governors Ansaruddin Adiong and Mujiv Hataman had made several representations to national authorities, but failed to gain favorable attention in their quests for possible relaxing of criteria vis-à-vis the situation of the 12 predominantly Muslim towns.
The quest for relief in the virtual “state of mendicancy” of the 12 towns finally gained momentum in the enactment in July 2018 of R.A. 11054, which mandates the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in replacement of the 29-year old ARMM.
Bangasamoro Autonomous Region Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim and his cabinet met with the elected executives of the 12 towns in a series of conferences, which ended last January with the start of their regular receipt of IRA.
President Rodrigo Duterte formally inaugurated the BARMM parliament and bureaucracy on March 29, 2019 after the overwhelming ratification of the law in a plebiscite held two months earlier.
In his ceremonial message, the President expressed confidence that several gray areas in the defunct ARMM will find remedies in BARMM because of its immense autonomy and resources.
During Wednesday’s interview, meanwhile, Minister Sinarimbo said the regional cabinet discussed a day earlier here its submission of the draft BARMM Local Governance Code to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority’s parliament for deliberation before September.
He said the draft regional code envisioned among other matters the increase of constituent towns’ monthly revenue ceiling to P12.5 million. The 1991 LGC pegged the ceiling at P2.5 million, which Sinarimbo was an “outdated” amount nowadays.
PHILIPPINE MUSLIM TODAY