By Ali G. Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – The Bangsamoro Automous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) government-of-the-day had returned to the national coffer at least P6.8-billion fund left by preceding administration in what a lawmaker affirmed as a show of pursuing its avowed “moral governance” campaign.
“It was unprecedented in the history of autonomous governance as far as the huge amount involved is concerned,” Maguindanao Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu averred on Saturday, referring to the way the BARMM officialdom decision to return the unspent fund back to the national government.
The act even caught national officials, particularly Budget and Management Secretary Wendel Avisado in “surprise,” Rep. Mangudadatu told the weekly Tapatan Forum regular episode on Saturday, Oct. 30.
He said he once visited Sec. Avisado to lobby for a budget in his Congressional district and huddle with him being a longtime friend.
He said he asked the cabinet official for confirmation about information he had received that Bangsamoro officials led by Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim returned to the national government some P6.8-billion fund left unused by the Hataman administration of the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Mangudadatu said Sec. Avisado confirmed the report in awe, and exchanged inquisitive views with the lawmaker in Cebuano vernacular.
“I told Sec. Avisado that the administration of CM Ebrahim has a standing pledge to observe moral governance in the Bangsamoro region,” the lawmaker told the media forum in Filipino.
On October 2, Rep. Mangudadatu narrated the same story first before leaders and members of the United Bangsamoro Justice presence of United (UBJP) led by Ebrahim at Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.
He jested that ordinarily, other officials could have manufactured documents just to liquidate and keep the money.
“The rare story lingered in mind in belief that the BARMM’s (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s) government-of-the day really meant business in its vow for moral governance,” Mangudadato told the Tapatan forum.
The story has “inspired me more to push hard for the BARMM administration’s call for extended transition period by filing an enabling bill” in Congress 2020, Mangudadatu said.
Three similar bills were filed by Representatives Loren Legarda, Isidro Ungab and Martin Romualdez that were later consolidated with the version of Mangudadatu, who subsequently voted upon by 40 joint-committees members as main sponsor.
House Bill 10121 passed and reconciled with Senate Bill 2214 authored by Senator Francis Tolentino. The reconciled and ratified bills were signed into law last October 28. (AGM)