‘Paltry results’ in BARMM disarmament process rued


HOW has the BTC (Bangsamoro Transition Commission) performed in carrying out its mandate of laying down the foundation for a comprehensive development program for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao? Was decommissioning of former combatants proceeding apace?

These questions were raised by Sen. Imee Marcos in a recent interview regarding the status of her resolution calling for an investigation of the BARMM budget and spending.

Republic Act 11054 that President Duterte signed into law on July 26, 2018 created the BARMM, but critics have noted that despite the P160 billion in public funds poured into the region from 2020 to 2021 and the P30 billion in remaining funds turned over to BTC in 2019 by the now defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), “the rest of the country is yet to see a completed project in BARMM.”

Marcos filed Senate Resolution No. 729 on May 31, 2021, directing the Senate Committee on Finance to conduct an inquiry into the expenses on rehabilitation, development projects of conflict-affected community in the region, as “there is too little progress and change in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).”

For the billions it received in block grants and national assistance, the senator noted, “the vital efforts of decommissioning and disarmament have yielded paltry results.”

She wanted to know: “Is it true that all those funds have instead mysteriously gone to more and better guns for its officials and their clans?”

Under the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2020, BARMM was allocated an annual appropriation of P7 billion, an Annual Block Grant of P63.6 billion, and a Special Development Fund of P5 billion. In addition, under the 2021 GAA, the BARMM was also given an annual appropriation of P8.6 billion, an Annual Block Grant of P71.6 billion, and a Special Development Fund of P5 billion.

“How many real armed combatants have been decommissioned, far less than the 1/3 claimed we hear?” the senator asked.

“The record on laying down arms is worse—with only a tenth of the recorded apparently surrendered, most of them ancient and unusable,” she noted.

“No wonder the President has repeatedly expressed his frustration and warned angrily against the continuing violent confrontations in BARMM, tolling significant losses in soldiers, civilians and even children’s lives,” Marcos added.

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