January 22, 2019

MANILA – The creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BAR) would open up high growth prospects for the region and the rest of the country, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said.

The first part of the plebiscite in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Cotabato City, and Isabela City took place on January 21. It will be followed by another plebiscite on February 6 in Lanao del Norte, except Iligan City, and North Cotabato, as well as local government units that petitioned to be included.

The ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law through a plebiscite and the creation of BAR would increase investments in the region, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said.

“Given that the BOL provides a lot of opportunities to increase the budget for BAR, we expect to see more programs and infrastructure projects in the region,” Pernia said.

An estimated PhP70 billion for the fiscal year of 2019 alone will be provided by the national government, as an assistance to the region. This does not yet include compensation for the members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, benefits and entitlements of affected ARMM regional government employees, disposition of personnel and assets, initial funding to carry out requirements of the transition, and additional development programs and projects subsidized by the National Government.

The Cabinet official underscored the planned major infrastructure projects in the region amounting to PhP22.15 billion for FY2019 alone and Php40.85 billion for 2017-2022, based on the Public Investment Program, as of September 2018.

“Connectivity and social infrastructure should be the primary concern of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority and the new leaders of the BAR to address pressing issues, most importantly access to basic services,” Pernia said.

As part of the creation of the new region, the Bangsamoro Economic and Development Council will be established to serve as the planning, monitoring, and coordinating agency for all development plans, programs, and projects of the Bangsamoro Government. A representative of the Bangsamoro government will also sit as a member of the NEDA Board.

Pernia said that with the new Bangsamoro government vested with powers over political and fiscal matters, the public financial management and delivery of services in the region would improve.

“NEDA also acknowledges that the plebiscite is a historic moment for Mindanao. The agency looks forward to the success of this initiative to further this administration’s thrust of inclusive development established on a strong foundation of peace and security,” Pernia added.