Ernesto M. Pernia, PhD
Secretary of Socioeconomic Planning
First Bangsa Moro Global Economic Summit
Manila Hotel
August 19, 2019 | 1:00 PM

Ladies and gentlemen,
Distinguished guests,
Good afternoon.

First, allow me to congratulate the Bangsa Moro Federal Business Council, Inc. and its affiliates for successfully organizing the first Bangsa Moro Global Economic Summit. I was asked to share my insights thoughts and possibly, and advice concerning the newly established Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao or BARMM, to which I am more than happy to oblige.

The ratification of the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao or the B-O-L and the inauguration of the BARMM early this year was among our proudest moments in our history as a nation.  After decades of grueling peace negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, we can now begin to pave the road for progress and prosperity and work towards achieving our long-term aspirations. Conflicts have kept the people of Mindanao away from their dreams and goals.Let me emphasize that the region’s development and prosperity, along with the challenges it faces, is ours too. I am confident that the new Bangsamoro government is moving towards the direction that we have envisioned.

Bear in mind, however, that while the Bangsamoro government is working on the transition, socioeconomic challenges remain and will likely impact the development of the region in the coming years. The new government must address the region’s low economic performance high poverty incidence, and poor access and delivery of quality services. Regional poverty incidence among the population is estimated at 53.7 percent in 2015. The provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Sulu have the highest poverty incidence among families in the country. Limited investments in education, health, and social services, as well as the exposure and vulnerability of communities to various economic, environmental, and conflict risks contribute to the worsening poverty in the region.Also, there remain some public order, peace, and security challenges, particularly the threat from several armed groups, pockets of family feud or rido, and incidents of violent extremism, criminality, and proliferation of illegal drugs, not to mention the region’s vulnerability to the impacts of disasters and climate change.

The establishment of BARMM is one of the many steps we have to take to address the current social, political, economic, and cultural challenges faced by the Bangsamoro people both within the current ARMM areas and other nearby localities.

The ongoing transition holds promise for the region’s broad-based and sustainable development. Apart from the power and authority granted over certain sectors and activities to create its own sources of revenue and advance the region’s economic development, the increased budgetary support to the BARMM will likely result in more economic activities and socioeconomic interventions beneficial to BARMM.

The national government will provide an annual block grant, which is the automatic share of the Bangsamoro government in the national internal revenue tax collections. This is equivalent to 5 percent of the net national internal revenue tax collection or around PhP70 billion for the fiscal year of 2019 alone. A special development fund amounting to a total PhP50 billion, or PhP5 billion per year for ten years, is allocated for the rebuilding, rehabilitation, and development of conflict-affected communities. Subsidies for development and infrastructure-related expenditure are guaranteed by the national government for the next five years.

Ahead of us are gargantuan yet surmountable tasks for the region to catch up, starting with the creation of the Bangsamoro Economic and Development Council, which will serve as the planning, monitoring, and coordinating agency for all development plans, programs, and projects of the Bangsamoro Government. Also, a representative of the Bangsamoro government shall sit as a member of a national development plan steering committee or its equivalent. He or she will participate in relevant planning activities of the NEDA. This would enhance vertical integration of the BARMM plans, programs, and projects with the national priorities. On the other hand, it would insert the BARMM’s regional influence on the national development agenda.Also, intergovernmental relations mechanism bodies, which will coordinate and resolve issues between the national and BARMM governments have to be created. Among these bodies are the Intergovernmental Fiscal Policy Board, which will address revenue imbalances and fluctuations in regional financial needs and revenue-raising capacity of the Bangsamoro Government; the Joint Body for the Zones of Joint Cooperation, which will  be responsible for formulating policies relating to the Zones of Joint Cooperation in the Sulu Sea and Mora Gulf; the Intergovernmental Infrastructure Development Board, which will coordinate and synchronize national and Bangsamoro infrastructure development plans.

To address the challenges that the BARMM is facing, as well as other pressing socioeconomic needs of the region, the BARMM government has crafted its 12-point priority agenda for the transition period of 2020-2022. These can be considered as development opportunities for investments in this critical juncture of the Bangsamoro transition process. Areas for possible longer-term partnerships and cooperation with the private sector may be identified after various development plans are integrated and harmonized.

On top of the BARMM’s agenda is the recovery of areas affected by the conflict in Marawi.  The Bangon Marawi Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Program laid out the government’s strategic interventions for the rehabilitation of Marawi City and municipalities directly affected by the conflict. It includes programs, projects, and activities to be implemented from 2018 to 2022, with total investment requirement amounting to PhP60.51 billion. While most programs will be financed through national government funds, non-government sources have also been identified. Among the biggest non-government projects implemented is the construction of 3,500 permanent housing units by San Miguel Corporation and UN Habitat with an estimated cost of PhP1.93 billion.

We assure you that the government is committed to meeting the overall goal of the Bangon Marawi. Our aim is for Marawi City and surrounding communities to co-exist in peace and become vibrant, productive, and resilient to risks of conflict and other disasters, with culture integrated into the country’s socioeconomic development.

All our eyes are now on the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. The region has so much potential to be unlocked and we are excited to see all our combined efforts come to fruition.

Again, thank you to the Bangsa Moro Federal Business Council, Inc. for inviting me over. In store for us are great opportunities for partnership and cooperation that will truly benefit the Bangsamoro and the Filipino people.

May we have a productive day ahead and good day once again.

Thank you.