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Kakasa ba? Recto: Jolo bombing is first leadership test for MILF

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The bombing of the Jolo cathedral is the first “leadership test” of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leaders who are set to assume the reins of the Bangsamoro autonomous government.

Senator Ralph Recto stressed this on Tuesday as he condemned the twin bombing of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Jolo, Sulu on Sunday which left at least 21 people dead and over 100 wounded.

He said solving Sunday’s twin explosions is no longer the sole responsibility of the national government “but a joint venture with the Bangsamoro leaders.”

The Senate President Pro Tempore said the “participation of rebels-turned-government-officials is a must.”

“Nothing prevents the MILF, which is a government-in-waiting, from being a government in action,” Recto said.

“The search for the perpetrators, for justice, for lasting solutions will be made easy with help of Bangsamoro leaders,” he said.

But for these to happen, Recto said all powers promised in the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), including funding, must be given to them within the timetable set by law or in an accelerated fashion.

“We cannot ask them to do this without providing them with resources and authority. Give them the means, so they can accomplish the mission,” he said.

“Once we devolve the funds, we also devolve the task of solving many local problems. That’s the understanding,” he said.

Recto added, “Kahit hindi pa dumarating ang pondo, pwedeng pakitang gilas sila. Magpakita ng initiative sa paglaban sa mga terorista.”

“They cannot be fence-sitters on this. Para ipakita na this is a preview of the kind of governance we will implement,” he said.

“Kung mayroong nanabotahe sa kapayapaan, dapat tumulong sila sa pagsuplong. Para ipakita na kaya nilang patahimikin ang sino mang nanggulo sa kanilang bakuran,” he added.

Under the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) will be formed upon the ratification of the BOL.

Also under the BOL, the BTA will be led by the MILF. It will serve as the de facto government until noon of the 30th of June 2019.

The Bangsamoro government, from the time the BTA will be convened, is assured of a mixture of financial sources, from outright subsidy from the national government to retained revenues.

Estimated at P109 billion, the funding is broken down as follows: Annual Block Grant – P62 billion; Special Development Fund – P5 billion; BTA Fund – P1 billion; Retained Taxes – P1.4 billion; Funds from National Government Agencies – P15 billion; and IRA – P25 billion.

To plug funding gaps, Recto has successfully sponsored the inclusion of P30 billion, on top of the ARMM Regional Government appropriations for 2019, in the Senate version of next year’s national budget.

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