BARMM BLOCK GRANT:

A POLICY BRIEF


Atty. Dion Lorenz L. Romano
Project Manager, Access Bangsamoro Project

This policy brief is a product of a roundtable discussion organized by:

Please address all inquiries to:
Ateneo Policy Center
Ateneo School of Government,
Pacifico Ortiz Hall, Fr. Arrupe Road,
Social Development Complex, Ateneo de Manila University,
Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights 1108


Summary

This policy brief is a product of a continuing research and a result of a Roundtable Discussions (RTD) on how to operationalize the block grant provision of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL). The RTD was participated by the representatives from the National Government Agencies (NGA) that are involved in the implementation of the Block Grant, particularly the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of Finance (DOF), and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). Former senior government officials and public finance experts also joined the discussions to share their perspectives on the subject. The RTD sought to provide venue among the NGAs to thresh out their plans on the block grant and to help generate ideas and provide recommendations to policymakers in defining the operationalization of the block grant.

It’s good to note as a starter that the creation of autonomous regions in the Philippines is a result of cultural struggles and aggressive demand for the right to self-determination. In the case of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), the cultural and armed struggles spanned for a period of 50 years.[1] And, the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law has paved the way to ending the long-fought struggles.

Along with the peace agenda, the national government has manifested its commitment to provide meaningful autonomy to the BARMM Government. Concretely, the Block Grant provision is one of the key features in the BOL that gives the BARMM Government its desired fiscal autonomy. The Block Grant is also a financing mechanism that would spark and galvanize the BARMM’s priority development goals, which is to address the root causes of conflict: such as lack of access to formal education, weak health system, and poor social services delivery.

Operationally, the Block Grant is a form of intergovernmental fund transfer. While fund transfer is not a new financing mechanism, the provision of block grant by the Philippine Government to an autonomous region is, however, a new system. Thus, both the national and regional governments have to prepare the guidelines and working relationships to ensure that the funds will be implemented according to its original intent. The challenge now is that there remains a fissure between the right of the BARMM to self-determination and fiscal autonomy on one hand, and the express provision in the BOL that block grant is to be governed by the rules and regulations of the DBM and DILG, on the other hand.

To harmonize the two seemingly confusing provisions, this brief recommends the National Government Agencies to consider the following actions:

  1. Evaluate existing rules and regulations that may be applicable in the implementation of the block grant;
  2. Create an inter-agency coordinating body pending the formal constitution of Intergovernmental Fiscal Policy Board;
  3. Immediate constitution of the Intergovernmental Fiscal Policy Board and Secretariat;
  4. Setting up of certain performance standards and targets for each sector covered by the block grant;
  5. Alignment of the performance targets with the Regional Development Plan of the BARMM and the over-call National Development Goals;
  6. Adherence to the priority measures on education, health, and social services in allocating the Block Grant.

 

—————

[1] https://www.mindanews.com/peace-process/2019/02/bangsamoro-transition-authority-to-take-oath-feb-20-armm-to-barmm-turnover-on-feb-25a/


Download the policy report here.


© Ateneo School of Government 2019.
All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photographic, recording or otherwise, without permission from the Ateneo School of Government.

Access Bangsamoro is an online and social media portal that promotes the free flow of information, analysis, and discussions for the effective implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) and the successful transition to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Access Bangsamoro is a project of the Ateneo School of Government (ASOG) through the Ateneo Policy Center, in partnership with the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) under the Enhancing Political Dialogue for Inclusive Peace in the Bangsamoro (ENPOLD Bangsamoro). The project is made possible with the funding assistance from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Government of Australia.