Bangsamoro remains top priority

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The measure that seeks to create the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region will remain the top priority of the House of Representatives, according to Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr.
Belmonte said on Monday that efforts to achieve lasting and genuine peace in the country will be the top agenda in the Third Regular Session of Congress which will open on July 27.

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“The Bangsamoro Basic Law is now [up for]second reading [vote]and being finetuned to ensure greater inclusiveness and greater efficiency in practice. We want to ensure a more meaningful autonomy, while likewise paving the way towards a more effective provision of vital services to our people,” the Speaker said.

“We want a peace that is lasting and sustainable,” Belmonte added.

The proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region will have fiscal autonomy, governed by the Bangsamoro parliament and granted an annual block grant which is 2.4 percent of the national tax collection, a Special Development Fund worth P17 billion (P7 billion initially and P2 billion for the next five years) and a P1 billion transition fund for the infrastructure construction and rehabilitation.

However, the bill became unpopular after 44 police commandos were slain by Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters and members of other rebel groups in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25.

The House will also give priority to measures on economic development and trade; national security, public order and safety; promotion of good governance; revitalizing education for a more competitive human resources; enhancement of social protection; expanding access to health to achieve higher productivity; unleashing land productivity; sustainable energy; and climate change adaptation.

So far, Congress has approved a number of measures, among them bills liberalizing the entry and scope of operations of foreign banks in the Philippines, amendments to the Lemon Law; extension of the corporate life of the Philippine National Railways; mandating telecommunications service providers to send free mobile alerts in the event of natural and man-made disasters and calamities; strengthening the Anti-Illegal Drugs Law; providing for the mandatory PhilHealth coverage for all senior citizens; 13th month pay tax exemption and Premature Marriages Act.

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