THE executive order recently issued by President Benigno Aquino 3rd extending the life of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) headed by Mohagher Iqbal to ensure the existence of the body until the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) has been ratified beyond its tenure changes nothing, Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., said Monday.
Marcos, the sponsor of the substitute Basic Law on the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR), said the only change EO 187 brings is that the government will continue spending for the BTC even the work of the commission is done.
With EO 187, the BTC’s life was extended until after the law has been ratified through a plebiscite when the new Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) will be created.
“It doesn’t make [any]difference really, except that the government is spending for them when [their]work is done,” Marcos said in a text message to the Manila Times.
Meanwhile, the senator also assured that Senate Bill 2894 or the BLBAR contains strong safeguards against reckless appropriation and utilization of funds.
Marcos said his substitute bill has allowed the Commission on Audit (COA) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to audit and review the funds given by the Bangsamoro government.
“The appropriations and use of funds that would be made by the Bangsamoro parliament shall be audited by the COA. Therefore, they will be held to the generally accepted practices of government accounting,” he explained.
Marcos said that under Article 5 of SB 2894, it states that the COA “shall establish an auditing unit in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BAR) which shall examine, audit and settle all accounts pertaining to the revenue and receipts of, and expenditures or uses of funds and property, owned or held in trust by, or pertaining to the Bangsamoro Regional Government.”
He said this is a more categorical, explicit, and concrete safeguard against possible misuse of public funds in the BAR compared to the original BBL draft (SB 2408).
Under the Malacañang version of the BBL, the Bangsamoro auditing body shall perform all the auditing responsibilities over public funds utilized by the Bangsamoro.
“The language of this provision may have varying meanings to different people. To avoid misinterpretation, I have to make it clear that COA shall audit the funds,” he explained.
Marcos said the DBM could also exercise the power to review appropriations that would be made by the Bangsamoro parliament for the autonomous region.
“The DBM will also have a review function over the appropriation of funds in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region because it is, in fact, a local government. The rules that apply to other local governments must also apply to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region and so the function of review that the DBM carries out should also be applied to it,” he said.
Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on local government, earlier stated that discussions on the BLBAR might take six weeks based on the pace of the ongoing interpellation and the expected length of the amendment period.
After the interpellation, the next stage would be the period of amendments, which the senator said might take another three weeks.