The national government is looking at including additional programs in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) under the proposed 2023 national budget, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

During a recent Intergovernmental Relations Body (IGRB) meeting, key officials of the national and Bangsamoro governments agreed to engage in identifying additional, nationally funded programs (NFPs) in BARMM.

“The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) discussed the issue on the inclusion in the national budget of NFPs located in the Bangsamoro region,” the DOF said in a statement.

Under Section 13, Article VI of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), national programs and projects in the BARMM shall continue to be funded by the national government without prejudice to the power of the Bangsamoro Government to provide supplemental funding.

The national programs and projects stated under the BOL include the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, Health Facility Enhancement Program, School Building Program, and retained hospitals of the Department of Health).

The law also covers programs under the Philippine Heath Insurance Corp. or PhilHealth, the social pension of senior citizens, and the Task Force Bangon Marawi.

The national government and BARMM have previously agreed that the list is not an exclusive one and that agencies may still fund other national programs and projects in the Bangsamoro region as decided upon by the two sides.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III pointed out that because the DBM makes the budget call every February of each year, it is crucial for the different national agencies and the BARMM ministries to directly coordinate, identify and agree on which NFPs could be possibly included.

The national agencies and BARMM ministries are expected to report to the IGRB relevant updates as to their coordination regarding the NFPs in the next meeting of the body tentatively scheduled in the second week of December.

Co-chaired by Dominguez III and BARMM Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal have committed to resolve points of divergence between the national and Bangsamoro governments and keep the transition moving at the fastest possible pace.

“The IGRB continues to meet regularly to resolve matters and issues brought before the body as it remains determined in accomplishing its targets. The IGRB remains fully committed to achieving meaningful autonomy, and genuine and lasting peace in the BARMM,” Dominguez said.

During the meeting, Dominguez and Iqbal also instructed the technical working groups (TWGs) tasked to address the overlapping jurisdictions of certain national agencies and Bangsamoro ministries to speed up the resolution of their outstanding issues.

These offices include, among others, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) on the part of the NG, and the Ministry of Labor and Employment (MOLE) of the BARMM.

Source: Manila Bulletin (