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Speaker calls for unwavering backing of the PBBM plan for prosperity

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Tuesday, Speaker Martin G. Romualdez urged the Bangsamoro Parliament to support President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s Agenda for Prosperity, whose central objective is to transform the nation’s economy towards inclusivity and sustainability. This includes the growth of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

At the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City, Romualdez made the call at the Philippine Congress-Bangsamoro Parliament Forum.

In his speech, Romualdez emphasized that Congress has pledged to give priority to laws that support the Medium-Term Fiscal Framework (MTFF) and the 8-Point Socioeconomic Agenda because lawmakers share the mission to return the economy to a path of high growth in the near future and to maintain inclusive and resilient growth through the year 2028.

“I encourage the BTA to approve or align with the MTFF as it offers a comprehensive policy orientation for our country, including the BARMM, both in the short and long terms. The nation now has a clear 6-year program with well-defined goals, he claimed.

The MTFF aims to increase the country’s GDP by 6.5 to 7.5 percent in 2022 and 6.5 to 8 percent annually from 2023 to 2028. It also wants to reduce poverty to under 10 percent, or 9 percent, by 2028, reduce the government deficit to 3 percent, reduce the debt-to-GDP ratio to less than 60 percent by 2025, and elevate the Philippines to upper middle-income status.

The 8-Point Socioeconomic Agenda, meanwhile, guarantees inclusive and sustainable progress. Among the goals are achieving food security, resolving issues with public health, expanding social protection programs, lowering energy and transportation expenses, bringing back in-person learning, improving bureaucratic efficiency, and implementing responsible fiscal management in government.

The Covid-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine war, persistently high inflation, and a sudden slowdown in the world economy in 2022, according to Romualdez, are all external or global economic obstacles that the Philippines is surviving and growing notwithstanding.

Despite these challenges, the nation’s GDP grew by 7.6 percent in the third quarter of this year, outpacing both the second quarter’s 7.5 growth and the third quarter of 2021’s 7 percent growth.

The Philippines, the second-best performing nation among the major rising economies in Southeast Asia, is only surpassed by Vietnam, according to recent reports quoted by the speaker.

Undoubtedly, the Agenda for Prosperity, our President’s and economic managers’ strong economic plan, is to blame for this. Because of this, our elected officials must support the Agenda for Prosperity by enacting the required laws, according to Romualdez.

In order to sustain and further accelerate the economic recovery, he continued, “On our end, we in Congress – and you in Parliament – must concentrate on crafting legislation that will assist the government in boosting home demand and increasing the competitiveness of the domestic industry.”

The 2023 General Appropriations Bill was swiftly approved by the House of Representatives, according to Romualdez, based on the carefully crafted 2023 National Expenditure Program that was created by Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, the first Muslim Budget Secretary and the only Muslim in the Cabinet.

This includes allocating PHP74.4 billion for BARMM, he said, for the BARMM Block Grant, Special Development Fund, and share in National Taxes collected, to make sure the Bangsamoro Transition Authority can carry out its promises.

The House of Representatives also plans to seek additional funding for BARMM to cover the cost of repair and rehabilitation in areas most affected by the Severe Tropical Storm Paeng, particularly in Maguindanao and Cotabato, the House leader said. This is done to ensure that progress in BARMM will continue unhindered despite natural calamities.

Romualdez, speaking for BARMM, echoed Marcos’ request that the Bangsamoro Parliament create laws that will ensure the welfare of the Moro people, particularly in the areas of agri-fishery, healthcare, transportation, communication, digital infrastructure, and e-governance.

“Given the difficulties of the day, it is imperative that we answer the call for harmony and progress. I have no doubt that the Bangsamoro Region will rise to become a significant contributor in realizing our shared Agenda for Prosperity as we answer this call.

It’s “Wala pong duda. Lahat bumangon nating kaya kung sama-sama. (There is no question that if we work together, we can all ascend.) If we band together and put in the necessary effort, the best is yet to come, according to Romualdez.

“Productive collaboration”

Carlito Galvez, secretary of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (OPAPRU), expressed optimism that the event would mark the beginning of the closer collaboration between the Congress and Bangsamoro Parliament.

He predicted that the Philippine Congress and the Bangsamoro Parliament will now work together to improve the lives of the Bangsamoro people. “Now that we have formally inaugurated this forum, I believe this will be the beginning of a strong, inclusive, and fruitful collaboration,” he said.

For her part, Pangandaman reaffirmed her dedication to enduring peace and inclusive development in Mindanao.

In line with the President’s Agenda for Prosperity, she stated, “we will do everything within our power and make every effort to convene all mechanisms to help the Bangsamoro Transition Authority and assure the success of BARMM.

The forum “will realize the many efforts attempted to be set into motion,” according to BTA Parliament Speaker Pangalian Balindong.

The laws passed to upgrade hospitals in BARMM, a potential extension of the deadline for Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front members to apply for amnesty, the qualification of Shari’ah circuit court judges, the adoption of the BTA’s remaining priority codes, and future strategies for the Philippine Congress and the Bantay Talong Agreement were all topics of discussion by the coordinating body during the forum (PCPBF).

The PCPBF also decided to form technical working groups to investigate the viability of resolving these problems and difficulties.

Co-chairs of the Inter-Governmental Relations Body (IGRB), Pangandaman, and BARMM Minister of Basic, Higher, and Technical Education Mohagher Iqbal, were in charge of the PCBPF.

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