Press Release
June 22, 2015

To put people first, Recto wants 'MDG' - Moro Development Goals - in BBL

The Senate might implant human development targets in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) so that billions of pesos to be funneled to the autonomous region will uplift the lives of its residents.

"I think there's a consensus of putting in 'MDGs or Moro Development Goals' in the BBL," Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said.

Including this checklist of development targets, Recto explained, "would link spending to performance and spell out what the BBL will do for the poor."

Recto noted that at present, the draft law "focuses on political structures, on institutions at the top, like the number of people who will sit in the regional parliament, but not the poverty or hunger numbers that must be cut."

"If we are counting the courts which must be created or the kinds of taxes to be collected, we must also benchmark, for example, education or health," Recto said.

"Kasi ang importante sa pagtatayo ng gobyerno ay hindi lang kung anu-anong mga institusyon ang kailangan, pero higit sa lahat kung ano ang kailangang gawin ng mga institusyon na ito," Recto said.

While "organic acts", under which the BBL falls, consist mostly of broad strokes, "nothing prevents Congress from dabbling into the particulars, like specifying targets which must be achieved," the senator pointed out.

"Halimbawa, pwede tayo mag-lagay sa BBL na among the targets which must be achieved in x number of years is the reduction in poverty by this percentage or a rise in the number of high school finishers by this percent," he said.

"In building up the human capital requirements of the region, we can create a scholarship fund that will specifically mandate the training of Moro doctors, engineers and scientists," Recto said.

Recto insisted that "these are the countable social outcomes which must be legislated."

"E kung binibilang natin ang mga baril na dapat i-decommission, bakit di natin bilangin mula sa simula ang mga hospital na dapat itayo?" Recto said.

"Institutionalizing MDGs or Moro Development Goals will make the BBL about the people and not as a scheme to appease rebels, accommodate politicos or advance the interest of clans," Recto said.

The senator, however, admitted that "there is challenge in drafting the language of legislation of the 'MDG' but it can be done. What is important is that human development, and not career advancement options, is the centerpiece of the BBL."

According to the Department of Budget and Management, fund transfers to the proposed Bangsamoro region will top P528 billion in the first 6 years of the BBL's ratification.

Poverty rate in the region was pegged at 54 percent in 2014, per the Philippine Statistical Authority.

In education, the region is plagued by low education outcomes, like a functional literacy rate of 71.6% and a cohort survival rate of only 39.42% among elementary school students.

The region is also home to about 42,000 unemployed individuals, according to the preliminary results of the April 2015 Labor Force Survey.

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