Mindanao legislators pushed for funding for four state universities and colleges (SUCs) in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao under the 2022 national budget, warning of the “drastic effects” on education and the youth in BARMM if these institutions do not get any financial help from the government.
“We are Muslim legislators and we have to do something about this very serious matter. If not addressed, this will have drastic effects on the future of thousands of Moro students and employees of the four schools,” Deputy Speaker and Basilan Representative Mujiv Hataman told Rappler on Wednesday, September 29.
The SUCs are the Adiong Memorial Polytechnic State College in Marawi City, Cotabato State University in Cotabato City, Sulu State College, and the Tawi-Tawi Regional Agricultural College.
Hataman and Anak Mindanao Representative Amihilda Sangcopan filed House Resolution No. 2251 on Tuesday, September 28, urging the House leadership to allocate funds for the four schools, after they noted that the schools were not alotted funds in the 2022 national budget.
Hataman said that without national government funding, the schools would not be able to operate. He said this would be “like crushing the dreams of thousands of Moro youths and robbing them of their chances to better their lives and those of their families.”
The schools have existed long before the creation of BARMM, and their charters provide that their funding requirements “shall be provided by the national government,” said Hataman, former governor of the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Sangcopan said the prospect of zero funds from the national government for the schools in 2022 “seriously threatens the very existence of the SUCs in the BARMM.”
“Thousands of students and school personnel will be displaced,” she said.
Hataman said the removal of the allocations for the BARMM schools in the 2022 budget stemmed from a “misinterpretation” of a clause in the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) that supposedly provides that funds for the region’s SUCs would come from the autonomous regional government.
He said this “misinterpretation” was “a deviation from the letter and spirit of such a provision of the law.”
The provision, Section 16, Article 9 of Republic Act No. 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao states: “Any school, college or university existing in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region as of the effectivity of this Organic Law, and such other schools and institutions that may be established hereinafter shall be deemed integral components of the educational system of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, and shall be governed by their respective charters.”
Surigao del Norte Representative Francisco Matugas II, who sponsored the Commission on Higher Education budget, said the Department of Budget and Management took it to mean that all financial subsidies and appropriations for the four schools would be charged to the BARMM’s bloc grant.
“That’s the rationale of the DBM for not including the four schools,” Matugas said.
Hataman said he was optimistic that the matter would be resolved when it reaches the Inter-Governmental Relations Body, consisting of officials of the national government and the Bangsamoro government. – Rappler.com
Rommel Rebollido is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.