SENATOR Ferdinand “Bongbong” R, Marcos Jr. grilled government chief negotiator, Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, regarding the true nature and actual function of a fiscal body proposed to be created under the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
This developed on Tuesday during the public hearing of the Senate Committee on Local Government, chaired by Sen. Bongbong, regarding the BBL, or Senate No. 2408, on Tuesday, which was the last BBL hearing in the Senate.
Sen. Bongbong tried in vain to elicit direct, concrete, and satisfactory answer from Ferrer, one of the resource persons in the public hearing, when asked about the functions and roles of the Intergovernmental Fiscal Policy Board (IGFPB), which is sought to be created under the BBL.
“I would like to clarify Professor Ferrer...explain exactly what, how, and what is the process within the Inter-government Fiscal Policy Board,” he told Ferrer.
Ferrer replied quite indirectly by saying that the functions of the IGFPB inter-government are not provided elaborately in the law (BBL) because it just provided for the body.
“But there are some elements across the different sections that refers to the functions of this Intergovernment Fiscal Policy Board,” she said.
Section 35 of Article 12 of the BBL provides that there is hereby created an Intergovernmental fiscal Policy Board that shall address revenue imbalances and fluctuations in the regional financial needs and revenue-raising capacity of the Bangsamoro.
Sen. Bongbong then asked Ferrer how the members of the IGFPB are to decide on issues such as the review of the block grant; the periodic review of taxing powers; and tax base and rates of Bangsamoro government to address possible disputes between the national government and the Bangsamoro government.
Again, Ferrer failed to give categorical answer but explained that the concept of the board is similar to the Local Government Code on intergovernment relations and is only developed further in the BBL to provide some kind of a forum for both the national government and Bangsamoro officials on matters that relate to fiscal autonomy.
But when asked again by the Senator whether there is an equivalent body of IGFPB in the Local Government Code, Ferrer just said: “There is a section in the Local Government Code called intergovernmental relations.”
“Yes but the (Local government Code) does not specifically talk of intergovernmental fiscal policy board,” he reiterated to Ferrer, in which she replied: “Your honor the principle is the same; to be able to enhance that kind of harmonious relationship…”
Sen. Bongbong said the Senate is scrutinizing IGFPB because of its vagueness and that its works and specific duties are not clarified in the BBL.
“What we are particularly interested is how that policy board works because there are these issues: the review of the block grant is mentioned in Section 20 Article 12; how will the fiscal policy board handle that; how the decisions be made; what is the membership of the fiscal policy board.,” he added.