By Julmunir I. Jannaral
A bill creating the Bangsamoro Veteran Mujahideen/Mujahidat Affairs Office has entered its second stage in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority plenary on Tuesday, June 22.
Once established, the office will provide financial, medical, social and other assistance to the veterans of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) who are underprivileged and have no chance for employment because of old age, lack of required education, and other requirements for employment.
BTA Bill No. 25, or the Bangsamoro Veteran Mujahideen Act, was principally authored by Member of Parliament (MP) Aida Silongan and co-authored by all other MPs who are members of the MILF and MNLF.
The bill was also co-authored by MPs Susana Anayatin, Maisara Latiph, Zul-Qarneyn Abas, Sahie Udjah, Alzad Sattar, Don Loong, Diamila Ramos, Baintan Ampatuan, Laisa Alamia, Nabil Tan, Jose Lorena, Jamel Macaraya, Hamid Barra, Musa Diamla, Eddie Alih, and Abdullah Macapaar.
Silongan said the office aims to give recognition to the contributions and sacrifices of veteran mujahideens which led to the establishment of the Bangsamoro Government.
“Napapanahon at nararapat lamang na magkaroon ng isang mekanismo upang maibigay ang tamang ayuda sa mga beteranong mujahideen at mujahidat at ang kanilang mga benepisyaryo, sa pamamagitan ng pagpasa ng panukalang ito,” said Silongan.
As defined in the bill, veteran mujahideen are MILF and MNLF combatants who actually took part in the “protracted wars for self-determination between the Bangsamoro people and the National Government,” and who are sixty (60) years old from the time of the bill’s effectivity.
Section 12 of the bill provides that the veterans and other qualified beneficiaries shall be entitled to receive the following benefits and privileges:
• Six thousand pesos (Php6,000) monthly cash allowance;
• Free medical aid from the Ministry of Health;
• 20% discount on the sale of goods and services from any establishments within BARMM;
• Exemption from taxes, fees, and other chargers imposed by the Bangsamoro Government;
• 10% discount from electric, water, and other similar utilities computed proportionally based on the numbers of their household occupants;
• Exemption from fees for skills, socioeconomic, and education trainings or seminars conducted by any public or private institutions within BARMM; and
• Other benefits and privileges as may thereafter be determined by law.
These benefits and privileges, however, shall not be available to those veteran mujahideen who are already beneficiaries of the decommissioning process under the normalization track of the Bangsamoro peace process.
With an initial funding of Php30-million, the Ministry of Public Order and Safety will supervise and control the office as one of its component divisions.
BTA Bill No. 25 was referred Tuesday to the parliament’s committees on Finance, Budget and Management and on Social Services. (JIJ/With BIO)