COTABATO CITY – In today’s regular session of Bangsamoro Parliament, five significant bills were introduced in the first reading, showcasing the government’s commitment to the welfare of senior citizens, the advancement of information and communications, and the protection of Lake Lanao.
Government agencies and LGUs in the Bangsamoro area are being urged to set up dedicated support desks for senior citizens and persons with disabilities as part of Parliament Bill No. 151.
It will serve as a desk where senior citizens and PWDs can make inquiries, ask for any form of assistance, and file any complaints. It will attend to, help with, and address their concerns or problems.
According to the principal author, MP Engr. Baintan Ampatuan, “as a Bangsamoro, we give our utmost respect to our families’ elderly members and those with disabilities. We give due recognition to their needs by taking all necessary measures that provide them ease and convenience.”
MP Ampatuan added that the government will prioritize the elderly and PWDs in the delivery of government services.
To better plan, promote, and aid in the development of the region’s ICT sector, Parliament Bill No. 152 calls for the establishment of the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology.
Once approved, the Ministry will consist of the Minister’s office, the offices of the Deputy Ministers and their immediate staff, as well as provincial offices.
Free school lunches for all children are one of the nutrition-focused initiatives pushed for by PB No. 153.
Every public-school kindergarten and elementary student in Bangsamoro will be eligible for the free lunch program.
According to the authors of PB No. 153, 95 Filipino children die every day due to malnutrition, as reported by the United Nations Children’s Fund, and “despite continued economic progress, malnutrition persists in the Philippines.”
If PB No. 153 is approved, students will be provided with free lunch five days a week from the first day of school until the last day of classes.
The bill prioritizes those schools with reported severe malnutrition, those located in armed conflict, and those in highly congested areas.
The Bangsamoro Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth will provide intensive treatment for the rehabilitation of children in conflict with the law (CICL) who have been convicted by final judgment, according to BTA Bill No. 154, or the Bangsamoro Regional Rehabilitation Center Act of 2023.
The facility will serve as a nurturing out-of-home placement for children in need of institutional rehabilitation and transformation.
The youth rehabilitation center will provide 24-hour group care, treatment, and rehabilitation services under the guidance of trained staff, where residents are cared for in a structured therapeutic environment with the end goal of reintegrating them into their families and communities as socially functioning individuals.
A Council for the Welfare of Children will also be established under the Office of the Chief Minister to coordinate the implementation and enforcement of all laws relative to the promotion of child and youth welfare within the Bangsamoro Region.
The last proposed measure, Parliament Bill No. 155, or the Lake Lanao Rehabilitation and Development Authority Act of 2023, aims to create the Lanao Rehabilitation and Development Authority, which will be responsible for the overall policymaking, planning, coordination, and management of the implementation of the Lake Lanao Rehabilitation and Development.
Among its powers and functions are: exercising regulatory and supervisory authority in the implementation of rehabilitation and development programs and projects within the Lake Lanao Area; entering into contracts, memoranda, agreements, and other cooperative arrangements with public and private entities; accepting donations, contributions, grants, bequests, or gifts in cash or in kind from various sources, domestic or foreign, in consonance with existing laws and regulations; facilitating the preparation of a 30-year Lake Lana Rehabilitation and Development Plan;
Development master plan with feasibility studies of the top 10 potential big-ticket projects; formulate a multi-year investment and budget proposal based on the 30-year master plan; among others.
As these bills progress through the legislative process, the Parliament encourages stakeholders from various sectors to actively engage and provide their insights and feedback. (LTAIS-Public Information, Publication, and Media Relations Division)