ARMM should continue moving on–and moving up


THE Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is “a failed experiment,” de facto president BS Aquino said when he was starting his propaganda, financial, political, and diplomatic campaign to fast track the creation of a Bangsamoro substate desired by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to subsume the ARMM.

It was and is an unfair characterization. In the 25 years and four months of the ARMM’s existence (its silver anniversary was in November last year), it has fared better than some provinces and regions of the Philippines within their first 25 years. Yes, MNLF Chairman Emeritus Nur Misuari and his successors as ARMM regional governor found it difficult to run the autonomous region and failed to turn it and its provinces into shining models of good governance and development. But managing their autonomous region was made doubly hard by the Philippine central government, which never did its proper duty of supplying it with the correct amount of its inadequate budget on time.

Then ARMM Governor Misuari suffered the most from national government neglect. Always, the political bigwigs of the central government, most specially the succession of Philippine presidents, had their own favorite warlords among the political leaders of the Muslim-majority provinces. One of these, the Ampatuan clan, became even more powerful than the ARMM regional governors and managed to give their Maguindanao province–and the ARMM–an internationally notorious image for the Ampatuan Massacre.

It is unfair to call the ARMM a failed experiment, for it is a sustainable autonomous region. It will probably be fairer to call the entire Philippines under BS Aquino a “failed state”–for despite the public-relations created image of our country abroad as a shining example of how to combat corruption and as an economic success (thanks to the previous administration, the OFWs and the Bangko Sentral) –the truth is that BS Aquino’s governance stinks and is a gross failure. Poverty and unemployment are worse now than ever before.

The BS Aquino administration is more corrupt than the previous one of Arroyo.

It is more incompetent and ill-advised than any other. The painful and tragic Mamasapano Massacre as the grimmest example of how incompetent, lazy and unfit to govern and incapable of leading BS Aquino, DILG Secretary Roxas, Defense Secretary Gazmin, Armed Forces Chief Catapang, and Peace Adviser Deles are.

The PNP-SAF company had partly succeeded in their mission to get the Malaysian terrorist Marwan and his Filipino partner Usman but they and the other PNP-SAF company were besieged by the Malaysian-trained and Aquino-beloved MILF armies. And Aquino, Roxas, Gazmin and Catapang, who were together, did not move to reinforce the PNP-SAF commandos who were being massacred! And why? Because rescuing the doomed PNP-SAF Heroes and fighting the MILF/BIFF armies might derail BS Aquino’s precious “peace process” with the MILF!

Sec. Deles and her chief associate, Chief Negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer were (are) talking peace mainly with the MILF, sidelining the MNLF (with which the Philippine Government has an existing Comprehensive Peace Agreement which caused the formation of the ARMM), the sultans of Mindanao, specially the Sultans of Sulu and North Borneo, the aboriginal and Lumad tribes and communities and the Christians of Mindanao.

ARMM is not a failed experiment, it can be improved. Some of the ideas in the proposed creation of the Bangsamoro substate or autonomous region can be added to the ARMM. Or two autonomous regions can be created–as proposed by former senator Aquilino Pimentel (who authored the extant local government code) and by the president of the Philippine Islamic Society (Parhimpunan Sin Islam) and former Tawi-Tawi governor Almarin Centi Tillah. Created constitutionally of course, one for the landlocked Maguindanao and Maranao provinces and another for the island provinces of Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and Sulu (maybe it should include Sabah).

News of ARMM investments increase
Meanwhile, we are heartened by news that the ARMM as a regional government and its provinces are doing better now economically and developmentally.

A total of P863 Million worth of projects were approved by the ARMM Regional Board of Investments during its Joint Board and Management Committee meeting on February 20, 2015 in Davao City. The projects approved for RBOI registration were Tawi-Tawian Petroleum Trading Corporation and Chan C Mining Incorporated. Both companies are based in Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi. They are expected to create 553 jobs for local residents.

There is apparently no halt in the influx of investments to ARMM as a result of the Mamasapano Massacre.

Ishak V. Mastura, Chairman/Managing Head of the ARMM Regional BOI, said in a news item published by the ARMM website, “that despite the Mamasapano incident, investors’ confidence is still high. In fact, there are fresh investments coming into Maguindanao with a project cost of P 1.3 billion on palm oil and a P 2 billion project on banana. A multi logistic hub – an assembly auction of heavy equipment company also signified their intention to do business in ARMM, Mastura also said.

He added that “aside from fresh investments, a string of projects in the ARMM are in the pipeline this year coming from some of RBOI-registered firms. Some of these are the expansion of the capacity of a biomass power plant, rehabilitation of a starch factory, expansion of banana plantations, and the construction of an oil depot at the Port of Pollocin Parang, Maguindanao by Iron Blaze Corporation.”

ARRM Governor Hataman, despite being a BS Aquino appointee, has also been more correct in his dealings with the MILF than OPAPP Secretary Deles and Peace Panel chief Coronel-Ferrer. He reportedly said last February that “the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) must prove that it is capable of policing its own ranks.”


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  1. There are two lies that continue to be told. The ARMM has failed. The BBL is a peace document. Both of these lies are constantly repeated to push forward the reasons the BBL has to be passed. Let’s just start at step one, that was never done. Drop the BBL and all agreements signed with the MILF. Then, step one, let’s look into the ARMM. Get broad participation and find out what is right and wrong with it.

  2. When you have a sick child, you don’t condemn it to Mercy Killing. You DON’T bury him and ADOPT a bully from the streets. You NURSE your child back to health and make sure it becomes a strong and productive member of your ORGANIC family.

  3. Gloria M. Kuizon on

    Right. In creating the condition for lasting peace in Mindanao, why destroy ARMM in the peace process? Aquino is the “failed experiment” not the ARMM. And creating the Bagsamoro substate as willed by MILF whose will is that of Malaysia is the formula for the start of the destruction of the Republic of the Philippines.

  4. This editorial is right on its assessment of the true situation in Mindanao including the past and present government’s neglect of ARMM. Peace in Mindanao can never be attained with the present set up of the peace process with one stakeholder MILF only. What about the needs and aspirations of the other stakeholders like the MNLF, the Sultans of Jolo and Sulu, the Lumads, other tribes, Christians, BIFFs and other rebel splinter groups? In the meantime, let’s junk the BBL and wait for the next administration. Baka mas matinong magdiskarte pa ang next President pa tungkol sa problemang pangkapayapaan sa Mindanao. Marami ng nasasaktan at nawaldas na pera ng gobiyerno dahil lang sa useless na peace pact sa isang faction lamang na kaibigan ng Presidente.

  5. I first heard that phrase “failed experiment” in reference to the ARMM from Drilon. Aquino is simply mouthing what was told to him.
    The law creating the ARMM was not fully implemented. Successive Executive Secretaries failed in their jobs. It was tlheir task pursuant to the law to see to the full implementation of the said law.
    A thinking president would have taken the lead to determine what is wrong, and address such. But this Aquino is not. What’s more – he is beholden to the evil political leaders of Malaysia for reasons hidden from public scrutiny, and to other foreign interference.
    This Aquino and his Band of Thieves do not have any sense of nationalism. Their motivations are simply vested.