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.”