• Geopolitical issues of the CAB-2

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    Second of three parts

    (The first part came out Saturday May 24, 2014)

    SHOULD the wealth sharing agreement in CAB be implemented, what will stop the CALABARZON region from demanding a much bigger share of the income from Malampaya reportedly hijacked by the politicos?

    The next question is, what is in it for Malaysia?

    The first answer is that this is the realization of its enlightened self-interest. It is obvious that the concern of Malaysia over of its porous territory bordering the Sulu archipelago will be better secured by its godchild, the Bangsamoro, which will control the land sea and air in the region.

    A Philippine sub-state as a buffer zone for Malaysia

    The second answer, and perhaps this is more important for Malaysia, the annexation of the Sulu archipelago where the claimants to Sabah reside, will place in the backburner the Sabah issue. Bangsamoro economic development to be accelerated by heavy Malaysian investment and a better equipped Bangsamoro security force armed and trained by Malaysia (arms support by Malaysia for MILF is a historical fact) is the best security guarantee for the Malaysian Federation. Moreover a Malaysian influenced Bangsamoro plebiscite (Sabah style) might even induce our Muslim brothers to join a greater Malaysian federation given their shared ethnic, religious and cultural ties. This will be facilitated by Bangsamoro’s adoption of the parliamentary form of government which is symmetrical to that of the Malaysian Federation. The net result is a Philippine sub-state acting as a buffer state for our Asean neighbor.

    The buffer zone will secure its porous boundaries from Tausug pirates and the forces of the Sultanate. A well armed Bangsamoro security force composed of MILF guerillas—a breakaway group of the MNLF is expected to neutralize the latter which is seen as allied with the Sulu Sultanate, the claimant to Malaysia’s prized possession in the island of Borneo. This is evident from the fact that neither the MNLF nor the Sultanate was taken seriously by the framers of the agreement.

    Touted to be the final solution of the Moro problem, its exclusive nature – which does not involve the participation of other Moro nations – will not produce the peace for all times in the area. Its adoption of an untried and untested parliamentary structure in this country is, to say the least, not realistic. It courts failure in the hands of elements that have not been exposed to the political process in the country. The parliamentary system assumes the presence of mature political parties and experienced leadership, both of which have not developed in the region. The dream of accelerated development, a very complex challenge even in the hands of experienced technocrats and aggressive entrepreneurs, is a long shot.

    The premises for the creation of this autonomous region are flawed. Those for the creation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which the Bangsamoro region is to supersede, are more sound.

    Assuming that the poverty in the region is due to the benign neglect by the central government, compounded by the inept and corrupt Moro officialdom, the solution is not to grant vast powers to a region whose leaders have had not much experience in governance.

    Incremental to the solution to Bangsamoro development by the ARMM system, which aimed at a gradual transfer of power, could have been accelerated through a speedier devolution of responsibilities including greater fiscal autonomy. This would have been a safer and more prudent approach. Substituting ARMM whose governance benefitted from guidance from the central government with an untried and untested Bangsamoro parliamentary system is akin to throwing the baby with the bathwater.

    This asymmetric form of government thoroughly discussed by the constitutional convention but found inappropriate at this time for this country and if applied in the Bangsamoro autonomous region could be disastrous.

    The final solution to the Moro issue is development that would promote higher levels of productivity, incomes and employment which can only be provided by the accelerated development of physical infrastructure, social overhead investments and capital and entrepreneurship.

    This cannot happen by the simple expedient of declaring a Bangsamoro entity that has had little experience in development planning and implementation.

    It would be a cruel hoax for our Muslim brothers to provide them with only a form of government that lacks substance.

    Like this country which is touted to be the first democracy in Asia  but which  still lacks the apparatus to guarantee  an effective government—the Bangsamoro entity might just end up like a half-baked political entity that is all  form but with little substance. If after all these years the region’s principal achievements has been the creation of warlords like the Ampatuans and their kind, mostly because the best and the brightest Muslims were never encouraged to participate in governance, what assurance do we have that the new Bangsamoro entity will be more democratic and participatory under the aegis of the MILF? We know for a fact that the MNLF under Misuari after a short stint at self-rule only produced fiscal deficits and unbalanced budgets despite a substantial support from Manila and international agencies.

    The nagging question asked by many is, who will run the Autonomous Region?

    Concluded in Part 3, which will appear tomorrow. The first part came out on Saturday May 24.

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