Expanded ARMM: How Should We Deal with it?
August 5, 2008 2 Comments
The Supreme Court has released a T.R.O. (Temporary Restraining Order) stopping the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement between the GRP and the MILF which was supposed to be signed today in Putra Jaya, Malaysia. The Memorandum of Agreement was to redefine the territorial boundaries of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao by including some barangays in the provinces of North Cotabato, Lanao del Norte, Zamboanga City, and Zamboanga Sibugay, expanding the country’s only Autonomous Region.
While these developments seem to be a short-lived victory for the provinces involved, an impending crisis is to occur if this is not resolved immediately. In his speech in Cotabato City earlier, North Cotabato Vice Governor Manny Piñol said to his constituents that they should be ready to rise up in arms and fight for their domain.
Personally, I do not think that we should rush in ratifying this agreement with the MILF. For starters, it is clearly stated in the constitution that any changes in the country’s political subdivisions (barangay, city/municipality, province, or autonomous region) must be done with a plebiscite. Second, all people and areas that are to be directly affected by these changes should be informed and duly consulted. In this case, the annexation of the barangays of the provinces above mentioned have not been consulted by the GRP.
I am not entirely comfortable with the government giving up its control over some areas in Mindanao to MILF, who has been coined by this regime as terrorists (though they are just fighting for what is justly theirs). But dialogue and following consitutional procedures is still a must. We are a democracy.
Key to a good and fair treaty is the input of all sectors concerned because with their inputs come the necessary alignment of provisions acceptable to all stakeholders of the nation.
The best way to solve the expanded ARMM conflict, which, I believe would satisfy the government, MILF, and the citizens of Mindanao is to hold a plebiscite involving all areas of Mindanao inhabited by the Bangsa Moro people with the proposition of including their city/municipality into the ARMM. If a majority of the people state their intent by affirming the proposition, then they should be included. This proposal, while being unpragmatic, is best for the people of Mindanao.
If peace is what we want for Mindanao, then conflict is not the way to resolve it.
Peace. To the people of the South.