I have asked this question over at FilipinoVoices but it seems it’s a tough one to answer: Why is it all important that we keep Mindanao (ARMM in particular) part of the Philippines? What is so terrible about letting it go and be an independent sovereign entity? How many lives have been snuffed out because of this conflict and how many more are we willing to sacrifice just to keep the Philippines together? Is it because we need Mindanao’s resources to be able to survive? That’s not a valid reason, IMO. Mindanao’s resources should primarily be used for Mindanao’s development and not to prop up the central government and its armies. Is it because of ‘national pride’? That’s a hell of a price for the deaths of probably hundreds of thousands by now since the American occupation at least. Why isnt divorce an option a la the Czech Republic and Slovakia? Why do we have to risk doing a Yugoslavia (or Timor L’este even)?”
why is it important to keep muslim mindanao (ARMM) part of the philippines? tough question talaga. i gather (correct me if i’m wrong, anyone who knows better) that it has to do with revenues and with land. government would lose revenues, and government would have to compensate multinationals and other corporate and christian landowners who presently own land in the muslim territories. i have never been able to get any figures or who’s who on this, no thanks to media, but i gather that it’s the major, most thorny problem that government, of course, won’t discuss openly.
now check out this item from taipeitimes.com dated may 2008 that i stumbled on while googling:
Voters may block peace deal
Voters could block a proposed revenue-sharing deal aimed at ending a protracted Muslim separatist rebellion in the south, Manila’s chief peace negotiator warned yesterday. Rodolfo Garcia said Manila has agreed in principle to give Muslims a bigger share of revenues from the natural resources on Mindanao Island, but that voters could reject the change to the Constitution this would require. Peace talks with the 12,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front have stalled after the rebels accused Manila of delaying. The rebels’ claims for “ancestral domain” in the region are also “potentially controversial,” because they would force a change in the law. Only Congress, dominated by the Christian majority including Mindanao landowners, can pass laws.
it would seem that finally government is willing to give up some revenue and, i suppose, some land, except that they’re spinning it so it would require changing the constitution, i.e., shifting to federalism, which jibes with ricky carandang‘s reading that the chacha train has left the station:
Recent efforts by the Regime to resurrect the long dormant peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front have led to pronouncements by lead negotiators Rodolfo Garcia and Hermogenes Esperon that revisions to the constitution would be required in order to give more legal and fiscal autonomy to the expanded region of Muslim Mindanao. They point to a resolution to shift to a federal form of government proposed by, of all people, Senate minority leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr.
This means that aside from Arroyo and her politicans, there will be a significant number of people in Mindanao who will find it in their interest to support charter change this time around. The regime can also pre-empt potential opposition from the international community by arguing that that the revisions would enhance stability in Mindanao and make it less susceptible to terrorism. In which case extending Arroyo’s term would be a small price to pay. I’m told that this the line taken during Arroyo’s recent working visit to the US. Its almost like blackmail. If youwant stability in Mindanao, you must allow us to stay in power beyond 2010.
the question is, will the milf play along? magpagamit kaya ang milf kay gloria? say ni mon casiple:
If the peace negotiations proceeded to the charter change phase, MILF will have lost much of the goodwill it has earned among the majority Filipinos and possibly even among the Moro people who know the real political implication of a cha-cha under the GMA administration. Unfortunately by then, the Moro struggle will have been compromised and subverted by an agenda for prolonging GMA’s stay in power.
I do not think the GMA administration will allow the peace process to successfully end after the charter change. Either it will dribble the ball or it may enter into an agreement it will not implement, as what happened in the Tripoli and Jakarta agreements. It cannot simply forsake its Christian-based constituency or its Moro political allies. If the MILF is not coopted into the current political arrangement, it will not be in position to demand a favorable implementation.
The whole peace process regarding the Moro struggle for self-determination is in danger of being coopted to be sacrificed before the altar of GMA’s political survival. The MILF will then serve only as a decoy for the real charter change agenda.
hopefully the milf will listen to fellow muslims who have long been debating autonomy vs. federalism and who are justifiably wary of federalism. because dr. rene azurin of one voice is right: “devolution of power to local governments can be accomplished without resorting to federalization.”
so, too, can the devolution of power to an autonomous bangsamoro homeland be accomplished without resorting to chacha.