A Boholano’s View by Jose “Pepe” Abueva

The Bohol Chronicle

January 22, 2012

Part 2.  MILF Ideology and

ARMM Governance

MILF ideology. On its website MILF ideology and aspirations are encapsulated in these words:

“Moro is a Nation. No to integration. No to unitary state. Uphold right to self-determination.”

“MILF is a religious and political organization made up of Islamists engaged in liberation struggle based in their traditional homeland embracing Mindanao,   its adjacent islands, and the Sulu archipelago.  Sunni Islamic seamless identity of self and nation is a part of the Moro narrative which is a historical process itself in modernity.  During the past 500 years every generation asserted in arms Moro rights to independence. Political struggles occurred within the MIM, Mindanao Independence Movement, espousing a nationalist Muslim Manifesto to emerge popular in 1968. Current Islamic resistance to oppression as a common cause for all Muslim social, political and armed organization is, above all, the struggle against injustice, the freedom to resist imposition, and the right to determine their future political status.

“MILF combines Bangsamoro nationalism with Islamic contemporary fundamentals but not extremism. Its fundamental ideology commits the movement “to make the words of Allah supreme” in the life of the Bangsamoro people.  MILF sponsors extensive social service network and da’wah activity.  The MILF core leadership is pragmatic in its influence over politics.  Its logic of utility of armed resistance embraces jihad, and its peace negotiation takes on incremental, strategic steps of irreversibility.  MILF has adopted hudna (truce) as a flexible Islamic warfare practice.” (From Luwaran.com. 18 February 2011.

Like the MNLF under Misuari, the MILF under Salamat declared secession and independence as its original goal. The MNLF advocated a more secular nationalism, to Salamat’s religious nationalism. In the MILF’s view the natural resources of the Bangsamoro Homeland belong to the Bangsa Moro People. They have become a minority in their homeland of Mindanao due to massive land-grabbing and resettlement by Christians from outside Mindanao. The MILF is therefore opposed to the exploration of oil and gas in Moro territory by non-Moros.

Rigoberto Tiglao recalls that the slogan “If you want peace, prepare for war” was prominently displayed in the main assembly hall of the MILF in Camp Abubakar some 15 years ago. MILF claims to have an army of 12,000 members.

ARMM Governance. Dr. Darwin T. Rasul III, a scholar on Muslim affairs, says this of ARRM governance. Not only does it lack genuine regional autonomy, which makes it continually dependent on national government funding, patronage and subsidies, but it also suffers from the constant dominance and armed contests for economic and political power among the Moro ruling clans. Their massive corruption in governance is a serious obstacle to development that would benefit all the people. Dr. Rasul also points to ARMM’s not having contiguous territory (Lanao del Sur, Marawi City, Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi Tawi).

“President Benigno Aquino III had once described the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as a “failed experiment”. This deleterious comment was echoed strongly by presidential spokesman

Edwin Lacierda and added another bad adjective by calling it as a “failed substate”. Indeed, both spoke of the naked truth. After 21 years in existence, the ARMM makes no difference in the lives of the people therein. Poverty is still prevalent everywhere and graft and corruption is already systemic.” (Editorial of Luwaran, December 23-31, 2011.)

The Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao is a misnomer because the region is NOT AUTONOMOUS. It does not have fiscal and budgetary autonomy. It should be added that the failure of ARMM is to a great extent also the failure of its vacillating centralized governance by the national government.

Continuing violence and killings in the ARMM was dramatized by the massacre of 58 unarmed women and men, including 28 media people, in Maguindanao in 2009 that implicated the Ampatuan clan, the military and the national police against the Mangudadatu clan.

Apparently, there is lack of unity and a common vision for Bangsamoro among the Moros, which the MILF is trying to overcome. The MILF and the MNLF are seeking cooperation.

The question has been raised whether the MILF represents all the Moro people, and the MILF has strongly affirmed that it does.


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