Last of two parts
DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/19March) – By early 2001, the Aquino administration set out to have the August 8, 2011 elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) postponed and synchronized with the May 13, 2013 mid-term polls and, in the interim, to allow the President to appoint OICs in the ARMM to “reform” the “failed experiment” as it described the ARMM.
The Aquino administration also got the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to be a “principal partner” in reforming the ARMM “in the context of the full implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement,” the Ad Hoc Technical Report of the GPH-MNLF-OIC meeting in Solo City, Indonesia on June 22, 2011 said.
The MNLF – already divided into several factions – first in the post 1976 Tripoli Agreement (MNLF under Misuari, Moro Islamic Liberation Front under Salamat Hashim and MNLF Reformist Group under Dimas Pundato) — and in the post 1996 Final Peace Agreement (MNLF under Nur Misuari, the Executive Council of 15 which unseated Misuari as chair and which later divided into other factions, one of them led by Muslimin Sema, the MNLF Secretary General during the 1992 to 1996 peace negotiations who later served as mayor of Cotabato City for three terms and is now vice mayor) – had expected to be at the helm of the caretaker administration.
MNLF sources told MindaNews they had expected somebody from the MNLF would be named OIC Governor. But none of the MNLF applicants made it to the shortlist for OIC Governor. Hadja Bainon Karon, chair of the MNLF-Bangsamoro Women’s Committee, however, was named OIC Vice Governor.
The 22-year old ARMM was governed by the MNLF for nine years from September 30, 1996 to September 30, 2005: by Nur Misuari from 1996 to 2001 and Parouk Hussin, the MNLF Foreign Affairs chief, from January 2002 to September 30, 1995.
The Ramos administration made sure Misuari would win the September 9, 1996 election for ARMM governor. He ran unopposed, his other opponents dropping their bid for governor while another slid to the vice governorship. The Arroyo administration also made sure Hussin would win, as it made sure Zaldy Ampatuan would in 2005 and 2008.
Misuari and Hussin blamed the ARMM structure for their dismal performance. This was not the autonomous region that they fought for in the 1976 and 1996 peace agreements, they said. When RA 6734, the Organic Act creating the ARMM was amended by RA 9054 in 2001, the MNLF claimed it rendered the autonomous region less autonomous than it already was.
The vehicle is the problem, the MNLF maintained. Government, on the other hand claimed it was not the vehicle that was the problem but the driver.
The present administration under Aquino acknowledges that the vehicle needs a new driver, even as it acknowledges that the vehicle needs reparir.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which had repeatedly said the ARMM is a “failed experiment,” says what is needed is a new vehicle more suitable for its passengers and that it should test-drive the vehicle first before giving it to the drivers who will be elected. .
Is it the vehicle? The driver? What about the passengers?
The man to whom President Aquino entrusted the leadership of what he envisioned to be a “reformed ARMM” is his congressional buddy, Mujiv Hataman, a three-term representative of the Anak Mindanaw party-list in the House of Representatives.
Hataman, who lost his bid for governor of Basilan in the May 2010 elections, now governs five ARMM provinces – Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur.
Asked on his thoughts about the Bangsamoro 44 years after the Jabidah Massacre, Hataman said they are “treading greater heights in building blocks toward the realization of genuine self-determination.”
“Our breakthroughs in reforming and effecting change in the ARMM manifests the determination of the Bangsamoro to rule and govern its own destiny as a people. The realization that a new and progressive ARMM is possible all the more validates and welds the legitimacy of the Bangsamoro struggle for right to self determination. And after 44 years, it is now the young generation of the Bangsamoro who is taking the lead in advancing the Bangsamoro people’s aspirations,” said Hataman, whose leadership in the ARMM enters its 90th day on March 22.
Hataman was born on September 11, 1972, four years after the 1968 Jabidah Massacre and 10 days before the declaration of martial law.
He assumed the post of OIC Governor on December 22, 2011 and has up to noon of June 30, 2013 to show a “reformed” ARMM.
Hours after he assumed post, he told a “People’s Address” at the ARMM compound in Cotabato City that the people “will decide what we will do for our region.”
“This is the reform we promise you and cast it in stone, we will not be swayed by politics, we will not be swayed by pressure. What is important is what is due the people, that’s what we will do,” he said in Pilipino.
Paraphrasing Aquino’s inaugural speech, “Kayo ang boss ko,” (You are my boss), Hataman said, “kayo ang maghari-harian sa loob ng ARMM” which he later translated to “You will lord it over here in the ARMM.”
Samira Gutoc, 37, a member of the Young Moro Professionals, said that “though a grim reminder, (the Jabidah Massacre) is our marker of Moro pride that brought our identity to international recognition… This reform administration of ARMM is a servant of our aspiration of Moro unity.”
For Naguib Sinarimbo, ARMM executive secretary from December 2009 to December 2011,
March 18 “should not only be a day of remembrance but a tribute to the history of our struggle for our right to determine our future.”
“The Jabidah massacre once fueled my activism during college days and I know it will continue to inspire generations of Bangsamoro after us, my kids included. I hope though that soonest, March 18 will not just be a date to remember massacres and the war that it inspired but a garden of memory where we draw the zeal to build a community honoring both its history and its potentials, where perhaps my kids can live and dream free form the burden of their ethnicity or religion,” the 40-year old Sinarimbo said. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)