Documented studies, he told the 1st Mindanao Studies Conference which opened here today, “have shown that economic development does not reduce aspiration for self-determination.”
“It increases even as people whose energies had formerly been taken up by the struggle to survive find time to worry about their distinct identity,” Mastura said.
The MILF peace panel has been pushing for self-determination, a move the Philippine government initially rejected during the talks with the Moro National Liberation Front and the earlier part of the talks with the MILF. But in its position paper filed late last year to break the impasse in the peace negotiations, the government focused on self-determination for the Bangsamoro.
“Development is a political issue. Political economy shapes structural changes. So it requires institutions for governance that fit into cultural ‘match.’” Mastura added.
Dr. Patricio Abinales, a Mindanawon professor working in Kyoto University, in his presentation on “Mindanao in the Developmentalist Fantasy of the Philippine State” traced the history of failures of the government’s development initiatives in Mindanao although he acknowledged there were “successes” but these were noticeable only “when Manila was not there, was not involved.”
“I agree with him (Abinales) there are failures. Otherwise, we would not be here together. The more we realize there are failures, the better for us to move on,” Mastura said.