PEACETALK: The Cabatangan property is not owned by the ARMM government, but by the Bangsamoro people

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 13 June) — Last week, Zamboanga City Mayor Isabelle “Beng” Climaco announced on her Facebook page that the national government has expressed its intent to purchase the 72-hectare property situated in Brgy. Cabatangan, known to be a property of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Prior to the establishment of ARMM, the Lupong Tagapagpaganap ng Pook Region IX purchased the property in Zamboanga City and turned it into its seat of government. This is the reason why the property is known by locals as “lupong.”

When the LTP was abolished upon the creation of the ARMM, the Cabatangan property was placed under the jurisdiction of the ARMM.

The ARMM regional government has received no confirmation of Mayor Climaco’s claim from the national government, and was not consulted at any point prior to the announcement of the alleged intent to purchase.

The Cabatangan property is not owned by the ARMM government, but by the Bangsamoro people whom the ARMM represents. Any plan regarding the property must involve the Bangsamoro people, from its proposal to its approval or rejection.

Our right to self-determination as Bangsamoros is not only challenged in the halls of congress but in the everyday realities we face as a people already recognized as “autonomous” on paper by the Constitution.

Know that the ARMM government will always seek to represent the Bangsamoro people with accountability and transparency, and that every decision involving our history and our people will not be taken lightly. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Amir Mawallil is director of the Bureau of Public Information in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Mawallil posted this piece on his FB page on June 11. MindaNews was granted permission to publish this).