Envisioning the Bangsamoro in 2020, 2031 and 2066

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/20 October) — It is too early in the day but assuming it’s all systems go and the Bangsamoro shall have been set up by 2016,  what will the Bangsamoro be like by 2020 (after four years), 2031 (after 15), and 2066 (after 50 years)?

By 2020, the country will be under a new President who is about to wrap up work until his/her term ends in 2022; a new set of governors and mayors and representatives – reelectionists or recycled – shall have been elected in 2019; and the Bangsamoro is on its fourth year (or at least five, if we are to add the governance of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority  or BTA , which is the step prior to the first election of Bangsamoro officials in 2016).

The Philippine government (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) had agreed in its Decision Points on Principles last April 24, to work for the creation of a new autonomous political entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). That entity has been named “Bangsamoro” in the Framework Agreement signed on October 15 in Malacanan Palace.

The FAB provides that as soon as the Bangsamoro Basic Law drafted by the all-Bangsamoro 15-member Transition Commission shall have been passed into law by Congress and ratified, the ARMM is “deemed abolished” and the BTA takes over. All devolved authorities will be vested in the BTA during the interim period.
The 22-year old ARMM will have its last elections in May 2013.

As soon as the BTA is in place, “the ministerial form and Cabinet system of government shall commence” and it  “may reorganize  the bureaucracy  into institutions of governance  appropriate  thereto,” the agreement states .

The BTA is tasked to “ensure that the continued functioning of government in the area of  autonomy is exercised pursuant to its  mandate under the Basic Law.”

But the BTA will be “immediately replaced in 2016 upon the election and assumption of the members of the Bangsamoro legislative  assembly and the formation of the  Bangsamoro government.”

“A Mindanao free form strife”

Both panels acknowledge that there is a long way to go before peace can be finally achieved. And a lot of  hard work. But both sides have committed to ensure the agreement will bring about its desired results.

In his speech at the signing on October 15, President Aquino asked the entire nation, and the entire world, to join him in imagining “a Mindanao finally free from strife, where people achieve their fullest potential.”

“A child in Lamitan will be offered the same education as a child in Quezon City; the sick of Patikul will gain access to the same healthcare as those in Pasig; tourists visiting Boracay will also have Sulu in their itineraries; a businessman will earn a profit whether he sets up shop in Marikina or Marawi. People will be empowered; they will gain knowledge and marketable skills that will thrust the economy forward. From constant displacement, there will be now a stable employment. Children who have had to witness immeasurable suffering will now get to witness a harvest; sons and daughters who have had to sweep bullet casings from their yards will now get to pick fruit; families who once cowered in fear of gunshots will now emerge from their homes to a bright new dawn of equity, justice, and peace,” the President said.

“Together, we move forward with a conviction to lift each other, so that in turn, our nation may grow and reach greater heights. We implore God, or Allah, to continue guiding all of us, so that our dreams may turn into concrete, tangible realities,” he said.

Bridge of trust

“Today,” Deles said, “a child will grow up in our generation embracing the identity of the Bangsamoro and grow up with pride in a political, cultural, and geographic identity respected in the four corners of the world.”

So many challenges await us, she said, “but the bridge of trust that spans this room is strong enough to withstand the trials ahead, however difficult they may be. Never again shall we allow that bridge to be undermined, weakened, or destroyed by the forces of greed, avarice and envy.”
“We shall hold up that bridge with the force of our dreams and ideals, enabling it to bring our entire society together and enrich the democratic institutions we all hold dear until we all breach the firmament of hope and arrive together, finally, in the bright realm of greatness as one people, under one Republic, sharing one destiny,” Deles concluded.
MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim spoke of the “end to that adversarial relationship between the Bangsamoro and the Philippine nation.”

“Journey to rebuild our homeland”

“Today, we extend the hands of friendship and partnership to the President and the Filipino people as we jointly embark on the historic journey to rebuild our homeland, institute justice, end occupation and the reign of violence, and restore normalcy to the lives of the masses of our people in Mindanao and Sulu. With this Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, we pray never to see again refugee camps cramped with old folks, women and children wallowing in squalor and misery, as well as never again witness the recurring wholesale violation of human rights that comes with oppression — all of which deface the landscape of our Bangsamoro homeland and denigrate the lofty human values long held by a civilized and just society.”

“Today, we are here to celebrate a victory for the Bangsamoro people and the Filipino nation that is shared by the international community and the Muslim World: a victory earned not by war but by that collective desire tempered by the inner nobility of human nature to restore justice and peace to a troubled land,” Murad added.

For historian and retired professor Rudy Rodil,  a member of  the Regional Consultative Commission that drafted the Organic Act for the ARMM,  and later of the government peace panel that negotiated with the Moro National Liberation Front and later with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, “the official acceptance of Bangsamoro is a quantum leap from history.”

“The Moro image to a Christian conjures images of raids upon Christian communities which Spanish chronicles loved to call Moro piracy. The Moros themselves hated the name. It was not until the MNLF and the MILF adopted it as an integral part of their revolutionary organizations’ official denomination that it did become a badge of honor.  Now, by adding these words: ‘a name that symbolizes and honors the struggles of our forebears in Mindanao, and celebrates the history and character of that part of our nation,’ the President has memorialized the name as a sacred part of our national identity. “

A new history begins

Rodil said the Framework Agreement is “not only a peace agreement between government and MILF, it also inaugurates a new relationship, a brotherhood, a kapatiran, a panagsuon, it also corrects and straightens out the ugly twists in history that created the Moro problem. Now we have a new united Filipino people, with full consent from the governed. We begin a new history.”

If everything goes as scheduled, the Bangsamoro begins its own government by 2016.  By the time it is inaugurated on June 30, 2016, President Aquino will have stepped down and a new President shall have taken over. A new Cabinet also takes over. The MILF may or may not have transformed into a political party.

We asked Moro and non-Moro respondents: “Assuming it’s all systems go and the Bangsamoro shall have been set up by 2016, how would you envision the Bangsamoro to be in 2020, 2031 and 2066? “

Among those who wrote down their vision for the Bangsamoro were MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal.  His counterpart, government peace panel chair Marvic Leonen has not sent in his answers.

The answers:

OIC Assemblywoman
Women Representative to ARMM Regional Legislative Assembly

In 2020 , Bangsamoro is a chapter in history books found in Oxford and mainstream university’s libraries, part of the web engines online.  Bangsamoro relations with Southeast Asian neighbors will be strengthened.

In 2031 , the ministers and chiefs of departments will have mixed ancestry, even have Western parentage as the Bangsamoro embraces global exchange. The hi-tech youth of today will become the corporate leaders managing companies that hire foreigners who want to seek retirement in the Bangsamoro plains.
In 2066, there will be Bangsamoro women astronauts  who will land in Mars. Annual delegations to the Olympics will have more hijabbed/veiled women featured on CNN and social media.

MILF peace panel chair
MILF Information Chief, Central Committee member

Minus the complexities, and granting that all have been settled for good, by 2020 there will be marked improvements in the lives of our people. Unity amongst them will improve; peace and order will improve, warlordism would have diminished significantly, development will be evident in many parts of the Bangsamoro, poverty would be addressed seriously, more democratization of the political life of the realm will be seen, more schools, health centers, clinics, roads, etc. will be built. But overall, the picture will not be so huge and significant, because nation-building will take decades to see the fruits.

But with good leadership at the helm of power, not what we see in Moro areas today, by 2066 we can close the gaps between Moros (and the IPs) and larger Filipino populations. Our focus will be on the people at the grassroots, and so with our fighters. They must not be left out. When people’s lives improve, peace and order, as well as the economy of the realm will improve dramatically. The government of the Bangsamoro will become effective because the people through the principle of shura (consultation) operating through the ministerial system of government have a voice in running their affairs. Accountability will not only be to men and man-made laws, but most importantly to God, who will judge everyone according what he/she did in this world.

Dean, School of Government
Ateneo de Manila University

In 2020, the Bangsamoro is still in its infancy and will continue to struggle to meet expectations. Capacity building will be important at this stage and should be the priority. The building of institutions is particularly important.

In 2031, the Bangsamoro would be more stable. Investments in capacity and institution building would have paid off. The judicious use of its autonomous powers would have attracted other areas to join the autonomous political entity (no longer new).

In 2066 , the Bangsamoro became a model for the whole Philippines which is now a federal state with many sub-states.

OIC Speaker
ARMM Regional Legislative Assembly

In 2020 (I am 40 years old), many young Moro professionals will be part of the Bangsamoro Government. In a short span during the Hataman Administration a lot of young Muslim professionals have been able to render service to a reformed ARMM because they are part of the network of partylist groups like AMIN, ALIM, AKBAYAN, AMANAH, ASSALAM or Organizations like YMPN, CIPYMIL, Bangsa, and CSOs like CBCS, MPC, MinHRAC which struggled and fought for Bangsamoro life and had a vision for a better (reformed) ARMM. They are now in the key posts of  the Bangsamoro government. Many of these youth studied in universities, rallied in the streets, provided time for helping out their communities. With Bangsamoro in place, the pool of the youth will widen and participation in Bangsamoro will broaden.

It is our personal experience that non-politicians like us have a hard time entering the political arena as its structure largely benefits the incumbents and the clans. With the Bangsamoro and its new political and electoral system, it will open doors for more participation.

In 2031 (I am 51 and my eldest son is 22), the opening up of Bangsamoro to fresh talents and skill sets, taking in more issue- and work-oriented manpower against accommodated relatives, it will also generate ideas and implement policies that will provide better life to the Bangsamoro People.

At this point, many of our relatives in Manila, Cebu will return to Bangsamoro, opening up new opportunities for capital and adding more resources in Manpower/Brainpower. Having established in other parts of the country and abroad together with a strengthened NCMF (National Commission on Muslim Filipinos), the Bangsamoro will have Institution, Structure and Network to be integrated with the Philippines despite its political and cultural difference because Economics brings people together.

On the political side it can be a model for other LGUs (local government units) in the Philippine which want an escape from its structural inadequacies like Bicol as expressed by its AKO BICOL Representative. I will be hoping that my son once he enters college will not be checking ‘I am a minority’ to give him an edge in college but will be checking Bangsamoro because he is proud of his identity and the community he came from. This is the Chinese experience, then minority, now proud to be Chinoys … There is an organization in the Ateneo that celebrates this Identity.

In 2066 (I am 86 and my son is 57), young kids who will look at history and say, “My grandfather was part of those who helped in the Framework Agreement and my father saw to it that my grandfather’s generation’s dream of a Bangsamoro is nourished, protected, and realized.”

They will benefit from a system that has connected the Philippines with its Southeast Asian Moro roots. Bangsamoro will strengthen the Philippines’ relation with Middle Eastern/Islamic Countries in terms of Faith and Economy, while at the same time gain the pride of Western countries for being democratic, tolerant, and culturally diverse for its successful peace process and integration of the Bangsamoro.

The children will have no hesitation to say “I am Bangsamoro from the Philippines.”

This generation might be very well versed with party politics that they are able to organize themselves into a national party as they have the structure and network and means (NCMF + Cultural/Economic Ties + resources), they now have the capacity to provide to Bangsamoro Government as they are better equipped than their Grandfather and their Father.

For my daughter (currently two years old), and to my human rights roots , along the years her rights are more protected as Women’s Organizations and even Lesbians, Gays and Transvestites will organize themselves into Parties believing that there was a time a group of people believing themselves to be Bangsamoro, aspiring to be Bangsamoro, became Bangsamoro.

Thus, a new generation who believes in their Identity as well as gender will rise not in arms but in a participatory and democratic manner. As long as the Bangsamoro will not lose its core principles and believe in the right to self-determination and human rights, their future will be fruitful.

Inspector General, 6th Infantry Division
Asst. Chair, GPH Ceasefire Committee

By 2020, the Bangamoro shall have transformed into a new community by capacitating its leaders to lead and manage effectively and efficiently and of course, with accountability while the people understand what is their role and know how to join the bandwagon of peace and prosperity.

In 2066, the social, economic and political reintegration of ex-combatants in the conflict-affected areas in Mindanao should digest the fruits of the political settlement. Amen.

Former Senate President
Principal author of Local Government Code

Nobody can question the noble intent of the peace agreement. But it is too early to say what the BangsaMoro will be even tomorrow. You see the agreement as I see it needs to be fleshed out by law. It is, I think “a framework” plan.

At least one good thing can come out if Congress gets a piece of the action is that the framework plan can be made “all inclusive” so that those who feel left out of the agreement may be included.

Executive Director, Al Qalam Institute
Ateneo de Davao University

I envision the Bangsamoro Region in 2020 as a developing region with its young professionals engaged in the political and economic activities.  Young professional like me will be actively involved in governance and conducting political reforms

Our inhabitants will be more involved in deciding the future of our communities in terms of government programs and services.  More access to quality education to all our people.

In 2031, an Islamic University will be fully functioning that caters to the spiritual, cultural, political, and economic needs of our people.

Competent Shariah lawyers and judges will help us in our domestic and religious life. Agricultural lands will be developed by its people. Ulama and ustadjes will be competent not only in the field of Islam but they will also be engineers, doctors, lawyers, and financially empowered.

In 2066, there will be more jobs and strong middle class. Bangsamoro will be a competitive region in different aspects of human development.

Senior Military Adviser
GPH Peace Panel

I envision that the Bangsamoro in 2020 is economically vibrant, politically matured, security stable and multi-ethnically sensitive. The Bangsamoro people will be enjoying the peace dividends brought about by the negotiated political settlement. Because of absence of armed groups and clan wars, local and international influx of tourists will grow tenfold and could ape that of Boracay and Palawan. Liguasan Marsh development will be in full blast as it opens its door for the opportunity to culture export-quality cray fish (ulang) and other fresh water products.

By 2031, several big ticket infrastructures such as modern seaports, airport and wide highways are in place. These facilities attract investors and subsequently generate jobs thus increase the wealth of Bangsamoro. Also, the Liguasan circumferential road must have been completed and a viaduct between Malabang and Balabagan that eases the flow of traffic is operational. There is a Philippine Science High School-Bangsamoro and UP (University of the Philippines)-Bangsamoro campus. These institutions will pave the way to an increase in intellectual  competitiveness of other Bangsamoro. Moreover, a 24/7 fast seacraft plying Cotabato City-Zamboanga City and Cotabato City-Pagadian City routes are daily occurrences. Several palm oil refineries are exporting their products. The good governance in the Bangsamoro has become a national model. Meanwhile, the Navy, Army and Air Force of a modernized AFP continuously secure the maritime domain, ground territory and airspace in order to protect the Bangsamoro way of life, political autonomy and freedom.

By 2066, I foresee that the Bangsamoro socio-economic and multi-cultural environment would be similar to that of Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Country Director, The Asia Foundation

Political scientists tend to think that the ministerial form of government is better than the presidential form for accommodating minorities within the Bangsamoro.  When you have a directly elected governor, there is one person (who is from one ethnic group) with lots of power.  In a ministerial form, the Chief Minister is chosen by the legislative assembly.  The position does indeed have power, but staying in office depends on keeping a majority of the legislative assembly supportive, which requires paying attention to what each group in the assembly wants.

So, in this dynamic, in only four years I expect by 2020 that elected officials are still “learning the ropes.”  There will be lots of talk, always, about changing the chief minister (just as there is often talk at the national level about changing the Senate President).  Individual clans and organizations will be struggling to get their representatives into the legislative assembly, and once seated there will be continual bargaining about coalitions.

The press will portray this as “instability” but it won’t matter much for government services delivered by the bureaucracy (which will continue slowly improving) or even peace and order (which will also continue slowly improving as it becomes clear that the war will not re-erupt, that criminal elements are truly isolated and marginalized, and as policing becomes ever more civilianized).

In 2031, officials will have learned how to operate within the ministerial form of government.  Because the Bangsamoro will be a more important level of government than the ARMM, then politicians and organizations, and perhaps even real political parties by then, will pay less attention to their particular bailiwick and more to cooperating with others to get into the assembly.  That means local politics is likely to get less fractious and violent.  While the press will still cover internal maneuvering in the legislative assembly, and questions about the coalition supporting the chief minister of the day, governance will be much more predictable.

Economically, I expect two surprises:  Halal Certification (I get this idea from our Malaysian Deputy Representative, Herizal Hazri) and adventure tourism.  With technical assistance from Malaysia or Indonesia, the Bangsamoro can become world-class in Halal Certification relatively easily and earn money for doing so.  As for tourism, it will take a long while for the lawless reputation to subside, but by 2031 there will be many who would  be very much interested in the wonderful untouched beaches and mountains that are in the proposed area of the Bangsamoro.  Conflict has prevented over-crowding, so that when conflict has subsided there are lots of great places for people who don’t like crowded tourism spots.

By 2066, I only have a vision of a Bangsamoro that is a proudly distinct part of the Philippine state.  Beyond that I can’t speculate.  While I fully intend (the good Lord willing) to see 2031, by 2066 I will be long gone!

Executive Director
Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute

Medyo nahirapan ako mag-isip nung una,  but nice pala to dream, so  here goes:

In 2020, institutions are being tested and sustained,  Bangsmoro women are asserting their spaces.

In 2031,  Bangsamoro  is one among  other autonomies in a federal parliamentary Philippines! Ethnic cultures are vibrant amidst religious practices.

In 2066, my  grandnieces  enjoy visiting municipal museums, buying  some works of local authors and artists,  doing serious shopping  in the markets (not malls, few Chinese products), and  feasting  on  a variety of native delicacies  (beyond  still delicious  inihaw na manok) in the Bangsamoro.

Director for Investment Promotion & Public Affairs
Mindanao Development Authority

Having trouble keeping my responses short. Views drawn from the Mindanao 2020 Peace and Development Framework of the Mindanao Development Authority.

How do we envision Bangsamoro by 2016? Peace process between the GPH and MILF concluded with the signing of the Final Peace Agreement and subsequent setting up of Bangasamoro; elected and empowered Bangsamoro leaders at the helm of well-defined governance structure characterized by greater autonomy and subsidiarity;  process for complete disarmament and reintegration of all combatant forces has been laid down and integrated program for complete rehabilitation and development of all former conflict areas established.

By 2020, peaceful political settlement transformed Bangsamoro, marked by attainment of satisfactory autonomy and genuine self-determination for its people, with viable efforts to redress age-old injustices in various forms; an entrenched policy environment for sustained peace, development and human security, supported by massive public investments and consolidated and effective institutions for sustained peace and development; under an atmosphere of unified peace and integration among all groups, a firmly-entrenched culture of peace and social healing sustained through the integration of peace education in curricula at all levels; successful implementation and completion of a generally acceptable disarmament and re-integration that involves all former combatants from all sides of the conflict; increased private sector confidence and sustained investments resulting to economic development measured through better Human Development Index (HDI) and other social and development indicators.

By 2031: a general atmosphere and culture of peace overwhelmingly prevails in every part of Bangsamoro, contributing to the overall progress of an integrated and globally competitive Mindanao; wholesale reconstruction of conflict areas, with vital social and economic infrastructures and facilities restored and enhanced, thereby transforming them into focal points of development; supremacy of the rule of law within a justice system widely perceived to be fair, responsive and equitably accessible to all.

By 2066: a peaceful and prosperous Bangsamoro whose inhabitants feel safe and secure, and live in harmony with and among one another, where no one is deprived – where people are able to develop their potentials as individuals and as communities; build trust and solidarity across
regions and diverse cultural identities; and live and work in full respect of the ecological and spiritual systems of which they are part and draw sustenance from.
Conflict is a thing of the past.

Columnist, MindaNews (Comment)
Author of  “Understanding Mindanao Conflict” and “Troubled Odyssey”

That will depend on how in the FAB (Framework Agreement on the Bangsmaoro), the Aquino III government and MILF can bind the succeeding governments to give Bangsamoro the full political and fund support it needs.

That will depend, too, on how ALL Moro leaders accept and unite behind the FAB.

Otherwise, as I concluded in the Comment I just sent, can the history of the Ramos government and the 1996 FPA repeat in Aquino III government and the FAB? There are still intriguing questions that blur envisioning.

Senior member, MILF peace panel

Five years is the average term for a parliamentary assembly. Barring any early call for ‘vote of confidence, Bangsamoro government of the day would serve their full term by 2020. Although a ‘hung parliament’ could happen before 2020.

If there’s no majority that wins, a coalition of parties can govern. A ‘hung parliament’ happens when no clear majority garners seats in the assembly.

By the way, by 2015, ASEAN members have to sign up for ASEAN  Economic Community (later union ala EU?). That’s why GPH needs to resolve this Bangsamoro question, border wise!

My projection beyond 2020 is advanced to ongoing negotiations about ASEAN economic community , or ASEAN common market.

Surely, the 1987 Constitutional cannot last without major amendments up to 2066. If this country would not henceforth federate, or shift from business oligarchist elite at the unitary center, GPH would not keep abreast with a new regime of ASEAN common market. GPH might remain an ersatz democracy of politicians.

Who cares more than half a century? We say, ‘tawakal na!’” (We submit our fate to God).

Commander, 10th Infantry Division
(former chair of the GPH peace panel’s Ceasefire Committee)

By 2020, assuming all systems go, the Bangsamoro will be undergoing still its birth pains: with credibility concerns especially on having good efficient and effective leaders and managers in the regional and local government functionaries and in the Regional Legislative Assembly to craft the implementing laws and policies.

Social cohesion will still be a problem hence local conflicts will as usual be a serious concern caused by land conflict resolution and its settlement issues plus lots of private armed groups abounding on guard for self-preservation especially for non-Muslim settlers.

Law enforcement will be a big problem with the proliferation of firearms, as the Bangsamoro police still having a credibility problem being yet in the infancy stage. More infrastructures will rise up with investment climate dramatically improved with more international and domestic investors on the ground building on their investment projects. The Mindanao Trust Fund blueprint from the donor countries would be felt with the BDA’s (Bangsamoro Development Agency) more pronounced involvement. Much sincerity and resolve will be manifested by the Bangsamoro autonomous government and the central government to make ‘ it ‘ happen or come into fruition.

Fifty years from now, the Bangsamoro region will be a major economic hub and a growth center in Mindanao playing both domestically and internationally, that is, if they would sustain the good governance thing and the peace/security and stability on the ground.

Professor, Author of several books

I do keep my fingers crossed that this time all will go the way to peace. But as you know,  the next questions is: will the Bangsamoro go the route where the ones running the governance system will be able to resist the entry of all those wanting to invest in their homeland where the businessmen and the governance people will benefit but those below will remain locked in a poverty situation no different from all the years of war?

But let us be hopeful and optimistic for now.

Bangsamoro Youth League
Marawi City

In 2020, the same story.  Backward Bangamoro, more settlers would legally live in Bangsamoro areas.

In 2031,  conflict still exists. Non-Moro will run for political power in the Bangsamoro government. American agenda will come in.

In 2066, possible Total Independence for Bangsamoro (with) support from Muslim world.

Chair Emerita, Mindanao Commission on Women
Lead Convenor, Women’s Peace Table

By 2020,  new leaders are emerging among the Bangsamoro people  – men and women both – who enjoy the trust of their people and who see public service as a public trust.  The Bangsamoro regional political party has an increasing membership, especially among the young. Education  – basic and tertiary – is being taken seriously, taking a large percentage of the regional budget. Communities of Moros, IPs, and Christians are starting to work on mutual problems cooperatively especially on ensuring people’s security, thus diminishing the role of the military and reinforcing the role of local police.  There are fewer warlords.  Land disputes are solved by a Commission so that land is now available for productive purposes.  The ancestral domain claims of the IPs are being handled efficiently and effectively. Women, who were responsible for having avoided a relapse to violence after the peace agreement was signed in 2012, continue to be the drivers of economic growth and they begin to occupy the public space more and more. The concept of “one State, many nations” begins to resonate within many circles in the country.

By 2031, the Bangsamoro regional party is influential in national affairs through representation in the Cabinet.  Leadership is shared by women and men.  There is minimal military presence in communities where community members, along with the police, are responsible for security.  There are no more warlords. Agriculture is flourishing because of big investments in infrastructure, education and research institutions, and training of men and women in agribusiness. Industries are set up that are environmentally sound and contribute to inclusive economic growth which women continue to advocate. The concept of “one State, many nations” is now accepted throughout the country. The Bangsamoro identity is being accepted by the entire country as part of their diverse heritage.  Bangsamoro pride in their own people, history, and heritage is palpable.

By 2066, the Bangsomoro is governed democratically by women and men who believe that their power emanates from the people.  There are institutions for constructive conflict resolution at different levels.  There is mutual solving of problems in and across communities, led by NGOs and people’s organizations who share skills, information, and solutions with one another. People from all over the country internalize and appreciate the “many nations” that exist in the Philippines and believe this diversity is our treasure. Women and men play important and inter-changeable roles in the family, economy, politics and the rest of society.  Many people come to the Philippines to study the model of the Bangsamoro as reflecting the structural changes that can happen peacefully in dealing with diversity and the right to self-determination.

Executive Director, Balay Mindanaw

One key indicator of success (or failure) of this new experiment will be the relationship between Bangsamoro and Manila.  In a successful and effective Bangsamoro, we should no longer see Bangsamoro officials spending time in Manila to ask for favors and funds from the Manila government.

I think the holding of the signing ceremony for the Framework Agreement in Manila is not a very good sign of the future relationship.  This day could have been a great day for Manila to come to Mindanaw not as colonizers but as partners in the pursuit of just peace.

Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy

If I can wave a magic wand, then the Bangsamoro will be treated like Davaoenos or Tarlaquenos.  But I have no magic wand.  Experience tells us that the real pitfalls come after the signing.

But I have hope that both sides have learned from the mistakes of the past. If we have learned from the past, then the Bangsamoro homeland will be an engine for growth.  If not, then 50 years from now we will still be as we are today, if not worse.  (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)