ARMM marks 25th anniversary; its ‘last,’ says Hataman

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 19 November) – The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is resigned to the fact that it will no longer go beyond 25 years, which it marked today (Wednesday), with the incoming new Bangsamoro government on to inherit a “silver lining from a reformed ARMM bureaucracy,” Governor Mujiv Hataman said.

“Eto na ang last anniversary ng ARMM (This is the last anniversary of the ARMM),” he told MindaNews Tuesday night at the mock cultural village of Basilan set up inside the “Bangsamoro People’s Complex” or the ARMM compound.

Hataman said the ARMM “is all set for the transition to the Bangsamoro with only a few minor kinks being worked out,” such as orientation meetings.

The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that will legalize the creation of the Bangsamoro government is expected to be passed and ratified “early next year.”

The creation of the Bangsamoro government is the centerpiece of the final peace agreement—the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB)—between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

“The proposed BBL (creating the Bangsamoro government) is far better than the current ARMM. Nabasa natin yung provisions, at kahit may hesitations yung iba, ang masasabi ko, it’s far better than RA 9054 (I have read the provisions, and while others have hesitations, what I can say is that it is far better than RA 9054),” Hataman said.

RA 9054 is the expanded Organic ARMM Act.

Hataman said the ARMM government under his administration “has effected institutional reforms and bureaucracy changes” that “will be a good starting point for the new Bangsamoro government.”

President Benigno S . III had called Hataman as “ghost buster” for supposedly “busting ghost teachers and schools” in the region, where poverty incidence has been high largely blamed on widespread corruption.

“Our achievements and experiences will ‘lighten the load’ of the new political entity…We’re turning over a bureaucracy ‘that is already reformed’,” Hataman said in Filipino.

For Hataman, the institutional reforms are the “silver linings” of his administration.

At the silver anniversary program Wednesday morning, Hataman challenged the incoming leaders of the new Bangsamoro government “to consider the welfare of the majority.”

“Set aside your self-interest and that of your family in behalf of the interest of all the Muslims, Christians and indigenous peoples [in the new Bangsamoro government],” Hataman said in Filipino.

A colorful float and costume parade depicting the culture and tradition of the different ethnic tribes in the ARMM and a cultural dance competition entertained the officials and guests during the 25th anniversary celebration.

A helicopter showered confetti in the morning as the program progressed.

The ARMM comprises the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

Also as part of the silver anniversary celebrations, each province earlier set up a mock cultural village depicting their respective rich heritage, delicacies and products. Admission is free.

The month-long 25th anniversary celebration will culminate on December 19, the Shariff Kabunsuan Day, a holiday in the ARMM..

Aside from Hataman, the past elected governors of the ARMM were Zacaria Candao (1990-1993), Lininding Pangandaman (1993-1996), Nur Misuari (1996-2001), Parouk Hussin (2001-2005), and Zaldy Ampatuan (2005 to 2009).