Federal state pushed for Zambo Peninsula, Sulu Archipelago

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 10 May) – Participants to the Bangsa Sug Summit here on Wednesday proposed the creation of a federal state for the Zamboanga Peninsula and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

SULU SUNSET. Sulu has the most breathtakingly lovely sunsets such as this in Panglima Estino town. Photo by AMIR MAWALLIL / ARMM BPI

Convened by the Bangsa Sug Consensus, the summit also proposed that the Bangsamoro bill now pending in Congress should allow the provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao “to vote against inclusion” in the new political entity.

It further said that the “Sulu Sea should retain its name.”

Former Sulu governor Datu Shahbandar Abdusakur Tan, said the proposal rests on economic viability, historical reality, geographical proximity, and demographic and cultural identity.

Datu Tan, also the spokesperson of the Royal Sultanate of Sulu, urged residents of these provinces to be more open, citing the “anachronistic religious prejudices that hamper development.”

He lamented the “lawlessness that has been stereotyped” on “Bangsa Sug.”

Lawyer Melchor Sadain, legal counsel of the Sulu Royal Sultanate said he supports both the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the proposal for a federal state.

Mufti Jul-asri Abirin of the Darul Ifta of the Philippines and Prof. Abduljamil Ishmael of Mindanao State University Tawi-Tawi expressed support to the proposal.

Dr. Charina Isahac, founder-leader of Bansag Babai, described the position as “more reflective of the true intent of the people,” and sought for “more of women sector representation” and participation in governance.

Datu Tan said, “Today, Muslim culture and lingua I know are no longer strange to the Christians in the area. Likewise, Christian culture and the Chavacano and Visayan languages have gained familiarity among the Muslims due to continuous social engagements and education.”

“At this stage, the concern is no longer about homogeneity and exclusion; the concern is about heterogeneity, reality and tolerance among peoples who are destined to live together in an area which they can all proudly call their own,” he concluded.

Sulu Governor Abdusakur “Toto” Tan called the summit a “people’s initiative.”

Sultan Ibrahim Bahjin, Sultan Muedzul Lail-Tan Kiram, Sultan Mohammad Venizar Abirin, Sultan Muizuddin Bahjin, and Sultan Phugdalun Kiram were among the leaders who attended the summit. (Frencie Carreon/MindaNews)