UNDERSTANDBLY, our Moro brothers aspire for autonomy, peace, and economic prosperity.
They have effectively resisted colonization by the Spaniards, Americans, and even the Japanese. Their social systems which are closely woven around their religion have been preserved. Autonomy assures them to preserve their social structures.
If there is any minority group that aspires for peace, it is them. Their resistance to foreign invaders have martyred their sons at early age. Many fathers have been buried in battle. In the 70's, entire villages were burned. Listen to the tales of army veterans who executed the policy of then President Marcos: They burned communities. Who would not want peace except the people that have experienced extreme violence?
The economic data too reveals that the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) lags in the economic indicators. Poverty, and its twin social malady, illiteracy, prevail.
Autonomy. Peace. Prosperity. They have been aspiring for these for decades, if not centuries.
Instead of fulfilling the aspirations, the national government and the political leaders in these areas have dashed their hopes.
Our national leaders instead of granting them genuine autonomy have created proxies and puppets. Even as the Tripoli Agreement was signed, Ali Dimaporo acted as proxy of former President Marcos. While the ARMM was created, thanks to then President Fidel Ramos, and later Gloria Arroyo, monsters were created out of the Ampatuans.
The national leaders have made the Moro areas as their bailiwicks during elections that could deliver the incredible zero vote for the opposition. There is a gnawing sense that the Bangsamoro Basic Law is being rushed so that the PNoy anointed can be assured of the votes from these Moro areas.
What autonomy then are we talking about when the political leaders in the Moro areas are mere puppets of the national government?
The local Moro leaders too betray the aspirations of their constituents. Instead of using the national funds channelled through them, they buy arms to further terrorize their folks. Instead of farm-to-market roads, they construct mansions, fortresses to protect them from their perceived enemies.
With the billions of the Ampatuans, ostensibly from the national coffer, the road networks would have been extensive by now. Nur Misuari too received largesse from the Ramos administration. But look what he did? He spent the billions in junkets, both local and international.
Without clear mandate from the majority of the Moros, the MILF leadership will be handed the reins of government over the Bangsamoro and the more than P500 billion over a period of six years.
Misuari and Ampatuan basically pocketed the funds intended for governance. They did that despite our Commission on Audit.
Under the Bangsamoro Basic Law, a parallel Commission on Audit will be created as guardian of the public funds. With their appointees in that body, how can their spending be checked? We may have to wake-up that the police created in the Bangsomoro has turned into an army that will fight the Armed Forces of the Philippines, thanks to the billions granted to them.
Is the Bangsamoro Basic Law the answer to the aspirations of our brothers? Or shall we have a repeat of the past peace accords? Will there be really autonomy?
Rebels are not necessarily good administrators, nor good spender of public funds. With no control by the national government of the disposition of funds, the rebels would think the money is the spoil of war.
And what autonomy or self-governance are we talking about here? With Mohagher Iqbal around carrying a Malaysian passport, we might witness a nightmare of Malaysian control over the Bangsamoro.
Another failed peace accord will only aggravate the problem. Dashed hopes will only keep aflame the embers of rebellion.