ONE remarkably significant achievement of the Duterte administration is the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
Its fundamental significance lies in PRRD’s rare but unequivocal admission of the “historical injustice” to the Bangsamoro people that the nation was duty bound to rectify. Indeed, Spanish and American colonizers failed to subjugate Muslim Mindanao and the Philippine Republic that came to power later did nothing less than continue to try to bring the Bangsamoro people down on their knees.
It was arguably the absence of this admission in previous administrations that prevented an earlier settlement of the problem. And everything points to traditional greed for power and wealth as the motive behind armed efforts to bring the Bangsamoro people down on their knees.
BARMM, far from being a grudging compromise just to shoo away a rather pesky enemy, is on the contrary a truly patriotic act of justice to brother/sister Filipinos. Patriotic because it preserves the unity of the nation by doing what needs to be done to a people that have long been looked down on ironically by Christian rulers and settlers from the North.
I am not surprised that it took a President with Moro blood in his veins to solve the so-called Muslim problem. One is left to wonder if the issue would have found a peaceful solution at all if voters did not blink and imperial Manila continued to be in the hands of greedy-for-power-and-wealth (God-fearing and Christian?) oligarchs.
Credit, of course, must also be given to the leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that, unlike the CPP-NPA, gave peace a chance. Their willingness to talk peace gave proof of the purity of their intention which is to give the Bangsamoro people an equal and fair chance at working for their own progress.
It’s not really over yet. The peace attained is with the MILF. The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) is still out there weighing its options. There are also violent splinter groups equally determined to pursue their dream of an Islamic state.
Moreover, there’s the loud silence of the political opposition about BARMM. Greed for power dies hard and they could put obstacles on the Bangsamoro people’s road to progress which is scary because it also puts obstacles on the Filipino people’s road towards national unity.
Still, BARMM puts Muslim Mindanao firmly on a less obstructed path towards progress. Having worked during the war between government and MNLF forces as Refugee Relief and Rehabilitation Coordinator of the Mindanao bishops I saw and experienced firsthand the suffering of both Christian and Muslim war victims. Hence, I am truly happy for this singular milestone of peace.