Lidasan: Governing a wholehearted Bangsamoro

Lidasan: Governing a wholehearted Bangsamoro

QUESTIONS of moral governance and identity are issues that the Bangsamoro government still struggles with. In my previous article, I mentioned the definition of Bangsamoro based on how Republic Act (RA) 11054 defines it.

To review, it is "those who, at the advent of the Spanish colonization, were considered natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago and its adjacent islands, whether of mixed or of full blood, shall have the right to identify themselves, their spouses and descendants, as Bangsamoro."

I also share my vision of the Bangsamoro as "a multicultural and multi-ethnic meritocracy that follows and practices moral governance. This means that all government and community leaders are accountable for their actions, and that social justice exists and is enforced by all sectors of society." For the purpose of discussion, that definition defines the Bangsamoro government.

But what is the Bangsamoro as a whole, as people?

The Bangsamoro people, as I see it, is richly diverse in culture and ethnicity. Historically, Islam is the common denominator. This faith allowed them to become brothers in humanity, in the worship of Allah (SWT) and in adherence to the example of the Prophet (SAW).

The strength of this faith is also what enabled them to fight foreign colonialism. As a united people, they had a clear enemy. This enemy was in the form of the Spanish colonizers who wanted to take their faith and their properties away from them. The same pattern was repeated by the Americans, in that they took away the sovereignty of the Moro people. This historical narrative led to the Bangsamoro problem, the years of struggle for the right to self-determination.

In addition, the Framework Agreement of the Bangsamoro defined Bangsamoro as "those who at the time of conquest and colonization were considered natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago and its adjacent islands, including Palawan, and their descendants (and spouses) whether of mixed or of full blood."

By this definition, it shows that Bangsamoro constitutes a nationality that is distinct from the Filipino nationality. This creates problems when you are trying to unify as a nation, as two distinct identities must still be part of a unified whole.

The years of conflict and struggle have seen the dawn of the new Bangsamoro government. Now that there is a place for us in the realm of the Filipino nation, how do we move forward as a people?

We must look, again, towards the tenets of our personhood or faith. In Islam, for example, there are the five pillars that make one a true Muslim. These are the shahadah (declaration of faith), sawm (fasting during the month of Ramadan), salah (prayer), zakat (charity), and hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca).

If you look at it, one may relate it to one's personhood. The shahadah, as the basis of faith, can be like how our feet support the body. The salah can corresponded to the knees, as we bend our knees and prostrate to worship God. Zakat can be for our hands, as we give alms and charity to those who are less fortunate. The heart can be in the sawm, as we sympathize with our brothers who hunger for more than just food. Lastly, the hajj can correspond to our mind, as we reach enlightenment as true and just Muslims.

This is just an example of how we can anchor our faith and principles to our actions. Just like that, each part of the government must be working in tandem. The executive and legislative bodies of the BARMM must work hand-in-hand in order to beat societal ills. There is no more "try" left -- we can only do.

Our direction will be determined by our policy. Policy makers, administrative workers, and those who work on legislating must be wholehearted in their understanding of the Bangsamoro. We must be wholehearted in our determination to forge a government that is not only fiscally, but morally, sound.

It is only when we have a whole body, wholehearted understanding of our principles that we can determine the direction that we are going. As for me, it does not matter in which direction we go so long as we head towards an inclusive, unifying peace. Let us all work together -- legislators, businessmen, public and private citizens -- towards a Bangsamoro that can stand arm-in-arm with the Filipino nation.


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