Another would-be substance-less 'autonomy'?
(or How BangsaMoro possibly just like its predecessor
as long as vested interests remain in their positions)
Over the last few months, the present regime has again repeating as what happened in 1989. As the legislative arm has been holding sessions in order to come up with an act that would replace the existing organic law of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.
At first, this writeup is partially based from a 1989 writeup made by Amir Ablang about BangsaMoro. Entitled "an autonomy devoid of substance", the writeup tackles about issues that continue to prevail in spite of marathon sessions made by legislators trying to come up with an organic act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. However, in spite of its realization in mid 1990s, old issues remained still as Moros wallow in poverty, facing repression, as well as discrimination. The struggle made by the MILF, and subsequently the BIFF and a faction from the MNLF would say that the BangsaMoro struggle would still remain in spite of unobserved agreements and reforms still left in paper and unenacted.
The proposed act is brought out of agreements made by the present government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) last year, and just like what happened in mid 1990s wherein the government had arranged agreements with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) that resulted to the creation of ARMM, the sessions would likely to be an emasculated form of autonomy anchored on national oppression regardless of its intention to realize aspirations set forth by the BangsaMoro people such as rights and welfare, citing the fact that the present ARMM had its supposed aspirations left unrealized and instead being parroted by the order. It is an autonomy that does not cater to the basic and historical issues of injustice, poverty, discrimination, that still facing BangsaMoro and its inhabitants, may it be the Moros, Christians, and the ethnic hill tribes affected by war. With legislators parroting autonomy yet actually failing to lessen tensions and brought pro-people development, this brand of autonomy is as same as its predecessor, and that will again only to institutionalize further the exploitation of the BangsaMoro people, a process that has been going on for hundreds of years. Radical Moro Islamic groups, like the BangsaMoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) had rather chose to wage war against the establishment especially after MILF chose to proceed with the negotiations that includes the creation of BangsaMoro to replace ARMM.
Injustice. The bitter experiences of the BangsaMoro masses from succeeding regimes are as same those of Marcos. Warlordism, Rido, and suppression campaigns made by the military against the people are being repeated. So much so that mistrust and hatred of the present Aquino regime is widespread among the people.
In Maguindanao, there are towns that remained under the warlords especially from the Ampatuan family, all despite the imprisonment of its notorious caudillos Zaldy and Andal due to the genocide that happened in 2009. The conditions brought by warlordism, especially those of Rido (clan wars) has been intensified by the armed forces itself regardless of its objective in disbanding private armies and restore order, especially those whom providing warlords with high powered weapons, as well as its legality to carry firearms in the guise of supporting the military in suppressing armed insurgents as CAFGUs, that actually maintaining repressive control amongst the populace.
The horrors that happened last 2009 showed the extrajudicial actions taken by these armed men against journalists and supports of a rival, citing that the Ampatuans had controlled Maguindanao and ARMM itself, but despite the imprisonment of perpetrators and confiscation of firearms, warlordism remains an issue so is another round of harassment and terrorism inflicted over BangsaMoro.
Poverty. Perhaps, regardless of all the reforms taken, it is still the majority whom, amid a bounty of natural resources still wallow in poverty. Still a poverty striken people, crisis and exploitation had been further pushed into hunger. Most of them had to seek livelihood in Metro Manila especially in Quiapo district wherein some, if not most had to settle on selling pirated DVDs as their source of income. Engaging in an underground economy such as those of pirated DVDs comes risk especially due to police intervention with the help of government agencies trying to disband such markets.
In BangsaMoro itself, few rich families continue to control agriculture, and in it gaining profits while its tenants had to content in just meager share as sharecroppers, while Foreign conglomerates such as those in mining and agricultural interests had to evict farmers, communities in pursuit of their businesses. Food crisis will still remain in spite of paper reforms, and legislators are obviously represent landlords, warlords, and multinational companies, parroting autonomy yet actually benefit themselves from the exploitation of Moro resources and people.
Discrimination, Marginalization. All despite attempts of the present to integrate Moros into mainstream Filipino society, failure to observe Moro norms and traditions has resulted to centuries-old discrimination and marginalization. Moros are depicted as murderers, terrorists, if not peddlers of pirated copies that somehow made people think most of them as such and hence be discriminated and marginalized. In some factories around BangsaMoro would say that there are owners whom had to brought in workers from other areas even neighbouring regions, hence, Moros and even Lumads find themselves isolated in terms of job opportunity. So is in trying to be a part of the workforce due to lack of technical know-how. The latter, actually is a result of lack of formal education, and some, if not most Moro areas are still suffering in illiteracy in the country.
As these facts make clear, the BangsaMoro people will remain skeptical on how legislators had handled the issue regarding the proposed act that would replace ARMM. Much more that it may also bound to fail as these legislators, mostly interest seeking, does not address the historical problem of the BangsaMoro people. But instead, would intensify their struggle all for genuine self-determination.