Southern peace process seen as solution to misguided Islamic militancy

Mindanao Peace Process • Sun Feb 26, 2017 01:32 PM  •  164   0
By John Unson
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ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman tells ARMM civil servants a peace deal will help eradicate extremism in Muslim Mindanao. (ARMM-info)
ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman tells ARMM civil servants a peace deal will help eradicate extremism in Muslim Mindanao. (ARMM-info)
COTABATO --- A negotiated settlement of the now four-decade Moro issue is the antidote to the misguided kind of religious extremism now spreading through Southern Mindanao, an official said Sunday.

Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) said Moro folks can efficiently address domestic peace and security issues through a self-governing mechanism better than ARMM.

“The creation of a new political outfit tailored-fit to the aspirations of the Moro people will hasten the resolution of the security problems besetting our homeland,” Hataman said on Sunday.

Hataman is referring to a more administratively-empowered Moro-led  regional government that Malacañang and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) wants to establish based on a compact --- the March 27, 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro --- that both sides had reached after 17 years of talks.

Hataman is chairman of the inter-agency regional peace and order council of ARMM, which covers Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, both in mainland Mindanao, and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, all common bastions of the MILF and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Malacañang, the MILF and the MNLF are to replace the ARMM with a Bangsamoro government, as a solution to the Moro problem hounding the country since the late 1960s, via the expanded Bangsamoro Transition Committee (BTC) which President Rodrigo Duterte launched in Davao City Friday.

Hataman and his elected deputy, Regional Vice Governor Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman, on Friday said they are both ready to vacate their offices once the transition from ARMM to the new Bangsamoro entity begins even as their tenures in office are to last until June 30, 2019.

Hataman, now in his second term as ARMM governor, and members of his regional cabinet are convinced the BTC can craft an enabling measure for the creation of a Bangsamoro government, subject to approval by Congress, within the next 12 months.

Hataman, however, said while they are ready to relinquish their posts even next year to pave the way for the expected transition process, the incoming Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) should be given at least until 2021 to put in place the foundations of a more powerful regional government that would manage the affairs of the Bangsamoro region.

The BTA shall supersede the expanded BTC once it has achieved its goal of crafting the legislative measure needed to deactivate ARMM and replace it with a new Moro-led Bangsamoro regional political outfit. 

“Elections in the new Bangsamoro region can be held simultaneous with the 2022 synchronized local, senatorial and presidential elections so that the BTA can have enough time to put in place all the facets needed to have a progressive and secured Bangsamoro homeland,” Hataman said.

He said giving the BTA enough time to oversee the transition process will provide its members ample opportunity to formulate, along with the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces, a comprehensive peace and security plan for troubled areas in the south.

“Foremost of the issues that need to be addressed while the transition process is on is the alarming spread of this misguided kind of religious extremism now plaguing some areas in Mindanao,” Hataman said.

All of the fanatical groups that emerged recently in some areas in Mindanao using the black flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria as revolutionary banners are overtly against the current peace overture between the national government and the Moro communities.

Major Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr., commander of the AFP's Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City, earlier said there are now more than 50 cells of local ISIS-styled terrorists blocs in Lanao del Sur and in Central Mindanao they are trying to contain.

"These are just very few people. The larger majority wants peace through self-governance. With a stronger Bangsamoro government, the Moro people can nip this misguided kind of Islamic militancy from the bud,” Hataman said.
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