Quest for lasting peace (4)

AS of 2003,  Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, despite sizeable budgetary infusion from the national budget, was the only region in the country with a poverty incidence level of above 50%.

Two (2) years later,  four (4) of the five (5) ARMM provinces were the poorest in the country, per Human Development Index Ranking by the government.

And in the roster of the “Poorest of the Poor”  municipalities in the entire country for 2005-2009, twenty-three (23) out of the forty (40) poorest  were from Muslim Mindanao.

Today, the ARMM has the poorest situation in terms of life expectancy, infant mortality and access to public health services.

And yet, ARMM was not GRP’s first failure vis-à-vis its program of autonomy in Muslim Mindanao.

The Marcos dictatorship’s ‘appeasement auto-nomy’ strategies were, of course, big flops.

President Cory Aquino’s regime, handicapped by budgetary constraints,  tried to make improvements by, among others,  appointing Muslim officials into policy-making positions  in the central agencies of the government. But these al-so did not work.

The Muslim community in the south continued to be neglected and marginalized, prompting the Bangsamoro leadership to make more pronounced their people’s armed struggle.

It was out of embarrassment that the 1987 chair of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines  Peace Panel former Vice President Emmanuel Pelaez was said to have apologized to his Bangsamoro counterpart, and expressed  the  following remarks: “In all frankness,  it is high time that the Christian Filipino majority should rectify more vigorously its serious mistakes in regarding the Muslim minority  as being somehow inferior in their faith, culture and way of life.

“For this attitude and prejudice stem from our ignorance  of Islam and of the great achievements  of Islamic civilization and its contributions to the world as a whole.” (To be continued)


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