Quest for lasting peace (7)
GRAPEVINE has it that Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III is partial to the idea of a Charter Change by constitutional convention, but has been dissuaded by political advisers from giving it the green light because this sub-state issue in the peace negotiations might suddenly spring as the inevitable focal/dominant proposed amendment.
Anyway, for two decades, ARMM was recipient of billions of pesos in monetary aid from the government, as well as projects funded by international agencies of note, like the United Nations Development Programme, United States for International Development and Australian AID.
The result of such beneficience and aid infusions turned out to be unexpectedly horrible. The ARMM experiment – like Dr. Victor Frankenstein’s – produced political monsters from emerging powerful clans passing national leaderships had to spoil in material favors to ensure their continued stay in the apex of political power.
ARMM leaders (ARMM had six elected governors) had savagely transfigured as a result of unbridled po-wers and lavish funds. They cared no more for their impoverished and neglected constituency. They stopped crying “Autonomy!” because they enjoyed more than that by acquiescence and tolerance of Malacañang occupants. ARMM was literally regarded by its leaders as a “state” within the Philippines, as Vatican is to Rome/Italy.
Soon enough, ARMM emerged as the “Dagdag-Bawas” capital of the country. During the 2010 elections, for instance, ARMM had the highest number of armed groups across the nation . Its component provinces topped the roster of election hotspots, and true enough, registered the highest number of poll related violence.
ARMM holds another tag : that of “Murder Capital of the Philippines”, dislodging the Provinces of Masbate and Abra for that infamous distinction. Verily, ARMM today is worse than a nuclear disaster, with its component provinces leading the nation’s economically-deprived areas. Such deplorable backdrop hastened the birth of the aborted 2008 Memorandum Of Agreement On Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD). (TO BE CONTINUED)