Genuine Bangsamoro autonomy is a mirage if... | Inquirer Opinion
Kris-Crossing Mindanao

Genuine Bangsamoro autonomy is a mirage if…

If the bombing of the Jolo cathedral was retaliation against the Maguindanao-M’ranao dominated version of Bangsamoro autonomy, then so be it. For so indeed, some sectors of the Moro populace, principally Tausug, are against it. There have been Tausug advocates who rally for a Bangsa Su’uk. In this day and age of legitimate self-determination, why ever not? Ethnic identity has become an acceptable legal ethic in the 21st century.

There is of course the main irony of the Jolo cathedral bombing: it was supposed to be prevented by martial law. More than 80 percent of the military are now concentrated in Mindanao. For the first time in history, the Office of the President is awash with intelligence funds cash. Lawmakers whimsically twist the Constitution’s interpretations on the justification of martial law. And yet Jolo’s Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral was bombed. Twenty-two lives — which should have been secured under martial law but ravaged by presidential caprice — are enough to persuade us that martial law in Mindanao must be lifted.


If the bombing was influenced by the sick rhetoric of a president who is severely ill of narcissism (among others), as M’ranao civic stalwart Samira Gutoc connects, then genuine Bangsamoro autonomy is something that a nonreformist traditional politician like Rodrigo Duterte cannot simply usher in during his watch. To reiterate Samira: Duterte is part of the problem.

If the statement on the recent referendum on the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law by the militant Moro voice Suara Bangsamoro is held up for national scrutiny, then we must be convinced by now that a genuine Bangsamoro autonomy is not on the near horizon.


Consider the conduct of the referendum that Suara Bangsamoro describes. Reading the statement, one sees the same pattern in regular elections elsewhere in the Philippines.

“The plebiscite… testifies to how the democratic participation of the people in the voting process is hampered by violence, intervention by local politicians and intimidation by the military.”

Familiar forms of disenfranchisement? It is as though Suara Bangsamoro was describing regular elections in all of the country’s dynastic baluarte and some election hot spots like Abra, Cavite or Masbate.

“There are reports of anomalies such as vote-buying, flying voters, delays in the delivery of election paraphernalia, difficulties in locating voters’ names. There are several incidences of meddling of local officials in the voting process, threats against voters and intimidation caused by military and police takeover in some voting precincts.”

What do these observations indicate? Very simply, Moro land is under the control of dynastic political interests that have the wherewithal of power, money and land. The problem is dynasties. Are we not surprised that after Ampatuan family members were jailed, the wives and other family members simply took over their positions? What democracy can truly exist under such condition?

“BOL/BARMM does not sufficiently give resolution to the clamor of the Moro people for the right to self-determination, control over Moro land and resources and exacting justice for the historical and ongoing injustices against the Moro. Noteworthy is the fact that land reform as articulated in the ARMM organic law is missing in the BOL.”

“Upon the ratification of the BOL, the promise of peace remains uncertain; Marawi City still lays in ruins, Maguindanao is still militarized, attacks against Moro communities and civilians continue. As long as exploitation and oppression against the Moro people persist, our struggle for our right to self-determination, justice, land and freedom will carry on.”


On dynasties, Moro Islamic Liberation Front leader Mohagher Iqbal gave me an answer that I found quite blasé: “Political dynasties are un-Islamic. We can only hope the Bangsamoro parliament legislates against it.” If only an organic law was designed to expunge dynasties forever as the first order of the day. Disempower dynasties, empower the Moro masses.

On Twitter: @AntonioJMontal2. E-mail: [email protected]

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TAGS: Antonio Montalvan II, Bangsamoro, Jolo twin blasts, Kris-Crossing Mindanao, Rodrigo Duterte, Samira Gutoc
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