Hataman’s willing sacrifice | Inquirer Opinion
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Hataman’s willing sacrifice

I don’t know if Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Mujiv Hataman has donned the robes of a martyr, or if he sincerely believes that the future of Mindanao and of the Bangsamoro community lies with the success of the proposed Bangsamoro entity.

Hataman, who has filed his candidacy for reelection for ARMM governor, told participants in yesterday’s Bulong Pulungan sa Sofitel that if the Bangsamoro Basic Law is passed before next year’s elections, he will “gladly” give way to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority which will take over from the governance duties of the ARMM.

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In effect, Hataman will be phasing himself out of a job. Previously, Hataman said that he had hoped to run for Congress (in his native Basilan) in the face of the pending passage of the BBL. But given the deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy and the still-pending passage of the BBL, he had to give up his plans of a congressional post to stay with the ARMM. This is certainly a political sacrifice, since Hataman’s chances of winning a congressional seat were extremely good. Now he faces a run for ARMM governor against a formidable opponent: Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan. And should the BBL pass—in a form acceptable to all parties—Hataman says he will give way to the transition authority, and he will be left jobless.

But it doesn’t mean he will have nothing to do. As a member of the Eisenhower Fellows Association of the Philippines, Hataman is at the forefront of the group’s efforts to “capacitate” communities in the proposed Bangsamoro areas in Mindanao on governance, healthcare and education, preparing the people for better governance in the event of BBL’s passage.

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At a recent forum hosted by the Eisenhower Fellows, Richard Bolt, country director of the Asian Development Bank, said that there is a need to prepare ARMM communities for the transition to the Bangsamoro entity. “We can accelerate the preparation if we already have boots working on the ground,” Bold added.

In the same event, Hataman proudly noted how “in the past five years we have proven that the ARMM is a region where development is possible.” Their combined efforts, he noted, have renewed trust in the region, and “renewed faith in what we’ve been building together—strong pillars and a solid foundation for what will finally be the Bangsamoro.”

At the same Eisenhower Fellows forum, honorary chair Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala paid tribute to the work that has been done by the ARMM chair, stating that “Governor Hataman’s leadership inspired us to take part in this project.”

Indeed, it’s obvious that so many people of goodwill are already working on laying the ground for the future of the Bangsamoro, even before the law creating it and its mechanisms is passed by Congress. Let’s hope that our legislators take time from their busy campaign schedules to vote for the BBL’s passage, for the future not just of Filipino Muslims or of Mindanao’s peoples, but also of all Filipinos who hunger for peace and prosperity most of all.

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The haze which has blanketed cities in Mindanao is said to have reached even coastal areas of Luzon, including Metro Manila.

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Local authorities seem stymied by this form of air pollution, since it originates from outside the country—in particular, from Kalimantan, Indonesia’s half of the island of Borneo. The haze is the result of the burning of forests to make way for palm oil plantations, complicated by the forest fires in peat lands, which keep burning deep underground, defying even the best efforts of fire crews.

I remember watching a documentary on “Operation Haze,” a cross-border effort initiated in 1997 by then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who sent a delegation of firefighters to Sumatra and Kalimantan to help battle the blaze. What the firefighters discovered was that the origin of the fires lay deep underneath the earth, in peat bogs that were really difficult to reach.

But in reality, the true cause of the fires was human greed, with “slash and burn” farmers and even agro-industrial concerns deliberately setting fire to forests to make way for plantations of palm oil, one of Indonesia’s biggest exports.

News is that Indonesia’s neighbors, Malaysia and Singapore included, are currently negotiating with the Indonesian government on ways to cooperate not just in putting out the fires, but also in monitoring and regulating the burning of the forests.

What our local authorities have done so far has been to merely advise people not to leave their homes or, if they must, to wear protective masks. That’s all well and good, but how about taking more aggressive steps to protect us from this form of environmental and health aggression? Haze is a problem for all of us in this corner of the globe.

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Before the end of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, here’s a bit of news about “Keep Abreast 2015.”

For 10 years now, Philippine Wacoal Corp., in partnership with nonprofit group Gift2Life Inc., has been working together to spread awareness and empowerment to breast cancer survivors as well as to all women at risk. Last Oct. 3 and 17, “Keep Abreast” held a forum on such topics as the latest on medical research on the disease, breast cancer screening and risk factor assessment, and clinical breast exam and biopsy. Inspiring messages were also shared by Monica Aveo, publisher of “Woman Today,” and by senatorial aspirant Lorna Patajo-Kapunan, a well-known lawyer.

Gift2Life volunteers, who have been active in raising awareness on breast cancer for the last decade, were also awarded plaques of recognition by Wacoal.

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TAGS: Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Bangsamoro Basic Law, Breast cancer, Indonesian haze, Mujiv Hataman, Wacoal
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