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Governance for the Bangsamoro:
The need for a paradigm shift
The Bangsamoro armed struggle in southern Philippines is one of the longest, if not the longest, self-determination struggle in the world. This struggle caused loss of lives and damage to property, rendered massive dislocations, and hindered many important socio-economic development opportunities in the Bangsamoro homeland. The Philippine Human Development Report (2005: 65) stressed that the contemporary Moro armed struggle waged by the Bangsamoro liberation fronts is the sharpest expression of the problem in the relationship between the Philippine and the Bangsamoro. This is characterized by the historical and symmetric marginalization and minoritization of the Islamized ethno-linguistic groups, collectively called Bangsamoro, in their own homeland by Spain (from the 16th to the 19th centuries), the United States (in the first half of the 20th century), and, more recently, by the colonial successor the Philippine government since its formal independence in 1946. The armed conflict might be viewed as a clash between two nations, Filipino and Moro, each with their own narratives of the conflict. For the Bangsamoro liberation fronts, it has been a conscious struggle to regain the historical sovereignty of the independent Moro nationstates, called sultanates, over their homeland. For the Philippine government and the Philippine nation-state, it has been a matter of defending the territorial integrity of the country against secession and dismemberment. This has made the conflict a veritable case of “irresistible forces, immovable objects”. The government has undeniably undertaken various approaches to address the problem but it seems these were not effective because the Moro armed struggle continues to exist. However, stakeholders of peace and development in this part of the Dr. Maguid T. Makalingkang is Associate Professor V in the College of Public Affairs and former dean of the Graduate School of the Mindanao State UniversityMaguindanao.
country are hopeful that the administration of President Benigno Aquino III could finally bring about peace in Mindanao. This paper briefly traced the Moro assertion of the right to self-determination as well as the Philippine government’s approaches to resolve this concern, and discusses proposed Bangsamoro governance.
The Mindanao Conflict
The conflict in Mindanao between the Philippine government and the Bangsamoro was once described by Majul (1973) as “multi-faceted and represents a constellation of various problems.” Moros were the dominant group in the archipelago before the arrival of the Spanish colonizers. They dominated both local and international economies and possessed the most advanced technology of that period which enabled them to engage in foreign trade. In politics, they had an organized and centralized form of government (PHDR, 2005; Glang, 1969). Albeit feudal, the sultanates as a political organization already existed in 1450 AD (PHRD, 2005). Furthermore, the Bangsamoro nation-states existed before colonizers arrived in the archipelago. The Sulu and the Maguindanao sultanates had, at the time of Spaniards’ arrival, already perfected the requisites of nationhood—namely, territory, people, government, and sovereignty. Hence both Spanish and American colonial regimes had to contend with small but fiercely independent Bangsamoro sovereign nation-states. Islam had arrived in Sulu in the last quarter of the 13th century and the Sulu sultanate was established in 1451, more than a century before the Spanish period in 1565. The Spanish colonial period was marked by bitter Spanish-Moro wars (the so-called “Moro Wars”) fought in six stages spanning four centuries (for details, see Majul, 1999: 121-375). The colonialists called the Muslim natives “Moros” after their hated enemies, the Moors, who had previously ruled Spain for eight centuries. The Spaniards fostered Christianized indio (Filipino) prejudice against Moros through such cultural institutions as the moro-moro plays. American rule started in the Philippines in 1898 and military pacification for the Moros began in 1903 with the organization of the Moro province, a military government distinct from the rest of the Philippines. Although the Moro people had remained free of Spain, by 1913 the American colonialists slowly challenged the Bangsamoro. At that time, Dr. Najeeb M. Saleeby, an American educator and historian who joined the Thomasites, defined what to the Americans was the “Moro Problem”:
By Moro Problem is meant that method or form of administration by which the Moro and other non-Christians who are living among them, can be governed to their best interest and welfare in the most peaceful way possible, and can at the same time be provided with appropriate measure for their gradual achievement in culture and civilization, so that in the course of a reasonable time they can be admitted into the general government of the Philippine Islands as members of a republican national organization. (Saleeby, 1913)
One might say that the post-colonial Philippine government’s definition of the “Moro Problem” remains essentially the same, including its corresponding policy solution of national integration (Tanggol, 1982). Full-fledged Filipino nation-statehood was marked in 1946 when the Philippines was granted independence by the US government despite opposition from the Moros. This was also the beginning of the contemporary Moro struggle because the Bangsamoro homeland was incorporated into Philippine territory (or annexed, as some Moro nationalists would say). This is where it becomes difficult for the Government of the Philippines and the Bangsamoro to resolve their concerns. While the Government of the Philippines founded its solution on the contemporary situation, the Bangsamoro premised theirs on their past history. According to George (1980: 11-12): “The theories that ran the gamut from religion to misgovernment were relevant only in so far as they were pieces of an enormously complex jigsaw puzzle. To pick anyone of them as the outstanding causes for the upheaval would be a hindrance to understanding the total picture.” Santos (2001: 43) added that: “The problem is historical, political, economic, social, educational, cultural, religious, moral, ideological, legal, and more. It is not only multi-dimensional but also evolving, with different dimensions coming to the fore at different times—as shown by the MNLF and MILF tracks on the Moro front.” A clear picture of the above contention is summarized in the book of Muslim (1994) that revealed 10 fundamental causes of the “Moro Problem” tracing from 1898 to 1972. Historical roots include: (1) the forcible/illegal annexation of Moroland to the Philippines under the Treaty of Paris in 1898; (2) military pacification; (3) imposition of confiscatory land laws; (4) indioization (or Filipinization) of public administration in Moroland and the destruction of traditional political institutions; (5) governmentfinanced/induced land settlement and migration to Moroland; (6) land-grabbing/ conflicts; and (7) cultural inroads against the Moros. Contemporary causes are (8) the Jabidah Massacre in 1968; (9) Ilaga (Christian vigilante group) and military atrocities in 1970-1972 and; (10) government neglect and inaction on Moro protests and grievances. The catalyst of the contemporary Moro armed struggle was President Ferdinand E. Marcos’s declaration of martial law on September 21, 1972. Aside from marginalization, destitution and disorder issues in the Bangsamoro homeland, the
conflict in Mindanao became more complicated. This is best captured in the view of Tanggol (1993: 42-43):
Is the Mindanao problem a Muslim or Moro problem, a Christian problem, or a Lumad (Highlander) problem? This is not meant to discriminate but to properly identify the various interest groups and demands competing for policy action. This will help government identify common and conflicting demands so it can better craft what policies it can and for whom. And so that it will know which client to respond to and to what extent. It is wrong to assume that Mindanao has no conflicting policy demands. It is our contention that the problem in the South is basically a Muslim or Moro problem. History is much in favor of this contention.... By saying that the Mindanao problem is a Muslim problem, it is not to deny the other group in Mindanao their due from the government… A Christian or Lumad problem is possible should the government envision a response to the Muslim problem that will not be acceptable to the former. This is a potential one and it must be considered as a constraint to the adoption of any solution to the Muslim problem… One implication that must be derived here is that the Moros, while having demands commonly shared with the other groups in Mindanao, have demands unique to themselves and demands conflicting with those of the other groups.
It must be pointed out the government attempted to resolve the armed conflict locally or even with the participation of the international community, yet the problem persists.
Government Approach to the “Moro Problem”
The Philippine government, in addressing the so-called “Moro Problem”, employed the same divide-and-conquer devices used by the colonizers, suffusing modifications generally with the same impact. Since the inception of the Moro struggle, the Philippine government approach remains to be that of the carrot-and-stick variety (Muslim, 1994). But the stick aspect—the use of state’s superior instruments of violence—has certainly been given more emphasis. However, more than a decade of this strategy demonstrates the inefficacy of the military approach that erroneously views the armed struggle and the mujahideen as the problem and not the conditions that brought them to existence. This means that, unless the government addresses the root causes of the Moro struggle, there is not much else that can be done. It has become obvious that the government’s continued use of its military might has only sustained and intensified the armed struggle. It has only provided the armed struggle with substantial centripetal force. More Moros, including women, have been pushed
to the struggle by the government’s large-scale militarization and militarism in the Muslim areas in Mindanao (Muslim, 1994; see also Jubair, 2007). The carrot aspect is designed to entice mujahideen, especially their leaders, and their sympathizers. These include the granting of amnesty to Moro “rebels” who returned to the folds of the law, the pampering of a few of the leader-returnees through offers of posts, mostly nominal and ad-hoc, in the government and some business opportunities, mostly short-term. Some so-called special agencies were created not only to create the impression that the Muslims’ welfare was being attended to, but also to co-opt some of the mujahideen leaders. Occasionally, some grandiose “programs for Muslim Mindanao” were announced (Muslim, 1994). Another carrot component in the government’s peace-making efforts is the autonomy experiment. The Marcos regime succeeded in producing the Tripoli Agreement in 1976 which only created controversy in the implementation. Under the Aquino administration, RA 6734 or the Organic Act establishing the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) came into being and a subsequent plebiscite was conducted on November 19, 1998. These did not offer solutions to the “Moro Problem.” President Fidel V. Ramos succeeded in luring the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Nur Misuari to accept the post of Regional Governor of the ARMM after the Philippine government and the MNLF signed the 1996 peace accord. Misuari was later charged with rebellion. President Joseph Estrada returned to the classic approach, the stick, while President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo used both the carrot and the stick, ending with the declaration of the MOA-AD as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2008 (see Province of North Cotabato vs. Government of the Republic of the Philippines Peace Panel on Ancestral Domain, G.R. No. 183591, October 14, 2008, 568 SCRA 402). In sum, the peace-making efforts by the government were all designed for propaganda purposes and did not address the grievances and aspirations of the Bangsamoro people.
The government has used various strategies: assimilation and integration, carrot and stick, “all-out war”, and decentralization through autonomy, all to no avail. There is therefore a need for a paradigm shift to address the problem. The approach has to be
comprehensive and implementation should be simultaneous. Important components of this approach are the political and the administrative aspects.
The Political Aspect
The Bangsamoro aspiration for an Islamic system of life and governance in predominantly Moro areas in Mindanao is a legitimate aspiration of a people to fully secure their identity and way of life, and to rule themselves accordingly. However, an Islamic system cannot be accommodated within the present Philippine constitutional framework. This constitutional problem will have to be resolved, and it can be resolved. But it will require from both sides political will, rethinking, compromise, and creativity. The effort—intellectual, rational, dialogical, political and constitutional—to make the pieces fit should be taken. Constitutional negotiations should be conducted. If a constitutional solution cannot be found, or if found but cannot be agreed upon, then and only then may there be a principled parting of ways. It can be gleaned from the above statement that the option for effective resolution to the “Moro Problem” is within the reach of Filipino creativity and may not require imported political, administrative thoughts, and principles. The government needs only to steer Filipino potential and use their intellectual lenses to rethink and revisit the 1987 Constitution with the intention of exacting appropriate provisions for Filipino cultural unity in diversity. Only then can we hope for a solution. The focus of paradigm shift may include the following: 1. To focus government efforts on the real problem, instead of the symptoms. Revolutionary organizations and revolutionaries are just symptoms (Muslim, 1994). The problem that should be given emphasis is the reformulation of national policies that provide the Bangsamoro people a just power relationship with the national government to chart the administration of their economic, social, political, and cultural conditions based on the Islamic system. 2. Non-violent alternative approaches by the government in addressing Bangsamoro problem. The archipelagic nature and composition of the Philippine territory, and plurality and diversity require a setup in which each of the component groups is given substantial control in charting their individual and collective interests. For the Bangsamoro people—given the deplorable conditions in which they find themselves and how they are neglected and discriminated against as a group by the government, in addition to their being a distinct people with different history, way of life, culture, and religion—the consequent grant of a new government is a formal and urgent need. 3. To abandon the “melting pot” concept adhered to by many countries including the Philippines, to assimilate their diverse constituent cultural communities
into mainstream politics. This inevitably entails forcible subordination or inferiorization of minority ethnic communities to the dominant group, not only culturally but also politically and economically. The assimilation mode of political integration is inherently unsuited to Bangsamoro society. The assimilationist mode obscures the class, ethnicity, religion, and social status of its citizens, and unites them in terms of their subscription to a common system of authority, which is similarly abstracted from the wider structure of social relations. This measure would further disempower national minorities and eliminate any sense of possessing a distinct national identity. This was justified on the grounds that minorities view themselves as distinct “nations” would be disloyal and potentially secede (Parekh, 2000, cited in Muslim, 2003). The task of creating a new political structure in the Philippines is indeed not colossal. The Philippines has experienced three constitutional amendments for national survival (1935, 1973, and 1986). The best way to do this would be to start with the basic aspects. A focus on the political aspirations of the Bangsamoro is in order, particularly the need to develop a governance formula suited to the cultural diversity of the Bangsamoro in their homeland. Aside from the above experiences, political solutions used by other countries, such as in the Bougainville problem in Papua New Guinea and the South Sudanese in Sudan, among others, can serve as model for the Philippine government and the Bangsamoro in the interest of peace and development. The initial agreements between the government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have illustrated an honourable way to reinvent a new political system. The formula has initially explored a new kind of political structures, processes, and policies which are compatible with their respective circumstances. It must be emphasized that reaching a political settlement is one thing and administration of that settlement is another. The following points are necessary to make politics and governance in Bangsamoro societies inclusive and to ensure ownership of government (sub-state or federalism) by the Bangsamoro constituent communities: • • Shared management of the economy and resources to ensure that all constituent communities or groups receive a just share of its fruits; A system that recognizes cultural and religious differences and provides for some collective protection of religious, political, and cultural rights mandated under UN resolutions, documents, and standards; Political decision-making that provides ample protection for the voice of Bangsamoro and other ethnic minorities; and
4. Affirmative administrative policies and programs for the Bangsamoro and other minorities.
Realizing these features would help in addressing the principal foundations of the Bangsamoro people’s assertion of their right to self-determination, particularly in view of government neglect and discrimination in the allocation of resources, lack of participation and control over local or community affairs, inadequate representation in the central government, and lack of respect for the right of minorities to be different. The latter includes demands for a separate legal system, a separate educational system, and the power to create local policies warranted by the cultural groups’ otherness or peculiarities. In other words, the above features have bearings on issues associated with the politics of redistribution or social justice, and the politics of recognition or identity politics (Muslim, 2004), which are at the core of many violent conflicts in the Bangsamoro homeland.
The Administrative Aspect
Given the above features, and in the context of Bangsamoro in their homeland, governance and development initiatives remain to be the issue. The top-down politicoadministrative mechanism is still used, although some indications of the bottom-up approach can be seen. Some examples are the recent cultural recognition-oriented initiatives of former President Arroyo and her major socio-economic development programs in the Southern Philippines (including the depressed Moro communities) under the 2004-2006 Mindanao Investment Program. Although these recent cultural diversity-friendly initiatives of the Arroyo administration are indeed encouraging, the Philippine state, like many other modern states, remains preoccupied with ensuring national political and cultural homogeneity. Despite some initiatives in regional and local autonomy and decentralization, governance in the Philippines remains substantially assimilationist and continues to emphasize hegemonic control and the derivative techniques of coercive domination and elite co-optation (Muslim, 2004). The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has existed since 1989. Territorially, the present ARMM based on the new autonomy law (RA 9054) is slightly bigger, with the addition of Basilan to the original four provinces (Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi) and Marawi City. But the 2006 Rights-Based Approach (RBA) Orientation Manual reported the country’s national poverty incidence of 24.7% while CARAGA and ARMM have the highest poverty incidence rate of 47.3% and 45.7%, respectively (cited in RBA, 2006; see also PHDI, 2005). In this connection, the RBA (2006) observed that the government has failed in its obligation to respect, protect, and fulfil the needs of the masses wallowing in
poverty, deprivation, and discontent. Such failure of government has led to various forms of internal security concerns that yielded human rights violations, foremost of which is the violation of the peoples’ right to development both at the individual and collective levels. In addition, the ARMM has its legislative, executive, and judicial branches. It has its own administrative system and some degree of fiscal autonomy. The Philippine government implemented the provisions of RA 9054 on Moro representation in the central government by appointing Muslim leaders and professionals to certain positions in some national agencies. Moreover, the Philippine government has completed the integration of 7,500 qualified MNLF combatants into the Armed Forces of the Philippine (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP). Some socio-economic development programs were implemented in the region by foreign donors and the national government, while others are presently being implemented. There are many other gains made under the present regional autonomy experiment in Muslim Mindanao. However, the continued persistence of the Moro armed struggle can be taken to suggest that the existing governance system for the region (i.e., Muslim Mindanao) has not been responsive. Despite the reported socio-economic development programs for the southern Philippines, the five predominantly Muslim provinces have remained the country’s poorest. The region had the worst poverty index in 2000 and in 2005, four years after the signing of the GPH-MNLF Peace Agreement (Muslim, 2004). Reflective of the government’s continuing assimilationist thrust and a heavy slant towards hegemonic control are some cultural diversity or identity-related issues. One is the too limited jurisdiction of the Shari’ah courts, i.e., they decide only in cases involving persons and family relations (Pigkaulan, 2008). The establishment of the Shari’ah Appellate Court, which was mandated by the autonomy laws (Article VIII, Administration of Justice, Sections 1-12, RA 6734; Article VIII, Administration of Justice, Sections 7-17, RA 9054); the Office of Jurisconsult in Islamic Law (Article VIII, Administration of Justice, Section 15, RA 6734; Article VIII, Administration of Justice, Section 20, RA 9054); and Tribal Courts (Article VIII, Administration of Justice, Section 14, RA 6734; Article VIII, Administration of Justice, Section 19, RA 9054), remains unimplemented. Despite the gains of the integration of 7,500 qualified MNLF combatants into the AFP and the PNP, the Special Regional Security Force and regional command of the AFP for the ARMM, expected to have substantial Moro elements mandated under the old and new autonomy laws, have remained unimplemented until today. The taxing powers of the region are hollow because, aside from the widespread poverty
in the region, no significant national taxing powers were transferred to the ARMM. The control-oriented governance of the region is indicated by the emphasis in the old and new autonomy laws (RA 6734 and RA 9054 respectively) on the limitations of the powers of the ARMM. Like RA 6734, many of the provisions of RA 9054 have to do with what the ARMM cannot do instead of what it can do (Muslim, 2004). A clear manifestation of this limited taxing power of the ARMM is the enactment of the Revenue Code No. 50, which can generally be considered add-on tax. The ARMM has difficulty in expanding its tax measures because almost all taxable transactions are designated to the barangay, municipality, city, province, and the national government. This is because the ARMM has to deal with national laws, existing laws, and special laws apportioned to other tax collecting agencies of the government in enacting revenue generation for the region. Despite the gains and accomplishments made with the current unitary regional autonomy experiment in Muslim Mindanao, governance in the Philippines cannot be classified as autonomous in the real meaning of the word. What has been achieved so far is largely in the nature of formal and not substantive compliance with the characteristics and requirements of autonomous governance. The gains are in those aspects with significant co-optation functions (e.g. appointment of mujahideen leaders to some government positions, integration of MNLF combatants into the AFP and PNP). It should be noted that the core issue of autonomy as a policy response to ethnic conflict is the right of the minorities to be different. But the gains and accomplishments discussed earlier, while largely formal, can lead to the desired governance. It must be pointed out that autonomy as a policy response to ethnic conflict is a significant phase in the cultural diversity-friendly interventions continuum. Being in the initial phase of the road towards Islamic governance as envisioned by the MILF, the task at hand is how to utilize lessons learned in the current autonomy experiment in Muslim Mindanao to lead to more responsive, non-violent and non-secessionist politico-administrative alternatives, and to develop a durable formula that ensures the territorial integrity of the country and addresses the principal Moro grievances underpinning the conflict. As to the other concerns not addressed in RA 9054—such as broadening the power of the Bangsamoro for self-governance, sharing of resources between the central government and the Bangsamoro state, recognition of Bangsamoro identity and homeland—these should be part of the political thrusts in the future. The current peace process between the Philippine government and the MILF provides a good opportunity to address these neglected but significant items.
The Way Forward
There are two appropriate starting points in looking for an authentic and peaceful resolution to the Bangsamoro problem. First is recognizing the various socio-economic, political, and cultural differences of the Filipino peoples, and second is giving minorities space in the fundamental law through policy reformulation and strengthened administrative bureaucracy. It must be stressed that the Filipino nation is deeply divided; there are significant differences in socio-economic and political structures, as well as in the history, culture, and way of life. This should be recognized if we are interested in pursuing good governance and development, or what the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation called the “indigenization of development.” To facilitate peace, governance, and development in the Bangsamoro communities, a constitutional rethinking (not rejecting constitutionalism and sovereignty) is necessary. James Tully provided an excellent formula for fleshing governance and development, labelled as “Contemporary Constitutionalism.” In this formula, the Constitution itself is reconceived as a form of accommodation of cultural diversity (Tully, 1995: 62). This can be fairly done through intercultural dialogue or multilogue between and among peoples or nations in one country in accordance with three important conventions: mutual recognition, consent, and cultural continuity. These principles guide the negotiations towards just forms of constitutional association. The aim of negotiations is to recognize differences in appropriate institutions and similarities in shared institutions. In this regard, even sovereignty is seen in a new light as the authority of a culturally diverse people to govern themselves by their own laws and ways, free from external subordination. It offers peace, based not on some abstract theory of justice, but on mediation of concrete claims between and among the diverse parties using the aforesaid three conventions (Santos, 2001: 121-122 citing Tully, 1995). Santos (2001: 122) explained furthermore that this contemporary constitutionalism has the potential of mediating “six types of demands for cultural recognition that constitute the most intractable conflicts of the present age: supranational associations, nationalism and federalism, linguistic and ethnic minorities, feminism, multiculturalism, and Aboriginal self-government.” Tully’s conception of contemporary constitutionalism did not just drop from the skies. It comes from the historical practice of “treaty constitutionalism” between Aboriginal peoples of North America and the
British Crown (later, the Canadian and US governments) as equal, self-governing nations, resulting in relations of protection and inter-dependency, not discontinuity and subordination. In the case of the US, Tully singles out Chief Justice Marshall’s decision in Worcester vs Georgia as the definitive American jurisprudence on US-Indian relations, much like Justice Malcolm had highlighted it in Rubi, thereby incorporating it into Philippine jurisprudence. Santos (2001: 122) elaborated that in Rubi, the Indian policy of the US, as definitely enunciated in Worcester, was affirmed to have been adopted for the “non-Christians” in the Philippines, which include Moros and Igorots, among other tribes mentioned in the dissenting opinion of Justice Moir. The 1919 Indian-Moro connection is confirmed by a 1977 research paper by the foremost authority on American-Moro relations. Of course, the Indian policy of the US was a mixed bag of the good and the bad. Fortunately, the best of that policy, namely Worcester, had been directly linked by Rubi to the Moros and other indigenous tribes of the Philippines. Beyond the guardian-ward aspect of US-Indian relations, Worcester detailed other more important aspects of relevance to our constitutional problem:
...The mutual desire of establishing permanent peace and friendship, and of removing all causes of war, is honestly avowed and in pursuance of their desire, the first article declares that there shall be perpetual peace and friendship between all citizens of the United States of America and all the individuals composing the Cherokee Nation.
The Implementation Aspects
To implement the political and administrative approaches to address the Bangsamoro question, the following are helpful to consider: 1. Relationship between the central government and the Bangsamoro state. The relationship between the central government and the Bangsamoro state shall be determined by certain principles and policies that will guide the Bangsamoro state and its governance. Based on the provisions of the initialled GPH-MILF MOA-AD, the relationship between the central government and the proposed Bangsamoro state shall be associative in character. The central government and the Bangsamoro state shall have a defined or shared power relationship. The power relationship may be stated in general terms as, all those powers and functions deemed appropriate for the national government to exercise shall be retained by the national government, while those deemed appropriate for the Bangsamoro state to perform shall be decentralized to the Bangsamoro state, with each having the obligation, responsibility, and accountability to the other.
The central government shall maintain public policy formulation and administration of foreign affairs, national defense and security, postal services, and coinage (currency), citizenship and naturalization. It shall be the function and responsibility of the Bangsamoro State to maintain and administer all internal aspects of governance within the Bangsamoro homeland including, but not limited to: legislation, taxation and budgeting, banking and finance, public borrowing, economic development planning, and infrastructure development, social services (such as education, health, housing, etc), election, civil service, judicial system and correctional institutions, and policing and internal security. The sharing of income between the central government and the Bangsamoro state shall be fixed to give them power to determine revenue generation without restraints from statutory laws. The granting of authority to the Bangsamoro state in creating its own tax base, rates, customs duties and collections shall be provided in the comprehensive compact. 2. Drafting an organic charter. The drafting of an organic charter for the Bangsamoro is necessary. It will be an opportunity to generate wide political support from the Bangsamoro if done without interference from the central government and in a participatory manner. The drafting of an organic charter for the Bangsamoro state has to involve all sectors of the Bangsamoro society to generate sense of ownership. The selection process for membership to a body that will draft the organic charter should ensure equitable representation from all ethno-linguistic groups, including indigenous peoples and other sectors of the Bangsamoro society. For the organic charter to be acceptable to the Bangsamoro, direct participation of the affected people in the drafting shall be considered. The composition of the body must be decided through popular choice and must be proportional to the number of people represented. The body that will draft the charter should be cautioned by the experiences of the Regional Consultative Commission (RCC) and the consequent result of the past drafting of the Organic Act for Muslim Mindanao Autonomy in 1988, which was rejected by the MNLF as it was not responsive to the needs and demands of the Bangsamoro people and the spirit of the Tripoli Agreement. It has been said that many of the proposed provisions submitted by the RCC, especially by the Muslim Commissioners, were not considered in the enacted RA 6734 (PHDR, 2005). The RCC, especially the Muslims, complained about the interference of national officials in their work of drafting the organic charter, and they said that they “did not have a free hand charting the proceedings of the RCC” (Basman, et, al, 1989, Tanggol, 2002, Muslim, 2001).
The organic charter can only be legitimate if the charter manifests the needs and demands of the Bangsamoro people and other sectors through discovering the Bangsamoro problem in their own homeland. This means that the Bangsamoro people, via their chosen representatives, must have the full capacity to draft the charter, including the methods of ratifications consistent with the principle of direct democracy. The composition of a body that will be responsible for the drafting of the organic charter shall ensure the equitable representation of the 13 ethno-linguistic groups. The geographic configuration of the Bangsamoro homeland is highly dispersed though contiguous. This makes access to center of political power difficult for many who live in the islands and remote areas. Among others, the organic charter shall include the structure of a Bangsamoro government and a system to ensure good governance. 3. Government structure. Presented below is the present Philippine government structure which can be among the subjects of negotiation and reformulation in the GPH-MILF talks to facilitate a more comprehensive peace formula for the Bangsamoro peoples. Executive Branch. Executive power is the power to execute laws and rule the country as chief executive, administering the affairs of government (Nolledo, 1996). The president heads the executive branch. The vice-president replaces the president when the latter dies, is permanently disabled, or is removed from office or resigns. The president and vice-president are elected by a direct vote of the people and may only be removed by impeachment. The former is limited to one six-year term, while the latter is prohibited from serving for more than two successive six-year terms. The president also has the general supervision of the local government units (LGUs). At present, there are four tiers of local government units: they are the province; city or highly urbanized city; municipality, and; the barangay, while the ARMM and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) are considered to be special local government units. Legislative Branch. Legislative power, or the power to make laws, is vested in the bicameral Congress consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. However, under the Initiative and Referendum Act (Republic Act. No. 6735), the people can directly propose, amend, or repeal laws or any provision thereof. The Senate is composed of 24 senators elected at-large nationwide. Unless otherwise provided by law, the membership of the House of Representatives should not be more than 250, consisting of elected representatives of legislative districts and those elected through the party-list system, as provided in the Party-List Act (Republic Act. No. 7941).
Judicial Branch. Judicial power is vested in the Supreme Court and in lower courts as may be established by law. Section 1, Article VII, of the 1987 Philippine Constitution states that judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights that are legally demandable and enforceable and the power of judicial review to determine whether or not an abuse of discretion occurred that amounted to a lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of government. The Supreme Court is composed of a chief justice and 14 associate justices. The members of the Supreme Court and judges of lower courts are appointed by the president without need for confirmation and hold office during good behavior until they are 70 years of age or cannot discharge their duties due to incapacitation. Judges are chosen from a list of nominees prepared by the Judicial and Bar Council, whose principal function is to recommend appointees. The Supreme Court exercises original jurisdiction over cases affecting ambassadors and other public ministers and consuls and petitions for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, and habeas corpus. The Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction over final judgments and orders of lower courts in such cases as are enumerated in the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines. It promulgates rules on pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts and admission to the practice of law. Moreover, the Supreme Court exercises administrative supervision over all courts and their personnel. The Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines also vests the judiciary with fiscal autonomy.
Figure 1: Organizational Structure of the Philippine Government
According to Section 2 and Section 3, Article VII of the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, appropriations for the judiciary may not be reduced by Congress below the amount appropriated for the previous years and, after approval thereof, shall be automatically and regularly released. These sections also state that no law can be passed to reorganize the judiciary when it undermines the security of tenure of its members.
Figure 2: Relationship and Organizational Structure of the Philippine Government and the Bangsamoro State.
A proposed structure for a Bangsamoro government requires reorganization of the tiers of local government units. Under this proposed government structure of the Bangsamoro state, there will only be two tiers of local units. The proposed structure is as follows: The structure of government differs from the present form. It will have only two tiers of local government units instead of four. It must be noted that there will be no provincial government. The advantages of the proposal are: • Direct access of the municipal government to the state government; • Reduce bureaucracy; • Direct supervision of the state government over municipal government;
• The municipal government can directly decide on development programs and projects in the area; • Fewer sharers in the tax collected, which means bigger shares; • Public transactions are confined to the municipal government; • Direct access to government line-agency assistance; and • Fewer personnel
Managing the Bangsamoro State1
Managing the Bangsamoro state is a major concern, for which proportional representation, good governance, meritocracy, and promotion of Islamic values in governance are most required. Proportional Representation. The Bangsamoro constitute 13 ethno-linguistic groups with the Maguindanaons, Maranaos and Tau-Sugs as the dominant groups. Aside from these 13 groups, it is possible that a future Bangsamoro state may include other indigenous peoples. In the present autonomous setup, some of the indigenous peoples (IPs) live within the ARMM. A system of proportional representation in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches and the bureaucracy for every ethno-linguistic group, including indigenous peoples, is necessary to generate wide political support. Preference has to be given to representation by ethnic groups because they are more cohesive and generally live in contiguous areas. Their representation in the bureaucracy is also necessary to ensure delivery of services to and by them. To be successful, a governing institution will need to balance the powers of the executive and legislative branches and to be characterized by a concept of good governance, including commitment to eradicate corruption. Good Governance. Former University of the Philippines president Dr. Jose Abueva defined good governance as “the sustained capacity of the government and related political institutions to make and carry out timely policies and decisions that effectively respond to our problems, challenges, and goals as a nation. Good governance
Ideas in this section were drawn heavily from Prof. Abhoud Syed M. Lingga’s paper Designing Bangsamoro Political Institution, Cotabato City, Philippines, 2007.
is a process wherein public resources and problems are managed effectively, efficiently, and in response to critical needs of society.” In the World Bank’s definition, good governance “is epitomized by predictable, open and enlightened policy-making, a bureaucracy imbued with professional ethos acting in furtherance of the public good, the rule of law, transparent processes, and a strong civil society participating in public affairs.” Participation. Participation is a process in which the people are actively involved in decision-making and in planning and implementation of development projects. It could be direct or through legitimate intermediate institutions or representatives. Participation refers to enhancing the people’s access to and involvement in all levels and facets of policy and decision-making, including facilitating processes of free and open dialogue and building consensus between a government and the people to ensure that development is pursued for, with, and by the people. Consensus-oriented. There are many stakeholders in a given society and often there are also differing views. Good governance requires that these interests reach a broad consensus on what is for the good of society and how can this be achieved. Equity and inclusiveness. Members of society feel that they have a stake and do not feel excluded from mainstream society. Rule of law. There are legal frameworks that are enforced impartially by an independent judiciary and a fair and incorruptible police force. Accountability. Section 1, Article XI of the 1987 Philippine Constitution provides that: “Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must at all time be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.” Accountability therefore relates to making public officials answerable to citizens for the actions and decisions of the government and ensuring that in the performance of their functions and their actions public officials are responsive to and faithfully safeguard the welfare and interests of the people. Promoting accountability involves establishing criteria to measure performance of public officials and institutionalizing mechanisms to ensure that these criteria or standards are met. Simply put, government institutions are accountable to the public and those affected by their decisions or action. Transparency. Transparency refers to the availability and accessibility of information to the public and clarity of government rules and regulations. It ensures swift access to accurate and timely information about government policies, programs, and activities.
Responsiveness. This means that government institutions respond to the needs of people within a reasonable timeframe. Responsiveness also involves predictability and relates to the consistent and equal application of laws, regulations, and policies. It involves establishing and sustaining appropriate legal and institutional arrangements to uphold the rule of law and maintain consistency of public policies and programs. The challenge to a Bangsamoro state is how to achieve good governance. It is an ideal and difficult to achieve in its totality. However, it is helpful to: • Install a mechanism that will ensure all Bangsamoro ethnic groups as well as the indigenous tribes and the marginalized sectors are represented in the legislative and the executive, and in planning and implementation of development programs. • Other than the legislative body, which is a law-making body, a consultative assembly composed of representatives of all ethnic groups, sectors of women, youth, business, labor, farmers, fisherfolk, the religious and the marginalized shall be created. The main function of a consultative assembly is to harmonize divergent views and interests of the groups and sectors and come out with a consensus. • Strict implementation of laws, especially on graft and corrupt practices. • Ensure the relevance of policy and implement the same based on the goals and needs of the people. Preventing Corruption. Preventing corruption is a serious challenge that is pervasive not only in Muslim Mindanao but in the Philippines as a whole. Corruption in government can also mean misuse of governmental powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Corruption weakens democracy and good governance because it subverts the formal procedures. It grinds down the institutional capacity of government. Corruption also undermines economic development as resources are siphoned off and it generates inefficiency in public service performance. The following are possible causes of corruption: • Excessive desire for good life • Poor example set by leadership • Low salary of government workers
• Too much bureaucracy • Cumbersome justice system These happen because of an employee-client relationship that creates opportunities for bribery, graft, patronage, nepotism, cronyism, embezzlement, and kickbacks. Meritocracy. Meritocracy is a system of a government or other organization wherein appointments are made and responsibilities assigned to individuals based upon demonstrated talent and ability (merit). In a meritocracy, society rewards—through wealth, position, and social status—those who show talent and competence as demonstrated by past actions or by competition. Evaluation systems, such as formal education, are closely linked to notions of meritocracy. To promote meritocracy, government bureaucracy must prevent other value systems where reward and legitimacy is based upon possession of wealth (plutocracy), origin (aristocracy), family connections (nepotism), property (oligarchy), friendship (cronyism), seniority (gerontocracy), popularity, or other historical determinants of social position and political power. Technocracy is a form of meritocracy, whereby appointments for positions are made based on demonstrated technical expertise. Islamic Values. The promotion of good governance, meritocracy, and prevention of corrupt practices is not only a structural issue but also an attitudinal one. The attitude of people greatly influences their actions. For example, many Bangsamoro see the Philippine government as gobirnu na saruang a tao (foreign government) and this causes their lack of concern for good governance and indifference towards issues of corruption (Lingga, 2007). Muslims can violate the constitution but not the Qur’an and Hadith of the Prophet of Islam which greatly influence Bangsamoro attitudes. Islam is rich with references to values of good governance. A Bangsamoro political institution should harness these values to promote good governance and to fight corruption. This can be done if people have sense of ownership and legitimacy of government.
The conflict between the government of the Philippines and the Bangsamoro people involves a multifaceted problem, deeply rooted in history, culture, and governance. This conflict can be resolved by simultaneously and comprehensively addressing the political and administrative issues that compel the Bangsamoro people
to struggle for their right to self-determination with the participation of a third-party guarantor. This Moro struggle cannot be effectively resolved through the traditional strategies of assimilation and integration, carrot-and-stick, “all-out war”, and the current version of autonomy in redressing Moro grievances. The approach should be non-violent, comprehensive, and simultaneously political and administrative in nature because of the inherent opposing perspectives of the Bangsamoro and the Philippine government, such as subordination of the Qur’an and Hadith of the Prophet of Islam to the Philippine Constitution; the sovereignty of Allah against sovereignty of the people; and the separation of the church and the state. There is only a slim possibility that the concerned stakeholders can expect to end the contemporary Moro armed struggle through the use of the might of government.
To address these issues, the following are suggested: 1. The Government of the Philippines and the MILF must proceed with negotiations with utmost sincerity and integrity from both sides to produce a comprehensive and acceptable peace policy package for the Muslims and all those who will be affected. This package will have socio-economic, political, and administrative components. Both negotiating panels must have blanket authority to represent each group’s interests. 2. Consider constitutional accommodation as a way to a lasting, comprehensive, peaceful, and non-violent solution to the “Moro Problem”. 3. Models can be developed from the approaches and experiences of other countries in dealing with their constituents to address the Bangsamoro issues, such as referendum on the type of political relationship the Bangsamoro desire with the central government and the type of government they want for themselves, to ensure a sense of ownership of government. 4. There should be transparency in governance, employee recruitment, financial allocations, institutional arrangements, systems and processes, and access to timely and relevant information about government programs and policies. 5. The administrative capability of local government units should be strengthened, focusing on key areas that could best enhance their efficiency and effectiveness in the implementation of development programs and projects. 6. Laws must be strictly enforced.
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