Hopes, wishes and misgivings PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 03 December 2014 13:59



Sometime in May this year (2014) I had a chance to sit down with a Bangsamoro  member of the administration of the national university and our topic was the agreement on the Bangsamoro which was going through its polishing stage. I tried to pick his mind on his thoughts on the future of the Bangsamoro entity. To my complete surprise he was far from enthusiastic about the future of the entity and its successful governance. I might even say that he was rather pessimistic about the success of the enterprise.

His doubts stemmed from many considerations. He thinks that the Bangsamoro culture is still very much in the traditional mode and the leadership traditions mitigate against the democratic  practice of electing leaders. Yes, there can  be elections but these would not be the type that electorates in countries with more mature democracies understand elections to be.  Simply said, it will be the kind that has the traditional leader saying “You vote for whoever I say you should vote for” and it will take a lot of  certitude to go against that.

He also thinks that the ethnic identifications will take a lot of effort to overcome and this too may stand in the way of unity within the Bangsamoro  among the different ethnic groups. I think that this observation should be  taken seriously by the recognized leaders in each of the ethnic groups  and a long range program should be designed and implemented to promote “dialogue” among the groups. We have had to struggle over the years and we still continue to struggle to promote better relations between  the Bangsamoro population and the non-Moro or, as it is often referred to, the “Christian” population in Mindanao. The ethnic groups also need to work out many relational issues.

This came in a rather obvious  way when a prominent Tausug political leader said in a news report that  he expects big demonstrations against the BBL should it be passed by Congress. We are aware that some groups are rather strongly against the BBL but it was a surprise to learn that a Tausug leader was so openly against it. Might this be because the MNLF (ARMM) is more strongly identified with one ethnic group while the MILF (Bangsamoro) is more with another ethnic group?

Another observation of my conversation  partner is  his question on the sustainability of  the Bangsamoro Entity.  He said that the present leaders are in their late 60s and there is a rather thin layer of next generation leaders and this younger group will still need to experience  effective leadership. One of the rationales for a BE is to give the area better governance than what the national government has been able to provide over the years. It is claimed that the ineffective governance is a strong reason for the BE areas have lagged behind in development and that the BE will address this.

Whether Bangsamoro or not  there is a strong wish to see the BE succeed. But when we hear of the misgivings of the Bangsamoro members themselves, one has to pause and consider things much more seriously.