Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Ampatuan against move to divide ARMM into 2 regions
THE leadership of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is opposed to the proposal filed in the House of Representatives which aims to divide the ARMM into two autonomous regions.
ARMM Regional Governor Datu Zaldy Dy Ampatuan said the motive of the proponents is even doubtful because it is not geared towards the unity and welfare of the Bangsamoro people.
He said dividing the ARMM into two autonomous regions "will only jeopardize the already scarce budget resources of the present ARMM."
House Bill No. 5369 filed by Representatives Gerry Salapuddin of Basilan, Hussin Amin of Sulu and Herminaldo Mandanas of Batangas cited the revival of the sultanate of Sulu as the reason for creating a new autonomous region which will cover the island provinces of Tawi-Tawi, Sulu and Basilan.All these provinces were once under the Sulu Sultanate.
The proponents stated in their bill that "The long history of the people of the Sulu archipelago has left an indelible mark in the culture and tradition. While they share the same religion as the Maranaos and Maguindanaons and other Muslims in Mindanao, they are a people apart with their own tongues, customs and traditions and ways of thinking."
Salapuddin, a former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) commander in Basilan, sought to run for the August 8, 2005 ARMM regional elections. But he backed out from the race after he failed to get the blessing of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrat which endorsed Ampatuan as the party's official candidate.
"The move is divisive to the Bangsamoro people. It violates the letter and spirit of the 1996 peace agreement as well as the Tripoli Agreement. Consistent with the two (2) peace accords, it is better to expand the area of ARMM rather than divide it," Governor Ampatuan stressed.
Ampatuan believes that both the political leaders and the revolutionary leaders of the fronts have one and the same aspiration -- to unite the whole Bangsamoro people regardless of their tribes, tongues, culture and ways of life. Ampatuan, who is supportive to the ongoing government peace initiatives with the MNLF and the Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), said that diving the ARMM is counter productive to the peace efforts of the national government in Muslim Mindanao.
"The people of ARMM or the Bangsamoro people have already spoken. "They (proponents) cannot just introduce any amendments to the present ARMM without prior consultation with our people and the political leaders of the region.
Even the OIC (Organization of Islamic Conference) which helped in the forging of the 1996 peace agreement of the government and the MNLF must be consulted about it," he added.
For the last several years, the OIC, a pan-Islamic body composed of 57 membercountries, has been assisting the Philippine government in establishing a Muslim autonomy in Mindanao as a solution to the decades-old armed uprising of the Bangsamoro people for self-governance.
The executive and legislative departments of ARMM will soon meet to make their united position against the proposal to divide the ARMM. (BPI-ARMM)