January 21, 2021 marks the second founding anniversary of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARRM). It has been two years since the Philippine Muslim in Mindanao voted to give another Muslim regional autonomous setup a chance after the widely perceived failure of the previous one.
As the end of the transition period for the BARMM draws near, and with some quarters on the inside clamoring for extension, how is the BARMM doing? For some, it would be premature to judge how it fared, considering that it had inherited many of the ARMM’s problems and had very little to begin with. Others are saying they are still hopeful that change, slow as it is in coming, would eventually come gradually and permeate every corner of the troubled land. Still others, playing the doomsayer card, are predicting another fiasco wrought with corruption, no different from the setup it had replaced. While people do have a right to be optimistic, at the same time there is a need to be vigilant, considering how this region’s version of democracy still runs most aspects of civil society.
While indeed it is an occasion to be celebrated, the second anniversary of the BARMM should also be an ocassion that serves as a firm reminder to everyone from the BARRM government’s hallways in Cotabato City to the humble countryside hut in the farthest reaches of the region. Those in power should take heed that since the regional battle cry is for Islamic governance, they are duty bound to discharge their duties faithfully, that people gave their overwhelming trust that they will finally make things right, that should they repeat the mistakes and discrepancies that plagued the region’s predecessor, BARMM would be doomed to fail as the previous one did. Perhaps the most important of all, they have the Creator to answer to for their misdeeds towards their own people come Judgment Day.
The ordinary Moro is not off the hook either. He, like the rest of the Muslims in the included parts of Mindanao, must learn to fully and responsibly exercise his obligations as a citizen of the region and of the country. He must not forget that he too has a role to play in the region’s well-being, that he along with others who voted “yes” in the plebiscite, should do their part as well. He should not let time prove that his vote was cast in vain.
As the BARMM turns two, amidst the celebratory fanfare, the ocassion should be that of serious reflection as well. PMT