The proposed Ranao Autonomous region in perspective (Pros and cons)

By Atty. Bayan G. Balt

Advocates of a separate autonomous region for the two (2) Lanao provinces and adjoining areas advance the theory, that another autonomous region in their area will bring in economic progress and development, they said a Ranao autonomy for the Maranao co-existing with the present BARMM means more jobs, funds and infra. propelled by constructive competition with the present BARMM.  

The issue of a new Autonomous region for the Maranao revolve on the text of the Philippine Constitution, specifically, Article 10, Sec. 15, which states:

SECTION 15. There shall be created autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordilleras consisting of provinces, cities, municipalities, and geographical areas sharing common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage, economic and social structures, and other relevant characteristics within the framework of this Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines.

Proponents of Ranao autonomy believe that another autonomous region for the Maranaos in Muslim Mindanao can be legally created by Congress. Inhabitants of the Ranao region (Maranaos, Iranuns and Indigenous tribal Filipinos) shares the same common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage. Likewise, there is no provision in the Philippine Constitution, neither in the Local Government Code and the “BOL” prohibiting the creation of a second autonomous region, as a matter of fact the Constitution allows the merging of LGU’s which strengthen the concept of two autonomy, as thus,

SECTION 13, Local government unit may group themselves, consolidate or coordinates their efforts, services and resources for purposes commonly beneficial to them in accordance with law.

Ranao autonomy which maybe carve from the present BARMM has the following proposed land area: (1). Lanao Del Sur, (2) Maranao province, (3). Lanao del Norte, (4). Marawi City and Iligan City, (5). Iranun province, (comprising the four Iranun’s municipalities of Maguindanao) and (6). Non-Muslim tribal province comprising adjacent municipalities of Bukidnun and Zamboanga Del Sur. The Ranao autonomy has a total land area of 11,470 Sq. KM. which is 5 times bigger than Singapore (728.6 Sq.KM), 2 times bigger than Brunei (5,765 Sq. KM.), 15 times bigger than Bahrain (760 Sq. KM) and almost the same land area with the state of Qatar (11,571 Sq. KM.). The total population of the Ranao autonomy is projected to reach an estimated 3.4 million in year end.

The Ranao autonomy is rich in natural and mineral resources, already it has Lake Lanao which produced 728.5MW. (DOE Report) with its six HEPP, while Agus 3, once operational will generate another 325MW.  The Ranao areas has 7 other lakes that can be harness for future power generation. Inhabited by well trained and educated professionals, the Ranao autonomy is home to thousands of skill professionals like lawyers, engineers, doctors and other medical and or technical/or vocational workers, it has Port located in Balabagan and airport in Malabang that can support her economic activities.  Corollary, some countries find political solution to ethnic and cultural differences by crafting law setting up separate autonomous region for each group. In China there are five existing autonomous regions, these are: Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Guangxi, Xinjiang Uygur (pop. 21,813,334) and Ningxia Hui (pop. 6,176,900.), the last two of these autonomous regions are inhabited and ruled by Chinese Muslims.

The idea of a Ranao autonomy come at a time when the Maranao is reported to have lost hope for a better and moral governance in the regional government, deteriorating peace and order and unabated poverty. The latest 2021 report of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) shows BARMM the poorest region in the country, despite billions of funds assistance from the national government, as said by Sen. I. Marcos in filing Senate Resolution No. 729.

“Under the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2020, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) was allocated an annual appropriation of Php 7 billion, an Annual Block Grant of Php 63.6 billion, and a Special Development Fund of Php 5 billion. In addition to this, under the 2021 GAA, the BARMM was also given an annual appropriation of Php 8.6 billion, an Annual Block Grant of Php 71.6 billion, and a Special Development Fund of Php 5 billion”. Despite these allocated appropriations, there is too little progress and change in the BARMM.”

With almost 4 years in reign with unlimited government assistance, the incidence of poverty in BARMM shows very discouraging to wit:

The BARMM has 39.4% poverty incidence among families far from the nationwide average of 18% and the national capital region of 5.2%. (PSA 2021report) while 63% of the Moro Muslims lives below the poverty line, (The Arab News report) this mean, that for every 1 Million Moro Muslims, 630,000 of them don’t have three meals a day, more, worst is that hundred thousand of them cannot buy medicines for their sick or send their children to school. When the BTA took over in 2019, the Moro people has high hopes that the dividend of peace will finally reach the most economically oppressed Moro. The BTA parliament is supposed to craft laws to implement the peace process, unfortunately only three laws were passed and approved out of the six mandated laws, provided in the BOL, these are the Administrative, Education and Civil Service codes which have minimal benefits to the Moro people. Some critics argue against the quality of said laws being a copy paste from national laws containing questionable provisions.

With due respect, there are some BTA members who work very hard sincere enough to help his constituents, the like of Sultan Duma Sani, Musa Diamla and Maisarah Dandamun Latiph. Sultan Duma Sani once become emotional when he raises his voice in one meeting demanding the return of GZ residents to their homes. MP Diamla has filed several Resolutions and bills, his office conduct seminars and lectures and has presided sessions of the Parliament on several occasions, MP Latiph was the most articulate and reachable BTA member who filed several important legislations. Congratulations for the hard work and sincere services to their constituents during stint in the former BTA.   

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For comment at: bayanbalt@yahoo.com

Atty. Bayan G. Balt is the former Chapter President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP Marawi City and Lanao del Sur, 2013-2015) Chairman of the Ranao Federal State Movement (RFSM) and President of the Alliance of Regional Coalitions Against People’s Poverty (ARCAPP).

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