Governor Hataman Cites Improvements in Peace And Development in Muslim Mindanao
WASHINGTON, D.C.- On April 6, 2017, Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) took part in a forum on “Muslim Mindanao and the Duterte Administration,” organized by the US-Philippines Society in partnership with the Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C. at the Embassy’s Romulo Hall. In his remarks, Governor Hataman described the initiatives and achievements of the Philippine government and the ARMM toward peace, security, and socio-economic development in Mindanao.
Speaking about the origins of the push for Muslim autonomy in the southern Philippines, the government’s response, establishment of the ARMM, and creation of a Bangsamoro Transition Commission to craft legislation on permanent autonomy arrangements, Governor Hataman noted that the development in the ARMM region lags significantly behind the rest of the country. The persistence of armed conflict has inhibited investments and contributed to the relatively high levels of poverty. Since assuming office in 2011, the Governor has addressed these challenges with initiatives to increase revenues and restore peace and order. Progress, he said, rests on three pillars: good governance, peace and security, and socio-economic development.
With the election of Rodrigo Duterte as the first president from Mindanao, there is renewed optimism about increased government focus on development in the southern Philippines and a commitment to peace. During his inaugural address, the President stated that his administration “is committed to implement all signed peace agreements in step with constitutional and legal reforms.” He approved a six-point peace and development agenda that embodies an agreement between the Philippine government and key Muslim Filipino groups to promote peace and development in conflict areas.
Governor Hataman stressed that “positive developments in the peace process are necessary in order to address the perennial issue of underdevelopment and to respond to threats brought about by the existence of terrorist and extremist groups. This will help realize the aspirations of those who sacrificed their lives to gain peace and progress in the Bangsamoro areas, the whole of Mindanao and the entire Philippines.”
Representatives from the U.S. and Philippine governments, international organizations, policy analysts, academics, members of the Filipino-American community and others joined in a lively discussion following the governor’s presentation. Participants shared observations on the role of the United States in promoting peace and development in Mindanao and combating terrorism. They also cited the importance of recent steps to include Muslim history in the Philippine national educational curriculum, the preservation of Bangsamoro culture and heritage, and the role of medical assistance by Filipino American groups in Mindanao.
“We hope to have spurred a continuing and engaged conversation among relevant stakeholders here in the United States about how to promote more synergies for the genuine development of Mindanao, including the ARMM.” said Minister Patrick A. Chuasoto, Charge d’Affaires, ad interim of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C.
In closing, US-Philippines Society President Ambassador John F. Maisto described the Mindanao forum as an important part of the Society’s continuing efforts to introduce key actors, thinkers, and visionaries in today’s Philippines and to present realities beyond news headlines and rumors to American audiences.