The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has come of age and approximates Federalism in action.
This is how Rudy Buhay Rodil, an eminent Mindanao historian, views the BARMM, the emergence of which he refers to as “historic.” He used to teach at the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology in Iligan City.
Rodil was a member of the government panel negotiating peace with the Moro National Liberation Front (1993-1996) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (2004-2008).
Responding to questions about his opinion on the BARMM, he said “the fruit of GPH-Bangsamoro husay exchanges, from 1975 to 2020, has ripened into the BARMM.”
Husay refers to the “peace processes” or negotiations. “Husay has been used in fixing all conflicts. It just differs in spelling depending on the tribe,” he explained, adding that “husay exchange has many nuances and it was first used in the peace process of the UN (United Nations) and the Peace Commission before it became OPAPP.”
OPAPP stands for Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. The peace commission was established by the Aquino administration in 1987.
Rodil said the creation of the BARMM, even as it still awaits an extension of its transition period “is good not only for the Bangsamoro but also for the people of Mindanaw-Sulu, and certainly for the Republic of the Philippines.”
“We have federalism in action,” he added. Federalism has been a longstanding advocacy by several Mindanao groups over the last decades. Proponents have cited its partiality to decentralized governance and more equitable enjoyment of opportunities and distribution of wealth. Legislating federalism, however, has remained elusive.
A Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) was set up following the BARMM’s creation in 2019, the tenure of which is currently the subject of an intense campaign for an extension.
The period within which the BTA could operate before finally being disbanded was initially set in 2022. The Covid-19 pandemic, however, has posed practical and serious challenges to institution-building efforts, prompting a multi-sectoral push for an extension to 2025.