Wednesday, August 6, 2008


``Why Fix It if It Ain’t Broke?’’
This was my wife Ann’s reply when she first heard about the ruckus relative to the controversial Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) deal.
Take that from a fiercely-proud Tausug who stood pat in retaining her religion even after marrying me – a Catholic who once studied to become a priest. We were married in Christian and Muslim rites.
Ann’s view is that things are already okay, with Christians and Muslims living and co-existing happily in and out of the ambit of the Autonmous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Well, Ann is not entirely happy about things happening in areas under ARMM, but she feels that things are bearable for Muslims under ARMM and as well as for Muslims living in Christian-dominated areas that opted to be outside of ARMM.
Until the BJE midnight express came to town like a thief in the night.
Now, things that were working well are turning haywire. Good ties and respect built between divergent cultures and religions are again becoming shaky and unstable. Greed for power and money is making enemies of Muslim and Christian friends and neighbors.
Thus, at these uncertain times, I would like to send out an appeal to my relative Muslims – by affinity, that is – to keep calm and not allow themselves to be used as pawns by politicians who have repeatedly fooled them on the idea of autonomy.
Our beloved Muslim brethren should be wary of politicians who promise them a government of heaven but give them a life of hell. This has already happened with tragic results in the ARMM.
Since its inception, I have yet to hear any of Ann’s relatives, friends and acquaintance in their hometown in Sulu speak anything good about ARMM. All the stories about the ARMM are horror stories – hospitals with no doctors, funds and facilities; schools with no teachers, salaries, books and equipment; roads uncompleted or substandard; and pubic service going to near-zero level.
Ann’s relatives are testimonies of how bad things are under ARMM: one suffered a stroke on the way to a Zamboanga City hospital because Sulu hospitals could not give her treatment; another could not get her retirement money for years now because ARMM officials were asking her commissions; others left the province for Zamboanga because they cannot find work there; and many others came here in Manila to seek a better life.
Amid all these wanton poverty, greed and corruption in ARMM, you have their officials driving the flashiest cars and building the most opulent houses in Zamboanga City. There is even a place there now that’s called ``millionaires’ row’’ because they are teeming with mansions of ARMM’s rich and famous.
So, this is the ARMM they are forcing some of us to join. This is the Eden, the Paradise they are dangling before the eyes of our relative Muslims.
This time, I would like to caution our Muslim relatives not to be fooled again. Even if they now call it BJE, one thing remains – only the powerful and rich Muslim will benefit from it with the poor Muslims getting poorer.
If the Arroyo Government and the MILF are really serious in getting us to join ARMM, then they should immediately work hard to improve public service in the ARMM areas, ignite economic growth there, institute accountability for corrupt officials; and show it to be a Heaven on Earth.
They must turn ARMM into an ideal state with rich coffers generated locally and from rich Muslim countries; teeming with reliable and working hospitals, schools and roads; and led by honest and sincere public servants who not only fear the law, but Allah’s wrath towards the corrupt and the heartless.
If that happens, then count me in to lead my relative Christians and Muslims to lead the campaign to be included in that kind of ARMM.
Unless that happens, this is message I leave to Esperon and the MILF: Lucut petate y also balutan y deja kanamon con paz. (read more about Nocumment at


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