|Architects of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement|
"During his term as governor, Misuari became vociferous about his inability to implement improvements because the ARMM budget was deceptive."
By Yolanda Ortega Stern
22 September 2013
DAY 13 - Story unleashed: "Blame Misuari. He failed miserably as governor of ARMM. He had the biggest opportunity. He lived like a king, stayed in a 5 Star hotel, enriched himself. He was a revolutionary who did not know how to run ARMM."
It's not as simple as that.
In 1996, after the peace agreement, we, the Federation of Philippine American Chambers of Commerce, signed Misuari's first memorandum of Agreement for Cooperation to help Mindanao. The ARMM office was made accessible to me. I traveled and listened to the people in many "Extraordinary People's Congress" and became hooked to solving the incredible problems of my own Mindanao. So here is a very digested response to the moment...
ARMM has had a total of 6 governors in the following chronological order: Candao, Misuari, Hussin, Ampatuan, and now Hataman. Three governors have now followed him. Misuari was detained for 7 years when the Council of 15 under Sema broke off.
During his term as governor, Misuari became vociferous about his inability to implement improvements because the ARMM budget was deceptive. It was not ARMM's but merely a transfer of administrative responsibilities to the governor's budget: 88% went to paying the salaries of over 18,000 teachers, some employed under Marcos yet; 10 % went to capital expenditures such as the Cotabato Ofc; a mere 2% went to operations.
As to the "5-Star Hotel", he held office at the seedy Admiral Hotel next to other offices, because it was cheaper than buying or renting a building that could accommodate the hundreds of people who lined up daily asking for the moon and offering financial instruments. Misuari was poor when he became governor, remained poor when he was jailed, is still poor today. He does not even own a house or a condo of his own.
Two other governors, Parouk Hussin and Zaldy Ampatuan served for almost a decade after him and a temporary OIC was appointed in the person of Mujiv Hataman who was elected in the last election and still serves.
Those succeeding governors had better luck in that funding poured in from foreign countries. But in the last decade under 3 governors, peace, happiness and prosperity have not yet come to the poor of Mindanao and some are still blaming Misuari. Some even label him a "spent force". In an ironic twist, even his old Presidents went or are in detention themselves. Misuari was audited 8 times and was cleared 8 times.
So forward the tape to today...
PGMA began the shift to the MILF and to the Sema MNLF, a move President Aquino adopted under advisement of no less than some old advisors with the nod of some foreign countries. Remember Ambassador Kirsty Kenney who undertook a few trips to KL to meet the MILF.
At that point, the Misuari MNLF had been negotiating for limited autonomy under the 5 technical working groups that PGMA requested. They had bent over backwards day and night with their Central Committee for two of PGMA's terms for a political solution. Misuari always believed in nothing less than a political solution to end 600 years of stress. Nothing moved. Then President Aquino comes into power, and proceeds to adapt the PGMA initiative. He goes to Singapore and offers the MILF limited autonomy and the Bangsamoro framework, exactly what Misuari had been asking for.
At the last tripartite meeting, I got unconfirmed reports that the OIC asked the Indonesian Embassy to inform Misuari that GPH had abrogated the 1996 Peace Agreement and that the decision was "irreversible". To add salt to the wound, the splinter MNLF supports the Framework.
It is important to understand that Misuari is not a dictator. He represents the confluent voices of Mindanao Moslems, Lumads and many Christians. The MILF is also claiming that the BMF is also for all Mindanaons.
President Aquino's election was a high note for Misuari and the Philippines. We were filled with hope and thought he would heal Mindanao like his father did.
Those born after 1976 and after 1996 must study all the agreements past and present in order to understand. Better yet, spend every free time reading up the history of the PH and Mindanao from all perspectives, and this will take half a decade. But you will learn to make educated judgements and you will raise your children with true knowledge of why Mindanao has failed at peace for the last 600 years.
"Men work together, whether they wok together or apart." R. Frost
Yolanda Ortega Stern, Ph.D. is the President of One World Institute (OWI), a Northern California-based non-profit, public benefit corporation registered in the United States and in the Philippines. Link: www.theoneworldinstitute.org Ms Stern is also a member of the Philippine Sabah Claim Forum. This article is published with her permission.
Related story: Nur Misuari as leader of the ARMM and MNLF
By John Unson (philstar.com) | Updated September 11, 2013 - 1:55pm