Manila Standard Today - ‘Mini-Marshal’ plan eyed

News & Interviews
2 July 2015

By Vito Barcelo, Macon Ramos Araneta | Manila Standard Today

Featured-image-Manila-Standard-TodaySENATOR Ferdinand Marcos Jr., has proposed a mini-Marshal plan for Mindanao to transform the island into a hive of modernization and achieve long-lasting peace.

Speaking before members of the Philippine Constitution Association at the Manila Hotel, Marcos said the program he envisions includes a full-scale pacification and law enforcement program, infrastructure modernization, a railway system and modernization of the civil service and public services.

“It was the historic Marshall Plan in post-war Europe that got me thinking of modernization as possibly the best strategy for Mindanao in the aftermath of secessionist conflict,” the senator said.

“We cannot just keep on talking of one small slice of what was once called ‘our land of promise.’ We must now deal with the whole – all of Mindanao and Sulu, and all the people there. Our planning, our actions, our strategies, and our labors must measure up to that challenge,” he said.

“Mindanao’s modernization is the vision that I will introduce in either my substitute bill for the BBL or an amendment of the organic act for ARMM, which I will submit to Congress,” he said.

Marcos, who is the Senate’s chairman of the committee on local government, said the amount of money that the Aquino administration was prepared to commit to its BBL experiment was enough to design the equivalent of a mini-Marshall plan for Mindanao.

On the first year of its operation, the proposed Bangsamoro entity would get an estimated total funding of P75 billion.

“If we combine internal funds with financial assistance from international institutions and foreign countries, we can mobilize funds on a scale that will not fall short of effecting the full transformation of Mindanao into a hive of modernization and productivity for the nation,” he said.

“If we get the private sector – domestic and foreign investors ― fully involved, there’s no telling what we can accomplish. As we unleash the full potential of Mindanao for development, the investments and resources will follow.”

“This of course needs full study and planning. This must involve planners and managers in Manila, and planners and managers in Mindanao,” the senator added.

Marcos also enumerated some key findings on the draft BBL that he said will be reflected in substitute bill that he will present to the Senate when it resumes session on   July 27   and in his committee’s report on the BBL.

“The first of these findings is that in the peace negotiations leading to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the presidential peace adviser and the government peace panel did not consult with all the stakeholders in Mindanao,”    Marcos said.

Marcos cited the example of the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu who was excluded in consultations.

“This is a grievous oversight by the government negotiating panel as the peace process cannot succeed without an understanding of the process by, and the support of, stakeholders such as the Sultanates, the different tribes, (local government units), the business community, the (Moro National Liberation Front), Christian groups and (indigenous peoples) to name a few,” he said.

He said these groups were surprised to find that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was speaking on their behalf.

Another finding was that 13 Filipino-Muslim groups were treated “as one homogeneous community,” which was a “misrepresentation of their respective identities and cultures.”

“Introducing the term ‘Bangsamoro’ is a clever attempt to unify them for separatism; but it is plainly a falsification of reality,” he said.

The government peace panel also allegedly made “unconscionable promises to the MILF” as the BBL “confers on the Bangsamoro entity its own security force, Commission on Audit, Commission on Elections, Civil Service, fiscal and monetary policymakers and trial courts. It also allows in many instances the Bangsamoro Parliament to amend and even repudiate laws passed by Congress.”

He also said that the parliamentary structure of the Bangsamoro entity has ministerial features “symmetrical to those of the states of the Malaysian Federation.”

“The ARMM has been portrayed as a failed experiment in order to promote the BBL,” he said.

He said that several Muslim groups and Mindanaons said that the MILF “cannot bring peace in Mindanao”