COTABATO CITY, Philippines - The culturally diverse residents of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) on Friday started celebrating the ARMM’s 25th founding anniversary, the last if Congress forges ahead with the creation next year of the Bangsamoro government.
The launching of the three-week commemoration of the ARMM’s anniversary was simultaneous with the observance in all five provinces of the autonomous region of the Karimul Makdum Day, a regional non-working holiday.
The holiday, observed every 7th day of November, is meant to remind ARMM’s Muslim, Christian and lumad communities of the arrival in the 14th century of Arab missionary Makdum in the seaside Bohe Indangan village in what is now Simunul island town in Tawi-Tawi to spread Islam.
More Arab clerics set foot in Tawi-Tawi and in the now chartered municipalities of Indanan, Patikul and Jolo, all in Sulu, after Makdum had settled in Bohe Indangan where he established communities based on the Islamic principles of oneness of faith and governance and equality of men regardless of races and religions.
The symbolic kickoff for the ARMM’s 2014 anniversary feast was capped off with a fluvial parade from Bongao, capital town of Tawi-Tawi, to Simunul.
Tawi-Tawi Gov. Nurbert Sahali and his older sibling, Rep. Ruby Sahali, helped oversee the festivity.
The ARMM's chief executive, Gov. Mujiv Hataman, presided over a special meeting of members of the regional cabinet in Simunul as one of the highlights of the event.
“We are grateful to the provincial government of Tawi-Tawi and all mayors in the province for supporting this event,” Hataman said.
Hataman said this year’s celebration of the 25th year of ARMM, created through a plebiscite in 1990, could be the last owing to the possibility of the replacement of the regional government with a new Bangsamoro political entity based on Malacañang’s final peace compact with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The enabling measure for the deactivation of the ARMM and its replacement with an MILF-led Bangsamoro region, the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law, is now in Congress.
“We are looking forward to a good take off of the GPH-MILF peace agreement. We shall vacate our posts feeling proud that we have done a lot of improvements in terms of governance, particularly in the implementation of very costly infrastructure projects,” Hataman said.
The ARMM covers Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, which are both in mainland Mindanao, and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, which the MILF wants to group together as part of the proposed Bangsamoro core territory.