President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he may consider allowing the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to have its own armed forces.
Duterte, speaking before agrarian reform beneficiaries in Cotabato City, said he would allow the region to have its own armed forces as long as they “kill terrorists”.
“When you are already evolved into something which is really a regional at meron kayong sariling (and you have your own) armed forces or police, payag ako (I will agree to it),” Duterte said.
“Mag-armas kayo (You can arm yourselves) but you know you have to kill the terrorists. Hindi madala ‘yan sa pausapan (It can’t be resolved in talks),” he added.
He also urged the BARMM to “assert” its authority.
Under the Bangsamoro charter, the regional government is not allowed to have its own defense force.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo later clarified that BARMM’s armed forces will be supervised by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Duterte said he wanted the BARMM “to really evolve into something that is a functional regional autonomous government”.
“BARMM is a growing political entity. It has to be protected, it has to be enhanced,” Duterte said, hopeful that the region would remain “peaceful”.
BARMM replaces the now-defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) following the ratification of the landmark Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) that is anchored on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro Government inked between the national government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2014.
Under the BOL, BARMM enjoys expanded land and water jurisdiction, greater fiscal autonomy, and increased share in national government resources, among others.
A recent survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed that 94 percent of respondents from BARMM were satisfied with Duterte’s work performance, three percent were not satisfied, and the remaining three percent ambivalent on the matter.
This yielded a net satisfaction of “excellent” +90 in BARMM, higher than the “very good” +65 recorded in the entire country and the “excellent” +74 in Mindanao areas that are not part of the autonomous region.
BARMM is a relatively young population, with only 34 percent above the age of 45 compared to 47 percent of respondents throughout the Philippines, SWS said. PNA.GOV.PH