Almost half a century of armed conflict has painted a portrait of socioeconomic disproportion in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Here, the indicators of economy and poverty are glaring. In 2012, when the Philippine economy grew by 6.8 percent, which was one of the fastest worldwide, ARMM’s gross regional domestic product grew by only 1.1 percent and contributed only 0.8 percent to the national output. In that same year, the ARMM was the only region where more than half of its people (55.8%) were poor—more than double the national poverty incidence of 25.2 percent. The Philippine government’s strong resolve to correct this picture is evidenced by its unwavering commitment to the peace process.
One of the key documents that resulted from the gains of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro is the Bangsamoro Development Plan (BDP), which aims to build the foundations of a “just economy” in the region. The BDP was strategically completed even before approval of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to ensure that development interventions are implemented even prior to Bangsamoro’s autonomy.
This DevPulse issue focuses on the economic potentials and imperatives of an autonomous Bangsamoro. This is an offshoot of the NEDA-sponsored session in last year’s Philippine Economic Society meeting, which was moderated by journalist Marites Vitug. The session provided multiple perspectives from the national government (NEDA and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process), civil society (Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy) and the peace process’ independent Third Party Monitoring Team (The Asia Foundation).
Three articles are assembled for this issue. The main article answers a very basic question that people in Mindanao often ask: How will the creation of an autonomous Bangsamoro government affect our lives? According to Dir. Maria Lourdes Lim of NEDA Regional Office XI, Mindanao’s overall socioeconomic wellbeing will likely improve with “an increasingly normalizing Bangsamoro area brought by the eventual passage of the BBL.”
The other articles discuss two important roles of the new Bangsamoro government in a region that will be mainstreamed in Philippine governance: development planning and investment programming. The articles note that priority investments are already listed in the BDP, but implementing them requires creative delivery mechanisms and funding arrangements involving different institutions—from the national government down to community stakeholders. “A politically stable and secure nation is necessary to achieve development and improve the collective welfare,” wrote the Updated Philippine Development Plan (PDP) for 2011-2016 (p. 178). Ensuring political stability in the south will help realize the goals of a “just economy” and inclusive growth in an autonomous Bangsamoro.