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[OPINION] To our future leaders in the Bangsamoro: Prove us right

Saima Mamalo
[OPINION] To our future leaders in the Bangsamoro: Prove us right
Here are our collective aspirations: what we need, what we want, and what we could get rid of

I want to let you know what most people my age think and feel.

These are opinions, fears, and doubts from our collective experiences of having lived in the Muslim Mindanao area. I apologize if I have to be really frank. It’s the only way to get the message across.

So here are our few but unadulterated, unfiltered  thoughts about you – whoever you will be.

You fight so hard for the positions to the point of death for nothing but your own personal interests. These consist of two main things: power and money. Public interest is but secondary, if not tertiary, of your priorities.

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) will not be any different from the ARMM because you are all the same people. You have undermined the vital role that our collective values play in our societal development.

I don’t have to explain why or how we thought of these. We know that you know where they are coming from.

To paint a clearer picture, here are our collective aspirations: what we need, what we want, and what we could get rid of for holistic and sustainable development, peace, and progress to be achieved:

  1. Organize the bureaucracy and organize it well. This means people should wait outside the walls of your halls until you get it all together to feel the change from where we stand.
  2. We need a really good investment in our education system. That means we hire only competent teachers. More importantly, let us pay our teachers fully and on time. Let us invest on books, tables, chairs, classrooms and the health of our children.
  3. We need a good healthcare system. Aside from what PhilHealth already gives, we need another subsidy for BARMM residents. Make it accessible; don’t make us beg for it. We shouldn’t have to go to your individual houses or offices to ask for medical assistance like beggars. Good healthcare must be a right, not a mere privilege.
  4. We need sustainable livelihood economic programs that must go to the rightful beneficiaries and not to your relatives or your local community leaders. Honestly, we can do away with the hundreds of thousands we spend on pretentious promotional videos of our towns, and the millions more we spend for celebrities just so they can give the people shallow 3-hour entertainment. We don’t need those. Spend the money instead to give heads of families something that they can use to start up even just a small sari-sari store, buy a tricycle or raise animals. That would be a better gift than a one-night event in our townhall gyms. If these investments are actually sustained, you wouldn’t even have to give them 500 pesos just so they would vote for you in the next elections. They will remember you because they have something that is a part of you inside their homes.
  5. We need to hear it from you that you are solving our problem down to its root. We took out the “n” in “morons” but a lot of us still to cling to it. It’s not just poverty or the lack of peace that make us the most conflict-affected and vulnerable land in the country. It is also our values or the lack thereof. A lot of the people here is a “Bai” or “Datu” in their own right, yet they don’t even know how to properly fall in line, clean up after themselves, even spit or pee in the right places, or have a just little sense of decency and humility to acknowledge that they too can make mistakes.

We don’t know much about how to lead. Yes, we are idealistic visionaries but we know, too, that these changes are not going to happen overnight. While we are not there yet, show us at least that we are on the right track. (READ: [OPINION] Bangsamoro hopes)

I know it’s easier said than done. It’s going to be a long and winding road. But if I learned one thing in this life, it is that it doesn’t matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop. We will get there only if you lead us there.

Lead us by faith and with true Islamic values. Prove to us that we made the right decision. Do not, even, for one second, let us regret our decisions. Prove to us that you are worthy because you have to. Prove to those who said no to you that they were wrong. It is the greatest gift you can give to us, and even more so, to yourselves.

May Allah guide you in the right direction, put your heart in the right place, and protect you always in your service to the Bangsamoro. –

Saima Mamalo is studying law at the Ateneo de Davao University. She worked closely with the Bangsamoro Transition Commission during the drafting of the Bangsamoro Organic Law. She was also a writer for the ARMM Bureau of Public Information, and a program officer for the PAMANA Programs in the region.

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