Post-Ampatuan Mindanao – Where to From Here?

After all the post-Ampatuan massacre chest-thumping what next? Ningas-cogon na naman! What else is new in da Pilipins? What next? How can we move the Mindanao agenda forward so that the rest of the Philippines can reap the benefits of the Peace Dividend. Malacañang hawks advocate total war, Aquino advocates removing the carpet under the feet of non-performing LGUs, Gordon talks about addressing poverty in Mindanao. 

While do I assert that Gordon knows and understands more about Mindanao than Noynoy, Gordon has barely scratched the surface of the rage that seethes in the ARMM. And with good reason. However, when he said, “if  I were in their shoes, magrerebelde rin ako”, THAT clinched it for me.

Think about this – your LGU already sucks (and don’t  think I forgot that YOU, yes you, pagari, aki, kapatid – voted for him, dumb*ass, because he is your relative, cousin, buddy and you knew he was up to no good. But enough of that, I hope you have learned your lesson – kung ala pa, hay naku, si Allah na ang bahala sa yo.)

I invite you to discover Mindanao, from the eyes of a clinician, a technocrat, and most of all, a Filipino who happens to be from Mindanao. Get a glimpse of a proposal submitted to the Islamic Development Bank (ISDB) to bring equitable development in Mindanao.

In this proposal, the LGU is bypassed due to concerns about the governance. Mechanisms were crafted that involved mainly the private sector, the ISDB, and the direct beneficiaries – the Moro community itself.


The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is an autonomous regional government in South Mindanao covering the five provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and Basilan, including the City of Marawi where Muslims constitute the majority of the population.  The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are two people’s fronts, which have been fighting for autonomy since early 70’s through armed struggle against the Government of the Republic of Philippines (GRP). The ARMM came into being in August 1989 through the Republic Act No. 6734. It originally included the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.  The MNLF signed a peace agreement with the Philippine government in 1996, and had since participated in the political processes in ARMM. In August 2001 a plebiscite was held to propose an expansion of the ARMM, but only the Province of Basilan and the City of Marawi opted to join. The MILF has continued its armed struggle; at present it is negotiating a peace agreement with the GRP to resolve the Moro issues in the country.

ARMM is divided into two geographical areas: the Mindanao mainland and the Sulu Archipelago. The provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Shariff Kabunsuan are situated on the mainland, while Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi are located within the Sulu Archipelago.

Although the current population of ARMM is relatively small compared to other regions in the Philippines, ARMM’s high growth rate, high fertility rate, and low contraceptive prevalence indicate that the region’s population will grow substantially over the next several decades. The increased population pressure has the potential to exacerbate the region’s already poor health and low socioeconomic status, as well as pose a threat to the region’s environment and natural resources.

Given that women in ARMM would like to have fewer children and with the recent rise in modern contraceptive use, there is potential for increased family planning in the region, which would help women achieve their desired family size and improve their quality of life.


The total area of the ARMM is about 13,000 sq. km or approximately 4 per cent of the Philippines total land area (refer to Figure 1 – Political map of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao). Lanao del Sur (3,872 sq. km), Maguindanao (5,047 sq. km), and the City of Marawi (22.6 sq. km) are located in the mainland Mindanao, while Basilan (1,327 sq. km), Sulu (1,600 sq. km), and Tawi-tawi (1,087 sq. km) are island provinces on the Southwest of the mainland.

Figure 1- Political map of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao

Socio-Economic Attributes

ARMM has a total population of 4.1 million people, with a population density of 335 people per square kilometer compared to the national average figure of 277. Thirty-one percent of the population lives in urban areas. Though not the most densely populated region, it has the highest annual population growth rate in the Philippines at 5.5 percent and is growing faster than population projections expected.

In 1994, ARMM’s per capita income of PhP 10,400 was about 28 per cent of the average for the Philippines (PhP 37,070). In 1997, ARMM’s figure remained relatively the same while that for the Philippines increased by more than 30 per cent to PhP 48,930. In year 2000, the poverty incidence in the ARMM was 68 per cent – a sharp increase compared to 57 per cent in 1997, which made ARMM the poorest region in the Philippines. The minimum wage rate in the region is the lowest in the country and two-thirds of ARMM’s labor force is engaged in the agriculture sectors.

Conflict and Stability

Peace remains elusive in Mindanao especially in the Muslim dominated areas. Despite efforts from the government and various sectors, notably from foreign donor agencies, the quest for peace continues to be a real challenge. The creation of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in November 6, 1990 however has somehow turned the tide although there are still areas of conflict in places “controlled” by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Any effort therefore that will help bring about the creation of a culture of peace should be encouraged and supported more especially so if it is an initiative coming from the civil society.

Economy of ARMM

Per Capita Gross Regional Domestic Product

The region is one of the most impoverished areas in the Philippines. It has a per capita gross regional domestic product of only PhP 3,572 in 2008, 77% lower than the national average of PhP 15,686. It is the lowest among the Philippines’ 17 regions; the second lowest region has a per capita income almost double the ARMM’s.


Poverty incidence in the region is a high 45.4 percent in 2003, almost twice the national average of 24.4 percent. Significant progress has been made in reducing poverty in the region, which was reduced by 10.5 percent from the 2000 figure, only the Caraga region has a higher poverty incidence in 2003. Lanao Del Sur reduced its poverty incidence by as much as 26.9 percent, placing itself as the 12th most successful province in poverty reduction. Tawi-Tawi and Sulu have reduced their figures by 18 and 17.6 percent, respectively. In 2000, all the four provinces of the ARMM were among the 10 poorest in the Philippines. By 2003, Lanao del Sur, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi were out of the bottom 10, leaving only Maguindanao, which remains to be the second poorest or the second with the highest incidence of poverty among the Philippines’ provinces.

Province Poverty Incidence
2003 2000
Percent Rank Percent Rank
Basilan 33.5 40 31.5 31
Lanao del Sur 37.6 56 54.7 73
Maguindanao 60.4 78 59.3 76
Sulu 45.1 67 58.9 75
Tawi-Tawi 34.6 49 52.4 70

Revenue and Expenditures

Despite its “autonomous” nature, the ARMM receives approximately 98% of its operating revenue from the National Government of the Philippines, and has yet to create significant, viable sources of additional revenue. Perhaps for this reason, the per capita spending on such vital services as education and infrastructure are among the lowest in the Philippines, and the five provinces of the ARMM continue to be ranked consistently on the lower rungs of economic development within the country. NCR topped all other regions in domestic spending at Php 468.4 billion accounting for  33.0 percent of the total expenditures of the country.  Lagging far behind are CALABARZON (Region IVA), Central Luzon (Region III), Western Visayas (Region VI) and Central Visayas (Region VII) with 11.9 percent, 8.3 percent, 7.3 percent and 7.1 percent, respectively of total spending for 2008. On the other hand, Caraga (Region XIII) and Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), contributed the least to total expenditures with 1.3 percent and 0.9 percent share, respectively (Refer to Figure 2).

This low level of livelihood, may, to some extent have been caused by the region’s poor state of infrastructure. The ARMM has been the least prioritized area for infrastructure development and has for decades suffered from poor road facilities (only 40 per cent of total road are paved with asphalt or concrete, while the remaining is mostly gravel-surfaced); shortage of electricity (it is only available to 50 per cent of the villages); severe lack of access to potable water (35-40 per cent of the population does not have access to potable water supply, particularly those living in the rural areas) and difficult communication (telephone density in the ARMM area is only 40 for every 10,000 people, while for the whole country it is 205).


In the health sector, despite slight improvements during the 1990’s, the ARMM’s overall health indicators remain poor compared to other regions and provinces in the Philippines.

  1. ARMM’s high population growth rate is driven by a high fertility rate—women residing in ARMM have on average 4.2 children (compared with 3.2 for Philippines as a whole). Although the total fertility rate has declined from 4.6 in 1998, women are still having more children than they would like to have: an average of 4.2 children versus the desired average of 3.7.11
  2. Only 19 percent of married women in ARMM use some form of contraception. Although overall contraceptive use has remained the same since 1998, modern contraceptive prevalence has in creased from 9 percent to 12 percent. However, ARMM continues to have the lowest contraceptive prevalence of all regions in the Philippines.
  3. ARMM has one of the highest levels of unmet need for family planning in the Philippines. One in four married women would like to stop having children or want to delay their next birth but are not using any contraceptive method.
  4. The infant mortality rate is 31 per 1,000 live births, compared with the national average of 24 per 1,000 live births. Only 44 percent of children ages 12 to 23 months received all recommended vaccinations versus 70 percent for the Philippines overall.12
  5. ARMM fares better than the rest of the Philippines in terms of breastfeeding. Mothers in ARMM breastfeed their babies for about 20 months, whereas the average Filipino mother breastfeeds for about 14 months.13
  6. Only 35 percent of families in ARMM are able to obtain water from a safe source, and only 46 percent have sanitary toilets. These levels are very low, especially compared with the national level, where 80 percent of families have access to safe water and 86 percent have sanitary toilets.


The education sector seems to be the only sector showing favorable development, although it remains lower than the other parts of the Philippines. For example, functional literacy rate has increased from 37.9 per cent in 1980 to 60.3 per cent in 1995. Enrollment rate in educational institutions increased during the 1990’s although was still below the level achieved by other regions in the Philippines. In fact, the provinces of Maguindanao, Sulu and Basilan recorded an enrolment rate well below ARMM’s average.

Agriculture and Fishery

Decades of logging and pollution pose a threat to the natural resources of the ARMM region, yet the fishing and agricultural industries—supported by fertile flatlands, a conducive climate, and rich marine resources—offer excellent opportunities for improving the economic well-being of the people. The agriculture and fishery sectors are the main job provider in the region although they are still characterized by low productivity. Agricultural land accounts for 26 percent of the region’s total land area. Since 1991, the total number of farms increased 9 percent to 248,000 farms, while the average farm size decreased slightly. Coconut, corn, banana, rice, tubers, roots, and bulbs are key crops in the region

The ARMM provinces of Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur produce bumper corn harvest during peak seasons causing the region to be ranked as one of the five leading corn-producing regions of the Philippines. Even in times of drought, corn serves as the farmer’s savior as thousands of hectares of wetland and swamps dries up for excellent corn farming. With this seasonal surge in production level, corn farmers of ARMM encounter marketing problems as most of the country’s major corn user or processors are located in and around Manila. The country’s shipping problem makes ARMM’s corn relatively uncompetitive with corn imports because of high freight cost. Studies suggest that the alternative markets in the nearby BIMP-states can be accessed and area-based processing industries such as feed mills be established in the region.

The ARMM can pursue a commercial high value crops development program. This concerns the expanded production of Durian, Mango, Jackfruit, Banana, Cassava, Mangosteen and Cutflowers. Central to this effort will be the establishment of fruit nurseries all over the region to meet the rising needs for seedlings.

ARMM has also identified goat production not only for domestic consumption but for the EAGA market earlier identified in a series of market tours and consultations among the member-state officials of the ASEAN. ARMM considers goat production as one of its production strengths due to cultural compatibility with its largely Muslim inhabitants and the need of the nearby Muslim states.

The region has the second biggest lake in the country with an approximate area for 32,000 hectares. Lake Lanao, the deepest in the country and considered one of the major tropical lakes in Southeastern Asia, is the source of hydroelectric power for the whole island of Mindanao aside from providing irrigation water and various fishes of commercial potentials. It has other minor lakes such as Lake Buluan and Lake Dapao that are also potential resource of commercial scale fish products. The region has the largest share of swamp area of around 105,000 hectares that is being programmed for extensive agricultural and fishery development.

The ARMM is the biggest producer of seaweed and cassava, a leading producer of coconut and banana, and a major producer of rubber. The Sulu Sea is one of the world’s richest fishing ground for the much sought after yellow fin tuna. Other marine potentials are culture of pearl, mussels, oysters, lobster and groupers.

IDB Support Strategy

This proposal endeavors to localize the 1440 Hijrah IDB Vision and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), specifically to transform the landscape of comprehensive human development in the ARMM and help restore its dignity. The project’s mission is to promote comprehensive human development with a focus on the priority areas of alleviating poverty, improving health, promoting education, and spreading prosperity to the ARMM’s constituents.
In the short-term, the Bank’s support strategy should be to maximize the utilization of the approved grant through financing of projects that can produce immediate and tangible results.

In the long-term, the Bank, should take the lead in identifying other partners to help the ARMM sustainably utilize its resources and promote stability and prosperity by tapping market-driven opportunities related to domestic and global food security.

Proposed Framework of IDB Project Assistance

The following project framework is proposed:

  1. Providing the shortest path between the funds and the beneficiaries is of primary importance. Assistance will be targeted to a wider number of smallholder direct beneficiaries instead of infrastructure. Infrastructure projects can be provided by the regional and provincial governments as a continuing program of the Department of Public Works and Highways. The agriculture and fisheries sectors can be the key industry areas where the bank’s support can be channeled. Progress will be tracked in terms of Types of Beneficiary Groups Served, Individuals Served, Communities Served, Microenterprises/entrepreneurs Served, SMEs Served, Demographics Served, and Socioeconomic Group Served.
  2. Education programs that will develop the beneficiaries managerial and operational competencies, including technology transfer in agriculture and fisheries can be pursued. Metrics can include Net Enrolment Rate as a percentage of the ARMM population; Gross Enrolment Ratio; Drop Out Rate; New Educational Materials Generated – Number and Value; Educators Trained; Average number of training hours provided per teacher/instructor; Type of facility upgrade that is made: Classrooms, Tertiary Facilities (gymnasiums, lecture halls, playgrounds), Bathrooms / Toilets; Non-Academic Programs Offered By School; Student to Educator Ratio.
  3. Preventive health programs can be implemented as a strategy for increasing productivity and reducing attrition in the workplace. Key areas in health will include child mortality, maternal health, diseases including HIV/AIDS and malaria, and access to safe drinking water and sanitation. Progress can be tracked by monitoring Total number of patient visits; Total number well-visits or screenings (this includes immunization visits); Total number of curative visits; Total number of procedures performed (i.e. surgeries); Total number of referrals to other individuals or organizations that can better assist the client with their medical issue.

Special focus will also be given to Maternal and Child Health. The Program will establish a minimum of 30 health and birthing clinics that will be owned by private practicing midwives in ARMM and in Muslim-dominated areas in non-ARMM areas in Mindanao. This thrust will fulfill three out of the eight (8) important Millennium Development Goals (MDG) of the United Nations namely: MDG  3  Promote gender Equality and Empower Women; MDG  4  Reduce Child Mortality; MDG  5  Reduce Maternal Mortality. This is also in line with the strategic thrusts and directions enunciated in IDB 1440H Vision held October 2005 (1426H) on Women Empowerment. This program component will provide training, clinic construction/renovations, access to medical equipment, social mobilization and monitoring.

  1. Enabling the ARMM’s shareholders to directly benefit from the Bank’s micro-financing thrusts can use various delivery methodologies to include Individual Lending, Solidarity Group Lending, Village Banking, Self Help Group Banking among others. Results will be tracked in terms of Loan Size per Delivery Methodology; Number of Financed Enterprises – Total number of clients, or individuals, served (including those who have not yet borrowed or are in between loans); Number of Individual Jobs generated by Self-employed individuals in Financed Enterprise; Number of Hired Employees in Financed Enterprise; Number of clients that have been trained in basic business skills through training programs. Beneficiaries’ performance will be measured in terms of financial and operational metrics in accordance with generally accepted accounting and auditing practices.
  2. Tapping regional and global market-driven opportunities that respond to food security concerns tie into the ARMM’s core strengths in agriculture and fisheries. Economies of scale can be achieved through consolidation of shareholders produce and optimized operations in farmers’ villages and fishermen’s villages. The Bank can assist small shareholders federations and/or cooperatives by providing access to regional and global markets for agricultural and fishery products. Performance can be tracked through the following metrics: Types of Products/Service, Total Sales of agricultural and artisanal goods produced, Exports as Percentage of Sales, Purchases from Rural Producers, Total Number of Producers, Sustainable Cultivated Land Area, Total Area of Productive Forests and Aqua Farms.
  3. Community Development Financing can target inland provinces (Lanao and Maguindanao) and coastal/island provinces (Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi) as sites of farmer and fishermen’s villages. Key indicators to watch will be: People Housed, Affordable Housing Units Number and Value; Number and size of new businesses entering neighborhood through construction or renovation of facilities as a result of investment; The dollar value of loans made to encourage community businesses and organizations to grow/expand; People receiving group-based training; People receiving one-on-one technical assistance; Other organizations receiving training from financed enterprise/organization.
  4. The program shall be collaboration between the Bank and a local institutional partner that will assist in development of the ARMM’s private sector and SMEs – including Islamic microfinance institutions. The Bank’s role is that of a knowledge intermediary for microfinance and SME development. A local Non-Government Organization with a track record of implementing ODA-funded programs will be the Bank’s counterpart in the ARMM and shall mobilize the various stakeholders and players to achieve the project deliverables. The Bank and the local counterpart will set up an enterprise-wide  Project Management Office (PMO) that will define and maintain the standards of process, generally related to project management, within the project. The PMO will be the source of documentation, guidance and metrics on the practice of project management and execution. Deliverables will be monitored and evaluated using the Impact Reporting and Investment Standards (IRIS) Framework.


Continued population growth, poverty, overexploitation of natural resources, pollution, and reduction in biodiversity are significant challenges for ARMM. Nonetheless, the continued abundance of natural resources provides the regional government with an opportunity to improve people’s health, promote sustainable livelihoods, and strengthen the capacity of local communities to sustainably manage natural resources.

A matrix of the general project concepts and work plan is provided below:

S.N Strategic Thrust Rationale Possible Programmes/Targets
1 Provide the shortest path between funds and beneficiaries Removing unnecessary layers of bureaucracy will optimize delivery of services. Create a Program Management Office that will serve as the only intermediary between the Bank and the local beneficiaries.
2 Wider access to education Education will develop the human resource needed to develop and sustain the beneficiaries needs. Adult Education Services; Financial Literacy; Industry-specific Training; ISDB Center for Entrepreneurship
3 Address the most severe and debilitating threats to health in the ARMM A healthy community has higher productivity, conserves resources allotted to mitigation, and good quality of life. Reproductive Health and Wellness Centers/Birthing Centers;

Reduce by three quarters the under-five death rate (the MDG target by comparison is a reduction of two thirds by 1436 Hijrah (2015);

Reduce by 90 per cent the maternal mortality rate (the MDG target is 75 per cent);

Check and reverse on a sustainable basis the spread of HIV/AIDS and other diseases (the MDG shares the same target); and

Reduce by two thirds the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation (the MDG target is reduction by half). IDB should also be vigilant against the emergence of new pandemics such as avian flu. They have the potential to wipe out millions, Muslims as well as non-Muslims, across the globe

4 Alleviate poverty based on Islamic Banking tenets. Alleviating poverty must continue to be the most important comprehensive human development focus, until poverty is no longer a prominent feature of the ARMM landscape. Nothing detracts from wellbeing and dignity like poverty. Along with poverty there is hunger, malnutrition, illiteracy, disease, crime and instability. Poor people are not respected. They are looked down upon. The Muslim world cannot regain its dignity and esteem if so many of its inhabitants are destitute Opening land for agriculture, distributing seeds and fertilizer for cultivation, irrigating land, providing skills training, creating jobs through establishing mass-employment basic industries, creating agricultural and fisheries cooperatives and providing micro-financing based on Islamic principles.

Policy and technical advice on poverty eradication.

Create sustainable micro lending programs with preferential terms and rates to women’s groups.

5 Integration with IDB Member Country Markets Economic cooperation and integration in the face of globalization is absolutely essential. Access to markets of IDB Member Countries will synergize on each other’s strengths and potentials for mutual benefit, and opens new doors for wealth creation. It also protects the weaker economy against the predatory pressures of the strong Create a venue/mechanism for facilitating trade and supply agreements between beneficiaries and regional markets. First as a cash market, then futures and options.

Producers, exporters, consolidators, farmers and speculators can trade agricultural, forestry and fishery products in a stable and reliable trading environment, that offers the liquidity, the product line and the oversight to ensure fair and accurate trading for all its participants.

6 Prosper the people. ARMM constituents, whether rich or poor, Muslim or non-Muslim desire greater prosperity. Provide policy and technical advice to assist the production-based financed enterprises to transform themselves into more productive and competitive knowledge-based undertakings by providing policy and technical advice.

Identify key growth areas (i.e. agriculture, fisheries and forest products) and strategies to raise incomes.

7 Empower local partners. It enables national economies to reduce economic barriers against each other, synergize on each other’s strengths and potentials for mutual benefit, and opens new doors for wealth creation. It also protects the weaker economies against the predatory pressures of the strong Farmers Villages; Fisher folk’s Villages

More granularity on operation, organization, and investment can be provided when the Bank indicates its willingness to proceed with the recommended directions contained in this preliminary proposal. An overview of the investment levels needed for possible programs is provided as an appendix and is contained in a separate document.


For short, I am not convinced of Noynoy Aquino’s sound bites.  There’s much that needs to be done in Mindanao. With all that needs to be done, it would be best to have someone with political will, who understands what Mindanao needs, and who has delivered to Mindanao in the past. I have no qualms being an agrarian nation – what gets my goat is when the only people who make a killing – are the oligarchs. Spread the sunshine naman – be fair, let our countrymen thrive. But its a two way street, our (that includes you and I) countrymen also need to get off their butts and do some heavy lifting – step up to the demands of running a business, lest he folds up and be eaten up by oligarchs – then aangal na naman.

Anyways, it boils down to who can deliver the goods first – ISDB, MEDA, OIC, Republic of Mindanao? Beats the hell out of me, but this better get moving before we get into another round of massacres, or a new ASG splinter group.

Ooops… what was I thinking, Gordon just authored and had the bill creating the Mindanao Economic Development Authority passed… ayan si Noynoy kasi… TAMAD.


NSCB, DA-Zamboanga, ARMM Website.



  1. […] Leave a Comment Significant progress has been made in reducing poverty in the region, which was reduced by 10.5 percent from the 2000 figure, only the Caraga region has a higher poverty incidence in 2003. Lanao Del Sur reduced its poverty incidence by … Read more from the original source: Post-Ampatuan Mindanao – Where to From Here? | The Anti Pinoy […]

  2. Ma Xianding · ·

    Wala nanaman mangyayari kay Datu Andal?

  3. After a few years of jail maybe the Prime Minister will exile them to other Arab States

  4. Persona Non Grata · ·

    NO DOUBT AMPATUAN is the terror of Mindanao. The nuts and bolts of investigation, arrest, prosecution and media coverage is ignobly unacceptable that mentally terrorizes people of means, education and pedigree. The impunity of media coverage puts in question their impartiality, as usual.

    AMPATUAN is worth a personality for Mindanaoans to be rid off. It is unfortunate the process in arriving at the verdict is a blunder of example that will haunt the justice forever like any other major cases as usual.

    As gathered from the postings and rantings from the deranged Renato Pacifico which has truth and logic to it, Ampatuan deserves a fair trial as an example to everyone else regardless of wealth and position.

    Example: de Lorean. OJ Simpson. Kobe Bryant. Bill Clinton.

    It showed that they all have fair trial. Impartial and fair media coverage.

    The Philippines and Filipinos are far from arriving at the point where other countries have arrived. The media and justice decides on the politics of it, circulation and bottom lines.

    Too, bad.

  5. ラッシュガード とは

  6. Hon Tron San · ·


    All scholars concluded that there is no doubt the Diaoyu Islands belong to China.


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