Mindanao and the Bangsamoro: Prospects for Peace – from an Economic Point of View Essay
Until now, the Philippines is a developing country, on the constant struggle for progress vis-a-vis the international economy - Mindanao and the Bangsamoro: Prospects for Peace – from an Economic Point of View Essay introduction. Within the country however, a region is facing struggles of its own – struggles for economic stability, and more importantly, peace The symposium about Mindanao and the Bangsamoro: Prospects for Peace was held last December 1, 2010 at the University of the Philippines Auditorium. A project of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS), the symposium aimed to make known about the armed conflict in Mindanao, its economic effects on the region and the sustained advocacy for peace.
Indeed, the conflicts have caused overall decline for the region in more aspects than one, which is why the road to peace must be taken if development and progress are desired. According to the CBCS (2010), the armed conflict in Mindanao has been dragging for 3 decades, making it the longest running insurgency in South East Asia. This has led to the economic marginalization and destitution of the region. Perhaps the gravest loss entailed by this long term dispute is the human cost. An estimated 120,000 lives have been lost in the Mindanao conflict over the past 30 years.
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Armed hostilities in the region inevitably lead to internal displacement of the people. They seek refuge in evacuation centers where living conditions are harsh. Normal life and productive activity came to a halt. A large portion of the population, especially the infants and the elderly, have succumbed to illnesses, due to lack of food and healthcare. Needless to say, many Muslims were compelled to relocate to different cities and provinces (most often outside of Mindanao) over the years (CBSC, 2010).
Needless to say, poverty is one of the main problems that have transpired because of these armed conflicts. Regions of Mindanao, such as ARMM, rank the highest in poverty incidence in the country. As stated by the CBSC (2010), three of the factors that have led to economic decline are infrastructure destruction, capital flight, and brain drain. Destruction of infrastructure is obviously caused by the armed encounters between the MILF and the government. The government has to allocate a large portion of its budget to repair the damages.
Capital flight, occurs when assets and/or money rapidly flow out of a country, due to an economic event that disturbs investors and causes them to lower their valuation of the assets in that country, or otherwise to lose confidence in its economic strength (Wikipedia, 2010). Lack of peace in the region has obviously discouraged investors and tourists as well. Although brain drain is an issue that concerns the entire country, poverty and armistice issues that are greater compared to other regions have driven more people from the Mindanao area to leave the country, in search of greener pastures.
Without peace, there is no room for social, economic and human development. A high price is always paid for armed disputes. World War I, World War II, and the Philippine regime when it was under Martial Law, are just some of the historical events that show just how catastrophic things could be for a country’s economy due to firing guns instead of settling conflicts through peaceful means. If armed conflicts finally come to a halt, poverty will be significantly reduced. Political, social and economic issues can be addressed more efficiently.
Issues on education need to be addressed, in order to solve the problem of the region’s low literacy rate. A more educated population is one that is more competent for the job market. Unemployment rates shall decrease, and hopefully, so would incidences of child labor. A peaceful region is one that would attract investors and tourists, which would mean, more money coming in. It is true that the issue between the MILF and the government is one that can’t be resolved immediately.
In the meantime, says the CBSC (2010), the need to address the basic socio affected – economic problems of people in conflict areas must be done to prevent these problems from developing into another source of conflict. The CBSC adds that in the context of Mindanao, the challenge ahead is how to blend development and sustained cessation of hostilities while working for a more comprehensive political agreement as a condition towards attaining a state of human security.
In order for economic progress to hasten, peace is essential. Solving this problem however, involves a two-way street, i. e. , both parties need to be involved and must come to a mutual agreement. While that seems unlikely for the moment, hopefully, the desire for equality, equity in growth, and justice will hasten the problem’s resolution. This shall be for the better not only of the Mindanao region but for the entire country as well.