Tourist spots and eco-tourism in the Bangsamoro region if developed can be world-class, and if managed properly can generate income the region has never seen. We know this as a fact. Even observers living outside the Bangsamoro, really know this as a fact.
But the only thing that hinders tourism growth is the absence of stable peace and order in the area. And yes, volatile peace does not only obstructs a boom of the tourism industry but also hinders almost practically all socio-economic development.
How many millions of dollars have been poured into the region from both national and international agencies, governmental and non-governmental, with corresponding training to educate for good governance and administration to help it alleviate from poverty? The answer is countless. Yet, it did not help Muslim Mindanao to take off from being poor or less developed.
In the BARMM, there is no significant tourism industry, no real investment, no manufacturing or production that could help propel our region to economic growth and eventually relieve the suffering of our people from poverty. No matter what we say how life is improved here, the truth remains we are one if not of the poorest regions in the country. All of these is due to the absence of stable peace and security.
The creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) was meant to herald an era of peace and much needed economic development in the Philippines’ troubled southern region. Yet, despite a huge budget, the transitional government installed in February 2019 will not be able to meet its reform timetable.
In an exclusive press interview before the Bangsamoro Organic Law was approved and implemebted, the late Ghazali Jaafar, then Number 2 MILF man who prominently played a role in the negotiating table with the government, said in order to attain peace in Mindanao, the national government must agree with the demand of the Moro Islamic liberation Front (MILF) so that there will be peace and stability in the trouble region.
Now the deal was closed and the BARMM was created, but the promised peace is still subtle. As peace is elusive, and so is development. Without peace, there will be no outside investors in the real sense of the word, no tourism, and there will be no economic boom. There will be no total development. That is the reality. That is still the truth: Without peace and security, there is no development.
The Bangsamoro government should not only keep itself busy in promoting relief assistance extended to various sectors within and without the autonomous region, or enacting bills being enacted into law, or propagating other not so significant things flag-shipped by its ’moral governance’ slogan. It should also prioritize something for the realization of the long-dreamt peace to reign in this part of the world.
For, all dreams for development and prosperity depend upon the stability of peace and security. So that if investors are convinced that peace truly reigns in our region and it is safe for them to do their businesses here, or tourists to spend leisure, business times and money here, the Bangsamoro economy will boom and people can start to enjoy a peaceful life. PMT