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Maranao Federal State offers a better life - organizers

Atty. Balt explains why there is a need to have a separate 
Maranao federal state in the desired Philippine federal 
government . TNRS


ROCAYA SUMNDAD OTICAL YAHYA
Marawi City, Philippines
April 29, 2017

Hundreds of Maranao professionals, ulama, youth, women, students and other sectors gathered Saturday morning at the Plaza Cabili, this city to launch what they called “Maranao Nation Federal State Movement” which demands a separate Maranao federal state to improve the living conditions of the people and allow them to enjoy a taste of a better life.

A statement called Marawi Declaration 2017 was issued during the occasion. It said the Maranao Nation has the right to exist as a people and to chart its political and economic course through a separate Maranao State in Philippine’s federal government.
A tarpaulin replica of The Marawi Declaration 2017 displayed conspicuously in the plaza was signed by hundreds of participants led by Atty. Bayan G. Balt, former chapter president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Marawi and Lanao del Sur chapter, and a member of the Board of Directors of Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative (Lasureco).
Atty. Balt answers questions from the press. TNRS

“For the last 60 years,” the declaration said, “the Maranao Region has lagged behind its neighbors with unprecedented poverty and poor infrastructures mainly due to the highly centralized authority in Manila.”

The declaration further said unless this demand for a separate Maranao State is granted, they will continue to live in endless poverty for there will be no permanent peace in Mindanao to be achieved.

The proposed Maranao Federal State will comprise a contiguous territory comprising five provinces and two cities (provinces of Iranun, Maranao, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, and the Tribal Province of adjacent municipalities of Bukidnon and Zamboanga del Sur, as well as the cities of Marawi and Iligan.)

It has a total land area of 19,475.06 Sq.Km, or 27 times bigger than Singapore (719.1 Sq.Km.), 25 times bigger than the State of Bahrain (766 Sq.Km), 3 times the territory of Brunei Darussalam (5765 Sq.Km.), 2 times bigger than the Federal State of Vermont, USA (9614.26 Sq.Km.), and almost twice bigger than the federal state of Massachusetts, USA (10554.57 Sq.Km.).

And it has a population of 2,281,863.

In a press conference that immediately followed the launching, Atty. Balt, the movement’s prime mover, said the proposed Maranao federal state does not affect the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Balt said the BBL is still being crafted by the reconstituted Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) to be submitted to the President for endorsement to Congress for legislation into law.

He said President Duterte has asked the BTC to finish the BBL as soon as possible as it may be overtaken by federalism.

Atty. Bayan Balt  stressed that the Maranao society is a distinct ethnic grouping in Mindanao, its socio-political ideosyncracies,  cultural values and political governance are unique.  He said  before the arrival of the Spaniards, the Maranaos of the Lanao provinces had already a distinct culture as manifested by the dialect, customs and traditions enriched by the Islamic tenets and ideology.  

He said as a nation, the Maranaos deserve a separate Maranao State under the proposed shift from presidential system to Federal system of government. 

Balt reiterated to the press the three critical questions often asked to him: First, will the proposed Maranao Nation federal state create factionalism? Second, since the proposed Maranao federal state includes non-Muslim areas, will they join the proposed Maranao federal state? Third, is the Maranao people ready to govern themselves?

In the first question, Balt said the Bangsamoro has never been united. When the MNLF was organized in Sulu, the MILF was later organized in Maguindanao. When the Abu Sayaff rises in Sulu, the Maute Group rises here also. He said the only way to unite our people is to have three separate states (for them)

As for the second question, Balt cited the United States of America which was originally 13 states only, but now it is 50. “When California, Texas and other states found out that these original states are fast developing, peaceful and producing more jobs, the adjacent states joined the original 13 and USA became 50 states,” he said.

“So if the non-Muslim areas in the proposed Maranao federal state like Bukidnon will see that there are more jobs here,” Balt believed, “I think they will join us, no more plebiscite, they will ask the government to join us.”

As for the third, Balt said among the Bangsamoro peoples, the Maranaos are the most qualified to govern themselves. He said, the Maranaos have the most number of professionals than any of the other Moro tribes.  “We have more lawyers, engineers, accountants, religious scholars (Ulama), name it and you have it,” he pointed out.

Balt said the Maranaos have a viable economy propelled by the 40 billion annual power revenues generated from the six Agus hydroelectric power plants fed by the water resources of the Maranao Lake Lanao. 

He added that there are seven other lakes and unexplored mineral resources when tapped could produce enough jobs and income for the Maranaos and with its contiguous territory will definitely attract investors from within and without the region.

Among convenors of the movement are Engr. Ysmail Ali, sultan of Baloi and vice chairman of the 16 Royal Houses of Ranao; Sultan Liwalug Dimapunung, president of Alliance of Regional Coalitions Against People’s Poverty (ARCAPP); Sultan Maclis Balt of the Royal sultanate of Bayang; Prof. Macalayo Atha, president of Lanao Muslim Student and Professional Organization (Lamusprof); former City Councilor Allan Guinar, PDP-Laban, Lanao del Sur Chapter; Sheik Jalal Datumanong of the United Sheiks of the Philippines; Ding Bantuas of Lasureco; Alim Mustapha A. Angun, and many others.


(TNRS)

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