August 4, 2019 (2:05 PM)

5 min read


BARMM. Fr. Patrick Riordan, S.J. leads the discussion on the role of common good in establishing BARMM in a forum titled, “BARMM and the Common Good.”

Photo by Jeni Anne Rosario

Fr. Rick Riordan, S.J. stressed the role of the ‘common good’ in establishing the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), saying that BARMM must “ensure to implement the desire of the common goods” to address imbalances.

Riordan, a current fellow for Political Philosophy and Catholic Social Thought at Campion Hall in the University of Oxford, led the discussion on assessing BARMM through the presentation of his pentagram last August 2 as a part of his lecture series.

The pentagram consists of five core values, namely agency, governance, humanity, justice, and stability, which are linked to each other by pair that generates respective possible outcomes related to the common goods.

“The idea of education itself as a public good to the level of education in the population is a good for the whole of the society,” Riordan mentioned while discussing the five core values in detail.

“These aspirations are there in the (Bangsamoro) Organic Law: to provide for the basic needs of its peoples,” he added.

Datu Mussolini Lidasan, a member of the Bangsamoro Parliament, responded to the presentation on the context of being both an insider and an outsider to the BARMM.

“I am both an insider and an outsider to the Bangsamoro. As an insider, I face specific challenges in the way I see things in assessing what is happening right now. However, I have to be aware that I cannot have the same expectations as the way I work in the Office of the President here in Ateneo. Working in the BARMM since March is quite challenging,” Lidasan said.

To connect the notion of the common good, Lidasan responded to a question about the plans that will address historical injustices.

“I think this would be the perfect time for us (to develop social accountability tools), especially since it’s really just in its initial stages.

“And we would want to know how the common good as a concept or at least the five pillars would be useful when we develop our tools and what standards we could set the actual performance of the government, the regional government,” he said.

According to Lidasan, the governing body of the BARMM currently faces logistic challenges, including the lack of offices and the budget for their staff.

The BARMM is composed of 24 assemblymen who represent the different districts in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The Bangsamoro Parliament is supposed to have 80 members but the current number of members is 75.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has 41 representatives, while the other 39 members come from the government and other representations of Christian community and indigenous peoples (IPs).

‘A daunting task

Dennis Coronel, the chair of the Sociology Department of Ateneo de Davao University, described the assessment of BARMM as a “daunting task.”

“When I saw the invitation, I was [tempted to say no], because it seems like a very daunting task to assess the BARMM at this point. Is it really time already to judge it or evaluate it or assess it?” Coronel asked.

“As we all know variables need parameters, and you have given us 20 parameters based on the correlations of these five variables. However, this is my own personal response that those indicators may seem so daunting,” he further clarified.

Coronel pointed out that the five core values that Riordan presented might be useful in “guiding,” not “assessing” BARMM at its early stages.

While admiring how the Jesuit simplified his pentagram, Coronel framed his response in the context of nation-building.

“The BARMM is not an isolated project. It’s not like something that we do only here in Mindanao for the Bangsamoro people,” he pointed out, saying that the BARMM is a part of a bigger social project of nation-building.

“It’s a collective agency at the heart of BARMM is not just the effort of one, two, or three people or 80 people. It’s really a collective agency, which actually resonates to the idea of the common good,” he added.

Moreover, Coronel introduced the concept of “social adhesion” as a new social paradigm.

“Agonistic respect and deliberative democracies are ingredients for the idea of social cohesion. We come together. You are you and I am me, and yet we adhere. We did not integrate [and] we did not assimilate because these sometimes can be forceful and violent,” Coronel shared.

However, University President Fr. Joel Tabora, S.J. reacted to Coronel’s concept of social cohesion.

“I was struck and disturbed by Dr. Coronel’s mentioning of social cohesiveness because I think it’s a real problem both within and outside the Bangsamoro.

“When is the social cohesiveness of the Bangsamoro community if there’s this such a thing as now when the Bangsamoro seems to be burdened by so much division?” he asked.

Tabora added that a common good for the Bangsamoro “brings about general social cohesiveness between and among the people of the Bangsamoro.”

Furthermore, he asked a rhetorical question, “How do you promote this common good?” which led him to question the role of AdDU as an institution.

University’s role

After receiving the responses from different reactors, Riordan highlighted the role of theology in the secular world with regard to the BARMM and the issues encountered.

“If we’re going to realize the extent to which religion is part of the challenge because it is part of the history of conflict, and the history of oppression and the history of injustice, we also have to recognize the learning to correct the sources that have been so disruptive,” he said.

“There’s a learning process to be undergone here. There’s a learning process for us all,” he added.

In response to Tabora’s concern on what is the role of the university, Riordan said that “it has a huge role to play in providing the basis for research.”

“Tell the truth. What was the history? What was the impression? Record that,” he said.

End the silence of the gagged!

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