Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao

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The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (abbreviated ARMM) is the region of the Philippines that is composed of all the Philippines' predominantly Muslim provinces, namely: Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Shariff Kabunsuan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, and the Philippines' only predominantly Muslim city, the Islamic City of Marawi. It is the only region that has its own government. The regional capital is at Cotabato City and an annex is also maintained in Zamboanga City, although these cities are outside of its jurisdiction.



  • 1 Geography
  • 2 People
  • 3 Political Divisions
    • 3.1 Provinces
    • 3.2 City
  • 4 History
    • 4.1 Establishment of the ARMM
  • 5 Politics
    • 5.1 Executive
    • 5.2 Legislative
  • 6 Economy
  • 7 Cultural Heritage
  • 8 References
  • 9 See also
  • 10 External links
  • 11 Original Source


The region is divided into two geographical areas – the Mindanao mainland and the Sulu Archipelago. Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Shariff Kabunsuan are situated in the Mindanao mainland, while Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi are located within the Sulu Archipelago.

Map of the Philippines showing the location of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao
Regional Centers Cotabato City
Regional Governor Zaldy Ampatuan (Lakas-CMD)
Population 2,803,805
– Density 220.9 per km²
Area 12,695.0 km²
– Provinces 6
– Cities 1
– Municipalities 106
– Barangays 2,469
– Cong. Districts 8
Languages Banguingui, Maguindanao, Maranao, Tausug, Yakan, Sama, others

Political Divisions


Province Capital Population




Pop. density

(per km²)

Basilana Isabela Cityb 259,796 1,234.2 210.5
Lanao del Sur Marawi City 800,162 3,872.9 206.6
Maguindanaoc Shariff Aguak 435,254 4,900.1 163.5
Shariff Kabunsuand Kabuntalan 365,848
Sulu Jolo 619,668 1,600.4 387.2
Tawi-Tawi Panglima Sugala 322,317 1,087.4 296.4
a Figures exclude Isabela City.
b Part of Zamboanga Peninsula region.
c Figures exclude Cotabato City. Figures still include Shariff Kabunsuan.
d No separate data available yet. Province creation ratified on October 28, 2006. Figures are still included in Maguindanao.


City Province Population




Pop. density

(per km²)

Marawi City Lanao del Sur 131,090 22.6 5,800.4


An 1858 German map of the Far East showing the limits of Spanish Posessions (Spanische Besitzungen) in the Philippines For the most part of the Philippines' history, the region and most of Mindanao has been a separate territory, which enabled it to develop its own culture and identity. The region has been the traditional homeland of Muslim Filipinos since the 15th century, even before the arrival of the Spanish who colonized most of the Philippines beginning 1565. Arab missionaries arrived in Tawi-Tawi in 1380 and started the conversion of the native population into Islam. In 1457, the Sultanate of Sulu was founded and not long after were the sultanates of Maguindanao and Buayan established. At the time when most of the Philippines was under Spanish rule, these sultanates maintained their independence and regularly challenged Spanish domination of the Philippines by conducting raids on Spanish coastal towns in the north and repulsing repeated Spanish incursions in their territory. It was not until the last quarter of the 19th century was Spanish sovereignty formally recognized by the Sultan of Sulu, however these areas remained loosely controlled by the Spanish as sovereignty was only limited to military stations and garrisons and pockets of civilian settlements in Zamboanga and Cotabato, [1] until they had to abandon the region as a consequence of their defeat in the Spanish-American War.

Establishment of the ARMM

The Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao region was first created on August 1, 1989 through Republic Act No. 6734 otherwise known as the Organic Act in pursuance with a constitutional mandate to provide for an autonomous area in Muslim Mindanao. A plebiscite was held in the provinces of Basilan, Cotabato, Davao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Palawan, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur; and in the cities of Cotabato, Dapitan, Dipolog, General Santos, Iligan, Marawi, Pagadian, Puerto Princesa and Zamboanga to determine if the residents would want to be part of the ARMM.

Of the areas where the plebiscites were held only Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi voted favorably for inclusion in the new autonomous region. The ARMM was officially inaugurated on November 6, 1990 in Cotabato City, which was designated as its provisional capital.

In 2001 a new law was passed for the expansion of the ARMM to include the areas which initially rejected inclusion and the provinces which were carved from them, however only Marawi City and Basilan with the exception of Isabela City opted to be integrated in the region. [2]



The region is headed by a Regional Governor. The Regional Governor and Regional Vice Governor are elected directly like regular local executives. Regional ordinances are created by the Regional Assembly, composed of Assemblymen, also elected by direct vote. Regional elections are usually held one year after general elections (national and local) depending on what legislation from the Philippine Congress. Regional officials have a fixed term of three years, which can be extended by an act of Congress.

Term Governor Party Vice Governor Party
1990–1993 Zacaria Candao Lakas-NUCD Benjamin Loong Lakas-NUCD
1993–1996 Lininding Pangandaman Lakas-NUCD-UMDP Nabil Tan Lakas-NUCD-UMDP
1996–2001 Nurallaj Misuari Lakas-NUCD-UMDP Guimid P. Matalam Lakas-NUCD-UMDP
2001 Alvarez Isnajia Lakas-NUCD-UMDP
2001–2005 Parouk S. Hussin Lakas-NUCD-UMDP Mahid M. Mutilan Lakas-NUCD-UMDP
2005–present Zaldy Ampatuan Lakas-CMD Ansaruddin-Abdulmalik A. Adiong Lakas-CMD
a Acting capacity


The ARMM has a unicameral Regional Legislative Assembly headed by a Speaker. It is composed of three members for every congressional district. The current membership is 24, where 6 are from Lanao del Sur including Marawi City, 6 from Maguindanao, 6 from Sulu, 3 from Basilan and 3 from Tawi-Tawi.

Province District Assemblyman Party
Basilan Lone Rajam M. Akbar Lakas-CMD
Bonnie Abdulaziz C. Balamo Lakas-CMD
Hatimil E. Hassan Lakas-CMD
Lanao del Sur 1st Samer M.U. Salic independent
Suhaylah R.P.M. Salic independent
Paisalin P. Tago Liberal
2nd Saaduddin M. Alauya, Jr. Lakas-CMD
Yasser A. Balindong Lakas-CMD
Hosni B.M.A. Macapodi independent
Maguindanao 1st Jackson M. Bandila Lakas-CMD
Roonie Q. Sinsuat Lakas-CMD
Bongarsa D. Tomawis, Jr. Lakas-CMD
2nd Umbrah A. Datumanong Lakas-CMD
Khadafeh G. Mangudadatu Lakas-CMD
Pike T. Mentang Lakas-CMD
Sulu 1st Abraham T. Burahan Liberal
Alhabsi M. Hassan Lakas-CMD
Garcia D. Tingkahan Lakas-CMD
2nd Nashruper T. Daud Lakas-CMD
Maulana M. Omar Lakas-CMD
Nurwiza S. Tulawie Lakas-CMD
Tawi-Tawi Lone Romel Y. Matba independent
Shameera S. Matolo Liberal
Rejie M. Sahali Lakas-CMD


The region is one of the most impoverished areas in the Philippines. It has a per capita gross regional domestic product of only PhP3,433 in 2005, 75.8 percent lower than the national average of PhP14,186. It is the lowest among the Philippines' 17 regions, the second lowest region has a per capita income almost double the ARMM's. [3]

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 povery 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. [4]

Province Poverty Incidence
2003 2000
Percent Ranka Percent Rankb
Basilanc d 33.5 40 31.5 31
Lanao del Sur 37.6 56 54.7 73
Maguindanaoe 60.4 78 59.3 76
Sulu 45.1 67 58.9 75
Tawi-Tawi 34.6 49 52.4 70
a 79 provinces in 2003.
b 77 provinces with data in 2000.
c Not yet part of the ARMM in 2000. 2000 figures include Isabela City.
d 2003 figures exclude Isabela City.
e Figures exclude Cotabato City.

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. The per student expenditure on education, for example, is less than $100, with the result that students within ARMM schools generally score poorly, in comparison with other provinces, on standardized achievement tests administered throughout the country.

Cultural Heritage

Main articles: Music of the Philippines and Kulintang

The native Maguindanaon and other native Muslim/non-Muslim groups have a fascinating culture that revolves around kulintang music, a specific type of gong music, found among both Muslim and non-Muslim groups of the Southern Philippines.


  1. Mindanao Peace Process by Fr. Eliseo R. Mercado, Jr., OMI. [1]
  2. Republic Act No. 9054 [2]
  3. National Statistical Coordination Board - 2005 Gross Regional Domestic Product-Per Capita. [3]
  4. National Statistical Coordination Board - Which provinces did best in reducing poverty?. [4][5]

See also

  • Moro people
  • Bangsamoro
  • Islam in the Philippines

External links

  • Traditional Music of the Southern Philippines - An online textbook about Southern Pilipino Kulintang Music. Has chapters devoted to kulintang instrumentation, styles and uses by the Maguindanaon and other Southern Pilipino Groups.
  • Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao - Official Website

Original Source

This page was adapted from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Wikipedia, WikiPilipinas also allows reuse of content made available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike. See full WikiMedia Terms of Use.