The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, or ARMM, was created in 1990 to help solve the long-festering Muslim problem and at the same time hasten the economic development of the Muslim areas. At present, however, the ARMM only covers the four provinces of Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Maguindanao, and Lanao del Sur. Through a plebiscite in 1989, the predominantly Christian residents of the 14 provinces and 10 cities expressed their preference not to join the ARMM.

On September 9, 1996, elections were held for the ARMM officials. Prof. Nurallaji Misuari, the Chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), was elected as governor, with Guimid P. Matalam as vice governor. They replaced Linding Pangandangan and Nabil Tan as governor and vice governor, respectively. Also elected with them were 121 regional assemblymen. The ARMM elections were considered unique because they were peaceful, despite being held in what has been the country's traditionally most volatile areas.

After his election as ARMM governor, Misuari has assumed the role of peace broker in Mindanao. He promised to use "moral pressure" to convince members of the Abu Sayaf group and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to lay down their arms and assist the government in promoting peace and development in Mindanao.

President Ramos assured the release of much-needed funds to implement development projects in the area. Among these are the following:

  1. P9.2 billion for the airport development projects in Tawi-Tawi and Sulu, irrigation projects in Maguindanao, and reforestation projects in Lanao del Sur.
  2. P600 million lending window with the Philipine National Bank.
  3. P50 million Economic Support Program designed to promote livelihood and employment projects in the provinces of Sulu, Basilan, and Tawi-Tawi.
  4. P800 million worth of private-sector investment, assured by the Board of Investments. This will include two coconut oil mills and a refinery expansion project in Tanjung, Jolo, Sulu, and in Malabang, Lanao del Sur.
  5. P72.8 million for the construction of a beach resort in Maguindanao.
  6. P260 million for the construction of hotel facilities in Tawi-Tawi.
  7. P200 million for the agroforestry project of the Ranao-Ragat Federation of Multipurpose Cooperative.
  8. P50 million for the telecommunications project in Bayang, Marawi City, which will link Lanao del Sur with rest of the country.
  9. P3 million for the cement-bonded composite board.
  10. P3 million for the rubberized coconut coir processing.