AMID the barbaric slaughter of Christians by ISIS fanatics in Syria and Libya, and the prospect of the Islamic Caliphate pressing its murderous path against the world’s “infidels” from the Middle East and North Africa all the way to Southeast Asia, and ultimately to southern Philippines, President B. S. Aquino 3rd has set in motion his crude political machine in a naked bid to crush every objection based on the Constitution, moral conscience, and sober analysis against the setting up of an Islamic enclave in Mindanao through a so-called Bangsamoro Basic Law.
Although premised on the search for peace in Mindanao, which is desired by all, the creation of an Islamic enclave for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, against the mandate of the Constitution, the demands of Christian-Islamic unity, and the resounding objections of virtually all sectors, could ultimately result in an armed confrontation or war or the simple disintegration of the nation.
As the former national security adviser cum defense secretary, Norberto B. Gonzales has warned in a well-argued article, the proposed law seeks to advance in full the seed of the Islamic enclave that some MILF Ulama had earlier planted in 1995, with the “liberation” of five or so barangays in Lanao del Sur. Despite its limited size, then-MILF chairman Hashim Salamat said the planting of the seed was more important than its size, Gonzales recalled.
A serious national security concern
The proposed law is a serious national security concern, says Gonzales. In my view, more dangerous than the external territorial threat from China, which is hyped by the Aquino government as the country’s most important national security concern.
Following the Mamasapano, Maguindanao, massacre of Jan 25, 2015, where 44 Special Action Force police commandos were killed by the combined forces of the MILF and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters after Aquino had ordered the reinforcement units from the Armed Forces of the Philippines to stand down, there emerged some hope that the Bangsamoro Basic Bill (Bababa), which its promoters had cleverly named the Bangsamoro Basic Law (Babala) in advance, would undergo the necessary revision to make it conform to the Constitution.
Mounting public anger over Aquino’s unrepentant posture over the death of the 44 commandos, who were on a mission to neutralize three international terrorists being sheltered by the MILF, compounded by all the lies coming out of the inquiries conducted by the Philippine National Police, the Senate and the House of Representatives—it was only the other day that I heard from a highly reliable source that the PNP Board of Inquiry report was heavily edited to purge it of the negative and highly critical remarks against the President from various resource persons—had prompted some co-authors to withdraw their signatures from the bill and to promise to kill it, if it wasn’t reformed.
Two committees were tasked to review the bill. In the Senate, Sen. Bongbong Marcos was put in charge; in the House, Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro, a former dean of the San Sebastian college of law, and an announced senatorial aspirant for 2016. While Congress was on recess, the public learned that the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the proposed legislation based on it had been negotiated and signed for the MILF by a fellow called Mohagher Iqbal, but that this was only his assumed name. His real name, according to media reports, is said to be Datukan Abas, but he has refused to reveal it and the government has not compelled him to do so either.
This has not had any effect on the government’s position despite the fact that the Revised Penal Code prohibits the use of pseudonyms in official transactions. On the other hand, Malacañang would later show Iqbal’s considerable clout by announcing the appointment of Sheriff Abas, said to be Iqbal’s nephew, as one of the new commissioners of the Commission on Elections. Malacanang has neither confirmed nor denied the media reports about Abas’s blood relationship with Iqbal, not even to assure the public that Commissioner Abas is not at all an MILF member.
Is an LP-MILF coalition now at work
Where the legal maxim holds that silence means consent, it could be assumed that Sheriff Abas is, indeed, Iqbal’s nephew. And since the commissioners public debut is not preceded by any outstanding reputation as a legal practitioner or as anything else, it could be safely inferred that Aquino appointed him upon the MILF’s nomination. Is an LP-MILF alliance already working? This is an independent issue worth pursuing.
During the recess, we were entertained with stories about how the legislators would recast the original draft, to the discomfort of Malacañang, official negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer and presidential assistant on the peace process Teresita Deles who in spite of Mamasapano had been reaping praises from a particular audience, including honorary doctorates for the two from the Jesuit-run Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro, and some kind of award from Hillary Rodham Clinton at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. for Ferrer.
Then Aquino announced the creation of a so-called National Peace Council, to which he named some of his closest political, business and religious cronies for the purpose of balancing the negative opinion of the various sectors. Predictably, the members chorused their praises for the Bababa. Former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. said the bill “complements” the Constitution; Manila’s Cardinal -Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle said it is “overwhelmingly acceptable;” and a representative of a representative of the Zobel de Ayala oligarchy, which owns a large part of the country, and which has huge interests in Malaysia, gave its own imprimatur. These statements showcased more political opportunism than any attempt to read the common good or the national interest according to correct moral and constitutional principles.
Vote for passage and get a reward, or else join Enrile in jail
Before Congress went back to work, it was reported that Malacañang had begun looking after some lawmakers on holiday in Switzerland and on a luxury cruise at the Mediterranean. Some figures were mentioned in the text messages, but no whistle-blower has come forward to confirm the information. Then, in Manila Aquino met with the congressmen twice, obviously not to discuss the honors they would confer on world boxing champ Congressman Manny Pacquiao, who is now facing charges from angry fans over his last fight. Those who would support the bill were promised more money for their war chest next year, while those who would oppose it were promised the option of joining Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. in jail for the handling of their Priority Development Assistance Fund in previous years.
Thus, as the congressmen began their work on the bill, the predicted political earthquake never came. Our good friend Rufus Rodriguez is now beginning to look like a senatorial candidate for the administration in 2016, as the Babala began to look like a fait accompli in the House, and a real casus belli for the next confrontation, should it pass the Upper Chamber. Many opponents of the bill are counting on Sen. Marcos to make sure the Bababa does not morph into a Babala, but this could be expecting too much of the Senate.
I have no doubt whatsoever that Bongbong will do his late father and the nation proud by standing for what is right under the Constitution. But we cannot forget the fact that majority of the senators belonged to the group of 19 senator-judges who each received P50 million and more to convict then Supreme Court Justice Renato Corona, and several million more to force the enactment of the patently unconstitutional Reproductive Health bill.
The first-termers, who had nothing to do with Aquino’s bribery of the senators in those two famous instances, are in no better situation either. They owe their positions to Aquino for his “60-30-10” electoral formula which put all of them in office. Some of them may have learned to believe their own propaganda about themselves and look at themselves as de jure rather than as de facto senators, but Aquino is a few steps ahead of them. By talking to Sen. Grace Poe as a possible presidential or vice presidential candidate of the administration, and by Ms. Poe allowing herself to be tickled pink with all these overtures, Aquino is making sure that he would have her vote for the Bababa, however constitutionally monstrous it is.
Aquino need not keep his word about the 2016 race after the vote. But assuming Ms. Poe becomes the LP presidential candidate because of her vote, the first question the nation should ask, assuming she survives the other questions about her true parentage and citizenship—-which deserve to be thoroughly discussed—- is this: why should anyone ever vote for someone who has decided to divide the nation against itself?
This is what Aquino has done in the Corona impeachment and the forcible RH enactment. He has divided the nation where he needed and had the opportunity to unite it. Yet no one has called for active resistance to his government. So far, the most passionate opponents and critics of his unconstitutional actions had been willing to forego any action that might create an evil greater than the one they were trying to prevent.
But a legislation that threatens to permanently divide the nation along purely religious lines, and seeks to expose it to the persecution and murder of innocent Christians similar to what we are witnessing now in the Middle East, could convince a whole lot of people that the nation has reached the end of the road, and that this particular evil must be resisted and crushed.