• BBL is a Trojan horse


    Reaction to my Occupy experiment last Thursday, where in I allowed one reader’s comment to occupy this slot in the Times  (“Aquino all branding and no substance,” The Manila Times, April 16,2015) was swift and copious, comments poured in from all fronts. Many readers’ comments were appended at the end of the column. Others wrote me via my e-mail address. And still there were others, those personally known to me, who rang me up by phone to express their reaction.

    As was to be expected, most comments were in agreement with the points raised by Reader Anonymous. A few took up the cudgels for President Aquino, charging me with complicity in a conspiracy against the President.

    One reader was so enthused over my experiment, he/she proposed that Anonymous should henceforth become a regular columnist of the Times.

    Anonymous himself wrote to express his thanks for publication of his comments, his thanks for publication of his comments, and he gifted me with another commentary that is similarly trenchant and persuasive.

    Did I stumble here on a less mentally taxing way of producing a column – letting readers do the lifting? Perhaps, but I will not abuse the occupy strategy, lest my publisher-editor exile me from this citadel of Philippine journalism.

    Meeting the test of relevance
    The test of relevance for the stuff from Anonymous, like the test for most opinion journalism, is how relevant its points are to the debates and contentions of the day, and how long they survive before becoming ephemera.

    Anonymous’s diatribe meets that test superbly in my considered judgment. And one telling proof is that it has supplied me the subject of today’s column, which is certain to become a lively topic of debate in coming days.

    Anonymous, so far as I know, is the first to formally declare that the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is a Trojan horse.

    He warned: “BBL has always been a Trojan horse. People are only now beginning to connect the dots, but better late than never. A strong peace is not achieved from a weak agreement — it would simply be the springboard to a raft of other problems.”

    The charge has now been echoed by the NGO TanggulangDemokrasya, which posted its own warning about BBL as a Trojan horse on the Showbiz government website, complete with an illustration of the bogus horse under construction.

    That makes three of us who will presumably swear by this equine analogy before any forum, including Congress, should it summon us, Trillanes style, to testify to the soundness and sanity of our apprehension.

    Tale of the Trojan horse
    Those who recall their college studies and comic-book pleasures – or who watched Brad Pitt as Achilles in the movie epic  “Troy” – know that the Trojan horse is a tale from the 10-year war between the Greeks and the Trojans.

    The classic tale relates the subterfuge that the Greeks employed to enter the city of Troy and win the war. It is told that after a fruitless 10-year siege, the Greeks on the advice of the wily Ulysses (Odysseus) constructed a huge wooden horse, and hid a select force of men inside. The Greeks pretended to sail away, and the Trojans pulled the horse into their city as a victory trophy. That night the Greek force crept out of the horse and opened the gates for the rest of the Greek army, which had sailed back under cover of night. The Greeks entered and destroyed the city of Troy, decisively ending the war.

    The main ancient source for the story is the Aeneid of Virgil, a Latin epic poem from the time of Augustus.

    Virgil’s line “I fear Greeks, even those bearing gifts” has become as familiar as the Trojan horse.

    Philippine retelling of the tale 
    In the Philippine retelling of this classic story, the Greeks are personified by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, its leaders and negotiators.  Mohagher Iqbal takes over the role of the wily Ulysses

    The Filipino majority are the Trojans. The king of Troy is  played by President Benigno BS. Aquino 3rd. Helen of Troy (preposterous as it sounds) is jointly played by chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and peace adviser TeresitaGing-Deles.

    When the Aquino government and the MILF  began negotiations soon after Aquino acceded to office, our people believed that the talks would proceed as a mutual search for solutions to the conflict in Mindanao, much like the earlier negotiations of the Tripoli agreement, and the GRP-MNLF agreement of 1996.

    We expected the talks to proceed confidently from a framework agreement on shared goals, to a comprehensive peace agreement that would conciliate the negotiating positions of each side and produce a new order of peace in Mindanao.

    Yet surprisingly, the comprehensive agreement signed in March 2014 contained language that asserted Moro rights to an ancestral homeland and the right of self-determination, as my colleague BobiTiglao has perceptibly noted in several columns:

    Why our negotiators and President Aquino would agree to this language is gross betrayal of our people. They cannot excuse them by saying that they only mean the autonomy of the Bangsamoro political entity.

    What really happened, I believe, is  that the MILF negotiators were clearer and resolute about their negotiating position, more than  our government negotiators about theirs.

    As Iqbal has been quoted as saying, he views negotiations as a means to extract drop by drop concessions from the other side. Negotiation in his view is war by other means.

    Poor Miriam Ferrer and her team were no match for Iqbal and his team. And with Malaysia as the referee, it was not surprising that the comprehensive  peace agreement committed the government to  the Bangsamoro Basic Law, and  many other odious provisions (like wealth sharing, Bangsamoro police force, decommissioning of forces, etcetera) that no self-respecting negotiating team would agree to.

    To fully understand why Congress is now being harried into passing the proposed BBL, it is vital to ask again what was the underlying, driving purpose for the government in negotiating peace with the MILF. It is imperative to ask why the government talked only to the MILF to the exclusion of other Muslim communities.

    It is useful to ask the Philippine panel, why, as former Philippine negotiator Jesus Dureza has charged, Ferrer, etcetera, never bothered to study the Supreme Court decision on the MOA-AD, and Ramos’ detailed narration of how the 1996 peace agreement was successfully negotiated.

    Note this: Indonesia served as the referee in the 1996 accords. Malaysia is the referee for the flawed handiwork we see before us now.

    To state the point bluntly, the 2014 comprehensive  agreement is full of holes. The proposed BBL is even more flawed, because no less then 8 provisions violate the Constitution.

    Why will a sane and responsible Philippine government agree to invest resources and political capital in this law?

    Some columnists and analysts have opined that if the BBL is passed, the Philippines will pave the way for the almost certain secession of the Bangsamoro entity as an independent state, with its own territory carved out of sovereign Philippine territory. I totally agree.

    The peace agreement and the BBL do not end the prospective secession of Muslim Mindanao from the republic. The BBL should either be radically altered to conform to our Constitution, or  the government and the entire Filipino Muslim community should engage in new negotiations to forge a comprehensive peace, and to create a constitutional Bangsamoro entity.

    Absent this new peace process, I submit that no BBL is better than a Trojan  horse.



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    1. Guillermo Hernandez on


      That was the UNDERLYING MOTIVATION /PURPOSE of Ferrer and the government
      ” negotiating team ” ……..never mind the unconstitutional provisions….never mind the use of aliases….never mind the billions of pesos of seed money….just RAM the BBL
      down the throats of the Filipinos.

    2. 102 million is the population of the Philippines! 5% are Muslims.

      Included here are 290 House Members, 24 Senators, 22 Cabinet Members or the Secretaries, 150K Police, 85K Army, 24K Navy and 17K Air Force. This will give us 276,336 key personnel of our Government.

      There are over 52 million registered voters in the Philippines!

      My opinion is, why not we VOTE for the “yes” or “no” to the BBL?

      I think it is not good if I suggest that we exclude the 276K key personnel of our Government to vote?

      And definitely, we will invite our Muslim brothers (As-salamu alaykum) to cast their votes too.

      With the result of the “election,” maybe the Trojan Horse, the Helen of Troy, the juan tamad and the bantay things will just be on the “shelves” forever?

      And, I think so, there will be peace among us?

      Well, I want to vote just for the peace to happen…what do you think?

      REPLY: Have you thought about the corruptly bidded and awarded, illegal, fraudulent, manipulated Conelec-Smartmatic- AES-with-PCOS machnes that controls Philippine election results? What voting are you referring to, sir?

    3. puebloerrante on

      i think the only logical reason why america will support the MILF is because they want a stable strategic location here in the philippines to strengthen their military influence here in asia, which the philippine government seemed to have denied them.

      meanwhile, current chinese incursions and entrenchment in the spratlys have highlighted that the military forces of america is the only real deterrence we have against china’s expansionist aggression.

      so to kill two birds with one stone.

      let’s just agree to give US an offshore base here in the philippines near the contested territory with china.

      1) this will act as a chinese deterrence. (at least make it harder for them to act with open aggressiveness)

      2) america will likely drop whatever support they might have on the mindanao insurgents and just opt to cooperate fully with the philippine government, instead of working secretly against it.

      i mean let’s face it. our current batch of inept and incompetent politicians leading the majority in congress and the executive branch is probably more dangerous to our country than ANY storm and all the other natural calamities combined.

      america is like that miraculous driftwood (imperfect, but will suffice) that could save our drowning country, shipwrecked by our own corrupt and self-serving leaders.

    4. By now ,BBL passed or not passed –end result is shooting war…..if it is passed—-dehadong -dehado ang 90% na Christians in Mindanao.–.will never bow down to the BBL remember 90% are Christians in Mindanao……….if not passed……this other 10% will surely “harras” by sporadic attacks etc……so either way…..magiging magulo…talked to my relatives there….they said they are preparing for any eventuality and they expect na maging magulo….they are enrolling their children in the schools in Visayas or in Manila….their cars are always full tank with sardines ,rice water etc……why are they doing these….if their is a big chance for BBL to give PEACE in Mindanao?….My advise is to form prayer brigades…..PRAYERS IS THE STRONGEST WEAPON TO FIGHT EVIL…..

      REPLY: A REMINDER to all thinking about Mindanao and the BBL. Only a small part of Mindanao has WARS caused by Muslim militants like the MILF. Mindanao as a whole is enjoying peace and even prosperity too.

    5. chris Asuncion on

      I’m very glad that people are actually VOICING THEIR alarms against this BBL. Should it be passed and promulgated into Law, it would be a Ticket to Hell for the rest of the Philippines and Sure Enslavement to Drowning Debts by the Rest of the Filipinos. It would be a hugely financially ruinous for the Philippine Treasury ane will embolden the Moslem Terrorists to make more and more unreasonable demands.

    6. Amnata Pundit on

      The Trojan War was launched by the Greeks to recover Helen who was kidnapped by Paris, the Trojan king’s son. If Deles and Ferrer represent Helen, ibigay na lang natin sila without a fight. Maski bayaran nalang natin MILF kunin lang nila ang dalawang ito, para na nilang awa. Seriously, why did the yellow regime allow the MILF to make so much gains without a fight? UTOS NG KANO, what else? Bakit ba hindi matangap ng karamihan ito, na matagal na tayong niloloko ng Kano?

      • miss PUNDIT ,WITH DUE RESPECT TO YOUR OPINION can you please explain in details on how the filipino people long been fooled by the AMERICANS as you have stated…OPINION EXPRESS WITHOUT SUBSTANCE AND PROOF OF EVIDENCE IS TOTALLY A WASTE.

    7. The moniker of Trojan Horse fits the BBL very well. It is labeled as a peace document but it is a document empowering a terrorist group. The MILF is not a revolutionary gang. What are the wrongs being done by government to Mindanao? Are taxes being taken from there and spent elsewhere? Are Muslims being oppressed? Is the Muslim faith outlawed? The answers to all are no. The BBL is a document to lay the ground work for eventual secession from the Philippine Nation. There is no other reason. It is certainly not a peace document.

    8. Maybe Pnoy Aquino et al are wanting to implement a variation of what is sometimes referred to as ALMO – Arms Length Management Organisation – which is a way of first ‘ring-walling’ a problem area/operation, and then setting it up for sale/disposal. (BBL, expansion, secession!)
      It removes the operational headaches from HQ, and you get a financial payback, even being prepared to sell it cheap, enabling you to then concentrate on the cash-cows.

      Imperial manila and Aquino only think Luzon, and have no affinity to Mindanao, nor do they have a voter base in Mindanao (important come 2016), nor do they want to invest in Mindanao, but focus mainly on Luzon and Tarlac etc, and the middle-classes.

      Not the way to look at a country, but then Aquino has never been a patriot and one to unite behind the philippine flag, but divide with his yellow ribbon.

    9. how much did the malaysian government contribute to the campaign funds of pnoy in the 2010 elections? is the bbl the quid pro quo? there must be something sinister about this bbl. i don’t believe that peace in mindanao is the primary reason. there was peace in mindanao in the longest time until misuari et al. started to make some noise. who financed misuari? what was the role of libya and malaysia during those times?

    10. Elect senators by region so that Muslims is represented in our governement just like the U.S, type of Federal governement. Kinopya na rin lang natin ang system ng America di pa natin nilubos. A federal-presidential system is needed so that all members of the society is represented. Geographically there should be 2 Muslims regions. One is represented by the tausugs and Sabah and the others from Central Mindanao of the maranaos and maguindanaos. Its so easy. Just change the constitutions and federalize the country. Scrapped this BBL. Its unconstitutional and SC will just reject it. Waste of time and effort ang BBL at CAB. Just pour development fund to these 2 regions concentrating on creating jobs and infrastructure development and housing and agriculture will stop these war. pareparehop namang nagsasalita ng Tagalog e di magkasundo. Broke off relations with malaysia until they will oblige Sabah talks in the United Nations.

      • Practically all Pilipinas acknowledge the divisions according to Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao. So in addition to what is already there (the current number, with each one selected nationally) have 3 more senators with one from Mindanao, one from Visayas and one from Luzon. With Mindanao being 90% Moro and all Moros vote the same almost when “motivated” or forced… eh di MILF can get a senator, garantisado, di ba?

        REPLY: Sir, Mindanao population wise is not 90% Moro. The Moro population is very very very much less than that. Also only a small part, geographically, is troubled by wars caused by MILF and other militant and rebel groups. That’s why many Christians and Lumads in Mindanao are upset that the MILF and its rebels are given so much money and power. Is it favored by the Aquino Government so that the majority of the population who are Christians and Lumads can be easily killed and vanquished by the MILF and their patron, Malaysia?

    11. Iqbal rightly feels that the CAB was a declaration of war on the 99% of Filipinos that is why he still used his nom-de-guerre to sign the ‘peace’ document.

    12. The Trojan Horse was also the name given to a well known computer virus. Implement it and the system gets massacred.

      The indecent haste of Pnoy Aquino in wanting to push BBL, at whatever cost/bribes, sounds like the last fatal act of someone desperate for a legacy.

      His fantasies of peace prizes, and beauty queens, makes him seem like a childish geek, – with an unnatural need for adulation, approval, and awards – one of Pnoy Aquino’s achilles heels

      In the trojan horse analogy i would cast Pnoy Aquino as Helen! – very becoming. (The face which provoked a thousand quips).
      And it was Helen, who in the end, was shown to be guilty of deceit, treason, and of destroying Troy. She was also not the person she pretended to be.

      It is easier to find soldiers who are prepared to die than leaders who are disposed to be honest.

      It is easier to bribe Congress and do something that is wrong, than listen to the people and do something that is right.

    13. The only solution to this problem is to JUNK the BBL period.

      With Iqbal using an alias, the negotiations and BBL are worthless, since the law requires that aliases be not used in legal documents.

      JUNK THE BBL. Why can’t the Muslims, the Moros not just follow the laws of the land, instead of making a substate of their own. What about the other minor ethnic groups in the different islands of the country? What if they agitate for their own substate?

    14. Jose A. Oliveros on

      A face that is “xxx fairer than the evening air, clad in the beauty of a thousand stars xxx” was how the poet Christopher Marlowe described the face of Helen of Troy in his work The Historical Tragedy of Dr. Faustus. Evidently, the same description cannot be said of the faces of Miriam Coronel and Teresita Deles for as a Latin legal maxim goes: res ipsa loquitur (the thing speaks for itself).
      On the Supreme Court decision in the MOA-AD- Province of Cotabato case, now Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Marvic Leonen who was the chair of the GRP Peace Panel that negotiated the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro is conclusively presumed to know that decision when he signed the CAB. Why he let those provisions of the CAB that is patently unconstitutional is as mysterious as the black holes in space.

    15. The Trojan horse analogy has hit the nail on the head, If the MILF are given autonomy it wont be the end of the war but merely the start. It will give a base for expansion of their cause, and enable them to import heavy weapons etc.

    16. Now that the facts surrounding the BBL have been properly articulated, people should understand the dangers of same in bringing to our country.
      President Pinoy Aquino should be the one to face the press on his weekly briefing
      to explain better his side with regards to the BBL, He owes it to his Bosses. because
      alot of provisions in the BBL are challenging.
      When Valte, Lacierda and Coloma open their mouth I think people don’t even listen to them anymore because they are a washout. The Three are like the Bunye of the
      past Arroyo Administration.
      What is this that Cardinal Tagle et al are trying to cook again, that they don’t want to touch the PCOS issue…nothing Holy when you see and study our social stratification…Free and Honest elections that’s all we want…Manila Times please contiinue to enlighten us. We need the poor to understand what’s going on in our country. Because everytime a political decison has been made they are the ones greatly affected.

    17. The BBL agreement as a Trojan Horse is an interesting comparison by Yen and would have received such a favorable appraisal from me except for the fact that with Yen he deals with Pres. Aquino only in negative aspect. You can never get a constructive suggestion from him. If he was a painter he will only feature a theme that accentuates doom and gloom. So if you ask me what’s wrong with Trojan Horse analogy?. Well, first of all, the wooden horse was a deceptive gift from the Greek to the people of Troy. The BBL peace accord is an agreement between two parties, the Phil. government and the muslim group intended to settle age-old conflict. If it’s ever considered a gift, then its a gift from both parties to each other and to the country. In the case of the horse, the Troy residents never had the chance to check the inside of it, for deception was part of the plan. In the peace accord, the details were conscientiously conceived, managed and agreed by both parties and generally all angles of concern were considered. If there’s anything wrong with peace deals, it’s not because of deception ( because everything is in the open ) but because sometimes despite good intentions, not every factor or future ciscumstance can be fully covered or perceived.

      • Bonifacio Claudio on

        Quote “… not every factor or future ciscumstance can be fully covered or perceived.” End quote… Iqbal using his nom de guerre said that negotiation is war — so he is not talking “peace” when he signed for BBL. For him it is an instrument for war of secession and on to independence of Bangsamoro.

    18. the BBL may a Trojan horse put in place to dupe the national govt into recognizing terrorists and giving them an annual budget of about 70 billion pesos so they can consolidate their political standing and someday take over a nation that is 90% Christian BUT there is no one in the political landscape that has the balls (or guts) to shoot it down!

    19. We really should not personify or even compare the BBL process with the Trojan horse. It’s an insult to the Greeks who has their own issue(s) of living the past and if you’ll see they’ve not progressed since the time they were known to be the grandfather of history & architecture. They started human trafficking via slavery. BBL is nothing but our Filipino folklore of Juan Tamad and his dog Bantay. Juan stood under a guava tree waiting for it to fall while his sidekick Bantay slept by master’s feet taking a nap. How are we to know if it’s good for the people in Mindanao when no one even listens to them except the so called scholars and top brass who never lived in those rural areas to understand what the people really need without profiting or personal gain. Instead, we capitulate and sensationalize the entire matter while the people endure the outcome. We all agree that BBL should not be passed and it’s not a total solution to any peace process. Tell us which country has “peace” in it and we can all move there. Even Rome has their opposition or anti-Christ or terrorist. It would be stupid if we’re gearing for peace process because that’s impossible. Let’s Google the meaning of peace. Freedom from disturbance, quite and tranquility, freedom from or the cessation of war or violence. None in its very meaning mentions mankind. It’s only in prayers can we find and achieve peace therefore hope & dreams until we rest in peace.

    20. The proposed BBL simply illustrates the current administration’s literal inefficiency and shortshigtedness. In a statement by Pres. B S Aquino, he mentioned that the acts of China (backyard) is ‘scary’, despite its being hundreds of miles away, but hails the signed BBL which will affect adversely his own ‘house’.

      The analogy to a Trojan horse to the BBL is very apprppriate. With certain rights and privileges afforded to our brothers in the south, who can prevent them from seeking the help of their foreign brothers, to the exclusion of their Christian brothers, in the near future? I hope the “one nation, one law” will always prevail.