• BBL or body bags is a false choice


    We are fools if we accept at face value this crude reformulation by President Aquino of the old appeasement-or-war chestnut.

    Whatever the options now offered, this is a prime example of the false-dilemma fallacy in reasoning or argumentation.

    In this fallacy, the proponent of the argument tries to justify a questionable action by creating a false sense of necessity, to force a choice between two options, when there are other possible options.

    In his body bags argument, with  war being an unpleasant option, Aquino seeks to maneuver and scare us into opting for BBL as the only sensible choice.
    This is crooked reasoning, and the citizen will see through it.

    Atom-bombing of Hiroshima

    Perhaps the most powerful illustration of the false-dilemma fallacy was the reasoning underlying President Harry Truman’s decision to drop the atom bomb on Hiroshima in World War II.

    This is unraveled in Sociologist Kai Erickson’s analysis of Truman’s decision. Erickson contends that the Truman administration prematurely reduced the numerous options to just two: either drop the bomb on a major Japanese city or sustain unacceptable losses in a land invasion of Japan. He shows that there were other alternatives for effecting Japan’s surrender.

    In his body-bags argument to facilitate the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), Aquino argues that war will ensue in Mindanao if the legislation is not passed. He prematurely and unilaterally closes out other options – including revising and improving the measure or negotiating a new peace agreement that will include all stakeholders in Mindanao and Sulu. He seeks to scare the houses of Congress into passing the BBL, and the public into supporting the measure.

    To ensure that the deed will come to pass, he has created a peace council of citizen leaders to organize a national peace summit to help the public understand the BBL.

    Peace council to the rescue

    Last March 27, during the first anniversary of the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), and mindful of the growing public opposition to the BBL, President Aquino announced the creation of a council of leaders to scrutinize the proposed law and explain it to the public.

    He said the council will be “independent” and would be made up of “citizen leaders” known for their wisdom and integrity.” The council will convene a National Peace Summit that will address issues concerning the BBL.

    Named as members of the council were: Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr, businessman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, former Philippine Ambassador to the Holy See and Malta Howard Dee, and founder of Teach Peace, Build Peace Movement Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman.

    “They will gather other responsible and respected leaders to spearhead a National Peace Summit to deliberate on and discuss the BBL. They will dissect the proposed law in a calm and reasonable manner that will not incite anger and hopelessness,” said Aquino.

    “This way, the BBL can be improved. They will write a report that will be made public, so that everyone may be informed, and so that more of our countrymen may understand the matter. In this manner, we will be able to advance a reasonable decision as regards the Bangsamoro Basic Law.”

    A serious and credible alternative

    In true fallacious tradition, Aquino equated the BBL with peace, and opposition to it as advocacy of war.

    Aquino criticized those who do not support the BBL, without providing alternatives.
    “Perhaps it is easy for you to push for all-out war because Luzon and Visayas are far from the conflict. But if the conflict grows, the number of Filipinos shooting at other Filipinos will grow, and it would not be out of the question that a friend or loved one would be one of the people who will end up inside a body bag,” he said.

    This is Aquino spelling out his false-choice argument: It’s either appeasement or war.
    But it’s not either/or. This is misrepresenting the position of those who seriously oppose the BBL, including yours truly.

    Most of us do not want war, whether all-out or half-hearted.  And we offer a serious and credible alternative, to wit:

    1. Rewrite the draft BBL to ensure that it conforms to the Constitution and to eliminate the
    provisions designed mainly to advance and protect the interests of the MILF.

    2. Involve all Muslim communities, so they can all take part in peacemaking and benefit from the rewards of peace. Involve all Christian and Lumad communities in Mindanao as well.

    3. Amend the Constitution in the way it prescribes, not on the sly, so that when the measure is brought before the Supreme Court, our learned justices will have no cause to nullify it.

    Determining the real choices that exist

    Of course, the choices facing the nation in Mindanao are difficult. And not all dilemmas are false. As rhetoric teachers have warned, people who reject all binary oppositions are themselves guilty of a false dilemma.

    We have to determine through a rational and earnest process of elimination the real choices that exist. This  requires the exercise of sound judgment and discernment.

    This is why Congress is indispensable. And this is where the peace council could be helpful, if it means to truly serve the national interest, and not just the image of the president.

    Will the peace convenors go around the country mouthing the president’s false-choice fallacy?

    Can they convince the nation that the appeasement or war mantra is a reasonable choice to put before the people?

    Will they themselves, given their exceptional schooling and experience, be convinced that they have been recruited for a truly patriotic venture, and not just for a public relations gimmick of the administration?

    Let us wait and see.



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    1. This BBl can not be understood fully without knowing what Islam really teaches…no one likes to talk about it, but it is really Islam, the religion that is at the heart of the ever-present fighting for secession or an Islamic state/Sharia government…

      This is what the Koran orders, to dominate all peoples, nations and governments and make them worship Allah and observe its Sharia laws…period! Hence the very name Bangsamoro, meaning Muslim Nation…!

      Read up, available online THE LIFE OF MUHAMMAD, THE NOBLE QURAN, THE RELIANCE OF THE TRAVELER, THE TREASURE OF THE WORKER…and learn why no peace pact or agreement will hold to the Muslims…

      Their cries of oppression and backwardness are brought about by their very religion, always bringing them followers back to the 7th century Arabia, of Muhammad…

      Until Islam renounces its totalitarian ideology, and claimed supremacy among all religons and cultures, Islam can not, and will not co-exist with any NON-MUSLIM…!


    2. jose btaganahan on

      The overwhelming majority of Christians in Mindanao are against the BBL based on a recent survey, so it is wrong for BS Aquino to say to those who live in Luzon and Visayas “Perhaps it is easy for you to push for all-out war because Luzon and Visayas are far from the conflict. But if the conflict grows, the number of Filipinos shooting at other Filipinos will grow, and it would not be out of the question that a friend or loved one would be one of the people who will end up inside a body bag,”

    3. sasuke uchiha on

      If we count body bags then we count body bags! but it will be the muslims that will be inside those body bags, not christians.

    4. eltee mulawin on

      This sticky-brain headed BSC-Aquino3rd said….
      For convenor of Council for National Peace Summit :

      “They will gather other responsible and respected leaders to spearhead a National Peace Summit to deliberate on and discuss the BBL. They will dissect the proposed law in a calm and reasonable manner that will not incite anger and hopelessness,”

      For those who oppose the BBL:

      “Perhaps it is easy for you to push for all-out war because Luzon and Visayas are far from the conflict. But if the conflict grows, the number of Filipinos shooting at other Filipinos will grow, and it would not be out of the question that a friend or loved one would be one of the people who will end up inside a body bag,”


    5. The CAB and eventually the BBL has already raised the expectations of the Moros in mainland Mindanao and island-provinces of BA-SUL-TA. It took seventeen (yes, 17) years already to have this agreement. Do you think we can just easily change the agreement or negotiate again over the same or longer period? We just give justification to the Moro’s old-claim that Filipinos are just “dribbling the ball’ and are never serious in finding a solution to the problem.

      • “We just give justification to the Moro’s old-claim that Filipinos are just “dribbling the ball’ and are never serious in finding a solution to the problem.”

        Who are the Filipinos?

        Who perpetuated the problem?

        We have established process of democratically resolving cardinals issues. Bakit kailangan ng extra-ordinary process in this regard and all the other before it. (MILF, Cordillera). What guarantee does it make it will not turn into another MILF mess.

        What guarantee does it make other provinces will not seek for extra-ordinary process, thereby autonomy? What would become of Republic then? Case in point, the Davao Region would be better off with an autonomous government than it is today.

        By metrics of sustainability that it has today, and the opportunity it will enjoy granted by an autonomy, count me in. Did not Mayor Duterte and several local executives promoted the concept of Federalism?

        What about the greater Christian population? There are definitely denomination with membership greater the Muslim/Moros combine. In fact, in those BBL proposed provinces, Christian population exist. Might as well Christian demand an autonomous region of their choosing.

        These are seems silly concerns as you might guess.

        Let us address the BBL itself. Judging from the actual text of the BBL, it is as comparable in deep scope and generalness as the Philippine Constitution itself. I short, vague.

        Isn’t the BBL supposed to be an enabling law of a certain provision of the Constitution, thereby, must be as specific as much as other R.A. out there?

        I’m not expert in constitutional law nor a lawyer trained the understanding of law. But I’m not dumb. Take the BBL alongside Local Government Code. It’s not hard to spot the differences. And yet both, enables power to the local government autonomy.

        Perhaps, there’s a need for a massive re-write of the BBL to make at par with Local Government Code, or even better.

        And perhaps, I may add. There must be provision setting conditions for dissolution of it.

      • Leo Lopez, this just brings us back to the centrist-legalistic-Luzon centered assertion that everyone in this geo-political territory called Philippines should willingly and submissively identify themselves as Filipinos inspite of the historical fact that Moros and Cordilleras continuously assert their native identity. Well, the Moros have no problem ascribing to Filipino as citizenship but they want to maintain their native identity. So what could be wrong with that? What could be wrong if Cordilleras want to keep their identity?

        It again smacks of a paucity of historical knowledge and understanding of why “extra-ordinary process” has been resorted to by Moros. Marcos started a policy of genocide that only wanes in degree up to the present. Who in his right mind, except cowards, would not resort to “extra-ordinary process” if only to survive?

        and why should we be afraid if regions would go for more decentralized form of government like federalism? democracy, at the end of the day, is really about giving in to the demands of people not necessarily being the majority

    6. Larry Ebersole on

      Dump this BBL and get ready to protect our country from within or outside if that is needed. and do not forget to charge these group who brought this problem forward with TREASON for selling out their own country in the name of their so called peace that is ultimately detrimental to the Philippines.

    7. Passing the BBL is tantamount to creating a bigger Gaza and West Bank in Mindanao. Only this time the process is way too brazenly creative.

      Our local government code grants local autonomy to local government even down to the barangay level. Re-partitioning provincial boundaries are well within the power of: from provincial government up to congress to decide. Why cedes more?

      Blurring the lines that divides the power of government and religion (a.ka. mildly extremist) seems permeable. Well, Christian do not care , do they? You just wait another Cotabato hit song.

      Accommodating century old claims of Mindanao or part thereof does not guarantee peace nor development. It only guarantees further confusion and isolation and encourages perpetuation into power of those who wrestle for it.

      Look no further than Cordillera. What advantage does it make for the autonomous province compare to the rest of the country? Were the province overflowing with milk and honey after it was granted with autonomy? If Fr. Conrado Balweg were alive today, would he be proud of the province? Gladly, he was a Christian, and his follower were not consummated to hatred, but peace loving.

      What about the BBL. I live in Mindanao, living among Muslim community peacefully. I hope it shall be for always. What is disturbing to me, is the continued teaching that Christian are infidels and killing Christian does not run contrary to Islamic law. Seriously?

      We are not in the Middle East, are we? Will the basic tenet of democracy be guarantee to those Christians living in provinces covered by the BBL? Will the rule of PH Government law can be guaranteed? Did I hear Ampatuanphobic?

      I have more concern than this.

    8. An international lawyer would tear the construct and legal language of the BBL to shreds within a couple of hours – purely on the basis that it has been written in such a vague manner, which i am sure is very intentional on the part of MILF, knowing the legal manouverings and games which can come into play after the bill is passed, if and when necessary.
      As my corporate lawyer sometimes says – “the hidden traps are there if we need them.”
      The way to protect sovereignty, and peace, is to be clear and precise. Future legal ping-pong will be a failure.
      A good contract, once signed, is put in the safe, and never referred to. I don’t think that will be the case with BBL – it will keep many lawyers employed, and enrich a number of judges over time.
      The annexes should be like a ‘Service Level Agreement’ and nail down the potential banana skins.
      E.G Police – reporting lines, who determines pay and promotion, disciplinary procedures, training, equipment purchase etc.
      The devil is in the detail, so avoid it at one’s peril.
      And for all the time spent on negotiations i have to ask what have they been discussing.
      What beneficial conditions/terminology has miriam ferrer managed to introduce, or adverse clauses have removed.
      I think the cart was put before the horse and she is just a stable girl giving the horse its oats.

    9. The problem with this BBL agreement, it was conceptualized and initiated by a man with a very small mind, so there, it is facing tons of problems and now the man with a very small mine is introducing another one of his gimmick – to threaten us, the citizens.

    10. Sharon Catlin on

      Why would our government, which obsessively professes to be a form of democratic self rule, wish to defy the will of a majority of its citizens, and unilaterally impose the annexation of a large portion of this nation state to Islamic terrorists? Have we as a nation been reduced to subservience to our dynastic masters who pose as our elected leaders? Are we willing to accept another form of political tyranny? Do we want a government which knows no bounds, or has any limitations to its powers? A government which declares by royal fiat that it will do want it wants regardless of the will and needs of its citizens. I say no! Enough of this insanity with BBL!
      The whole BBL concept is just crazy! It self evidently will absolutely result in most, if not all, of Mindanao, Palawan, Sulu, and Basilan to be annexed from the Philippines and either be incorporated into the Malaysian confederacy, or declare itself as an independent nation.
      The BBL is self destructive, anti democratic, will only foment more war, empower known terrorists, and we pay for it. I cannot think of a better way to destroy our nation than to pass this travesty known as the BBL. God have mercy on our nation, and its people if BBL passes.

    11. That this BBL is Malaysian inspired requires a fine tooth comb review.
      Peace, but not without consultation with all sectors not only in Mindanao but
      nationwide, national plebiscite required prior to implementation.
      We cannot throw money at all roadblocks and expect resolution.
      Aliases and the nationality of the users of these aliases is an issue that should not be
      left out of the discussions.

    12. Maybe, what is required against secessionists and terrorists will be the Sri Lankan Solution which they applied to those Tamil Tigers who wanted to create their own sub state. The case is still being investigated now by the UN but a leader may sometimes need to resort to extra ordinary measures if that will stop a continuing civil strife. There are prices to pay but buying peace is expensive. This is a lesson I learned from my lawyer during my much younger days – even if you feel aggrieved, settle rather than go to the rigors of trial.

    13. Everyone can see that the BBL is not a peace document. It buys short term peace with the MILF by giving them the land, money and power to control Mindanao while it builds its forces to set up its own Muslim country. Junk the BBL and all documents signed with the MILF.

    14. What happen if BBL is not pass? Will there be war in Mindanao? And if there’s war will Pnoy order a stand down of our AFP and PNP for them to get massacre. And pnoy will say ” you see I was right we’re counting body bags”. Hope and pray that this will not happen.

    15. BBL or War , I will choose none of the about. As long as its substance and details in the agreement is not in accordance to our constitution. Why not war? because if they the MILF really want peace then they must also be willing to go extra miles and allowed rightful changes be made that will further enhance the trust that has since eroded. The whole filipino people must understand and decide the contents of any peace accord on a plebiscite and the passage of any peace agreement must protect and preserved the integrity of our country.

    16. “The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), as brokered and designed by Malaysia to conform to the Malaysian Federation, will be the next tragedy to befall the Philippines”.
      India Intelligence Report

      The roots of the BBL problem were planted by Pnoy Aquino himself in the secret meeting/deal in Tokyo with MILF/Murad, and subsequently exascerbated by a lack of strategic understanding, incompetent negotiation, and little transparency throughout the process.

      Some-one needs to press the pause button, and then reset with renewed focus, understanding, and greater trust. To press fast forward now, to simply suit the ego and whims of a failed president, would only compound the problem, and leave a big mess for the next administration to clean up. All is not lost if henceforth it is managed professionally, but a great deal will be sacrificed if the current clowns are allowed to continue their circus act.

      The metaphysical poet John Donne wrote a poem in 1590 –
      “No man is an island,
      Entire of itself,
      Every man is a piece of the continent,
      A part of the main.
      If a clod be washed away by the sea,
      Europe is the less.
      As well as if a promontory were.
      As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
      Or of thine own were:
      Any man’s death diminishes me,
      Because I am involved in mankind,
      And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
      It tolls for thee.”

      Everything is connected. Geo-politics is like 3 dimensional chess. The motives, and the cause and effect of one action must be fully understood in its consequences elsewhere.

      From his staff insulting the wine at a Vietnamese state banquet, to refusing to apologise to Hong Kong for the hostage debacle, or being a bit part player in ASEAN 2015 talks, Pnoy Aquino has repeatedly shown a naivete and childishness when it comes to international relationships, which is unsurprising for some-one who likes to spend time in meetings sending schoolboy jokes and texts to young girls, and who is uncomfortable with personal relationships.

      And in the bigger picture, The Philippines must change its deep-rooted paroquial outlook, and its dependence upon US to determine and dictate its foreign policy.
      Not only does that earn no respect within ASEAN, or with China, but the Philippines will find itself increasingly isolated as a new Regional, and world, order is established.

      By abdicating responsibility to the US, the Philippines is not becoming a service economy, but, a servant nation, being served yaya meals, and being given pats on the head in the guise of meaningless, and condescending, awards from Washington – which co-incidentally is where Miriam Ferrer now is to receive an award from Hillary Clinton for “bringing peace to the Philippines”
      Not only is that insulting, but it is in very bad taste.
      She should, instead, be presented with a body bag as a constant reminder of SAF 44.

    17. P.Akialamiro on

      The arguments presented by Pres. B.S. Aquino does not necessarily follow his premise; there’s no logic, as in other moves of his government. It only proves incompetence, short-sightedness, weakness and defeatist attitude. It is plain ‘scare tactic’ and doesn’t evince any intellectual and sensible conclusion. Anything new?