• Congratulations, OPAPP-MILF

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    WE are not congratulating the Filipino people, our Republic, or the entirety of our Muslim Filipino compatriots for the historic event that is happening this afternoon in Malacañang. We are only congratulating, the Office of the Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process—Secretary Teresita Deles, Chief Negotiator for the Philippine government Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and her predecessors—and the entire Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leadership, specially Chief Negotiator Mohagher Iqbal and the MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim. Oh, yes, President Benigno Aquino the 3rd must also be congratulated.

    Also deserving of congratulations are the governments, ambassadors and Philippine case officers of the foreign countries who have been assiduously nursing the negotiations and spending money to make sure it didn’t bomb.

    Deserving of special mention here are the delegates of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan. Japan has even allocated a hefty sum of several billions for developmental projects in Mindanao as if already in existence is the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous (or is it “Semi-Autonomous”) Entity that will include and subsume the “failed experiment” (President Aquino’s withering words) that is the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

    These countries not only want to see an end to the suffering of the people of Mindanao. They also want to do brisk global commerce and, of course, make money from it in Mindanao, which has the potential to push intra-Asean commerce and benefit the global economy. If the whole Philippines continues to be the laggard in Asean and holds back its becoming the economic hope of the globe, then maybe the Bangsamoro will be that autonomous part of the Philippines that will fulfill our country’s promise as an able contributor to the Asean Common Market.

    Rough road ahead
    Today’s signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro between our government and the MILF is another “first step” to lasting Mindanao peace, sustainable development and victory over dire poverty there specially among our Muslim fellow-Filipinos but also among Christians.

    The Bangsamoro Autonomous Entity must have a fundamental or basic law or mini-constitution that conforms and complies with the provisions and state policies laid out in the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines. President Aquino appointed a Transition Commission made up of MILF leaders and supported by MILF political thinkers, social scientists, lawyers, politicians and rebel chieftains to draft that Bangsamoro Basic Law.

    Will it represent the aspirations of all the Muslim Filipinos—including those who, being Tausugs, Yakan, Samal etc. of Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan and Sabah (North Borneo), don’t want to be placed under the rule of their traditional rivals, Maranaws and Maguindanaws? Will it give due respect to the Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo, whose transfer of his sovereignty over Sabah to the Philippines before the British created the Malaysian Federation strengthened the legal aspects of the Philippine claim to Sabah? Will the Bangsamoro Basic Law have a provision stating that Sabah is part of the Philippine territory—or is this taboo on the behest of the Malaysian Facilator of the negotiations held in Kuala Lumpur?

    Will the Congress of the Republic of the Philippines pass the legislation adopting the Bangsamoro Basic Law? Will President BS Aquino succeed in buying the congressmen’s and senator’s votes as he did to ensure the ouster of Chief Justice R. Corona?

    If Congress does pass the law, will the Filipino people accept the threat of future fragmentation that the Bangsamoro Entity represents and ratify the law that amends the Philippine Constitution radically?

    Will the Supreme Court allow the Philippine Republic to be undermined by these things? Can the constitutional provisions and the laws creating the ARMM just be shunted aside by a president and his OPAPP and his Muslim rebel friends and their Malaysian backers?

    Can a president just trample on the 1996 Comprehensive Peace Agreement with the MNLF and its antecedent Tripoli and Jakarta treaties?

    These are but a few of the deep issues that must be resolved if the GPH-MILF agreements are to carried out peacefully and work for the good of the Filipino people and not just the MILF.

    Strong rule—Martial Law in Mindanao?
    The Luwaran (the online publication of the MILF) published last Tuesday, March 25, an enlightening albeit frightening editorial. It is titled “Real partnership begins.”

    It calls today’s signing rites of the CAB a “historic moment” and a “one for a lifetime achievement.” It “signals the dawning of the real partnership between the two parties that they must nurture through to the end.”

    Note that the MILF does not see this event as a covenant between the Muslim Filipinos and the Christian and tribal Filipinos. It sees it realistically as the “partnership between two parties” –the Aquino administration and the MILF.

    It says “both sides have to help one another. Needless to say, the MILF has to be helped to stand on its feet so that it is fully capacitated to stave-off the challenges ahead. Only two capable partners can ensure the success of their peace endeavor.”

    It says “a weak partner will pave the way for anarchy to rule the day and chances that a more dangerous place is not farfetched in Mindanao.” Therefore it wishes President Aquino to be strong in quashing the foes of this agreement.

    The editorial also says “this fear [that Mindanao will explode into anarchy and become a more dangerous place]is compounded after the exit of President Benigno Aquino in 2016.”

    Therefore the new president must “follow through with the achievements of the peace process and genuinely adopt a policy of empowering the MILF and henceforth the Bangsamoro Government” otherwise “the future is truly bleak.”

    Martial law in Mindanao—with Aquino’s AFP, PNP and MILF working together to quell the opposition?

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