Government peace negotiator still lobbying for the MILF

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ONE of the unamusing pieces of news New Year 2016 greeted us with was the mildly-insulting statement from “government” peace panel chief Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, exhorting Congress to pass the enabling bill for the government’s peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the few post-holiday weeks remaining in the legislative session, which will resume on January 19 and end on February 16.

Ferrer at least seems to have given up the illusion that the original version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law she, the MILF and Malaysian experts crafted, which amounted to a surrender of a large portion of Mindanao, is even being considered. But it is infuriating to see someone who is on the payroll of the Republic of the Philippines continuing to expend a great deal of effort lobbying on behalf of the MILF elite who stand to benefit the most from the unconstitutional and treasonous deal with the government. After complaining that the consideration of the bill – which, in its improved form is known as the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region – has been “prolonged and tediously delayed” in Congress, Ferrer went on to praise “the wisdom and maturity of the MILF leaders for staying on the peace track despite the disappointments and challenges,” apparently believing that the slaughter of 44 SAF troopers last January and more-or-less constant low-level violence that has displaced thousands and killed or wounded dozens of fighters on both sides since then in areas supposedly under MILF control is “the peace track.”

We think there are two key points Madam Ferrer, her MILF counterparts, and the lawmakers being pressured to pass the Bangsamoro law should consider quite carefully.

The first is a wise observation made by Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. just days after the Mamasapano massacre: The law, when or if it is passed, must only be a result of peace, not a tool to create peace – if there is no peace, there cannot yet be a law. Quite obviously, peace reigns not in the areas that would be covered under the BLBAR, not the least of reasons for which are the continued avoidance of the MILF of any responsibility for the part some of its members played in the Mamasapano tragedy and the MILF’s refusal to help the government to bring any of its perpetrators to justice.


The second is the new reality of the world revealed to us over the past year with the rapid, frightening spread of jihadist violence all over the globe. One of the things we have learned is that isolation and marginalization of Muslim communities is a key cause of radicalization, and that inclusiveness and integration with the larger community helps to prevent it. With that in mind, we might well question whether creating a substate for a militant Islamic organization is actually a good idea.

We must not ignore the fact that the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters–a group of Muslim jihadists who have supposedly broken away from the MILF – has pledged support for the Daesh/ISIS in Syria, which has set up the Islamic Caliphate and has been killing Christians and Muslims not belonging to their Islamic denomination and sending suicide bombers and other terrorists all over the world. Some careful observers and students of the Mindanao situation suspect that the BIFF and other jidadist and Islamic extremist groups of Moros are not quite as negatively disposed toward the MILF–and vice-versa. So giving the MILF the unswerving loyalty and admiration that Madam Coronel-Ferrer showers on the rebel organization causes concern.

Indeed, there must be fair and inclusive peace in Mindanao, but we believe that rushing the job will not help to achieve it. It is better to wait until a new Congress – one that is not distracted by looming elections, dozens of other measures that must be completed in a few short weeks, and not under the yoke of an Administration whose loyalties and motives are questionable – can take up the matter in a calm, thoughtful way.

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4 Comments

  1. This I am 100 percent sure, there will be no peace in Mindanao. Recent news in Cotobato MNLF and MILF are fighting each other, killing each other for some unknown reason. Look at Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, all Muslim countries fighting each other. Muslims are divided into factions. Each faction hates each other. Now Philippine setting, any level headed logical Filipinos will agree that 100percent this will happen here in our country. Civil war like Syria, Iraq Lebanon.

  2. Ferrer wants to strike while Pnoy is still president. Otherwise, more opposition to the bill would come out when her benefactor steps down and nobody would be handing her her paycheck.

  3. How true! Coronel is a traitor and must be taken to task after this administration. She has been with the enemy ever since. Dumb the BBL.