Iqbal’s words do not bind, the signed documents do

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YESTERDAY’S news headlines about Mohagher Iqbal, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief negotiator, assuring the members of the House of Representatives that “Muslims will not secede from the Philippines” and that “the Bangsamoro will not be a separate state [from the Philippine Republic]” did not quite serve the propaganda aims of his rebel and separatist organization.

Comments by audiences about that news story—in all the social media and in the mainstream newspapers and the broadcast media—were almost 100 percent negative on Mr. Iqbal’s spoken guarantees and appeals to us Filipinos to trust the MILF.

He was speaking at the first ad hoc committee hearing on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). If passed and then approved by the electorate in a national referendum amending the Philippine Constitution, the BBL would become the constitution of the Bangsamoro substate.

“There shall be no state within a state in the south with the proposed Bangsamoro political entity that will replace the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM),” Mr. Iqbal told the congressmen.


“The Philippine state shall remain sovereign. We only ask to be allowed to govern ourselves. You shall see the Philippine flag and hear the national anthem sung in our schools and offices,” Iqbal said.

“To all these [doubts and fears], we say, be not afraid. To all the Filipino people, be not afraid. This is my request and appeal to the honorable men and women of this House. It is my prayer that you choose hope over fear….Let us break free from this endless cycle of poverty and insecurity,” the MILF leader said.

Manila Times reader Carlo L. Adan encapsulated the points raised by most of the letters and comments.

He wrote, “Mr. Iqbal: If you are not just lulling us Filipinos into agreeing to your scheme to create the Bangsamoro substate and make it achieve ‘self-determination’ later as a separate state, why don’t all the documents you and the TREASONOUS negotiators appointed by President Aquino state in black and white that the Moros accept that they are citizens of the Republic of the Philippines, that they respect and obey the Philippine Constitution and are willing to have all these changes realized under the majesty of the Philippine Constitution and the prescribed processes under the laws of our land?

“You, sir, are just using this exercise, in which President Aquino, who should be impeached for agreeing with you and your MILF central committee, is a big player, as your first step to grabbing our island of Mindanao!”

Indeed, the foundational documents signed by the representatives of President Aquino and the MILF do not contain any of the words of assurances spoken at the House on Wednesday by Mr. Iqbal. In fact, the most striking feature of “Framework Agreement” (FAG) and the “Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro” (CAB) is the seeming annihilation, the non-existence, of the Philippine Republic, the Philippine Constitution, the Philippine Supreme Court and judicial system, and other hallowed institutions.

In the Wednesday hearing, a congressman tried to add a non-secession clause to the proposed Bangsamoro substate constitution. But pressure from the House leadership and the objection of a Muslim female congresswoman, who said the anti-secession proposal was “offensive” because it makes “Muslims look rebellious,” made the proponent of the amendment withdraw his motion.

International Law expert and practitioner, Professor Jeremy Gatdula, who is the academic secretary of the University of Asia and the Pacific School of Law and Governance, told the Times: “If what MILF leader Iqbal says is true, then it would have been very easy for him to put the fact of non-secession expressly and clearly in the agreements and in the basic law draft. The MILF refused to do that. As it stands now, his word does not bind, but the signed agreements do and the agreements say differently.”

If the elected representatives of the people in the House are patriots who truly love the Republic of the Philippines and the Filipino nation, the Bangsamoro Basic Law that our congressmen pass must contain the no-secession clause and other provisions that will clearly override the anti-Philippine Constitution and anti-Philippine Republic provisions in the FAG and the CAB and these documents’ silence about Philippine sovereignty, the judicial system and other fundamental matters.

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9 Comments

  1. It is nice to hear having BBL which most people believe that there will be peace in Mindanao. In my observations, the people in Mindanao still could not live in peace because the Muslim in mindanao are not one and could not be united due to, different faith and ideologies though they have the Holy Quran but they are in different leadership which is far in comparison from the splitting of Christian belief who are united thru the practice of love and faith in christianity regardless of denominations, we listen to the words of the Pope in Vatican but Muslims only listen to the words of their leaders with different interpretations of their Holy Quran. The MNLF is different from MILF. In their faith they have Sunni, Shittes (shia), Alawitte, Abu Khalifa, Abu Sayyaf, Husseini, Jaafari , Bahai, etc. in every grouping it is their respective leader who give opinions, decrees or religious order (Fatwas) the reasons they fight due differences. The PH gov’t, should require the leadership of Bangsamoro to have the approval of other muslim group otherwise more problems will arise. If possible involve or request a representations from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as the Royal family is generous to all muslim around the world sometimes they listen because of money sometimes no just like ISIS and Iran.

  2. For the legislators reviewing the BBL, should make sure that our country will not be torn into pieces after.

  3. The republic of the philippines is in the process of disolution with the Bangsamoro Republic flag raised in mindanao. Let’s break up and let the visayans have their own republic as those people living in luzon.

  4. Most lawmakers are stupid, they might probably sign and passed the BBL. Remember the impeachment of CJ Corona, They sign and endorsed the impeachment of CJ Corona without reading the contents of it. Show them the color of your money and they will surely sign it and passed it. Lawmakers don’t care if this country breaks in to pieces as long as their pockets are full. Truth hurts and reality bites. Right?

  5. Mr Iqbal please put your words where your mouth is. Put what you had said in writing …in the BBL. or Add to BBL that if this Autonomous Government secede or seek independence, this agreement becomes null and void.

  6. Anima A. Agrava on

    The GPH and the MILF must rewrite the Framework Agreement and the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro and incorporate all the assurances made by Mr. Iqbal. Otherwise there’s no use passing a BBL, unless President BSAquino and his Liberal Party captors in Malacanang really have a plan to fragmentize the Philippines so that they become the elite rulers of all the new states.

  7. people lie but evidence (like signed documents) will not lie! it has been proven time and time again that only evidence will hold water, not the mere say so on an individual that is blown by the wind!

  8. Bangsamoro has its own flag, see the green banner like saudi banner with only difference is the sword, this bangasamoro has flame-bladed sword while the saudi banner has samurai sword…and igbal didn’t even salute to the philippine flag…so why he didn’t accept that bangamoro is another state, an islamic state….impeach the president.