• Scrapping Aquino’s BBL will not ignite war

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    President Benigno Aquino 3rd warned of “body bags.” Days later in April, his chief negotiator with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, University of the Philippines political science professor Miriam Coronel Ferrer, spoke of a “very bloody” religious war if MILF elements, disillusioned by peace process problems, become radicalized: “It is a real threat, that kind of radicalization toward [jihadist]groups” like the terrorist ISIS.

    Malaysian Defense Minister Hishamuddin Hussein not only warned: “If the peace process can’t go through in June, then it means war. Twelve years of talks and because of one incident, they will have war.” He also said in late March that Malaysian forces in islets off Sabah were gearing up for a flood of refugees: “If we have a wall of offshore bases, we may have a chance to stop the exodus of people.”

    Will there be war if the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law isn’t passed this month? Not if the MILF remains astute and focused on its longstanding political goals.

    Sure, there could be some fighting like the 2008 attacks by renegade insurgents after the Supreme Court voided the Memorandum Agreement on Ancestral Domain, or MOA-AD. Or the September 2013 siege of Zamboanga City by Moro National Liberation Front fighters unhappy with being set aside in the ongoing peace process with the MILF, which broke away from the MNLF in opposition to the latter’s peace accords in 1976 and 1996.

    Such eruptions would be tragic and terrible, but nothing different from similar hostilities faced by the nation and the armed forces and police in the past.

    ‘We will not disengage from the peace process’ — Iqbal
    As for all-out war and terrorism by the MILF, in fact, Vice-Chairman Ghazali Jaafar said just a day or so before Aquino’s body-bags speech that war was just one of the options for the insurgent group if the BBL was watered down or scrapped. The Front could also negotiate with the next administration. A third course of action, said Jaafar: “We could go to the United Nations.”

    The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and the Framework Agreement (FAB) it subsumed were signed in ceremonies broadcast to the world and supported by foreign governments. Thus, the accords could be seen as internationally affirmed pacts which could be brought to the UN if there were violations.

    A day before Jaafar’s March 26 remarks, MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal told an interfaith peace forum in Cagayan de Oro City: “The MILF will not disengage from the peace process no matter what will happen to that Bangsamoro Basic Law.” Echoing Jaafar, Iqbal told the group led by Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma that the group would pursue the BBL passage even after Aquino’s term ends next June.

    He said “a watered down BBL will not solve the Bangsamoro problem” and would be the worst outcome compared with its enactment as drafted or its failure to pass at all. But the third scenario of Congress not passing the Basic Law at all, is preferable to its drastic revision. “We would rather like this [non-passage] because we can engage the next administration for the passage of the BBL,” Iqbal told the interfaith forum.

    Why war would hurt the MILF struggle
    That Muslim rebels would keep pursuing peace even if the Bangsamoro bill doesn’t pass, should not surprise seasoned political and strategic thinkers.

    Consider this: With the Bangsamoro pact, the MILF has obtained from the government immense concessions which have certain quarters even saying that the accord gives the envisioned Bangsamoro entity the characteristics of a nation-state, including a defined territory, citizenry, government, security force, and even a name and a flag.

    The CAB and its annexes also provides for mammoth cash transfers to the proposed region, generous revenue sharing, lucrative control over natural resources, and unprecedented powers and authority for the Bangsamoro government and its regional counterparts of major national agencies, including constitutional commissions.

    The Framework Agreement even stipulates that the Armed Forces of the Philippines would relinquish law enforcement functions in the Bangsamoro, and be redeployed commensurate to its reduced role. That could well make the regional police the largest security force in Bangsamoro.

    If its elected parliament should declare independence, and its police moves to defend it, the existence of a duly constituted authority with a security force would give the seceding entity the status of belligerency, allowing foreign nations to recognize it and give it assistance.

    The concessions won by the MILF from the government even prompted the Peace Council and Summit convened by President Aquino to give support to the BBL, to call for significant amendments so as to avoid constitutionality problems.

    The Council report urged that the so-called “asymmetric relationship” between the national and Bangsamoro governments be defined in a manner compliant with the Constitution. It also wanted phrases inserted to make it clear that powers given to regional agencies do not undermine or reduce the authority of national instrumentalities, including the Supreme Court.

    In sum, the MILF got the best deal it could ever get, thanks to Aquino’s immense desire to conclude a peace agreement during his term. Why then would the rebels go back to square one by launching a full-scale war and a terrorist campaign, which would lead national leaders to scrap the pact and end negotiations?

    The MILF’s international backers would pull back, distancing themselves from what could well be declared a terrorist organization. Even the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, grouping Muslim nations across the globe, and peace talks mediator Malaysia may find it hard to keep backing the MILF if it goes to war.

    So those senators still resisting Palace threats and inducements, should not worry that revising or even shelving the draft BBL would spark full-scale hostilities. The real threat to peace and security is creating a Bangsamoro under provisions that encourage separatism and confer regional powers which make it easier to harbor terrorists.

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    20 Comments

    1. For me, why include the Province of Palawan,only (maybe) 5 % muslims in that area. they are greedy for the gas resources of the Province is the reason behind

    2. Darling Lapreza on

      The BBL has an objective to control strife and violence in the region, and promote social and economic development and protect and promote the culture of the Moros and the distinct practice of their Faith. what we need is an open-minds.. For the sake of our fellow Filipino specially in Mindanao..

      And BBL is the product of 17 years of long, harsh, and difficult negotiations between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). I don’t think the MILF would ever agree—or is capable—to negotiate again for such a long period of time. If we miss this opportunity, I don’t think a similar opportunity will ever present itself again in a generation or two from now. The next generation of Moro leaders, young and idealist, would be expected to be more radical than the contemporary Moro leaders, who, as a consequence of their 43 long years of struggle, are more pragmatic and reasonable;

    3. MILF and MILF are actually fighting among themselves. Did you see Jahrya statements about Camp Busra and what the many MILF combatants in that camp think of Iqbal, Jaffar and Murad? Then add the MILF “lost commands” who put on a different-uniform when they go on their “unofficial” missions.
      MILF has to get its act together for the benefit of the Filipino citizens of Maguindanao, Basilan, many many barangays of Mindanao. I’d hate to be a student in Maguindanao, not knowing when the next IED explodes near school.

    4. I will not allow my government to give my tax money to fund a terrorist organization.

    5. Junking BBL will not ignite war.
      Approving it, will.
      Bangsamoro if approved, will give
      the terrorists it’s own government
      funded by the national government,
      it will have more funds, total access
      to Mindanao’s mineral resources and
      eventually will secede from the Republic.

      • Grace Castro on

        DON’T generalize. Calling the Muslims a Terrorist is a show of ignorance. There are Moros/Muslims who are NOT terrorists. In fact, you’ll be disappointed to know that most Muslims are not terrorists and reject terrorism.

        Tayo sa Pilipinas, dala pa rin ang paurong na pagiisip na ang mga Moro ay traydor at terorista. The Spanish colonizers and the Americans taught us to think that way when we were still slaves. Alas, you are all still slaves.

    6. Crisostomo Ibarra on

      In lieu of the AFP’s modernization it will be in the MILF’s interest to pursue peace. On the same note, peace negotiators should bear this mind and show some grit when negotiating with the MILF. Peace is always the ultimate goal on both sides so let us genuinely put our collective efforts and achieve this magnanimous deed.

      As Albert Einstein would say: Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.

    7. Mutalib Rahman on

      I truly support any efforts for long lasting peace in Mindanao specifically and whole Philippines. All the Philippines citizens suffer so much because of the conflict directly and indirectly.

      My only comment on the people sentiment is : you should learn how to express your feelings, emotion and opinions towards achieving peace.

      Words like… “who scared of MILF or MNLF?” only projects the mind is not looking for peace but conflicts.

      Rather than we give them (MILF or MNLF) any relevance to the existence of the Republic…. nor we want to provoke. We should start any argument or debate with… For those who love peace…. !

      BBL is not an issue at all – I’m confident The Senate will fine tuned the BBL for the benefits of everyone. But don’t just sit and watch… please participate by pressuring the Senate to protect everyone interest from north to south.

      Let’s don’t feel comfortable and rest until BBL or anything kind of solution is agreed for lasting peace.

      Let’s the talks continue so we have no war conflicts!

    8. If BBL is a wrong plan but still pushed by the current government because of all the reasons they can find especially peace in Mindanao, the MILF will still keep buying armaments for their people once the billions of pesos are poured in every year. Why? The MILF has been arming themselves and fighting the government for decades and now they are given more leeway, they will establish a stronger and well armed BBL military. If only our president for the last five years focused on claiming Sabah with the insistence of the Sultanate of Sulu, then the muslims in Mindanao would benefit from the $ 127 billion per year economy of the whole Sabah state. BBL will divide again the Christians and Muslims in Mindanao and this could lead to armed conflicts once the muslims decide to enlarge BBL territory. For now, the military can very well handle any insurgency or small war by the MILF so who’s body bags are at stake?

      • for the MILF, it’s the other way around… Si vis bellum para pacem. Meaning, ” if you are planning a war, you should put your opponent off guard by cultivating peace.”

    9. Norodin Lucman on

      “Armed conflict will ensue. Blood will be shed. And when blood is shed, it will not distinguish between right and wrong; between young and old, neither between men and women, nor soldiers or rebels, combatants and civilians, rich, poor, Muslims, Christians. Nobody wins. Everybody loses,” Marcos said. So, war it is? Everybody knows that the easiest way to overthrow Pres. Aquino is the outbreak of major hostilities in Mindanao and Sulu. If Mamasapano is any gauge, the casualty aversion, bigoted outrage and fiesta among peace spoilers, the country will sink like the Titanic unable to carry tons of body bags.

    10. Scrapping the BBL will not bring war any more than passing it will bring peace. This is not a peace document. It is a document giving the MILF control of Mindanao.

    11. I dont know if war will happen because the bbl law is scrapped, but if it does so be it. Dont let your country be split up. Remember if there is a war its them who want it. They want separation from the philippines but they want the rest of the philippines to give them money each year.
      In a war they will also die & what might be needed is like sri lanka. They had enough of the tamil tigers doing terrorists acts & they brutally killed & defeated them, that may be needed here & if it is it will be because of what they do. They have the option to live in peace in the philippines. To be active in politics, thats their rights, they have no right to split the philippines up.

      • Franky Lambao on

        The BBL does not make the Bangsamoro government a state. The provisions on people, territory, and self-determination do not imply the creation of a separate state, but are consistent with the constitutionally-mandated creation of autonomous regions.

        What we need is trust and open minds in other words.

    12. kapag napasa ang BBL at nagkaroon ng sariling COA, police force at different agencies ang MILF, libre na nilang ubusin at waldasin ang bilyon bilyong pondo na ibibigay sa kanila ng national government. look what happened to the previous officials of ARMM, nagkaroon ng ghost teachers, students, classrooms, etc.

    13. Alejo Rosete on

      Who is afraid of MILF?
      If war erupts due to the non-approval of the BBL
      So Be It.

      LET US ALL GO TO WAR TO FIGHT THE MILF.
      President Estrada started to wipe them out.
      Let us continue to achieve peace this way
      to satisfy those MILF cravings.

      Better still just modernize and upgrade the ARMM.