• The legislators want peace?


    THE legislators don’t seem to want to call it the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) anymore. Both in the House (HB 5811) and the Senate (SB 2894), they are now calling it the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR). But by whatever name it is going, there is cause for genuine concern. The bills proposed to replace the version submitted by the President to Congress are unacceptable. They do not honor the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, which was a formal Philippine Government commitment. They do not provide for genuine autonomy for the Bangsamoro people. They provide less for the Bangsamoro people than the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) law. They do not recognize the legitimacy of the Bangsamoro struggle and the proposed law as a way of restoring justice to the Bangsamoro people.

    They do not hear the leaders of the MILF stating that these versions are unacceptable. Worse, if they hear it, they ignore it.

    The legislators all say that they want peace. They reject war. But they display little sympathy for the justness of the Bangsamoro armed struggle for a homeland in redress for their having been discriminated against, deprived of their lands, massacred, warred upon because they remain true to their Muslim faith and traditions. Seeing no connection between this armed struggle and the law, they reject the original preamble of the BBL. They have reduced the autonomous region mandated by the Constitution to little more than a local government unit, removing from it powers that had already been granted in the ARMM. They want peace, but they undermine the leadership of the leaders who lead their people from war to peace. They want peace, but they squander valuable legislative time by failing to show up for legislative sessions to forge peace. They want peace, but they fear the public deliberations that should lead to peace. They absent themselves from congressional sessions and thwart quorum. With no quorum they are unable to cure the deficiencies of the draft BLBAR which translates too easily into a cynical “BAR the Bangsamoro Law.”

    The legislators say they want peace, but they think that if they undermine the passage of the BBL, or water down its content, the Mindanao violence will not recur. They presume the damage of delay can be remedied under a future administration while they now pander to the fears and votes of prejudiced constituencies. They want peace, but deny peace its due leadership and courage. They want peace, but ignore what is going on on the ground already in areas of Maguindanao and Zamboanga. Here a breed of Muslim is organizing that is different from the MNLF and MILF and all Muslims in the Philippines before them. Their concern is not a Philippine homeland and genuine autonomy, but global Islamic solidarity and a borderless Islamic State. Their allegiance is not to the Philippines, their allegiance is to the leaders of the Islamic State in Syria, Iraq and all over the world. Their religion teaches them to reject religious freedom and to kill those who do not accept them, including Muslims who declare their intolerance and brutality to be contrary to Islam. They are brutal and barbaric and have paraded their beheadings and mass murders on mainstream and social media for all the world to behold and fear. From their horror, millions flee over land and sea, as they flee Syria into the Mediterranean on onto Europe, countless drowning on the way.

    In their power, Muslims in the Philippines disenchanted by the peace processes that so disrespects them, that over and over again forges formal national agreements with them and breaks them, are beginning to repose their hope.

    The MILF and most Muslims in the Philippines do not support the ISIS. Most Muslims in the Philippines believe in religious inclusiveness, and reject extremism. But many of these Muslims are poor, disenfranchised, and excluded from the benefits of mainstream Philippines society. They do not enjoy the benefits of strong education. They do not have much of a future. Today they believe in the integrity and wisdom of battle-scarred Al Hajj Murad Ibrahim. But if tomorrow, after the votes on the BBL or the BLBAR are taken, they judge that he has not had the strength to make his openness to “dialogue” and “negotiations” work for their lives and their futures, they will shift their allegiance to younger, less long-suffering leaders of the Bangsamoro peoples. Only this time, the battle cries may not be for “genuine autonomy” or even for independence. They will be for a borderless Islamic State.

    Far away in Manila, the legislators may think this alarmist or an exaggeration of possible evils in order to pressure passage of a politically motivated bill. But I entreat the legislators to read the signs of the times. Harried refugees are pulling down age-old borders, redefining rules of governance in the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States. Irrepressible flows of humanity forced to flee from homes and countries where ISIS has destroyed their peace and their right to worship the Almighty in the way they choose fit are redefining the world order. Let our legislators not think that we are mystically immune from this international malady, protected by our saints, our sacraments and our political saviors. Let them rather recognize that because they squander the goodwill and wisdom of today’s Muslim leaders, and would actually legislate conditions that restore power in Muslim Mindanao to the privileged families who can give them cheap wholesale votes, their folly cannot be tolerated with patience and impunity. Those who are excluded from the benefits of economic development, normal education, health care and decent employment will find power for redress where they must.

    Our legislators from imperial Manila, polluted, overweight, sick, congested, and quite deluded, may learn that if they force our youthful leaders in Mindanao to target them, our national disorder, and our historical inability to keep our word, as enemies of their future, our centers of population are not invulnerable to suicide bombers.

    Where an autonomous Bangsamoro government can preserve within its territory the right of every Filipino, including every Muslim, Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu, Jew or Lumad, to worship God or Allah as he or she in conscience sees fit, the law which would establish that autonomy should be passed.


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    1. I appreciate how deep Fr. Joel Tabora presented the real situation of the much hoped ending of not only more than forty years sufferings of the Moro residents of the conflict-affected areas in Mindanao which some anti-peace labelled as “hypocrisy”. Which is more appropriate be called “hypocrites” than those who called themselves as wanting and longing for peace but neglecting the peace formula defined by the Government Peace Negotiating Panels and the Moro Fronts for more than 17 years painstaking problem solving process? Who is more hypocrite than those who says truth on Mindanao problem than those who wanted to preserved the deep biases and prejudices implanted for 377 years Spanish role on what is now island called Philippines excluding Mindanao island in lieu of solving the centuries suffering of the Moro People?

      • Thank you Lord for my deep biases and prejudices it is probably among the reasons why I am still around.

    2. But many of these Muslims are poor, disenfranchised, and excluded from the benefits of mainstream Philippines society. They do not enjoy the benefits of strong education. They do not have much of a future.

      How is that different from the other citizens of the Philippines ?

      The citizens see unemployment, corruption and poverty increase while the government denies and ignores.

      Welcome to the Philippines.

      • a vicious cycle exists in Mindanao ,perpetuated by the Moro culture an the fact that in their poverty they still have enough wherewithal to buy automatic rifle. The vicous cycle is like this:
        a) poverty exist because nobody in his right mind could sell,invest,work while bullets are wheezing above their heads.
        b.) to stop poverty one must establish order by blasting to smithereens the bandits and mullahs that predominate but no government can do so because they would be inundated by the complaints by such eminent peaceniks like Tabora and his Jesuitics and Cardinal Quevedo,OMILF and the whimpering bunch of UP Diliman based sophisticates.
        c. poverty continues along with the violence as armed groups improve their capabilities as negotiation with the government for peace settlement continues. Government seeks to defuse the problem by mollifying the armed groups especially the leaders who get wealthier.
        d.) certain peace agreement is trumpeted moro bandit leaders and politicians and their relatives get wealthier and better armed. Moro intellectual continue their propaganda about them being “oppressed” their books published everywhere and are accorded with accolades from UP Diliman,Ateneo and La Salle sophisticates.
        e.) Poverty and violences continues in the moro communities and Christian communities are harrrased and attacked.

    3. Speaking of Tabora’s Taboos
      One who has been born and raised in Mindanao could not be indifferent to the eloquent words of the paladin Jesuit Tabora in his views regarding the situation of the BBL in Congress. Yet he of the new relativist breed among the masters of casuistry unfortunately does not speak for everyone in Mindanao.
      Though I am concerned about what is apparently a lack of attention by many congressmen about the situation in Mindanao I do not subscribe to Tabora’s irritatingly one sided, biased and ridiculous brand of historical revisionism in which he has become so captivated so much so that he has been wielding this about like a perverted version of the Historical Materialism of dogmatist Marxist as some sort of answer-it-all panacea to the misfortunes of Mindanao.
      This new breed of Jesuits have conveniently forgotten the the brethren of their order had been the “ground zero” of the conflict in Mindanao as the indefatigable missionaries who converted entire regions to the faith as chronicled by Francisco Combes. Such was their ancient zeal that they clamored and lobbied for the fort of Zamboanga to built and manned and when the Moros attacked they would lead the fight as Jose Ducos did in Iligan in 1754.
      But this was a long time ago when the Roman Catholic theologians had not yet attained the zenith of intelligence to consider its own beliefs as essentially an embarrassment. Today a manifest transformation in theological thinking has as its embodiment a Joel Tabora S.J. who nonchalantly endorses the establishment of an entity in Mindanao in which Islamic Militants can utilize taxpayers money to intensify their regular rampages against mainly unarmed Christian communities which the Jesuits of long ago had established. Not even after they slaughtered the hapless SAF 44.

      By some transmutation such Manila-born,European educated,avant garde intellectual Jesuit Tabora throws away all logic by campaigning in favor of a strengthened ARMM which by all indications have been a proverbial “black hole” of government funds for decades. He imagines that the MILF is an organization vastly different from the MNLF as the Mensheviks were to the Bolsheviks or the ISIS to the Taliban. He also apparently has not leafed through the yellowed documents in the Jesuit archives about all those agreements from the time of Sultan Kudarat to Urbiztondo and their results and consequences. Thus he trusts on continuing all those so- called dialogues in which drama and hypocrisy predominates and many things are left unsaid because of fear.In the long run the irksomely repetitive referendums since the time of Marcos can go on – ad nauseam.
      That many congressmen from Luzon and Visayas have no idea about the actual situation in Mindanao is made even more onerous and problematic by a befuddled Jesuit university president who has no idea about the silent but real intimidation on the Christian communities by the heavily armed moros. How the efficacy of the constitution, of the penal and civil code stops upon entering predominantly muslim communities (in spite of many of them being judges and lawyers). He is blissfully ignorant (thanks to the media blackout) of the weekly murder of innocent Christians in Marawi and certain parts of Lanao and Cotabato.
      Perhaps underscoring the wealth of his order and the air conditioned environment he circulates and the lapse of time since his exposures during formation he has only a romanticized,idealized and sanitized picture of the Moro just like his fellow travelers in the Government peace panel.
      He has not even noticed the lavish lifestyle of many Moro politicians and government heads who while ululating about being discriminated continue to enjoy huge salaries and perks from various government positions from the Bureau of Customs to the Philippine Post Office. He does not bother to interview the sons of these Viziers who are among the few who can pay the tuition fees of Jesuit Universities. They cry about not being able to follow their religion yet not even in Metro Manila subdivisions are we unfamiliar of the call for prayer of their multitude of mosques.
      I could not therefore help but ask why this brilliant son of Ignatius had become so tantalized by such sleek propaganda so as to lose his equanimity so as to appeal to his government to surrender to the blackmail of Islamic Militants?
      Perhaps a deeper reflection can help Fr. Tabora or better yet another 30 days of Ignatian retreat in the silence of the Novaliches novitiate can do away of such confusion in his mind.

    4. How does this Sharia law work? Is every Muslim, Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu, Jew or Lumad subject to Muslim religious law under the BBL? How about the atheists who believe in no God? There is no longer a way to hand over power to the MILF, the BBL is dead.

    5. Whatever the motive behind pushing anything that bears the pejorative name Moro/Moros/Bangsamoro, whether it be good for all or sinister against the Muslims, the name itself is wrong, erroneous, false, and incorrect in addition to its pejorative implication and its unconstitutionality. The Muslims were never Moros. History attests to it, so that even the people of Morocco who were called Moros since the 2 C BC up to 1956, denied it and refused to be called Moros or Moors. Moros is va word of abuse perpetrated by the colonizers. It is a Spanish lie that becomes a complicated Filipino lie once it is is revived here as an INCLUSIVE BANGSAMORO (in English MOOR NATION). Moro is not in the Constitution and Moor Nation from nowhere could not be placed or inserted in the Constitution. Even in a sinister intention to derogate a people, these Muslims in Mindanao will soon realized the old “Moro Problem” that is thus revived and they will rise up in an upheaval against what resurrect it. It will open a Pandora’s Box that will establish animosity between the divide. Any PEACE PROCESS must be built on clean, honest, and sincere precept and humane principles. It took the Filipino people centuries to eradicate the “Moro Problem”, and here are the contemporary Filipinos who are supposed to be more equipped, more learned, and better off, who are faltering as they repeat the ails of history. Where art thou going, countrymen?

      For just a name, the nation can err!

    6. No. Maybe the legislators want airtime and publicity to keep their names in the public space and the mind of the public. They want to promote themselves by pandering, as in the INC incident, to the fears and ignorance of some constituencies. Not really the national interest.

    7. Im sorry to disagree with your opinion sir SJ Tabora because it is obvious by the MILF action that they don’t recognized our Laws. They want to impose Shariah Law in our Nation! Their Koran teaches the muslims that none Muslims are infidels and deserve to be punish or eliminated if they don’t convert to Islam! So in the disguised of peace and recognition of their right they wage war on our democratic government in order to steal our freedom of worship and That includes the institution you represent! Their will never be peace from the Muslims because their religion teaches them to wage war! Only Jesus who can give peace to them because Jesus said in John 16:33New King James Version (NKJV)

      33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will[a] have tribulation;but be of good cheer I have overcome the world.

      John 14:27New King James Version (NKJV)

      27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. God may have mercy on us and heal our land! God Bless the Philippines!