Under Aquino’s pact, MILF won’t give up arms

9

Second of three parts

“MILF firearms to be placed under lock and key,” read the headline of one of The Manila Times’ front-paged news the other day, and other newspapers had similar stories.

It was based on statements made in a press conference by Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal the day after the signing of President Aquino’s pact with the Muslim insurgents, called the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

Iqbal was certainly right when he said during the conference: “There is no other way to have real peace in Mindanao except to undertake the decommissioning of our forces and firearms.”


But he added: “The firearms of the MILF would be decommissioned and a third party would take charge. These will be stored in a warehouse . . . The MILF does not control the key.” Aquino’s chief negotiator Miriam Ferrer made a similar claim in an interview posted

February 14, 2014 at the Wall Street Journal blog “South East Asia Real Time”:

“We agreed that decommissioning would be gradual and phased, but we need to have a timetable so we can ensure closure to the whole process. We’re very pleased that we have these benchmarks, timetables, and the diverse elements in place.”

MILF fighters celebrating Aquino’s pact. (AFP photo)

MILF fighters celebrating Aquino’s pact. (AFP photo)

Iqbal and Ferrer are fooling us.

Nowhere in the Annexes nor in the CAB can one find Iqbal’s claim that the MILF’s arms will new surrendered to a “third party” and put under lock and key. Nowhere there are Ferrer’s claims of specific benchmarks and timetables.”

The key element of peace talks in the world—which justified governments to agree to settlements with their insurgencies—is a specific commitment by the insurgent group to turn over their arms, and with schedules to do so.

An example is the most recent of such settlements, the Indonesian government’s peace agreement with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). It was signed August 2005 with very specific figures on how many of its fighters will be demobilized (3.000), how many arms will be surrendered (840) and when (September 2005 to December 2005). The insurgents even agreed that they will and no longer wear their military uniforms.

The Aceh agreement even specified: Immediate destruction will be carried out after the collection of weapons and ammunitions. This process will be fully documented and publicized as appropriate.”

Does Aquino-MILF’s Annex on Normalization, which the CAB refers to, have similar demobilization numbers and dates?

None at all.

Instead, what the Annex merely says: “The decommissioning of MILF forces shall be parallel and commensurate to the implementation of all the agreements of the Parties. (Emphasis added). As I pointed out last Monday, the MILF under the agreements would merely be converted into the Bangsamoro police force.

With no criteria agreed upon on what “commensurate” entails, the MILF could insist that it will hand over its arms, or what is left after being renamed as “Bangsamoro police arms“, only when the Bangsamoro State is established—which is after Congress passes the “Basic Law” to implement all the agreements, and a referendum undertaken on the establishment of the new Muslim state-within-a state.

And what happens to the MILF camps? The Annex on Normalization is the very first government document recognizing the camps—seven, including Camp Abubakar which had been captured by the military in 2000. It even committed to assist these camps to be “productive”.

Illusion
To create an illusion that the MILF is laying down its arms, the Annex on Normalization provides that an “Independent Decommissioning Body” will be organized to “oversee the process of decommissioning of the MILF forces and weapons.”

Again there is no timetable for creating this body, and the MILF would likely claim— given how the Annex is formulated—that decommissioning will commence only after the Bangsamoro is a reality.

Ferrer in her interview also said: “(The agreement on normalization) took some time—we understood that this was a very sensitive matter to the MILF, as it could cause internal dissent and break up among their ranks.” (Ferrer seems to have imbibed Aquino’s self-righteousness, saying in that interview that those who would file a case in the Supreme Court against the pact are “parties who wish to derail the process or by lawyers who wish to make a name for themselves.”

How gullible can our negotiators be?

Of course the MILF would try as hard as they can not to agree to turn over its arms, and to commit to a schedule for this. They’d even pretend that the issue would break their ranks.

But demobilization is precisely the heart of any peace settlement.

Why call it a peace settlement when the insurgents do not make any commitment to give up their arms on an agreed-upon schedule?

But more than the specifics of decommissioning, Aquino and his officials do not seem to understand how our entire nation’s legal superstructure is built on this document called the Constitution, which has to be respected. We exist as nation because of this document.

The Executive Branch cannot enter into an agreement with a rebel group or any entity whose provisions violate the Constitution, as the Supreme Court had ruled in the case of the previous administration’s “Memorandum of Agreement Ancestral Domain” that was the equivalent of Aquino’s Framework Agreement:

“It virtually guarantees that the necessary amendments to the Constitution and the laws will eventually be put in place. Neither the GRP Peace Panel nor the President.. is authorized to make such a guarantee. Upholding such an act would amount to authorizing a usurpation of the constituent powers vested only in Congress, a Constitutional Convention, or the people themselves through the process of initiative, for the only way that the Executive can ensure the outcome of the amendment process is through an undue influence or interference with that process.

”Often in agreements and declarations, the most important is what is not said.

Filipinos?
Read the agreements and you will be shocked by one huge omission: Nowhere is there an assertion that the MILF or the Moros consider themselves Filipinos, or Filipino citizens.

Nowhere in Aquino’s pact is the MILF required to pledge allegiance to the Philippine flag and its constitution, and profess to be Filipinos. Why should they? The creation of a Bangsamoro, in essence means Moros organizing their own state.

This again is in contrast to the Aceh pact which refers to the insurgents as “citizens of Indonesia”.

Nowhere in Aquino’s agreement with the MILF an assertion by the MILF that it recognizes the Philippines as a sovereign nation, of which Bangsamoro is a part of. The single reference to the Constitution is something to “amend for the purpose of accommodating and entrenching the agreements of the Parties.”

In fact, the only references to the “Philippines” is as a “party” to the agreement, as a place where “negotiations began in 1997”, or as what country Mr. Aquino is president off.

An uncritical mainstream press showered kudos on Aquino, as succeeding where his predecessors in 17 years have failed.

Of course, he succeeded: He capitulated to what the MILF basically wanted, which is surrendering a part of Philippine sovereignty to it.

If not stopped by Congress and the Supreme Court, a fourth of Mindanao will gradually be outside of the national government’s ambit. “Bangsamoro” is just a small step away from an Islamic Republic of the Bangsamoro.”

Aquino and his negotiators have betrayed the nation.

What happens if Congress and the Supreme Court see through the MILF’s ruses, realize that the agreements will be dismembering the country and throwing the Constitution to the wastebasket, and refuse to go along with Aquino, after he has promised the insurgents the moon?

But let’s give peace a chance, and let’s pray that the MILF will eventually give up their arms, some gullible observers have said.

Or did Aquino fall into the MILF’s trap? With their arms intact, their camps strengthened, the MILF has put a gun in the Republic’s head. Agree to Aquino’s pact, or else.

What sycophants called Aquino’s most important legacy, will be a curse on the nation for decades to come.

Last part on Friday: Is there really a “Bangsamoro”?

tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
www.trigger.ph and www.rigobertotiglao.com

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9 Comments

  1. Who will keep the key? Malaysia w3ho is interested in Sabah?. What a big joke and a grand blunder of this aquino governemnt.

  2. Bert O. Romero on

    Ambassador Tiglao: May I commend your piece for its scholarly research particularly as it refers to the comparison between the CAB and the Aceh Agreement. Indeed, the latter agreement took pains to insure its strict adherence to the Indonesian constitution. Indeed, the Aceh Agreement provided for a timelined decommissioning of GAM forces and the destruction of their considerable weaponry, which was given widespread media coverage under the watchful eyes of foreign observers, commensurate to the redeployment of Indonesian troops away from Aceh. The peaceful elections that followed expectedly resulted to the victory of former GAM officials and their followers who have continuously governed the fully autonomous executive and legislative councils of Aceh. In short, the Aceh agreement has provided the framework under which the autonomous regional government of Aceh can function in an atmosphere of peace and development. On the other hand, the CAB, even before the enactment of its enabling legislation, is already a suspect as having sold out to the MILF. Where did this present administration get the courage to push for an agreement which is patently one-sided and be more than likely be declared unconstitutional? Or have the Filipino people become so enamored with Pres BS Aquino he thinks he can get away with whatever he wants?

  3. How about the great Senate president Drillon? Any comments? Are they waiting for a Partylist to go to SC as what happened on the Meralco electricity increase?

  4. Chris Villanueva on

    BS Pinoy really wanted to finalize this agreement because he can use these places to hide once his presidency is over, remember he has these huge cases under his nose. Or, we will not be surprised if one day his doctor declared BS Aquino is suffering a pyschological problems due of “Ra Ra Ra Jail Gloria Syndrome and Long Long Long Long Martial Law Fatigue Syndrome”

    BS Aquino is very predictable.

  5. This negotiation is just for your eyes only, This is for the good of PNOY himself only. no more no less. He badly needs the Nobel price, and a favor from Malaysia for his family business there.

  6. I never believe anything from this President, He is only after of a nobel prize for himself. He doesn’t care of RP. Also he brought the case of Scarborough shoal to UN, but not SABAH, which should be given action since this case is a century old problem. And more or less this SABAH problem is indirectly connected with this Mindanao problem and Malaysia’s somewhat questionable interest in Mindanao.

  7. Edgar B alido on

    every President worries about his legacy to the nation. President Nonoy Aquino has bequeathed to the Philippines and the next generation of Filipinos a peace agreement with the MILF which amounts to surrender. The peace treaty will have to be undone after the 2016 presidential elections as this clearly violates the Philippine Constitution and as such cannot be implemented. The next President of the Philippine Republic will spend most of his term reclaiming that part of the Philippines President Aquino gave away. Boy, what a big headache this one will be for years to come.

    • There are three petitions that had been filed several months back questioning the constitutionality of the first Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.