Yes to peace, no to BBL


Peace is a condition sine qua non to development. In a world battered by animosity and war, the desire for a just and lasting peace lies deep in our hearts and minds. Without enduring peace, equitable growth and sustainable development would not be possible. In the Ramos era, we came to appreciate that peace flows from sincerity with broad buy-in, and obtained through patience, persistence, prudence, circumspection, inclusion and transparency.

In 1996, the MILF did not sign the comprehensive peace deal with the MNLF that we painstakingly put together, with support from the OIC (Organization of Islamic Conference). During the cessation of hostilities, the MILF kept building its armed strength, kept up its armed attacks in Central Mindanao and continued to send its recruits to train in Pakistan and fight in Afghanistan with Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

This was confirmed by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and her key security officials to me when I was tasked by FVR to cultivate closer intelligence and security relations. It eventually led to the holding of an Anti-Terror Summit in April 1996 that I organized with 19 countries in attendance in Baguio.

This background information is important in light of a number of issues have arisen in the aftermath of the MILF-BIFF’s massacre of 44 PNP-SAF law enforcers in Mamasapano:

• the mishandling of the peace process;
• the trustworthiness of a factionalized MILF;
• the conflicted nature of Malaysia as peace broker;
• the efficacy of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Various aspects of national security, are at stake here – internal security, public safety and human security. Further mishandling will surely impact present and future generations.

• Contrary to the government’s claims, protests from Mindanao and elsewhere are rising in social and mass media about the lack of inclusivity and transparency in the conduct of the peace process. Mishandling allegations have given rise to fears of more armed conflict ahead, a sellout to Malaysia and future loss of Sabah, instead of a peaceful outcome.

• The MILF’s links with Al Qaeda (AQ) that aims to establish a global caliphate through jihadism was validated in Mamasapano, where Marwan and Usman of the Jemaah Islamiya (JI), AQ’s extension in Southeast Asia, were being harbored by both the MILF and the BIFF, allegedly an MILF breakaway group.

• The BIFF has pledged allegiance to a more virulent jihadist group, ISIS, which also aims to establish a global caliphate. Elements of the MILF’s 105th, 106th and 118th Base Commands, and the BIFF, jointly partook in that bloodlust that took more than half a day.

• The MILF’s negotiator, Mr. Mohagher Iqbal, has admitted that its political junta has little or no control of its military units. If that’s the case, what’s the point of talking peace with a Jekyll and Hyde? Why are we taking on added risks to national security?

• A leopard does not change its spots, yet, the insistent rush to a settlement with the MILF, despite its insincerity, duplicity and treachery, befuddles. Why is the government overtly biased toward the MILF and contemptuous of the SAF and its law enforcement mission?

• Malaysia is a conflicted third party. It has aided and abetted the secessionist movements in Mindanao since the Marcos era after the infamous “Jabidah massacre.” It has been a safe haven for various rebel groups and the JI.

• Legal luminaries have cited the BBL’s constitutional and legal flaws. National security practitioners cite the dangers that lie ahead in the context of jihadism worldwide pursuant to the establishment of a global caliphate.

• The MILF will govern the “autonomous State of BangsaMoro (ASBM),” funded by national funds to the tune of over P80-billion plus, when fund releases for national defense are falling short of approvals, impeding catch-up efforts to build credible deterrence in the West Philippine Sea.

• Local and regional autonomy are in place. Muslims have been freely electing fellow Muslims. They enjoy the same democratic rights and responsibilities as everyone else in the country. Shifting to another entity is unnecessary and costly. It does not guarantee desired results due to serious human resource challenges, cultural weaknesses and sharp divisions that need to be addressed first.

I agree with BBL proponents that a peace settlement in Mindanao must address social injustice, as with the rest of the country. I also agree that the regional government has barely improved ARMM’s quality of life. But I also think that peace at all costs with the MILF, given the internal security risks it poses, is not sensible. And BBL won’t result in social justice and performance excellence after it is signed. As we learned from the MNLF, rebels don’t necessarily make for good public administrators.

How much more for jihadists who have a different agenda in mind?

The late chairman Hashim Salama was known to say that the MILF do not consider themselves Filipinos because they are Moros, and that its goal was independence. That explains the term BangsaMoro. Granting the MILF a legal territory presents a clear and present danger to national security. It is not the solution. It is fraught with grave risk that raises the risks of war and political discontent, at a time when the country’s territorial integrity is under siege in the West Philippine Sea.

At a time of grave peril, when the government’s wherewithal to manage risk, emergencies and crises is in doubt based on its track record, it must humbly stop, look, listen and proceed with extreme caution.

Yes to a well-managed peace process with broad representation! Yes to keeping, reforming and converting local and regional autonomy into platforms that deliver results. No to BBL for all the reasons stated above!

Rafael M. Alunan 3rd served as Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government during the Ramos Administration and was the Cabinet Officer-in-Charge of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (CORD-ARMM); chairman of the National Peace and Order Council (NPOC), and; chaimanr of the National Action Committee on Anti-Hijacking and Terrorism (NACAHT).


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  1. Pano magkakaron ng Peace kung hindi ipapasa ang BBL? NOT passing it means swallowing the vicious lies and slander that have been heaped upon the BBL and those who worked tirelesly and thankslessly for it.

  2. Dont tell them there is no time. There has been so much time and there is still so much time. Kaya natin. Gawan natin ng paraan. Transcend politics. Go beyond ourselves. YES TO PEACE and YES TO BBL!

  3. Passing the BBL is the Christian thing to do. For not passing it means collectively turning away Muslim Filipinos who are knocking on our doors for help.

    Muslim Mindanao is home to the poorest of Filipinos, whom the corruption-prone ARMM framework was not able to help. Muslim Filipinos are the poorest in Southeast Asia. You will cry for Muslim Filipinos when you see their utter destitution vis a vis the prosperity of Muslims in Indonesia and Malaysia and Singapore and Brunei.

  4. The sad part is not everyone realizes the fact that the BBL is for Peace. I respectfully disagree to the article when it said NO to BBL. We all have reasons for and against it, but we have to understand it is for our Muslim Filipino brothers and sisters! There is a lot of politics involved with the BBL now. What started as a debate for giving them their autonomy, branched into several political leverages.

  5. It is useless to debate those against the BBL because as the survey has said, those who know very little about BBL tend to be against it and those who have read it tend to be pro-BBL. So its like a lopsided game of basketball, except there are two basketballs and certainly no referee.

  6. Franky Lambao on

    Me, i would still say pass the BBL. because if the BBL is passed, it will usher a new era of progress and prosperity for Muslim Mindanao and the Philippines. Centuries of injustice against Muslim Filipinos will begin to be reversed. Not only that we will be celebrating a new air of cultural diversity and religious tolerance. Opportunists have resorted to fanning hate and anti-Muslim sentiment to kill the BBL. This is simply wrong, and a sign that we are still a backward society.

  7. Darling Lapreza on

    If the BBL is not passed, when will it be passed? Tomorrow is Congress last session. It will adjourn until October only to make way for the filing of candidacies for 2016 of Marcos, Duterte, Cayetano, Miriam, Atienza, Alunan, and all those who stood in the way of the BBL’s passage. That is the tragedy of the BBL.

  8. Bongbong marcos has spotted some of the hidden traps which the malaysian lawyers inserted in BBL. Well done to him and his legal eagles, and miriam santiago
    What on earth has miriam ferrer been doing for 4 years. At the senate hearing yesterday she looked like a deer caught in the headlights, and some-one without a clue.

  9. Leodegardo Pruna on

    Would it be probable that Deles and Ferrer were promised to be crowned princesses once BaBaLa is passed without correction? From their looks, they are bound to sell the Philippines at any cost for the MILF. God bless the Philippines.

  10. P.Akialamiro on

    I wonder if the government negotiators have a hidden agenda. Were they not aware of those stated in this article? Despite all, even up to now they insist on having the BBL approved the soonest.

    How incompetent? Are they Filipinos by heart, or somebody else? At best, they have done a great disservice to the Filipino people; at worst, they are ‘traitors’.Yet, even Pres. BS Aquino would like the BBL to be passed soonest!

  11. Many good points. The bottom line is junk the BBL and all MILF documents. Amend the ARMM.