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Aug 07

The march of folly in Mindanao

My column for today is The march of folly in Mindanao. I find it interesting that the Moro students I talked to ventured an opinion quite similar to that expressed by Ricky Carandang in his blog:

My other problem is this: I have seen the quality of the political leadership in ARMM and I am not optimistic that greater autonomy for the warlords who rule there will improve the lives of ordinary Muslims. The ordinary people there could be merely exchanging the neglect and indifference of Imperial Manila with the unimpeded oppression from their own kind. Neither am I opitmistic that with those leaders in charge, they can bring stability or security to the region.

Much of the success of the BJE depends on the kind of leadership that will arise in the region. So far, its not looking good.

I’m not so convinced of “neglect and indifference” as Carandang expresses it; what seems more accurate is that attention and resources have been lavished on the Moro leadership but the national government has refused to extract any accountability from those leaders just as those leaders have followed the lead of their Christian political peers by squandering the resources at their disposal.

But returning to Carandang’s opinion, is the former not, in its purest form, a colonial question? Being asked to prove the capacity for self-government is what a subordinated people are asked to do; it is not what two peoples looking to find a way for an amicable co-habitation or a just parting of ways, asks of each other.

This brings me to the danger from all the emotions unleashed because of the way the public was caught by surprise by the RP-MILF deal, is that it may actually set back the prospects of a just peace settlement: not least because all the aggressive talk masks the galling reality that the Republic is already hard-pressed to maintain its writ, much more actively quell a rebellion. This news then: MILF given 24 hours to leave areas ‘forcibly’ taken in ARMM . Can it be taken at face value? Posturing? A sudden recovery of military balls?

(Update 7:28 pm: Overlooked today’s Manila Times headline: Ilonggos arming vs. MILF. While on one hand, soothing noises from civilian officials (see Palace: GRP-MILF ceasefire body meeting on N Cotabato row ), AFP more hard-line: AFP chief: ‘Armed conflict possible if deadline not met‘ .)

But this harsh military reality must be separated in turn from public perception and criticism of the deal.

Among the wrinkles in the current situation is the perception that Malaysia is not an honest broker (while our governments have been weak, see Tatay Pepes blogging from General Santos City) and a lingering lack of confidence in Islamic democracy : and while I believe there can be democracy with Islamic characteristics, personally, I am not convinced that a large Muslim minority can be successfully integrated into a state dominated by another religion (I ventured this opinion back in 2004): unless secularism becomes entrenched. But since we seem to be leaving secularism more and more behind, then all the more the political incompatibility of the two sides, Christian and Muslim, becomes clearer and clearer.

But there is something slightly underhanded in some Christian politicians suddenly wrapping the national flag around themselves, when the only thing wrong with separatism, it would seem, is that the MILF beat them to it, and they are excluded from it. These Christian politicians have themselves openly proposed and discussed secession, and of course virtual Commonwealth status, after all.

The opinions of Christian Filipinos in Mindanao, however, is an altogether different thing. While I think the panic is being fanned, irresponsibly, by Christian politicians, it has at its heart a justifiable terror at the thought of having been handed over like pawns to a future Muslim state, and worse, being denied any assurance of protection by the authorities. The bare minimum any citizen, and what’s more, entire communities who suddenly wake up on day to discover their future has been radically altered (potentially) by government fiat, should be able to expect and not even have to demand, is that their property and security will be guaranteed by the Republic.

Still, the reality is that with the impending ARMM elections (opposed by the MILF), the eruption of public passions in Christian areas in Mindanao, there seems to be a widely-held assumption that some sort of conflict is nigh. I believe this is a good time to point you to my conference notes on the ICT and Democracy Conference, and in particular, to Text wars or SMS for peace?

As tensions and violence began to spill into the streets in Kenya in late 2007, the government decided to ban local live broadcast. Whilst this is obviously controversial, there were fears that radio, in particular, could be used, as it had done in Rwanda, to incite violence. The ban of live reporting meant that SMS began to be utilised as an update method and thus ‘mobile reporters’ were born.

The Government realised that they couldn’t control the internet or the text messages which were being sent to incite hostility, so they countered them with their own blanket text messages stating that the violence was illegal and that Kenyans should be concentrating on peace.

As well as to this, to set the tone for this entry:

Today’s Inquirer editorial appeals for the authorities to step back from the brink and reconcile themselves to the parameters ordained by the Constitution. Yet I found it quite interesting in a gathering of Inquirer columnists last night, that opinion was quite divided on what to expect from the Supreme Court.

A sober voice among the columnists said to me, “There are, indeed, times when the national interest may require a tremendous sacrifice which includes parting ways. Think of Malaysia and its parting ways with Singapore, a win-win for both sides as it turned out. But the problem is while we may want to seriously consider this option, you cannot do it this way, in this manner, in defiance of the Constitution.” Similarly judicious views were expressed by John Nery in a recent column.

One opinion seemed widely shared: the Supreme Court won’t dribble this one, it will resolve the status of the government’s deal with dispatch, if only to calm the situation. But while I heard that the Supreme Court would rule against the President, basically saying she had exceeded her authority, another and shall I say more authoritative sort put it to me in a more nuanced manner: “The court will rule as the President wants it to rule.” Which means it will support the President’s deal, I asked? The person said, no, the court will rule as the President decides, at the time, it should rule. And left it at that.

There are those, of course, unhappy with the Supreme Court’s intervention, and its TRO has, in turn, inspired frustration on the part of those, like Bong Montesa, who, we must assume, sincerely participated in the process out of the belief it offers a way forward. Abe Margallo also agrees the Supreme Court may have been out of bounds in issuing the TRO vs. the deal.

The most surprising opinion I heard, though, came from our Cebu columnist Juan Mercado. When I told him that perhaps some tacticians had determined the appeal of Federalism would swing support in the Visayas behind the deal, he vigorously disagreed. “This will find very hard going in Cebu,” he said.

I am not so sure, though, that at this point we can say, as At Midfield thinks, that the whole thing has begun to unravel.

Yesterday’s Inquirer editorial points to the views of Fr. Juan Mercado, OFM, a veteran of the peace process, who points out the genius of the RP-MILF deal, but also its fatal flaw. The genius of the document lies in that

The MOA is not just about “ancestral domain” in the ordinary sense of the word. The MOA creates the very prism, the framework and the mechanism to realize their dream and aspiration.

The MOA will be difficult to understand, simply because it introduces a new and unfamiliar paradigm in looking at the issues involved in the peace process. In the past, the peace negotiations were done and approached by insisting on the Constitution as if it were written in stone. It is no accident that the peace negotiators of the past had to negotiate within the “box”, that is, the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence.

Atty. Camilo Montesa of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance, a Cotabato-based Think Tank, narrated to the Kusog Mindanaw Group the genesis of the new paradigm as used in the negotiation with the MILF beginning December 2006. The new paradigm is based on the concept of “earned sovereignty” as a way out of the intractable positioning of the parties.

This concept involves accepting the principle of shared sovereignty; in institution building; and a shared commitment to resolving the final political status of a Muslim homeland.

But, Mercado points out,

The main flaws of the otherwise a very good paradigm are basic which could have been addressed easily by government while negotiating with the MILF. The paramount flaw is the absence or utter lack of consultation of stakeholders, including Christian leaders, indigenous peoples in Mindanao, and peace advocates themselves. This flaw contravenes the very essence of any peace process which is participative of the stakeholders. The participative aspect of any process can NOT be overemphasized since this should lead to a regional and national consensus on the peace formula.

The second flaw is the lack of transparency and thus the lack of accountability in the whole process. It is rather very tragic that a good paradigm is now being “torpedoed” on the basis of fundamentals (consultation and transparency) that could have been easily addressed. The same fundamentals are required in the upcoming negotiations on the Comprehensive Compact (or Final Peace Agreement).

The third flaw is the fact that the government negotiating peace with the MILF is at its lowest ebb. The social capital and the credibility of Government are busted. For a peace process to bring to a successful conclusion will require a very high social capital and credibility that this Government sorely lacks. Government has to do a lot of “selling”, “cajoling” and “convincing”, especially so when the waters the Parties have navigated in coming up with the MOA are deep and little known. For this very reason, Government should have walked the extra mile in making sure that the stakeholders are on board.

It is the lack of a pre-existing constituency mobilized, ahead of time, to support the agreement; the absence and in fact, refusal on the part of the government to be open about the negotiations; and the general mistrust that haunts the government, that has led to such a ferocious response from Christians in the vicinity of the ARMM and even skepticism and opposition among some non-MILF Muslims. The government, as Amando Doronila pointed out, should have been aware of the importance of a principle enunciated by Woodrow Wilson at the end of World War I:

Wilson said the first point in a program of peace for a postwar world was: ““Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.”

But surprise people and don’t be surprised in turn if they panic. And if you have any doubt that feelings are increasingly heading in a ferocious direction, then see this entry in Over a Cup of Brewed Coffee, concerning popular sentiment in Iligan City.

And examine, too, this entry in The Forsaken and consider if this opinion is reflective of a lunatic fringe or of broader and deeply-entrenched sentiments. Not to mention fire-breathing denunciations in the House of Representatives (Moro lawmakers are, to put it mildly, not amused).

more moderate, cautious, but still skeptical views are expressed in Super Sawsaw, and (surprisingly, to me) Philippine-American Commentary thinks the whole mess has been caused by misplaced American guilt and delusional laws passed by Filipinos and entrenched by local jurists. The Pelican Spectator finds the whole thing quite reckless and I have heard similar opinions even from those supportive of some sort of settlement.

See, for example, Gloria’s Terror Gambit, in today’s Wall Street Journal:

Such a national campaign to empower Muslims faces an uphill battle in a country whose population is 93% Christian. Which is just as well, since it would be a major mistake for at least four reasons:

First, by carving up provinces into separate Muslim and Christian enclaves, the deal would surrender any hope that Filipinos can find a way to live together and instead falls back on the myth that countrymen can live healthy “separate but equal” lives in an apartheid-like arrangement. This would undo the decade of progress toward greater political integration since former House Speaker Jose de Venecia started welcoming Muslim representatives into his ruling congressional coalition.

Second, it would increase rather than decrease the likelihood of territorial disputes because the agreement concedes to claims that the region constitutes a traditional Islamic homeland. This would likely inflame Christians, who would be kicked off of land where they have lived for decades when Muslims make claim to their legally mandated “ancestral domain.”

Third, further removing Muslims from the rest of Philippine society and enabling them to shape an entirely separate culture would encourage the separatist mentality that dreams of carving out a pan-Islamic state from other existing countries in the region, such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. This has been a MILF goal since its founders broke off from the Moro National Liberation Front in the 1980s after that group made peace with Manila.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly for the outside world, greater Islamic independence and less Philippine control over the Islamic regions would invite even more terrorist activity in an area that already has strong ties to al Qaeda. With the deployment of U.S. Special Forces to the southern Philippines now in its seventh year, joint U.S.-Philippine operations have pacified the most lawless Muslim areas. Expanding the Islamist sphere of influence now threatens to undo this success.

Although there are, to be sure, voices being raised in defense of the RP-MILF agreement. See Rebel Pen who sees conflict as the inevitable and necessary price for development, and Stoned Immaculate who feels there is little justification for continued integration. Some of it may be wishful thinking, for example Pinoy Youth Rage‘s skepticism over the critics of the deal basecon the belief, among other things, that the agreement will not result in constitutional amendments.

That the territorial aspect of the deal has alarmed and even enraged Christians in Mindanao (and even some Muslims who live in non-ARMM areas), apparently surprises Bong Montesa (who has a blog, Peace is Possible in Mindanao) of the timeline of the RP-MILF agreement fame, and long a proponent of, and involved in, the peace negotiations. In his entry Peace is an emotional issue, he recounts presenting the peace deal to the faculty and staff of the Notre Dame University in Cotobato City, and being taken by surprise at the ferocity of the responses -and questions- of the faculty and students:

These were questions that, if you were listening enough to my presentation, the answers would be obvious. Then I realized that this matter of the peace talks in Mindanao is, by and large, an emotional issue. No amount of logical reasoning can change how people view the subject matter. People’s reaction on this are really irrational, depending on which side of the fence they stand.

As I was getting out of the theater, a young man approached me and with a serious, almost pleading, look in his eyes, he asked me: “Atty. Bong, is it true that if Cotabato City become part of the Bangsamoro Homeland, the muslims can take away properties of christians and claim them as their own?” “Where did you get that idea?” I asked him. He replied: “I heard that muslims are already scouting and marking the big houses of christians in Cotabato and staking a claim over these houses in anticipation for the signing of the peace agreement and Cotabato City’s eventual incorporation in the Bangsamoro Homeland.”

I sighed and felt a heavy weight on my shoulders.

Let me say that it disturbs me, personally, that someone so intimately involved in the process expresses surprise at the reaction; this is either mind-boggling naivite, or plain and simple incompetence on his part and if it refects the mentality of those who negotiated the agreement, then accounts for why it has provoked such an (unecessary, to my mind) firestorm of protest. Which,

You are, by now, familiar with this map:

BJE.jpg

For my show, Tuesday , which you can watch online on YouTube, I put forward a visual comparison between the present territory of the ARMM:

NEW - ARMM.jpg

And the proposed expansion of it to comprise the proposed BJE:

NEW - ARMM2.jpg

And placed it in the context of the old territorial scope of the old Moro sultanates, including the Sultanate of Sulu, which survived the longest (the wavy dotted line demarcates the sultanate from Spanish territory as of 1892):

demarcation.jpg

Well, These colored versions are easier to understand. From the Inquirer print edition:

pic-08060342480839.jpg

Derived, in turn, from this, which appeared in the Peace is Possible in Mindanao blog of Bong Montesa:

final-category-a-map.jpg

Though it’s interesting that in Montesa’s version the “affirmative action” areas highlighted in the Inquirer map are not highlighted.

Let me venture an opinion on the territories proposed for plebiscite and the affirmative active territories: let us consider the possibility the MILF is aware that these territories will not accede to the proposed BJE. But what the MILF wants is, basically, royalties to be derived from these territories, in the form of subsidies or a portion of the economic production of these territories. I am also not convinced foreign nations outside Malaysia are devoting serious resources to pushing the direction of the negotiations one way or another: but they are sniffing around to see which side gains the momentum and you can be sure that if they think the MILF will have its way, there will be a stampede by foreign governments to take credit for helping give birth to a new nation, to secure favorable treatment for their investments.

Where we are, then, is perhaps further from a negotiated peace than at any time in recent memory. Let us hope Tony Abaya’s dire scenarios do not play out.

How intractable the problem has become, is demonstrated by the reality that the Moros have basically undergone the same process other Filipinos underwent in the 19th Century -the subordination of their own ethnic identity into that of a national one- so that while “Filipino” is a 19th Century construct, that of Bangsamoro is a product of the 1960s- and that this ideological construct has retroactively invalidated what traditional Moro leaders tried to do: integrate themselves into the Filipino nation. And while old ethnic tensions still exist among the Moros, it is something that has been around long enough to be increasingly non-debatable: see Moslemen Macarambon Jr. Personal Blog.

The tag line of Wyzemoro Blogs says it all, and his entry reproduces the expression of a reality non-Moros must confront:

Prof. Lingga, Executive Director of the Institute of Bangsamoro Studies, pointed out that it is important for the Bangsamoro to assert their right to self-determination “to determine their political status since their incorporation to the Philippine state was without their plebiscitary consent”. He suggested that Congress pass a law that will authorize the conduct of a referendum for the Bangsamoro to determine their political status. The referendum, he said, shall give Muslims in the Philippines several choices including independence, autonomy, free association, consociational arrangement, federal arrangement, and other power sharing arrangement.

The genesis of this non-recognition of the past participation of the traditional Moro leadership in the formation of the present Philippine nation-state, next time. For now, another entry in Wyzemoro’s blog, distills the issues. See What is really at stake in the Mindanao peace process? by Ishak Mastura.

42 comments

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  1. cvj

    From what i read, one of the main issues is with the way the agreement was put together, i.e. ‘lack of consultation‘ of some of the key stakeholders. To think that just a few entries back, some commenters where criticizing the inefficiency of the democratic way of doing things.

    Some elements of the agreement are good so i think there should be another round of negotiations this time to include the ones who will be included in the BJE, i.e. those who were excluded before. From Mastura’s analysis, the last thing we want to do is to ‘crush’ the MILF since, even if it is successful, it would just pave the way for more radical movements to take its place.

  2. Pedestrian Observer GB

    Whatever is the outcome, it is bound to fail simply because the Philippines is a feudal society with Mindanao as the most feudal of them all owing to their strong relationship based on tribal clan affinity. The BJE Ancestral Domain mambo jumbo will just turn the clock all the way back to Tribal feudal society of pre-Spanish colonization exacerbated by endemic corruption, it is a disaster in the making for the population of the area.

  3. hvrds

    In a meeting sometime back Cardinal Rosales said that he thought it a good idea for the state to stop giving tax exemptions to the Church.

    Let the faithful pay for their own places of worship. However he suggested that the teaching of human moral values be institutionalized by the state. He said that there should be a form of a moral tax to fund such programs.

    The Church agrees that secularity must be practiced by the state. However raising this to secularism is another thing altogether.

    The language being used by the state itself in this whole mess is not secular at all. It is divisive.

    What Muslim homeland are they talking about???? It is as stupid as the Jews talking about God promising them their homeland.

    Most of the Israeli’s are secular. But there are a tiny minority of the rabid Zionists who take the Old Testament literally. They killed Rabin. On the other hand the Palestinians who are of the same race as the M.E. Jews are angry for having to give up their land for the survivors of the holocaust.

    The Northern Europeans gassed the Jews and the Palestinians are paying for the sins of Germans.

    So the problem of the Muslims in the Phils go to the root of the endemic corruption of the state. So what else is new????

    So it becomes apparent now that the real problem is one of governance.

    Partitioning of a people by fiat like was done in India will bring out the worst in people. You will have a pogrom like what happened in Malaysia that led to Singapore and the communal war between Hindus and Muslims in India.

    Move away from this kind of rhetoric. Stop framing this problem in terms of religion. That is part and parcel of the GWOT.

    India is the best example of secularity in government. The BJP in India is the closest you have to a non-secular major party. They have a wing that includes nationalist Hinduism at its core.

    It is the economy, stupid.

  4. cocoy

    i’d think cvj, if the “peace” negotiators HAD consulted, no MOA would ever have been drafted in the first place. it is such a volatile, emotional issue that i think government and the negotiators walked in and didn’t realize the minefield they’ve stepped into.

    what’s clear is that it isn’t just the MILF that should have been on the table, if at all. that any just peace should include not just the Muslims of the region but all the other provinces in Mindanao, even if they wouldn’t be part of ARMM or a future BJE.

    at the end of the day as @mlq3 pointed out: “if they think the MILF will have its way, there will be a stampede by foreign governments to take credit for helping give birth to a new nation, to secure favorable treatment for their investments.”

    it is all about the money! Now that government has agreed– even to consider this farce, then MILF knows it can get it, if it tried hard enough. oh, i call this a farce because it isn’t a Just deal for the People of Mindanao— and for Filipinos.

  5. cvj

    cocoy, i think so as well. at least the MOA would not be in its present form. at the risk of belaboring the point, it would also have been better if we had a legitimate administration representing the government side. if we looked at the cast of characters who got us into this present mess and their underlying motivations, we’d see how these things are related. part of the continuing price of ‘moving on’…

  6. cvj

    [sorry in advance if this is a double post]

    cocoy, i think so as well. at least the MOA would not be in its present form. at the risk of belaboring the point, it would also have been better if we had a legitimate administration representing the government side. if we looked at the cast of characters who got us into this present mess and their underlying motivations, we’d see how these things are related. part of the continuing price of ‘moving on’…

  7. Lester Cavestany

    In the Greenhills area, our Muslim brothers and sisters are flourishing, thanks to their profitable businesses in the shopping center. (Just a simple man’s observation that Christians and Muslims can peacefully co-exist in our country.)

  8. DJB Rizalist

    If it ever gets to the stage of a plebiscite, we must insist that the plebiscite be held not only in the expansion areas but throughout the entire of proposed Bangsamorostan. We can’t have this creeping plebiscite to satisfy every Islamic Liberation Front that gets organized by whoever is left out of the last deal.

    But I don’t think going beyond the concept of autonomy, which Bangsamorostan certainly does, can be implemented before the Constitution is actually amended (or more accurately revised) to turn us into a Federal system. In other words, it will never fly that we create the constituent States of a federal union one by one, with Bangsamorostan being a kind of pilot implementation. Remember that when the United States was formed, there were at least 13 viable states that could each have become a separate country, like in Europe. And of course each State will insist on equality of rights and powers over natural resources and other arrangements.

    But the simultaneous creation of 12 or 13 Philippine States, including Bangsamorostan is going to be a tour de force that I doubt will ever be doable. Just the territorial negotiations among the neighboring states would dissolve into howling barrel of disputatious monkeys. And the huge expansion of government bureaucracy would boggle even our psychotic penchant for “planning”.

    The right way forward is the Status Quo minus the insurgencies. We would be Hawaii to the 100th power or Finland exponentiated within five years of that simple republican vision from the 1935 Constitution.

    When you scratch the surface of all these so-called ethnicities, one finds much more in common among them all than fantabulists and guilt trippers, like the inventors of IPRA would have us believe.

    The evil poisonous notion that needs to be rooted out like a screaming mandrake is the idea of 110 separate ancestral domains for the 12 million “indigenous peoples” and the rest of the so-called non-indigenous Christian majority who traitorously succumbed to the colonial imperialists. It is that absurdity that is the intellectual homunculus of this beast we are creating.

  9. Victory for Christ

    Christian Politics will prevail because God is on our side. If these misguided souls refuse to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour then let them die in this life and burn in hell in the next!

  10. Bert

    who’s afraid of this MOA? after all said and done document signed by two illegitimate governments is nothing, hehehe.

    but CHA-CHA? No, No, No, No, No, No!

  11. frombelow

    Method in madness.

    Read the art of war.

    He knows the enemy but do not know himself will win the battle ( SC TRO) but will lose the war.

    Seems that GMA will make a fast one on us before we realized it.

  12. frombelow

    Its getting curioser and curioser.

  13. frombelow

    People, be alert and watch the Palace. Do not engage in mental skirmishes to show off our intellectual superiority .

    According to Art of War.

    To lift an autumn hair is no sign of great strength;
    to see the sun and moon is no sign of sharp sight;
    to hear the noise of thunder is no sign of a quick ear.

  14. DevilsAvdc8

    and the answer to your question has always been

    No.

    but only for our own and not anybody else’s ambition.

    who wouldn not want lasting peace but for those who profit from war?

  15. mlp

    Can anybody please inform us how the MOA-AD arrived at the 75/25 sharing between the BJE and the Central Government. If this is such a good idea, can a local government(not the BJE) sign also a MOA with the Central Government to apply this formula to them. I think many foreign governments and investors will initially fund the BJE and thru some traty or arrangement recover this later from the 75% share of BJE. If this will be put thru a plebiscite later, this will be overwhelmingly approved by the people.

  16. Pilipinoparin

    “Among the wrinkles in the current situation is the perception that Malaysia is not an honest broker”…….

    Hindi kayang malayong mangyari ito:” Pareng Malaysian, may Sabah ka rito.Balato na rin ang Spratly”

    Kaya malamang wala na ang Sabah, kahit maghabol sa tambol mayor and Pilipinas. Eh ano kaya naman ang gagawin ng Sultan of Sulu?

  17. PSI

    from below, you might a gem of a point in your last comment:

    Can’t believe our own Philippine negotiators are that naive or clueless in negotiations, to allow the establishment of of ‘foreign missions” (read as embassies which implies a separate state).

    The senators are barking at the right tree. In all agreements, in fact, even in the simplest document such as an Oath of Office for government officials, there is that clause ‘subject to the framework of the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines’ or ‘existing laws and regulations’ and something to that effect.

    Now a major document touted as ‘peace at last’ for the largest island in the country would have those important phrase missing.

    The play could be this: omit the magic words but comply with the procedures i.e. subject to a plebiscite as mandated by the Constitution. Then, the government negotiatiors could always go back to their Bangsa Moro counterparts: ‘we did our best like you asked but see there’s no way we could go around the charter prescriptions.’

    As mlq3 commented in an earlier thread, its a brinkmanship play, pushing it to the edge or the limit. At what cost, I don’t know. But then again, there is that first rule in the ten or is twenty Laws of Success: “Never outshine the Master.”

    Its so convoluted, nobody seems sure to be calling it right. From “Peace at last” to “24 hours or we will unleash Hell Boy.”

    Indeed, what a difference a day makes.

  18. BrianB

    “People, be alert and watch the Palace. Do not engage in mental skirmishes to show off our intellectual superiority .”

    frombelow,

    This is what I’ve been complaining about these pundits. They enjoy the punditry and forget what really matters. If you’re just here to flatter you’re intellect then you’re part of the problem.

  19. BrianB

    If the Mindanaoans get their own country for ancestral domain reasons, then by God, the mestizos and Chinese should get the fuck out of the haciendas immediately.

  20. supremo

    “earned sovereignty”

    Our Muslim brothers probably forgot that the Filipino nation already went through this “earned sovereignty” concept in the past beginning with the creation of the Philippine Assembly and ending with the declaration of independence in 1946.

  21. WAN tester

    Hadji Abdu Rahim Kenoh, associate convenor of the Inter-religious Solidarity Movement for Peace, said there was nothing to be afraid of.

    Just peace-loving merchants (who need assurance they always have right to charge board-and-lodging fees — pesos-for-bullets).

  22. leytenian

    Identity Crisis:
    From any indication, the conflict is due to ethnic and cultural differences – leading to a sort of politics of identity. It is easy to discern why the Moros are adamant to accept Filipino identity. Since the Spanish times down to the present, the Philippine state has adopted a policy of nation-building defined by the principle of integration. That is, the unity of the state is anchored on the idea of “one nation, one thought” (isang bansa, isang diwa).
    However, the Moros interpret this policy as assimilationist whose aim is to make their culture similar to the dominant Christian majority.
    The slogan of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is: “We are Moros, not Filipinos.”

    With Muslim extremists, Communist insurgents, and corrupt government officials all undermining the country’s political and economic stability….

    How do we manage this issue?
    1. Continue with our Facile Militaristic Approach?
    2. Governance such as Peace Agreement-MOA Draft ( trial run of 18 months) ?
    Or both?

    Management: “Create a New Era of Islamic-Western Relations By Supporting Community Development”
    http://www.ccc.nps.navy.mil/si/2004/apr/benMeirApr04.asp

    The concept of Local Governance or Autonomy is somewhat related to what the link is advocating.

  23. BrianB

    About the Ilonggos. I’ve heard some territories the MILF tried to occupy have Ilonggo residents and some Ilonggos sent arms to them for self defense. If something happens to those people, I’m telling you GMA is in big trouble. I don’t know why the military is tolerating this woman.

  24. d0d0ng

    Ay naku! Nakakatuwa naman itong drama serial sa North Cotabato. Kasi naman si Mang Pinol kagagaling lang sa Las Vegas kapapanood ng laban ni Manny Pacquiao. Feel na feel gusto narin ng sariling bakbakan.

    E siyempre, react agad yung gobyerno with a 24 hour ultimatum. Only to retract later, na di daw confrontational but just push – pushing the MILF gently out of the area. Ha ha!

    BJE talaga (biggest joke ever)!

  25. d0d0ng

    Guns are illegal. Booming yung business ng militar. They have virtual monopoly. Doble yung buying price ng guns and ammos. Tuwang-tuwa naman ang mga militar.

  26. d0d0ng

    “If the Mindanaoans get their own country for ancestral domain reasons, then by God, the mestizos and Chinese should get the fuck out of the haciendas immediately”.

    Uy! tahimik lang yung mga mestizos and Chinese, di gaya ni Mang Pinyol. Tingnan mo si Celso Lobregat, pabulong lang kay Nur Misuari, “Show us the money”.

    Siyempre if they have 75%, then they can afford to buy out the Christians and the expensive lands in Zamboanga.

  27. Eric Chua

    Look… the 24 Ultimatum is just political posturing. In putting out a deadline for the MILF to withdraw from North Cotabato, it shows the Government is “still in control and Tough” all the while whispering to the MILF “Hey, pare. Wag kang maatat dadating din ang syo. Trust me… *sabay kindat*” *groan*

    After 8 friggin years people should be used to it already… but no… the mainstream media seem to have bitten this article hook, line and sinker, thus the current headlines. Now the government of Gloria is saying “Ops… yot! Pols alarm mein!” “Ay hindi naman pala inoccuppy ng MILF eh…” *saying it on the ruins of burned down houses*! Its like the beheading of our marines never happened! The MILF is at it again! Using the peace process as a shield all the while furthering their territory “line”.

    And What in heaven’s name…?! 75%-25%?! On our own land?! Its like saying to the robbers “Pare, bigyan mo nalang ako pamasahe?” Strong republic my pwet.

  28. Eric Chua

    “If the Mindanaoans get their own country for ancestral domain reasons, then by God, the mestizos and Chinese should get the fuck out of the haciendas immediately”.

    *smirk* Looks like someone’s a bit testy. A little advice. Work Hard and Think for a change and maybe then… you’d get your own little “hacienda” in your own little corner instead of looking from outside the glass window.

  29. Luvin Candari

    Mindanao Problem is indeed an emotional issue. Even I who’s ancestors have been buried in this land of promise, still gets emotional when confronted with this problem. I was equally outraged with this MOA-AD.

    It is to our-Mindanaoan’s- advantage that you are trying to understand this problem, and apparently you have a hard time skinning the cat.

    The way this govt. handled this problem; it stepped on a landmine.

  30. WAN tester

    For the Olympic opening ceremony and the US flag-bearer.

    a child of ethnic cleansing. Part of his life story reads:

    During a Sunday morning Mass 17 years ago, the 6-year-old Lomong, along with about 100 other children, was taken at gunpoint from his parents, driven away blindfolded in a truck and dumped in a cramped, windowless, one-room prison full of boys. There, they were fed millet full of barely visible sand, which prevented proper digestion, and, within days, gradually led to the death of boy after boy.

    “They would go to sleep and never stand up again. ‘Tomorrow will be my day,’ ” Lomong said. “But I had three angels.” They were slightly older boys who told him to eat just enough of the death gruel to stay alive, but not enough to kill himself. After three weeks, the older trio discovered a hole in a fence.

    At midnight, crawling while guards talked, stopping when they fell silent, then crawling until they were outside the compound, the four boys began to run. “That is where my race started,” Lomong said.

    Despite one boy holding each of his hands as they fled, Lomong nonetheless battered his legs on so many trees and thorns “that’s why they still look like such a mess . . . We ran for three days and nights. They would hide me in a cave while two of them went to get water. They would fetch some back for me in a big leaf.”

    When the four boys fell asleep at night, they made sure to keep their bodies pointed in the same direction that they had been running “so that we did not run back in the wrong direction toward the guards or run in circles,” Lomong said.

  31. d0d0ng

    “Now the government of Gloria is saying “Ops… yot! Pols alarm mein!” “Ay hindi naman pala inoccuppy ng MILF eh…”

    Magkasabay pa ang MILF at government sa gimik. Sabi ng MILF, mga MILF daw na nanirahan daw sa area, siyempre di mo mapaalis. Ano ka.

  32. d0d0ng

    “The way this govt. handled this problem; it stepped on a landmine.”

    In long term this may work. You cannot drive the Christians out of the area forcibly. So the government have to empower the Muslim on the revenue side. The BJE can make laws to hold land expansion or designating certain areas for reserve. Then having enough money, the BJE can start buying out real properties at market value for BJE public use to regain back Ancestral Domain. One step at a time. But giving BJE the 75% revenue is the 1st step.

  33. WAN tester

    what’s this nonsense-talk from d00d0ng about “…the BJE can start buying out real properties at market value for BJE public use to regain back Ancestral Domain.”

    We are not talking about San Miguel Corporation needing land, this is the MILF of KFR and village “geography-cleansing” fame!!!

    One of the biggest problems for the MILF, though, will be the Tausugs.

  34. cvj

    I don’t know why the military is tolerating this woman. – Brianb

    If it was purely GMA’s initiative, she’d already be eased out by now but i think the military is not moving against her precisely because what she is doing is in line with the Americans’ agenda. As such, the Philippine military has no choice but to suck it up.

  35. Kutkkut

    Peace talks, diplomacy, bluffing or anything are of the weak. Our military is weak. Its truly on the defense in the face of confrontations with small troublemakers like the few Abu Sayyafs, the few MILFs, the few remaining NPAs. Why not scrap the military and leave that matter to the little troublemakers. They have better strategies and tactics than our own generals. They can collect arms at will. They can occupy any place at will. Our police and military can not even impose gun ban in Manila, how much more in the south?

  36. pushprojectileagainstpropellant

    Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace– but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

    Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace– but there is no peace.
    U.S. History | March 23, 1775 | Patrick Henry

  37. jcc

    HOW TO MUTILATE A COUNTRY

    The Philippine archipelago is comprised of the territory “ceded” by the Spain to US in the treaty of Paris of December 10, 1898. In the treaty, these territories are described as follows:

    Article III.

    “A line running from west to east along or near the twentieth parallel of north latitude, and through the middle of the navigable channel of Bachi, from the one hundred and eighteenth (118th) to the one hundred and twenty-seventh (127th) degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich, thence along the one hundred and twenty seventh (127th) degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich to the parallel of four degrees and forty five minutes (4 [degree symbol] 45′]) north latitude, thence along the parallel of four degrees and forty five minutes (4 [degree symbol] 45′) north latitude to its intersection with the meridian of longitude one hundred and nineteen degrees and thirty five minutes (119 [degree symbol] 35′) east of Greenwich, thence along the meridian of longitude one hundred and nineteen degrees and thirty five minutes (119 [degree symbol] 35′) east of Greenwich to the parallel of latitude seven degrees and forty minutes (7 [degree symbol] 40′) north, thence along the parallel of latitude of seven degrees and forty minutes (7 [degree symbol] 40′) north to its intersection with the one hundred and sixteenth (116th) degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich, thence by a direct line to the intersection of the tenth (10th) degree parallel of north latitude with the one hundred and eighteenth (118th) degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich, and thence along the one hundred and eighteenth (118th) degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich to the point of beginning.The United States will pay to Spain the sum of twenty million dollars ($20,000,000) within three months after the exchange of the ratifications of the present treaty.”

    The 1935 Constitution in defining the territory of the Philippines provides in Article 1:

    “The Philippines comprises all the territory ceded to the United States by the Treaty of Paris concluded between the United States and Spain on the tenth day of December, eighteen hundred and ninety-eight, the limits which are set forth in Article III of said treaty, together with all the islands embraced in the treaty concluded at Washington between the United States and Spain on the seventh day of November, nineteen hundred, and the treaty concluded between the United States and Great Britain on the second day of January, nineteen hundred and thirty, and all territory over which the present Government of the Philippine Islands exercises jurisdiction.”

    The 1973 and 1987 Constitutions define Philippine territory as follows:
    “The national territory comprises the Philippine archipelago, with all the islands and waters embraced therein, and all the other territories belonging to the Philippines by historic or legal title, including the territorial sea, the air space, the subsoil, the sea-bed, the insular shelves, and the submarine areas over which the Philippines has sovereignty or jurisdiction. The waters around, between, and connecting the islands of the archipelago, irrespective of their breadth and dimensions, form part of the internal waters of the Philippines.”
    We as laymen, come to know our territories as the main islands of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao comprising of some 7,107 islands.

    We did not agree that our country was ceded by Spain to the US on December 10, 1898 because we have become independent 6 months before that when Emilio Aguinaldo declared Philippine independence on June 12, 1898. This is the reason why we continue to celebrate our independence day on this date and not July 4, as we previously did.

    From the time of the revolutionary government of Aguinaldo up to the present time, we have exercised sovereignty over the island of Mindanao. Mindanao had recognized our government when its tribal chieftains have run for public office and had pledged allegiance to the Philippine flag.

    Later, when Malaysian and Indonesian influence on the minority moslem in Mindanao, created a vibrant religion that proselytized most of the Mindanao inhabitants, certain chieftains of the island would like to establish a Republic of Mindanao. The rise of Muslim extremists of the Al Queda type found surrogates in the Muslim inhabitants in this island. The issue of the island being neglected by the central government in Manila and the poverty level of the people in this island were used to drumbeat the need for a “Mindanao Republic”. This aspiration culminated in rise of the MNLF and MILF, or even the brigand group of Abbu Sayaff, whose chief objective is to finally establish a separate Republic of Mindanao.

    ARRM is the political aspect of this struggle. The peace process between the MILF or MNLF and the Government, while it is being undertaken by the government to address and appease the grievances of the people of Mindanao, is from MILF’s or MNLF’s standpoint a strategic struggle to establish a Mindanao Republic.

    It was to the credit of some of our people who see the bigger picture that the ARRM elections and “peace negotiations” between the MILF/MNLF and the government were being used only to negotiate for time, just enough time, when these group of armed militias have all the strength and resources to wave their own flag in the island and declare the “State of Mindanao” and drive away all the Christians in the island.

    Just like the “peace negotiation” the government has with the NPA, it is being undertaken only to negotiate for time before the eventual kill. Whoever thinks that the MILF/MNLF and the NPA have the desire for peace is a real dreamer. All these groups want is power and the subjugation of people who do not think just like them.

    Great nations would desire for more territories, while we parcel out our own under the guise of promoting peace. We have already abdicated our rights over part of North Borneo (Sabah) during Marcos time. We are abdicating our territorial rights now over Spratleys. We are about to abdicate our territorial rights over Mindanao.

    And some of us see nothing wrong with the way we mutilate our sovereignty and national territory.

    Oh boy, we are totally screwed up. ! ! ! !

  38. WAN tester

    to jcc: Who again can say that the MILF will be better administrators over a group of Filipino citizens??? Will all of the members of this population of BJE have better freedom-of-religion, better respect for women’s and children’s rights? The MILF promises worse than “Pare-pareho lang iyan, just leave us alone so we can tend to raising our children and earning a living” — witness how quickly they turn to brandishing their guns and torching some villages when they feel that their macho is being challenged.

  39. jcc

    Wan Tester,

    Please read my post carefully. I am not an admirer of MNLF/MILF, or NPA or the administration. I am just a humble person who is trying to contribute a little bit of punditry in a highly charge political issue of sovereignty mutilation.

  40. rimewire

    Waaaaaahh.

    Too technical for a seventeen-year old alien.

    hakhak

    elyens

    XXXxx

  41. Mike

    Friends, I think each of us now needs to think about what he or she will do in the event martial law is declared. I am very concerned that the following sequence of events is all too likely:

    1. The MOA will be defeated either by an SC decision or by inability to change the constitution due to widespread opposition.
    2. Violence erupts: bombs detonate in the capital and key cities in Mindanao; key critics of the deal (e.g., Mar Roxas, Chiz Escudero) are assassinated. All of these are attributed to the MILF. This could well be accompanied by skirmishes between armed civilians and the MILF in Mindanao.
    3. The Palace declares martial law and nabs all opponents, ostensibly to “protect” them from liquidation. It then proceeds to formulate a new constitution which is widely “ratified” while under martial rule. The new constitution is, of course, parliamentary, with no term limits for officials.

    If you think this is far-fetched, please remember: it’s happened before.

  42. Frederico Gustalman

    It is in my opinion to state that BJE is a “force-deal” by our government and the Muslim bandits.

    Where can you find a republic that submits to the death wishes of the rebels? Only here in the Philippines.

    Maybe the government is trying to solve this decade-long struggle for peace, but solving this small problem will be the cause of making another problem…A cause for a civil war..maybe…

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