Peace in our time?

Update: Well, well, well: SC stops MOA signing. Interesting because before the Supremes’ intervention was even reported, Ding Gagelonia was reporting MILF Sets Ancestral Domain Pact Signing on August 25, Not Tomorrow in his blog!

Without any explanation the Moro Islamic Liberation Fron is reporting on its web site,, that the controversial signing of what it says “is considered as the most significant and historic event that ever happened in the annals of the 11-year old GRP-MILF Peace Talks” is being held on August 25 and not tomorrow as earlier announced by Malacanang.

The MILF report goes on to say that “in term (sic) of significance, the MILF views this signing ceremony as at par with the signing of the Tripoli Agreement of 2001 in Tripoli, Libya.”

“Composing the MILF delegation are: 1) MILF Peace Panel; 2) Secretariat; 3) Technical Committee, whose membership were former members of the MILF Technical Working Group (TWG); 4) Back Staff of the MILF Peace Panel; and 5) representatives of MILF-nominated NGOs.

The group which originally broke away from Nur Misuari’s Moro National Liberation Front also says it has “sent some 50 persons including its peace panel, secretariat, technical committee, and representatives of its nominated non-government organizations (NGOs) to the formal signing ceremony of the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain (MOA-AD) in Putrajaya, Selangor, Malaysia August 25.”

This unexplained postponement comes in the face of mounting opposition to the agreement which, although it is being downplayed by Malacanang, is also being challenged in thre Supreme Court and non-Muslim officials, among them Malacanang ally, North Cotabato vice governer Manny Pinol.


Last Thursday, my column, An undemocratic decorum , focused on the glitterati who inspired public revulsion during the President’s State of the Nation Address.

But the essential starting point is a remarkable entry in his blog by Jove Francisco, who provided background information on the preparation of the President’s speech, including some points that were dropped at the last minute: and how those preparations belied the Palace’s claims that it had merely shrugged off the devastating survey results released on the eve of the President’s address. The decision to focus on a catalog of achievements was a conscious effort to reclaim public opinion (he also has an intriguing portion on how the Palace may have commissioned its own survey in order to prop up Joseph Estrada as a straw man to help propel Charter Change: it reminds me of this diary entry by Ferdinand Marcos).

He also blogged that the President’s people all assumed a discreet go-ahead for constitutional amendments had been given (former Chief Justice Panganiban in recent columns discussed how such a change is neither constitutionally or legally impossible nor politically insurmountable):

As previously announced by the officials of the Presidential Management Staff, there will be no mention of Charter Change.

But conversations with sources from the political scene confirmed that Chacha may not have been heard in the halls of congress during the SONA, but it sure is being talked about by those concerned, “yun nga lang ay pabulong pa”.

Secretary Dureza, when I asked him about the President’s Mindanao plan, was evasive but, old pro that he is, immediately countered by saying the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process would be reporting to the House, but he probably knew by then that the real news would that House panel approves ARMM poll suspension.

Since then, of course, and rapidly (though Reuters reported about it on July 16, see Philippines, Muslim rebels reach deal on homeland), since the story has basically unfolded in about a week, the public has come to realize that it has very little time to grasp the full implications of the President’s comments on Mindanao and the peace deal with the MILF. While we don’t know whether the pros or cons did the leaking, details of the proposed agreement began to be reported over the weekend: Bangsomoro to get own state: Gov’t, MILF to sign ancestral domain pact Tuesday.

Public opinion, this early on, is divided -and even heated. It reminds me of this:

At first hailed as a conquering hero, by the outbreak of World War II, Neville Chamberlain was despised as an appeaser and Appeasement has been our political vocabulary as a negative thing since. In recent decades, though, historians have taken to proposing that what Chamberlain did was buy time, so that Britain could better rearm for the inevitable confrontation with Germany. In our case, the question is whether the public believes a peace deal with the MILF is in the national interest or not. Certain provinces tried to intervene in the Supreme Court, but the government told the Supreme Court the contents of the deal are covered by executive privilege. See SC starts deliberations on appeal vs MOA:

Shortly after the high court started its session, government, through Solicitor General Agnes Devanadera, sent its comment to the petition filed by officials of North Cotabato province, asking the high court to dismiss their appeal for a disclosure of the contents of the MOA, Marquez said.

Marquez said the high court gave the government until 12 noon Monday to submit its document, which arrived shortly after the high court began its deliberations.

By invoking executive privilege, in its 26-page comment, the government said while negotiations with the MILF did not involve any foreign power, there were military and national concerns raised.

“This being so, the entire process, the negotiations involving the said MOA and the drafts, documents thereof resulting from said negotiations is covered by the doctrine of executive privilege, which prevents the disclosure of information that could subvert military or diplomatic objectives,” the solicitor general said.

But then again the draft of the agreement is already available on line. See the full text of the RP-MILF draft pact on Bangsamoro homeland. As for the agreement itself, two entries in Mon Casiple’s blog cover all the controversial bases in the agreement. See MILF decoy for cha-cha and Disturbing BJE questions. As it is, Casiple provides a chart put together by Bong Montesa, part of the government’s negotiating team, and so it’s safe to assume the chart is authoritative, and puts forward the official game plan (in his blog, colleague John Nery thinks the President is not giving out marching orders, but rather, making an appeal):


Now what, exactly, does the game plan cover, in terms of territory? first, let’s begin with this Wikipedia map, which shows the present ARMM in Green:


Then let’s refer to this:


The image above is taken from ABS-CBN’s scan of the draft agreement, and shows the areas proposed for inclusion in the expanded ARMM which would then constitute the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity. You will notice that the areas in black, the areas where the government commits to holding a plebiscite, correspond pretty much, to these 19th Century maps of the old Sultanate of Sulu (from the Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection)..

There is this German map from 1859, note the demarcation line for Spanish-controlled areas of the Philippines:


Another map from the same year shows the demarcation line more clearly:


Another map this one, which is from an 1892 American encyclopedia map, also retains the basic delineation between areas under direct Spanish control and the territory of the old Sultanate of Sulu (in yellow):


These maps cover a period that, based on one timeline put forward by , circumscribed the authority of the Sultan of Sulu and established the area as a Spanish protectorate:

March.1877 – The Sulu Protocol was signed between Spain, England, and Germany that recognized Spain’s rights over Sulu and, in consideration for the said lease of North Borneo, ended European hostilities in the area

July 22, 1878 – Sultan Jamal ul-Alam signed a treaty with the Spanish Crown making whole of Sulu a protectorate of Spain yet retained her autonomy and the privilege to fly own flag thus saved Jolo from further destruction.

1883 – Manila Spanish government established a customs house in Ciudad de Zamboanga to clear goods coming into the Sultanate of Sulu but, on the insistence of the British, Jolo was declared a free port and trade continued.

After which, of course, took place American efforts, by treaty and conquest, to establish American sovereignty over the Sultanate. That in itself calls for a separate, future entry, as it’s the American conquest of the old Sultanate of Sulu that leads, in turn, to the question of the Republic’s sovereignty over Muslim areas in Mindanao.

But for now, this blog entry in stuart-santiago, asks why should it even be that outright independence for Muslim areas isn’t a widely-acceptable option. To her, it is.

As for myself, my contention today is that The agreement itself is the prize. It does not matter if the whole thing doesn’t take off, what matters to the MILF is getting the government representatives to formally sign the memorandum. The Warrior Lawyer also seems to think so, tooL but says the agreement is a recipe for bloodshed. See a view from Davao in Alleba Politics:

I, among many here Mindanao, have been seeking out for the restoration of peace in the island.

My Muslim friend is optimistic that the agreement can bring peace to Mindanao, but he also fears it might lead to war. For one, he questions the sole representation of the entire Muslim population by MILF.

This MoA, I fear, reeks of insincerity, a strong decisive political move with many repercussions. I do not want to wait and see how it plays out because too many lives have been lost. And in the process, it has all become military and political. What our Muslim brothers want and need, in my opinion, cannot be simply answered by such military and political solutions.

A hawkish response, including a reproduction of Tony Abaya’s column quoting Bobi Tiglao’s visit to the MILF’s base of operations in the 1990s, appears in Tatay Pepes Restobar in General Santos City, Philippines. The announcement by the MILF that the agreement will be signed on August 25, also makes for interesting reading, giving a glimpse of those it considers its enemies.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

221 thoughts on “Peace in our time?

  1. to leytenian: the MILF does not pose a security threat 😉 to Greece. To Pinas, yes, to Greece, no.

  2. ‘Most Australians believe in God. This is not some Christian,right wing, political push, but a fact, because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appr opriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture.’

    Belief in Deism or being a theist does not naturally makes one a Christian.

    What does he mean by Christian principles??????The minute you divide people by the religions they follow even amongst religions that believe in theism you will get into trouble. Everyone is free to practice and worship based on their cultural history individually. Never raise it to a societal imperative. Australia is simply a historical construct by Europeans dominated by Anglo Saxon homo sapiens. The indigenous peoples are the aborigines. In time the peoples of Indonesia and China will swallow up Australia.

    Rabbi Yesu was a Jew and lived his life as a Jew.

    This belief in Christianism which means Messianism is dangerous.

  3. mlq3 or anyone, do you have any independent confirmation that U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kinney if not for the TRO was ready to attend the aborted signing of the MoA-AD in Malaysia?

  4. After realizing the similarity of the concept of Indian nations in the US and the MOA between the GRP and MILF, I can safely say that the BJE is the Biggest Joke Ever inflicted by the Republic of the Philippines on the secessionist movement. Jaafar and Kabalu should go to the US and live among the Native American tribes to see for themselves how far they are from achieving an independent Bangsamoro.

  5. dOdOng,

    ‘Senator Angara was fuming that BJE can conduct foreign relations’

    Angara probably did not know that Native American nations maintain ’embassies’ in Washington DC?

  6. dOdOng,

    ‘Smuggling (tax evasion) is gone when custom duties will be liberalized’

    Native Americans in Canada regularly ‘export’ weeds to their Native American brothers on the US side. They can do it with impunity because they consider themselves as citizens of sovereign Native American nations.

  7. “mlq3 or anyone, do you have any independent confirmation that U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kinney if not for the TRO was ready to attend the aborted signing of the MoA-AD in Malaysia?”

    The US Ambassador made a statement in a video at Kuala Lumpur.
    news in video with title
    MILF snubs Malaysia meet with GRP

  8. would it not be safe to assume that we already see the economic orientation of a future bje, and that would be with malaysia as its focus? the dvd distribution system is anchored on malaysia, with the moro areas as the distribution center and the philippines as the target market but not center of production.

  9. The best thing the Phils. could do is integrate with both Malaysia and Indonesia and start to put a clamp on the businesses of Greater China.

    That would require the purging of the mindset that is predominant within the economic policy makers in both the Indonesia and Philippines at the present time. We could send Washington Sycip back to China or to the U.S.

    The land available to become food self sufficient in the three countries would be more than sufficient. East Timor could be invited to join to get out of of the dependency on Australia.

    Having an almost domestic market base of 250m would be more than enough to offset the dominance of the chopsticks group.

    Of all the major groups in Asia the Malay group is the most backward.

    Malaysia is a resource based exporter and not an industrial or consumer based exporter.

    Australia can be kept simply an exporter of resources.

  10. A progressive 😉 recommendation, courtesy of d0d0ng. The recommendation:

    The best thing the Phils. could do is integrate with both Malaysia and Indonesia…

    The “progressive” part???

    Of all the major groups in Asia the Malay group is the most backward.

  11. Our case is unique and entirely different from other type of self determination experience.
    In the case of the native americans, they are a legitimate “First Nation” to the european americans but their ancestral domain is still within the context of the US Constitution. In our case we are all First Nation including the aeta and before the europeans came who split into Muslim Bangsamoro and Bayan-indio Kristiano.
    In the case of India and Pakistan, their separateness between widu and muslim preceded the grant of independence and partition was inevitable.
    In the case of East Timor, their separateness and distinctiveness precedes the transfer from the Dutch to the Indonesian Government. Besides, the Indonesian Government forcibly has forcibly taken their homeland and rule it without concern to the Timorese People.
    In the case of Singapore, the Federation of Malaya enthusiastically gave them away because the ethnic Chinese are threat to the Malay.
    In our case the Americans waged and won a pacification campaign from 1902 to 1913 and thenceforth gave the moros good government. From 1913 until 1971, integration, assimilation or any cooperation in some form if not successful never led to secession or any independence ideas. It was only at the time of President Marcos when Mindanao Muslim leaders started entertaining secession and independence. This failure in good governance from 1971 until now is the pestering cause of Muslim leaders’ craving for their own homeland, Not only them but even Mindanao christian leaders want their own homeland.
    But what homeland?. The Philippines is our homeland. It is the homeland of Muslim and Christians. Give us leaders of good government and nobody will cry for its own homeland. Continue with bad government and everybody will secede and seek for their own homeland. Give the filipinos good leaders and good government and nobody will seek for their own homeland.
    If we give MILF their own homeland and they give governance will I be allowed to join them and petition my beloved island of Panay to join them. I will rather join them than move to other countries and work as an “ulipon” Let us stop all this talk talk and talk. Let us consult each other for one year and hold a plebiscite not only for bangsamoro but for ilocanos, tagalogs, bicolanos, visayans and all indigenous people if we want to stay with the present bad and corrupt leaders and government or we just go our own way. If we give this privilege to the milf why not give this to all the ethnic groups of the country. At the very least, I would rather be that we are assured of getting our 75 % share of the wealth of our ancestral domain, than stay with the Strong Republic whom I believe waste 90% of our resources and only give 10 % if ever back to the people.
    LONG LIVE the MOA-AD but apply it equally to the filipino people. NO NBN-ZTE!NO SWINE SCAM, NO JOCJOC BOLANTE, ETC! Ad Nauseam! Let us try MOA-AD if this is the only way we can shake and cleanse ourselves of corruption and injustices. The MILF succeeded to do this because a lot of foreign governments and the bangsamoro people has supported their aspirations!

  12. “would it not be safe to assume that we already see the economic orientation of a future bje, and that would be with malaysia as its focus? the dvd distribution system is anchored on malaysia, with the moro areas as the distribution center and the philippines as the target market but not center of production.”

    It is the other way around. The culture in Malaysia and Singapore is more restrictive than in the Philippines which made a decline of artists in those 2 countries. In fact, they have to hire foreign entertainers as explained to us by our expat friends in Malaysia.And so is the production of videos too.

  13. The Philippine military is perfectly capable of wiping out these “rebels,” ask anyone you know in the afp and they will tell you how offensive after offensive are halted just as they are about to be overwhelmed (except in Erap’s time). How can you win if you’re being held back?
    This is too much, a Singaporean once commented that we Filipinos have very low self esteem and some of us are just good at keeping a facade. We could have put a stop to Gloria during the “Hello Garci,” pa lang. We’re still tolerating her and her minions the way we tolerate the mindless, idiotic, tirades of pseudo-intellectual non-entities like BENCARD, DODONG, and the rest of the pretenders here…how much are you getting paid ba talaga???

  14. hi Justice,

    sorry for making you uncomfortable. the joke was meant for those conspiracy theorists. i don’t think anyone in mindanao could have heard such a brilliant story. mahathir will not like it. 🙂

  15. what options do you have, other than the court? .. dodong

    dodong, or shall we say, what options do you have or the MILF or the GRP if the court decides that the MOA-AD is unconstitutional? starts massing troops? grab christian farmlands? you say govt has no control over MILF’s territories(?), like North Cotabato and PINOL WILL NOT GET SUPPORT FROM THE MILITARY? well, the MILITARY just gave the MILF the ultimatum to leave the area. what’s your next option?

  16. Say the MILF is knocking your door and told you to move out because it is their ancestral domain supported by the government initialed MOA-AD. The justices in Padre Faura give you assurance that everything is on hold though hardly can be enforced when the military enforcer through its general is saying, sorry we cannot help you.

    That is something close to reality…

    nah. all you have to do is wake up from your stupor… refer back to my 3:13am comment.

  17. trouble is everywhere. To have a rightful relationship between human beings and stability of the social order we must act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith.

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