The perils of partition

My column today, Mindanao is both a local and national concern, takes exception to one part (while I tend to agree with the rest) of commentary, Making and unmaking Mindanao by Miriam Coronel Ferrer. There has been much trepidation about how today’s ARMM elections would turn out (latest: Ballot box snatching mars ARMM polls–Comelec: Failure of elections mulled in some areas).

My column also points to and includes a reference to “Belligerency status” concept is obsolete by lawyer Soliman Santos, Jr. I quoted an extract from the entry on Belligerent Status from “Crimes of War: What the Public Should Know” (Roy Gutman) but if you’d like to know more about International Humanitarian Law, please visit The Crimes of War Project. The possibility of escalating violence in the area can’t be discounted, and an awareness of how the international community views conflict, and the laws that govern conflict, should concern us all. A Day in the Life of RJ was moved by a comment concerning the Lumads -forgotten third party in the current tensions in Mindanao- and pleads,

Lost in this love-hate relationship, we have somehow forgotten that beyond the issue, beyond the discussions, beyond the “technicalities.” there are real people, real people that are truly affected. People whose lives hang by a thread, earnestly and patiently waiting for attention and assistance. While this issue is discussed in closed doors, in fancy halls and air-conditioned rooms, there are people who have become nomads in their own land, walking the ground in fear but braving it just the same — all because they have no choice, they are stuck there. They are waiting. Some hoping for salvation. Some have abandoned all hopes for such. Some indifferent as a result of witnessing too long a war  numb to anything that is and will probably happen. Some say this BJE is a mere guilt-trip by the government, due largely to the fact that Mindanao has been neglected for a long time — regardless if it were intended or not. Well, I say so what if it is? Isn’t it about time we cared? Imperial Manila, we have a problem! Right now, that is not even relevant. Guilt-trip or not, the fact remains that help is needed and fast. Let me ask you, when does guilt happen? When is it felt? Have you ever felt guilty about doing anything righteous? Have you ever felt guilty about helping a friend? I don’t think so. Guilt springs from the acknowledgement of a wrong-doing — whether intended or not. So, if there’s guilt, then by God, let us do some guilt-tripping! If you call giving people what’s rightfully theirs “guilt-tripping”, then call it that. If you call making peace guilt-tripping, then call it that for all I care. Those are just “terms”‚”Terms” tend to be relative, ambiguous and easily misinterpreted. So let it pass. Let’s get past the concept of “terms” and work on something more universally understood — peace.

Today’s headline, Air Force planes bomb MILF lair: “Eyeball-to-eyeball” fighting in Cotabato and this earlier story, 80,000 flee as Moro fighters refuse to leave North Cotabato, brings to mind a past entry, Thoughts on Mindanao, in particular:

2. …I had a very interesting talk with a former official who has an intimate knowledge of both the peace process and the Department of National Defense. Here are some observations made by the official:

a. Conflict in Mindanao is “self-containing,” a curious term which I understand works along these lines: the military undertakes an offensive; the leadership of whatever Muslim group the military is targeting melts away, seeking safe havens in Palawan and Sabah; Muslim families in the affected areas immediately send their families to evacuation centers; the evacuation centers are overwhelmed; the UN begins to speak of a “humanitarian crisis”; foreign media arrives, to cover the humanitarian crisis; foreign and public scrutiny become so intense, military offensives must cease; peace, for the time being, is restored. It is a tired, old, predictable, and tragic, script but one that serves to prevent violence from spiraling out of hand.

I don’t see how the dynamics have changed, particularly since the military does not seem to have the element of surprise. In areas targeted for a military offensive, the MILF can melt away, while its troops engages its rivals in other areas, for example, in polling precints to disrupt the ARMM elections.

On August 9, the Inquirer editorial said the Supreme Court was in the delicate position of having to rule on the RP-MILF agreement without alienating public faith and confidence in it. Lawyers Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ (see The controversial GRP-MILF MOA) and Soliman Santos (see Will jurisprudence finally give peace a chance? in the PCIJ blog). seem inclined to argue that the Supreme Court actually has nothing to rule on, at present; that the Executive must sign the agreement, and then Congress should enact the laws and other things necessary to fulfill the agreement, before anyone can cry foul. At present, there is only the potential for mischief and both lawyers argue that the Court cannot rule on the basis of possibile scenarios. From overseas, blogger Left Flank seems inclined to support signing the agreement.

These will likely be unpopular opinions. Village Idiot Savant calls the agreement “the big sellout.” This seems to echo what people from the area are saying.

At the heart of opposition to the deal is the suspicion that there are deals within the deal, and they will result in a Muslim-dominated independent Mindanao. Increasingly, there’s been a lot of conspiracy-theorizing about the international dimension of the agreement, something that The Warrior Lawyer dryly recounts and which Amando Doronila takes up, in the broader context of international and domestic interests, too, today in a commentary.

Since the agreement, to put it bluntly, has the blessings of major powers, from the United States, to Australia, and including Japan (see Moro Views on Bangsamoro Affairs: the JICA has directly engaged the MILF and Moro NGO’s), not to mention Malaysia, everyone assumes that’s what’s in it for them won’t leave anything for anybody else.

Much ado is being made of USAID’s Mindanao programs which grew from 18.9 million dollars in 2001 to 54 million dollars in 2005. The official American policy is reproduced in Small Wars Journal and you may want to take a look at this colorful map of USAID programs in Mindanao as of March, 2008: ( or click here: USAID Ongoing proj. as of March 2008 provincial.pdf“)


A whole lot of projects!

This blog entry in bicycle diaries, who went to Muslim Mindanao on a US government grant, recounts local perspectives on the American presence in the area:

US foreign policy has given considerable military and diplomatic support to the Philippine government in its counter-insurgency war against two local Islamist groups: the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, or MILF, and Abu Sayyaf, one of al-Qaeda’s most aggressive affiliates in southeast Asia. The relationship between these two organizations is murky and controversial. Nonetheless, most Mindanoans with whom I spoke agreed that they are both outgrowths of the more secular Moro National Liberation Front, or MNLF, which first appeared in the early 1970s to fight for Mindanao independence from the Philippines. Today, it is one of the few Islamic national liberation movements to have successfully laid down its arms to peacefully govern the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, or ARMM, with grudging support from the Philippine government.

What is not murky is the US military and diplomatic presence in the south and west of the island where the Philippine army is fighting both the MILF and Abu Sayyaf. And like US counter-insurgency polices a hundred years before, US support is again perceived locally as a paradox. US Special Forces units have operated in MILF territory since the summer of 2002. While training the Philippine army has been their official mission, there seems to be little doubt locally that they are conducting the military operations themselves. In Marawi City, known as the only Muslim City in Mindanao, I met with one of the founders of the MNLF, the unofficial minister for propaganda for the ARMM. He not only reiterated this position, but also forcefully added that the CIA was responsible for both creating and arming the MILF and Abu Sayyaf to defeat the MNLF.

These and other conspiracy theories abound throughout the island despite the generally successful efforts of US public diplomacy. In addition to the roads and clinics built by US Special Forces and USAID, the State Department has reached out to local and regional peace groups working to sustain Zones of Peace where the Philippine army and the MILF have negotiated cease-fire agreements.

the question of course is whether American aid and assistance is concerned solely with neutralizing Islamic Fundamentalist groups like the JI or whether the Americans believe their interests are best served by having a Muslim client state in Mindanao.

An argument gaining currency is that the Americans believe they’d be better off negotiating with less than 10 million Moros than a Philippine government with a constituency of 90 million and which has been notoriously unreliable to boot. Aside from security, there would economic benefits for the United States (and Australia, and Japan, and Malaysia) from access to natural resources the Americans presumably mapped out as far back as a century ago (see this pre-1935 map):


I’ve said before that I think all sides are capable of posturing and that what may be noisy may not necessarily go beyond a previously agreed-upon, face-saving verbal aggression among the participants. But people have a tendency to be carried away and when politicians discover a gift for rabble-rousing, things can then get out of hand. Christian politicians thundering about mobilizing citizen militias, AFP officers sending ultimatums, MILF officials saying one thing but doing another: all may be winking at each other behind the scenes but their constituents don’t know this, and all you need is one small confrontation to erupt for the whole thing to rapidly degenerate into open fighting.

With our government handicapped by several realities, most of them harsh, such as the government knowing its forces are ill-equipped, poorly led, and with weakened morale; and that they are dependent on supplies from the Americans who may have other priorities than supplying an AFP hell bent on liquidating the MILF (one reason: the MILF has a tacit alliance with the Americans against the JI).

On the other hand both Christian and non-MILF Muslim leaders know that if the MILF carries this off, then it will be poised to prove to all comers that it can take them on, and that the regional powers will back it at the expense of the Philippine government.

I have written about the documentary Partition: The Day India Burned, in Inquirer Current but here it is, again, for you to view and because it places in context the points I want to raise at this point.

In the case of British India, the leaders of the Hindu majority proved incapable of reaching an agreement with the Muslim minority because while the Muslims proposed a state with weak national powers, the Hindus were set on establishing a state with strong central powers. The British proved too weakened by war to arbitrate or impose their will. They even had to abandon the Princely States, the various principalities that had directly established relations with the British Crown. I will return to some points concerning the Indian experience but for now, you may want to familiarize yourself with two Wikipedia articles, as good a start as any: Partition of India and Political integration of India (additional question: could Operation Polo have served as a model for the planned invasion of Sabah in the 1960s?). The failure of Nehru and Jinnah to resolve their differences is a cautionary tale; and I’ve long argued we have much to learn from the Indian experience.

It keeps disappearing from the web, so once again, here is my article “Repulsion and Colonization,” from 1996. In it, I pointed out Cabili’s objection to the Convention having a special provision concerning Muslim areas in which their representation would be determined by law.

If you recall the arguments made by some Muslim warlords concerning the 2007 elections, they insisted that their culture stresses obedience to those in authority, and so they essentially practice bloc voting. It’s interesting that in the Sultan Sa Ramain’s speech that I reproduced in my previous entry, he responded to delegate Jose Cabili as follows:

Last week, my co-Delegate, Mr. Cabili, spoke about the extension of suffrage to Mindanao and Sulu. With respect to that, I think the Delegates representing Mindanao and Sulu should be asked as to whether complete suffrage should be extended to the people of Mindanao and Sulu.

In view of the Sultan Sa Ramain’s reply to Cabili, and Cabili’s subsequent refusal to sign the Constitution it seems to me that the delegates did this as a concession to Muslim leaders, which infuriated the Christian (and possibly, more democratically-oriented) Cabili.

In Re-constructing Colonial Philippines: 1900-1910, historian Patricio Abinales (who is from Mindanao) made short shrift of the belief that Moro resistance to the Americans was both widespread and protracted:

Surprisingly, the pacification process was fast and relatively easy. There was hardly any resistance from the various indigenous communities in the Cordilleras, while Muslim resistance was scattered and unsustained. At the middle of the first decade, the Cordilleras and “Moro Mindanao” had become very stable and peaceful areas.

A major reason for the American success was the cooperation extended by Muslim and Cordilleran leaders to the Americans. They regarded colonial rule as a means of protecting themselves against Christians and “lowlanders.”American military officials reciprocated this cooperation by resisting the efforts of Filipinos to extend their power to the “special provinces.” A working relationship eventually developed between these community leaders and the Americans whereby the former were given minor posts in the provincial government (“tribal wards” in the case of the Muslims) in exchange for agreeing to recognize American sovereignty. U.S. army officers who administered these areas also became their protectors against Filipino leaders, doing everything they can to limit the presence of Manila and the Nacionalista party in the Cordilleras and “Moro Mindanao.”

The only major resistance came from the Muslims at the hills of Bud Dajo and Bud Bagsak, when the army declared a ban on weapons and raised head taxes. American military superiority prevailed and over a hundred Muslim men, women and children were killed. Politically, however, these actions eroded the army’s standing and opened up an opportunity for Quezon to attack military rule in Mindanao. After the massacres, the army was forced slowly to concede authority to Manila and the Filipinos. The army’s powers were also clipped once the U.S. Congress authorized its partial demobilization, and once the American president ordered its withdrawal from the special provinces and its replacement by Philippine Constabulary units. Many American officers also preferred to continue their military careers in the U.S. mainland, seeing very little prospects in just limiting themselves to the Philippines. All these problems emboldened the Filipinos to assert their political presence in these special provinces. This was something that a weakened military government could not repulse anymore. In 1913, the army conceded its power to the Department of Mindanao and Sulu, a body controlled from Manila and by Filipinos. The Cordilleras’ status as a special province was also terminated and the Nacionalista Party began recruiting its first “Cordillerans” to join the organization.

Two major features therefore characterized the first decade of colonial rule. First was the full and effective unification of Las Islas Filipinas under American rule, and second was the division of colony into two major zones of administration reflecting the histories of their respective populations. These two zones were eventually unified under the Filipinization policy, but the distinctiveness upon which they were based continued to affect overall colonial development. Muslims and Cordillerans remained staunchly pro-American and anti-Filipino, while Christian “lowlanders” continued to mistrust and maintain a low regard for these “wild tribes.”

The book “Muslim Rulers and Rebels: Everyday Politics and Armed Separatism in the Southern Philippines (Comparative Studies on Muslim Societies , No 26)” (Thomas M. McKenna) zeroed in on Cotobato to describe how among Filipino Muslims, there was an interplay between outsiders, the Muslims as a whole, and among the Muslims themselves, between their leaders and the followers and subjects of the traditional leaders:

The new datus of the colonial period were able to enhance their traditional status because of the power and wealth rhey had obtained through collaboration with American colonial authorities. With the early abandonment of the policy of indirect rule, their political positions were not predicated on any official American recognition of their traditional right to rule Cotabato Muslims. Instead, they were bestowed with ceremonial offices -as municipal district president, assemblyman, or (occasionally) senator- as tokens of their political ability to mediate between ordinary Maguindanaons and an alien colonial authority, and as rewards for their political willingness to ensure Muslim compliance with colonial aims. In return for these services they received, besides the trappings and privileges of office, the opportunity to exploit new potential sources of wealth. Thery also retained control over the agrarian sector during the colonial period. They were nonetheless a dependent and sectional elite. Commerce was almost entirely controlled by the Chinese, and public administration remained exclusively in the hands of Christian Filipinos.

Dean Jorge Bocobo offers up dramatic readings from the book in his blog, Philippine Commentary, if you want more. Suffice it to say that Bocobo relishes pointing out a point raised by McKenna, which is that the “Moro” identity was itself a legacy of the American era. Blogger reason is the reason points to the column today of Noralyn Mustafa, who points out the more authentic identity of Muslims in the Philippines is whether one is Maguindanao, or Tausug, etc.:

Then I tried the same survey with the term “Moro.” Some were visibly amused, some asked what it meant, some said that they heard the word in “Tagalog” movies, especially when a “juramentado,” properly swinging a kris dripping with blood, was featured.

When the Moro National Liberation Front (of which the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is supposedly a “splinter group”) concocted the term “bangsamoro,” ostensibly to unite the different ethnic tribes that were members of the MNLF, as well as the population of Mindanao and Sulu, I thought it wise to first ask my mother, through force of habit actually….

…Would she have agreed to being called “bangsamoro”?

I don’t think so. Although she had lived in Jolo from her 17th birthday up to the day she passed away in October 1996, she insisted she was a “Zamboangueñâ‚” She was born and raised in what is now Zamboanga City, in the ancestral home in Magay, the only “Muslim” house in a Christian neighborhood referred to as the “brick house” because of its brick tile roof.

She went to school in what was formerly known as the “Moro Settlement School,” later named St. Albans School, managed by the Episcopalian (Anglican) church, affiliated with the Brent School system, where she was a member of the tennis and basketball teams, and was placed in the soprano section of the school and church choir.

Although she worked as a teacher in Sulu until she retired, it was a must for her to go “home” to Zamboanga whenever possible, and years of speaking Bahasa Sug never diminished the fluency of her Chabacano (it is spelled with a “b” in the Spanish dictionary).

Now, would she have agreed to having some barangays in Zamboanga City included in the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity? I certainly don’t think so.

The Spanish authorities requested my grandfather to be the wazir of Sultan Haroun Al-Rashid of the Palawan royalty, probably to make him more acceptable to the Tausugs, in order to settle a bitter rivalry in succession between the more popular Datu Amirul Muhminin (who would be proclaimed Sultan Jamalul Kiram II, the last sultan of Sulu) and his brother.

In Palawan is a town called Batarasa. It is named after a sultan of Sulu.

Would I agree to having Palawan included in the BJE?

I don’t think so. It is Tausug ancestral domain. And I am a Tausug.

Let me be clear about my interpretation of events (which I do not claim to be the definitive one by any means; this is only by way of explaining my approach to the problem).


I think it’s clear that what separated the Sultanate of Sulu (the only one of the major Muslim kingdoms to survive into the modern era) from the rest of what we today consider the Philippines, is that until the twilight of Spanish colonization, it managed to preserve at least nominal sovereignty over its territory. This is supported by maps from the era. It is supported, further, by President Aguinaldo recognizing that sovereignty by inviting the Sultan of Sulu to incorporate his realm into that of the infant Philippine Republic, an invitation that was declined even as the Visayan Federal State accepted a similar invitation from Aguinaldo.

Whether Spain, in turn, up to that point having established a protectorate over the Sultanate of Sulu, handed over the sultanate with the rest of its Philippine territories is actually irrelevant. American sovereignty was extended over the Sultanate of Sulu through a combination of conquest and attraction, and made binding by means of treaties. The Americans, in turn, oscillated between separating Mindanao from the Philippines or keeping it part of the Philippines. This, in turn, led Christian politicians to cultivate some traditional Muslim leaders who then signed on to the concept of Filipino nationhood.

In return for political privileges and the assertion of their status, leaders like the Sultan Sa Ramain became fixtures in the corridors of power: in the first national senatorial elections, in 1941, the Sultan was elected senator (the parceling out of seats in the Nacionalista Party slate, at a time that the country was basically under the one-party system, points to how party elders were very conscious and particular about making sure every constituency was kept happy).

but at the same time the political leadership set about, quite consciously, to keep Mindanao by settling it and thus preventing other nations from claiming it (this was a period of Japanese settlement in Davao, after all) on one hand, while strengthening the powers and authority of the government by reducing, in turn, the powers and prestige of the traditional Moro leadership.

This article, Kris v. Cross, from Time Magazine’s June 29, 1936 issue points to an opportunity that presented itself to the Philippine government:


Nine days prior, from Jolo in the Sulu Archipelago, His Highness Padukka Mahasari Manaluna Hadji Mohammad Jamalul Kiram II, Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo, Judge of Agama, lineal descendant of the Prophet, had ascended to enjoy the limitless quantities of gold, jewels, silks, dates, rice, spitted lamb and beautiful women which await the Faithful in the Mohammedan Paradise. The Sultan, who for some years was the only sovereign reigning under the U. S. flag, lived on the tribute of his 500,000 Moro subjects, plus his pension from the Philippine Government, plus his land rent from British North Borneo Co. With this wealth the Sultan kept a primitive court where he enjoyed the favors of scores of wives in his youth, several in his old age, although he begot no offspring. Three nieces, however, he adopted as his daughters. No sooner had he died than one of them, Princess Dayang Dayang,* began to quarrel with Hadji Butu, the late Sultan’s grand vizier, over who was to succeed Kiram II. Dayang Dayang won the first round. Since the Sultan’s corpse was rapidly putrefying and could not be buried until a new ruler had been chosen, she secured the appointment of her husband Datu Umbra as Sultan pro tern. Meantime, datus (princes) of the Sulu islands had been advised by Grand Vizier Hadji Butu, ablest and best educated of the Moro patriarchs, to enthrone Datu Rajamuda, only surviving brother of the late Sultan.

On the same day that the National Assembly met in Manila the datus assembled at Jolo, determined to make Rajamuda Sultan. Again the wilful Princess got the best of Hadji Butu. She informed the visiting princes that according to tradition a Sultan of Sulu could not be chosen except by unanimous vote. Therefore they must wait until every datu from the farthest Moro island had arrived. The followers of Rajamuda called her by the names of she-animals. They declared she planned to make herself Sultana or —almost as unforgivable an insult to a warrior race—get the job for her husband, Datu Umbra, or her father-in-law. Datu Amil-bangsa. The princes grumbled, but the proclamation of Rajamuda’s accession was withheld and the throne continued last week to tremble in the balance.

To this day, the heirs of the last Sultan have been unable to unite; one factor may be that the Philippine government in 1936, the year of the last acknowledged Sultan’s death, abolished the state subsidy to the sultanate and refused to recognize a successor.

In the same year that the Sultanate of Sulu passed into history, the National Assembly enacted Commonwealth Act 141, amending and compiling the laws on lands in the public domain.

Both actions -the refusal to intervene in the succession crisis among the last Sultan of Sulu’s heirs, and passing a law that firmly placed the authority of the Philippine government in the line of legal succession to American and Spanish authority, recognized as paramount by Muslim rulers in the past- was a strategy that would have been familiar to state-builders like Mustapha Kemal Ataturk or the ruling Congress Party of India. It was a policy encapsulated by Manuel Roxas in 1922:

Said the Speaker of the House, Manuel Roxas: ” We have encroached upon the rights of the Governor General because in that guise liberties are won.”

He might as well have said that encroaching upon the traditionally-asserted rights of former monarchs is also how nation-states are built.

The implications of this and subsequent laws, are clear explained in More Road blocks: conflict of rights by Patricio P. Diaz in MindaNews:

While the Bangsamoro people have historical rights to their Ancestral Domain and land, the Christians in the provinces, municipalities and barangays that are proposed to be included in BJE have earned rights — property right to their lands and the right to belong to the political jurisdiction of their choice. This conflict of historical and earned rights is at the root of the storm of protest in North Cotabato and the cities of Zamboanga and Iligan.

The Christians have earned rights to their lands under homestead laws, through government settlement programs, or by purchase. To their credit the MILF leaders have given the assurance that they will respect lawful ownership of lands by the Christians.

Yet, the Ôexcept-clause” in Consensus 3 on “Concept and Principles”‚ “except when … other forms of possible usurpation or displacement for force, deceit, stealth, or as a consequence of government project or any other voluntary dealings entered into by the government and private individuals, corporate entities or institutions” is not reassuring and a source of anxiety and fear for many. And they are determined to die for their lands.

Political right is as sensitive as property right. By their own choice, people live together in a barangay, municipality and province where, led by their elected leaders, they labor to live in peace and contentment. The present protests are expression of resentment and anger for what they believe as undue interference in their political right.

Their leaders are saying this: In the ARMM plebiscites of 1989 and 2001, we voted to stay out. Why will we be included in BJE to be asked of our option again in another plebiscite in 2009? Their message “why trifle with our political right? ” is clear.

To Illustrate

Why are they protesting? Only barangays and whole municipalities with predominant Muslim population are being asked to join BJE. Most of the protesters are not included.

Correct. But they contend that, first, many of the areas included are Christian-dominated; and, second, the stability and territorial integrity of their province or municipality will be adversely affected — hence, violating their right to remain stable, intact and progressive.

To illustrate, here is what will happen to North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Lanao del Norte and Iligan City. The conflict of political rights is clear.

Cotabato: 18 municipalities. Two whole municipalities, Pikit and Kabacan, will be included in the JBE. Four others will be badly dismembered — Banisilan will lose 18 of its 20 barangays; Carmen, 17 of 28; Matalam, 12 of 34; and Pigcawayan, 20 of 44.

Except for Mlang and President Roxas that will lose three and one barangays respectively, four others will lose significantly — Alamada, six out of 17; Aleosan, 7 out of 19; Midsayap, 19 of 57; and Tulunan, 7 of 29. Only Antipas, Arakan, Libungan, Magpet and Makilala will remain intact.

This is what will happen in 2009. In 2034, or thereabout, the province stands to lose to BJE all its municipalities except Antipas, Kidapawan, Magpet and Tulunan with 22 barangays. The storm of protest in Cotabato is being condemned. Should it be?

Sultan Kudarat: 12 municipalities. All of its 10 municipalities will be included in BJE, leaving only Isulan, its capital, minus three of its 17 barangays and Tacurong City. In 2034, Isulan will be completely absorbed in BJE, leaving only Tacurong City.

While the province has a population of about 20 percent Muslim, there is no protest from there. It has a Muslim governor and one of its two congressional representatives is a Muslim.

Lanao del Norte: 22 municipalities. Six municipalities — Baloi,Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan and Tangcal — that voted YES in the 2001 ARMM plebiscite are considered part of the core area of BJE and

they will no longer take part in the plebiscite in August 2009.

The whole of six other municipalities will be included and they will take part in the plebiscite. Of the 10 other municipalities left, Kauswagan with 13 barangays will lose 12; Linamon and Magsaysay will lose all their barangays. That leaves the province with Baroy, Kapatagan and Lala intact and Bacolod, Kolambogan, Maigo and Tubod slightly affected. In 2034, Bacolod will be completely absorbed. The province will only have six municipalities.

The province has a population of 35 percent Muslim. But with a Muslim governor and one of its two congressional representatives a Muslim, there is no protest there.

Iligan City: 44 barangays. Only eight of its 44 barangays will be included in BJE. But these are the largest with a combined area of 82 percent of that of the entire city. Besides, they are the source of the city’s agricultural products. That no other barangays will be taken in 2034 is obviously not consoling to the city residents and leaders.

Looking at the above, how will the three provinces and Iligan City survive? In 2009, Tacurong City and Isulan may as well be annexed to South Cotabato, thereby abolishing Sultan Kudarat, and Lanao del Norte be abolished with its remaining municipalities given the option to be included in BJE or realigned to Misamis Oriental.


MOA-AD is founded on sound concepts and principles. But as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so concepts and principles are only as good as their actualization. The storm of protests that met the publication of the agreement shows the need to reexamine its contents in order to reconcile conflicts and to remove obstacles blocking the peace process.

But let me return to the unraveling of the partnership between the leadership of Christian and Moro Filipinos, and what may be the event that blew the lid off the festering contradictions of that partnership.

The elections of 1949 -immortalized by the line “first they voted in Lanao, pati na aswang pa daw!” in the Mambo Magsaysay– revealed the patchwork nature of this alliance between traditional leaders. As the rest of the Philippines became more modern, the shared values of the Muslim and Christian political old guard -to maintain the appearance of democracy while winking at each other as to how their authority was derived through undemocratic means- became increasingly untenable.

On a national scale this led to the prewar politicians suffering an electorate debacle in 1953, with a brief restoration in 1957 but with the momentum for the younger generation restored with Macapagal’s victory in 1961. It took a little longer for Muslims and the delay meant that younger Muslim leaders not from the traditional aristocracy, but also influenced by Western thinking and the demise of colonialism, could look to secular Arab nationalism, with Gamel Abdal Nasser as their inspiration.

The decline in the influence, prestige, and legitimacy of the old Muslim royalty (McKenna suggests their claims to old pedigrees was itself something of a fraud) led to the rise of secularist intellectuals like Nur Misuari, and new warlords like the Dimaporos and Sinsuats of the modern era. The story of the decline of the old, and the secular, nationalist, aspirations of the new Muslim leaders -who created in the 1970s for Muslims what Rizal had created for Christians in the 1870s, the concept of nationhood (“Filipino” and “Bangsamoro” respectively) would then collide with what has come to subvert the nationalist-secular order in places like Egypt: Islamic fundamentalism, one of the ideological divides between the MNLF and the MILF.

But the reality is whether one proposes and another person contests, an interpretation of history, everyone has to acknowledge that what matters is what the majority subscribes to. I’ve pointed to the dominant narrative in Some readings on Mindanao, and that dominant narrative does not view the commitments of the traditional Muslim leadership as legitimate, and therefore, whatever partnership existed between them has been retroactively declared null and void by today’s Muslim leaders.

This Wikipedia map showing the historical extent of Moro territory and the present-day Moro provinces (in yellow), and the present-day Muslim areas in red, contradicts the maps I showed in previous entries:


But in the end, it does not matter if the claimed areas are based on fact or fable. First of all, because poorly-educated Christian Filipinos, leaders and followers alike, can’t argue othrwise; and second, even if they could, the leadership of the Moros believe it to be so, and will fight to make it so again.

The Bangsa Moro Blog is not coy at all as to the ultimate territorial aspirations of at least some Muslims in Mindanao:


But let me point you, finally, to Philippine Politics 04, who points out, in turn, that even as the MILF may be courting Uncle Sam, some of the Christian politicians talking so bravely about the integrity of the Republic, had planned to secede from the Republic themselves.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

155 thoughts on “The perils of partition

  1. and not to be forgotten (especially because this thread began with the MILF with their guns, goons, KFR and village-burning)…. always available for cheating will be terror-tactics. Exhibit : Mugabe.

  2. grd (at 4:42 am), when building IT Systems, one of the things we consider is the specific context in which such a system will be used. This is because an automated system that may work in one case, may not be appropriate for other situations. So what matters more in this case is the Philippine (and not the Singapore) context.

    jcc (at 4:55 am & at 5:45 am), no matter what the added technology features are, if you cannot independently verify that the inputs (i.e. votes cast) were the ones used to generate the outputs (i.e. election returns), then the automated system has not satisfied the objective of ensuring the integrity of the election process. Even with encryption technologies, the party who possesses the key, in this case, the COMELEC, can still tamper with the results. Remember that automation is often only as good as the process it automates.

    KG (at 7:19am), as i mentioned in my blog entry that i linked to above, there is a way to automate that helps ensure integrity. What’s the benefit of fast results if we sacrifice verifiability? (BTW, thanks for the info on Paglas.)

    Anyway, as far as these kinds of systems go, an automated election system is not rocket science. It’s simple and familiar enough so the concerned voter can (and should) participate in the discussion. The system used in Canada (as referenced by Vic at 8:19 am) where there is a facility for manual recount and the one mentioned by Leytenian (at 7:43am) where you have Voter-verified paper ballots are superior in terms of verifiability.

  3. It is becoming clearer by the day that the MILF’s political arm is only a virtual construct.

    Not even a work in progress.

    The present environment (GWOT) has actually given it the impetus but in reality it does not exist.

    One can argue that it is still very much more of a conglomeration of armed groups.

    That MOA looks to be document that was over-negotiated simply to get some sort of political credibility for the MILF and most probably serve as a pretext for another stab at cha-cha.

    Now it is blowing up in the faces of the guys who crafted it.

    The MILF cannot compare itself to Sinn Fein, PLO and the rest of the now mainstream political arms of insurgencies.

  4. cvj,

    you are right there were 2 systems used in the latest ARMM polls (DRE & OMR). the reason of course is for the “COMELEC to evaluate their suitability for nationwide use in 2010”.

    I checked the COMELEC’s website and below is the list of the kinds of technologies that were considered. take note of the date when the inspection team visited the US where the technologies were sourced.


    The following include the kinds of technologies considered by the Philippine inspection team during the 15-day inspection trip to the US in October 1993:
    1. mechanical leverage machine
    2. punch card system
    3. optical mark reader (OMR)
    4. direct recording electronic (DRE) machine


    This is a voting machine, wherein a voter would face or enter a cabinet-type booth to cast his vote. All the names are already presented to the voter in the booth, and the voter would just have to push a button corresponding to the name of a candidate of his choice, and pull a mechanical lever afterwards. His vote automatically gets counted.

    If one of these machines would take the place of our present voting booths, it would require ten (10) of these to be placed inside a polling place. Considering around 200,000 precincts, the entire Philippines would need about 2,000,000 of these. Even if one machine would cost only P1,000 each, the cost of the machines alone would total to 2 billion pesos.

    Furthermore, since this is a mechanical device, each cabinet-type machine would require a very large space for storage outside voting periods.

    Aside from its bulkiness and high cost of acquisition, storage and maintenance, this system does not make use of any ballots, since the voter casts his vote directly on the machine. Voting on ballots is still a basic legal requirement of our current election system. In case of election protests that would require a recounting of the ballots, there would be no ballots to recount since the system does not provide for such.

    Moreover, during the 1993 inspection trip, many of the US counties which were using the mechanical leverage machine were already shifting from this old system to either the punch card system or the optical mark reader (OMR) system.


    This is a voting device, wherein a voter is given a ballot, with hole slots corresponding to the candidates’ names, and a puncher (similar to that used by our provincial bus conductors in ticketing their passengers). To cast his vote, the voter has to punch a hole corresponding to the name of the candidate of his choice. A separate reader machine does the counting afterwards.

    As with the mechanical leverage machine, if one of these devices would be provided per voter that should be allowed to vote inside the polling place at the same time, then ten (10) of these would also be required per polling place. Another problem with this system is that the punched holes have a tendency of not totally coming off from the ballot, which may not be read by the punch card reader as a valid vote if not properly punched or “holed”. This was the same problem that happened in the most recent US presidential election in Florida last November 2000, with its “hanging and dimpled chads”.


    This is a ballot counting machine: wherein a voter is given a ballot, with pre-printed candidates’ names, with corresponding ovals to shade or broken arrows to connect. The votes in the shaded ballots would be scanned using an OMR.

    This system is already familiar to all students taking the National Secondary Aptitude Test (NSAT), formerly NCEE (National College Entrance Examination), given by the Department of Education (DepEd), and to people taking the Civil Service Commission (CSC) Licensure Examinations and other examinations given by the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC), wherein the answer sheet is composed of ovals and the chosen answer would be shaded by the examinee. A similar system is employed by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) for its Lotto system, wherein the ovals corresponding to the numbers being bet upon are also shaded. In all these, the answer sheets and the lotto cards are read, or counted, by OMR machines.

    Since the system makes use of ballots, and also considering the fact that it is already familiar to most members of the electorate, this system was recommended as the most suitable for the Philippine setting. With the use of centralized counting centers, a ballot counter could be assigned to count the ballots from several precincts, or even from a whole municipality, depending on the number of registered voters. The counting machines could also be configured for other purposes, such as for surveys or for checking examination papers, such as the case of the CSC, DepEd and the PRC.

    Furthermore, due to the perceived ease and speed of accomplishing the new ballots, as compared to the present writing of names on the current manual ballots, two or three precincts could be clustered to vote in one polling place, which would translate to savings with regard to paying a lesser number of teachers who would serve on Election Day. These teachers would also be unburdened of the task of counting the ballots themselves since this task would be already be done by the OMR.


    This is also voting machine: A voter is presented with a screen showing all the names of the candidates, much like the locator screens in the Glorietta Shopping Malls. To cast his vote, the voter has to touch the name of the candidate of his choice on the screen, and his vote automatically gets counted.

    Although this is the most advanced technology with regard to modernized election systems, this is also the most costly. Furthermore, this system does not also make use of ballots, like the mechanical leverage machine. Therefore, we would be facing the same problem in cases of election protests requring a recount of ballots.

    Also in the same manner as the mechanical leverage machine, the DRE machine is intended to replace the manual voting booth. Currently, our system requires ten (10) voting booths per polling place. Doing so would also translate to buying several of these machines per polling place, which would cost more compared to acquiring OMRs for several polling places. COMELEC Modernization Project

    it seems to me that OMR can address your concern and the way I read Vic’s comment (@ 8:19am), their system in Canada is similar to OMR.

    since any of these systems have been used already in the US, can you imagine what happens if the US will follow your suggestion of preliminary counting in precinct level? how long will it take before a president or a senator is declared the winner?

    but all of these system of course will not matter if you don’t trust the people running the system, correct?

  5. Without an audit trail the truth can be adjusted…. supremo

    supremo, what technology are you using there in the US now?

  6. grd, one problem i see in a lot of Information Technology implementations is that the proponents actually go straight to making technology choices rather than doing the necessary first step of studying the process to be automated. (In this regard, the Hardware and software vendors are frequently at fault as their need to sell what they have fosters such a dysfunctional procurement method.)

    As described above, using the OMR method as proposed in the Philippine scenario, the ballots will have to be scanned at designated counting centers. There is still no preliminary counting at the precinct level. This provides a window of opportunity to commit electoral fraud that cannot be discovered, for exapmle, by simply scanning a bogus set of ballots. We’re actually moving a step backwards in this respect since there will be no more means to go back to the precinct level counts.

    All you can say to address this exposure is to advice us to ‘trust’ the COMELEC. Given all that has happened, isn’t this a bit naive?

  7. Thanks CVJ.
    I will review that link.

    About parts of the senate hearing I attended to:
    One no GRP peace panel because it is already in the supreme cour dawt.
    Two:No MNLF nor MILF reps.

    The next best thing for the government side was the attendance of Irene Santiago who was an adviser to Jess Dureza and a certain Atty Malang who is a human rights lawyer who just happened to be an outside observer to the peace negotiations way way back.

    I was interested in the narrative of the mayor of Iligan.
    He was confident that Iligan will be excluded because he was told by his congressman that Iligan won’t be touched.But upon Mayor Lobregat’s and Vice Gov pinols correction because they have a copy of the mOA ,he learned that 8 baranggays out of 44 will be included, when he learned which 8, als it was more than 80% of iligan.

    Ang mga IP (lumad)naman di yata naintindihan ng iba sabi kasi nila malungkot daw sila dahil sa TRO dahil ang tingil nila sa MOA ay =peace na. Umangal tuloy yung mga ibang lumad na part lang ng audience ng simula bandang hulli naging resource persons na.Di naman daw lahat ng lumad ganon ang point of view.

    kanya kanya;different strokes for different folks.

    that’s all I can remember at umalis na ako nagutom ako eh,nagpress con naman yata eh.

    ah oo nga is one thing I noted: the remark of Inday santiago that the constitution was never a factor in the peace talks as a tactic; to avoid stalemates kung baga.
    si Enrile yata ang kausap nya nun.

  8. Why don’t we ask the question now, “If not Gloria, who?” If Gloria steps down tomorrow, who would we want to take her place? What are our alternatives? Do we have an alternative and how do we deal with the political vacuum that will follow? Who will we tap to manage the economic situation of the country, or is it manageable at all? What is the alternative scenario to this nightmare we are in right now?
    Yes. Lets ask the question “If not Gloria, who?”

  9. grd,

    following your description of each system, i believe you are right with our sytem..In Federal and Provincial Election, we use the same process, while in local or municipal elections where we have to choose more than one candidate (in Federal and Provincial, we only have to Mark one X for the choice of an MP in our Riding or District) one for councillor representing the district, One for Mayor and one for School Board Trustee, (Catholic or Public, voter’s choice) we use a shaded or connect the line methods and the Clerk will drop the ballot right to the counting machine and if rejected may have to let the voter check if the lines are fully connected and re-do it again until the machine accepts the ballot..the ballots are still kept for later reference and only the City Treasurer and one other person have to have the knowledge of the locations for accountablity…

  10. Virginia’s main vote-count platform is Direct-Recognition technology.

    Audits are ongoing throughout the voting day. They know how many voters have shown up (the voter has to be on the list of eligible voters for that precinct). An auditor then checks the OMR machine(s) to know how many votes these machines have received. [The votes received per candidate ARE NOT viewed while the precincts are open.]

    OMR is used for those who can not cast their vote at the precincts during election day (e.g. military in Germany or Middle East). A voter who shows up at the precinct may not be allowed to use the DRE. His vote is captured on OMR media and sent to “headquarters” (along with whatever is required for headquarters auditors to determine if the vote should be counted). These “special-processing-only” votes are processed 5 business days after the precincts are closed.

    There are audit-processes that go on as the precinct-votes are tallied to come up with city-wide and state-wide totals so that the size of possible-anomalies is always known. If the size-of-possible-anomalies is not large enough to affect the total elections, then winners can be declared expeditiously.

    If the size-of-possible-anomalies is huge, then the declaration-of-winners is suspended. [Of course, the losing side(s) always can challenge the election results that were announced, and another round of audits get triggered.]

  11. The prime examples of Federal System are the United States and the former Soviet Union.

    The US system makes it hard for individual state to secede while the Soviet Union provided easy way for each republic comprising the Soviet Union to secede.

    But the iron grip of Soviet military machine and the Soviet Communist party find it diffucult for the republics to secede. That is why the disintegration of the Soviet Union was the result of the collapse of the Soviet Communist rule and niot the other way around.

    The US, howver, has too much legal walls, making it hard for a Stae to secede. Aside from it being an economic powerhouser making secesasion a lesst attractive proposition.

    How about us? We have neither a political force strong enough to prevent disintegration nor a situation making secession a bad idea for any of the Federal area to break away from the Republic.

    I think we are of the Balkan type situation than any other country in the world preactsing Federal type of government.

    Balkan-type? So, at least we will know what will happen once once we become a Federated state.

  12. federal vs, unilateral system? this is not even the issue. it is our attitude that is the issue.

    automation vs. manual. is the choice that hard?

    manual as per Philippine experience is always hacked… (garci tapes, etc..) while automation is tampered proof.

    if comelec who has the encryption key counterpart can tamper the result, the issue is our attitude and not the automation process.

    during tabulation at the comelec, reps of all parties and the media must be present. the opening of the ballots using the encryption code must be done in the presence of all the representatives of the parties and the media to avoid suspicion that the result is being tampered with.

    or that the encryption code must be provided all the parties and that tabulation will only be operative when all disributed encryption code to the parties had been inputted.

  13. jcc,

    tampering ballots is only one form of electoral frauds. there are intimidations, vote buying, and even threats of livelihood..these too should be addressed, otherwise the so-called tamper-proof automation is just that tamper-proof of what were input that was already tampered some other way…

  14. but election is only the trapping of democracy. it isnot democracy itself.

    perfected automation it will not and does not address the issue of our attitude and mentality, our lack of discipline … our labo-labo mentality. we lack the concept of one nation one flag and we look at the concept of patriotism as some sort of a disease and an abomination.

    even if you perfected the automation, if our attitude remains the same… the country will still spiral into chaos and civil strife.

    even if you perfected the system if you can only line up demagogue candidates masquerading as statesmen, our country will still spiral into bottomless pit of frustration and hopelessness.

    so stop worrying or even talking of small stuff. buckle down to work and start talking to your children about honesty, integrity, love of country and flag,

  15. grd,

    ‘what technology are you using there in the US now?’

    New Jersey uses DRE machines with a tape paper trail. They are currently investigating some of the machines because there was some discrepancies between the the DRE’s memory and the tape paper trail during the Super Tueday voting.

  16. if comelec who has the encryption key counterpart can tamper the result, the issue is our attitude and not the automation process. – jcc

    How can it be ‘our attitude’ that is the problem if COMELEC is the one who tampers with the result? Where’s the logic in that?

    during tabulation at the comelec, reps of all parties and the media must be present. the opening of the ballots using the encryption code must be done in the presence of all the representatives of the parties and the media to avoid suspicion that the result is being tampered with. – jcc

    If the COMELEC has the key, then there is no way to check whether they have previously opened the results and tampered with it.

    or that the encryption code must be provided all the parties and that tabulation will only be operative when all disributed encryption code to the parties had been inputted. – jcc

    In which case, all it takes to delay the counting process is for one of the parties not to show up.


    grd, i gave it some thought, and ballot scanning via OMR technology (as used in the ARMM) is ok provided there is still the preliminary step of manual ballot counting at the precinct level that is witnessed by the public. The results of this precinct level count can then be used to cross check against the results of the automated OMR scanning of the ballots and can later be used in any dispute resolution.

  17. cvj,

    you call it parsing or nitpicking.

    “our attitude means comelec attitude”, one of the modalities in english where to show some deference and an indirect way of saying it is “your fault” “we say it is our fault”, because it is more polite. there is no issue of logic there, only issue of good manner. ask your english teacher to confirm it.

    again, in law, if you are not present when you are supposed to be present, you can be defaulted. you cannot delay the canvas simply because you failed to show up and surrender your encryption key.

    you lost your right to make the canvassing fool-proof and you have no excuse crying foul because you did not show up.

    you see we can always make up thousand of reasons even inane one because we have not changed our attitude.

  18. cvj,

    an override mechanism should be devised that if one party failed to show up the parties present can activate the override and provide the substitute encryption key. 🙂

  19. For upcoming/Nov 2008 elections for entire USA, the methodology to be used will be :

    18 states require VVPR (voter-verified paper records) and manual audits
    13 states : VVPR required; No audit requirement
    8 states : VPR not required but in use statewide; No audit requirement
    11 states : No VVPR requirement; No audit requirement

    For better definitions of terms, click here:

  20. California is “going paper” for November 2008.

    But more “interesting”, Federer got knocked out of contention for individual medal — beijing olympics.

  21. If the COMELEC has the key, then there is no way to check whether they have previously opened the results and tampered with it.

    the comelec wont be able to open it if you have multiple keys. and digital signatures are there for tamper-proofing.

  22. grd, i gave it some thought, and ballot scanning via OMR technology (as used in the ARMM) is ok provided there is still the preliminary step of manual ballot counting at the precinct level that is witnessed by the public. The results of this precinct level count can then be used to cross check against the results of the automated OMR scanning of the ballots and can later be used in any dispute resolution. cvj

    cvj, i was going to say the same but you and the others beat me to it.

  23. The key is not important. It’s easy to duplicate keys. It’s the voting machine’s memory that should be tamper-proof.

  24. Keys are not important. The machine’s memory is important. There should be 2 in each machine. One should be detachable and the other one soldered into the pvc board. Both should have the same number of votes at any given time. Add a paper audit trail and you have a tamper proof voting machine.

  25. supremo,

    encryption key is digital encryption not the metal key we used in opening up a ballot boxes. have you seen a data format which you cannot open up because you do not have the program to open it up? encryption key works along similar concept.

  26. ARMM Election process, from watchdogs (as reported by
    MANILA, Philippines—Automated counting and voting machines “improved” the conduct of elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao…

    … “less violence” this time compared to previous ARMM polls.

    “The new systems were certainly a welcome improvement over the manual systems in previous elections,” the Asian Network for Free Elections (Anfrel) said in a statement.

    The group, which has been observing the ARMM polls for the past decade, deployed 22 foreign volunteers to monitor the balloting in 443 precincts.

    The electronic system could not eliminate many forms of electoral fraud and offenses, Anfrel said. These problems, it said, had already been documented in past elections, but they still persisted.

    Vote-buying, ballot-snatching, the use of flying voters (illegal registrants), multiple voting and proxy voting by minors were among the irregularities observed by the groups’ volunteers in the country’s first computerized balloting on Monday.

  27. the current philippine system of governance doesn’t work for the people and by the people. The attitude of the filipino people is the result of poor implementation and governance not the other way around….

    it’s not the people’s attitude. And we are not vacuous according to benigno…( oh where’s benigno?)

    To prove that my statement holds true, is the OFW. The OFW’s work for a system that works for them.

  28. There you go again with vacuous leytenian; it is no longer benigs’ trademark; it is already yours.’

    One’s attitude in my opinion has little to do with governance.

    granted it is true that many people don’t trust our institutions of past experiences,those experiences cannot dictate one’s attitude.

    nasa nagdadala yan.

    As for atty JCC with all due respect, you talk about patriotism and love for country and flag.
    That includes respect for institutions. as I see in your blog that is impossible for the time being ,because of your beef with the supreme court. I am not saying that I do not agree with your idea about attitude in general,but are you saying that it is correct to disprespect our institutions as along as we love our country .Or may be in a way you are saying:. if we love our country we should do something about our institutions? is that it?

  29. There was nothing new in those senate hearings that we have not discussed here nakita ko na talaga na nakatira tayo sa isang preso na may iba ibang gangs co exist for a few days then kablam gang war.

    Majority of the resource speakers were against the MOa, but those for it were also heard.
    Kaya pal wala ng GRP di dahil sa sub judice na; pero dahil pala nasa Cagayan de Oro sila with their own press conference.

    Ang point of contention ng mga mayor at governor magiging parang dalmatian ang probinsya nila pag tiningnan sa mapa, at sa nagyon gusto nila status quo dahil nag cocoexist naman daw ang muslims,christians a t lumads. and of course the issu of the majority of the barangays included puro christians ang majority.100% Christians pa yung iba.
    This has been blogged about by Manolo in his blog post”oblivious to change”, if I am not mistaken.
    One of the speakers pinted to history that before the independence Mindanao has 76 % muslims the rest are christians and lumads, kung ganun ang usapan oblivious to change nga, ewan ko nasa background pa lang yung speaker binara na sya eh. nag usap na lang ang dalawang abogado si Enrile at yung Abogado na binaggit ko kanina at may part pa nga dun na sinabi ni enrile na I don’t believe it is a scrap of paper at sinagot ng comapnero nya na why don’t you invite Bernas.etc,etc.


    maiba tayo, I saw on TV na lumalaban ang army na nakasando at naka tsinelas lang.
    Ang maaring dahilan nito ay dahil kasama nila ang buong pamilya sa field; kaya pag tapos magpaputok uwi agad sa pamilya.
    Sounds crazy ,but it is the reason, not lack of uniforms and combat boots.

    sounds crax

  30. KG,

    Read more those issues in my blog. My view on the fallibility (capacity to fail) of any institutions, for that matter of the Supreme Court, has nothing to do with respect or disrespect. It is holding the Supreme Court accountable for its decision and self-righteous pontification. It is like holding the Office of the President or Congress accountable for their corruption or their inability to deliver the duties they were sworn to uphold.

    When a decision has been rendered it is no longer within the confines of the court. It is subject to public debate just like the actions of the two other branches of the government, Congress and Executive.

    I believe that in bringing to public consciousness the decision of the SC about my case, I am exercising a civic duty to bring out the issue that the SC cannot act like God, faultless and flawless, because quite frankly, it is more corrupt than the lower courts and most trial lawyers.

  31. jcc (at 11:06 pm), anyone who has the capacity to ‘override’ the keys will also have the capacity to tamper with the data. Also, in building a foolproof system, given past experience, we cannot assume a good attitude on the part of the COMELEC.

    grd (at 2:55 am), yeah i had a hunch you already thought about that as well. I take it then that we’re in agreement on the principle of having precinct level counts to supplement implementation of OMR technology. It would just require the following modification in the process and data to be scanned where:

    1. Prior to issuing the ballots to the voter, they are marked by to indicate the precinct label (by darkening the right boxes so it can be scanned later.)

    2. Voter then goes to the booth to mark his/her choices.

    3. At the close of the day, a precinct-level count is conducted witnessed by all parties, watchdogs and the public.

    4. The results are marked in a summary sheet, again by darkening the appropriate boxes so this sheet can also be scanned. Copies are given to all authorized parties.

    5. The ballots (which have been labeled with the precinct identifier) as well as the summary sheet (with the results) are then transported to the official counting center where OMR scan takes place.

    With the above, we are then able to get both the consolidated results as well as breakdown of precinct level tallies which can then be compared with the precinct level count for any dispute resolution.

  32. cvj,

    override will come into play only in case of one keys is not accounted for because of purposeful absence of one of the parties.

    the parties present will activate the override in the presence of everybody else except the one party which defaulted.

    but as i said, are we interested in counting votes or in reinventing ourselves and change our attitude?


  33. “One’s attitude in my opinion has little to do with governance.”

    That may not be true in the case of public servant. My question: Does a politician’s style of management promote low moral and help to create a bad atmosphere? OR he/she is highly respected leader who oozes charisma ultimately generating a highly motivated workforce? How many of our leaders have the right attitude?

    Public Management has a direct effect to people’s attitude. It can either demotivate or motivate an individual’s attitude.

    KG, The attitude i was talking about reply 5:45AM…. was a reply to jcc’s:

    federal vs, unilateral system? this is not even the issue. it is our attitude that is the issue.” 9: 19 PM

    and continuation of cvj: “How can it be ‘our attitude’ that is the problem if COMELEC is the one who tampers with the result? Where’s the logic in that?


  34. “but as i said, are we interested in counting votes or in reinventing ourselves and change our attitude?

    we can change the attitude of our Youth…. We can change the attitude of our leaders.
    How can the majority, the poor change their attitude? They don’t have time to even think of their own attitude. They are worried on how to feed their children and send them to school. They are worried when sickness comes and what they are going to do in the future. The lack of opportunities and employment are not our there…. That’s the reality …

  35. “That may not be true in the case of public servant. My question: Does a politician’s style of management promote low moral and help to create a bad atmosphere? OR he/she is highly respected leader who oozes charisma ultimately generating a highly motivated workforce? How many of our leaders have the right attitude?”
    “Public Management has a direct effect to people’s attitude. It can either demotivate or motivate an individual’s attitude.”
    “KG, The attitude i was talking about reply 5:45AM…. was a reply to jcc’s:””
    “federal vs, unilateral system? this is not even the issue. it is our attitude that is the issue.” 9: 19 PM
    “and continuation of cvj: “How can it be ‘our attitude’ that is the problem if COMELEC is the one who tampers with the result? Where’s the logic in that?”

    Totally Clueless ^

    A bullet in the head is a great motivating factor most especially with the electoral system in the Philippines.

    That can really affect peoples attitudes. The last two legal officers of the COMELEC had an unfortunate incident with bullets crashing into their body.

    That is how the public is managed in this country.

    The information flow or chain no matter what level of technology you will use will depend on the level of survivability of the people who will be handling the flow.

    I know for a fact that all probable presidential candidates are already hiring their IT experts to teach them the differing ways of cheating just to be forearmed with countermeasures.

    Garbage in garbage out.

    When a woman or man masturbates it based on purely theoretical sex.

    Just like putting in a voting system.

    The test is in the act itself. Why will cheating still be rampant??

    Why this is so so simple to appreciate? You can get away with it.
    There is no fear of the justice system.

  36. JCC,

    Thanks for the clarification, I will find time to read your blog.


    Do you think the handling Court of appeals justices by retired justices instead of the active ones is the way to go ?(bribery issue)


    Ok you made your point.

  37. jcc,

    ‘encryption key is digital encryption not the metal key we used in opening up a ballot boxes. …’

    I’m also talking about encryption keys. Did you know that they can be duplicated very easily? Software based encryption keys give false security. It is better to use tamper-proof memory chips with embedded security features.

  38. “I’m also talking about encryption keys. Did you know that they can be duplicated very easily?”

    you don’t know what you’re talking about

  39. mindanaon,

    And what do you know about encryption? Have you ever written any computer code on the mainframe? I’ve done code that can process 20 million financial trades a day. Securing those transactions using software based encryption do not work.
    What about you? What have you done?

  40. KG,

    You are putting me in hot water again.

    Whether active or retired justices looking into bribery charge against a seating justice, expect the same result: “whitewash”.

    If you find Mr. Justice guilty of bribery, he might talk and give out others similarly situated. But oh, boy, just for him to inhibit he was offered 10 million. How much more if the favor being asked is to render a favorable decision? Wheewww, I won’t venture a figure.

    In our country we do not dishonor or put to prison big fish, only small fish. If one big fish is on the net, he would be immediately extended clemeny/pardon even without the convict asking for it. It is less painful if we just let him go without bringing him to court, to save “kuno” the image of the institution”, as if there was any image to protect in the first place.

    You cannot see a justice hoisted on his own petard, otherwise, the entire SC and CA would be become ghost chambers, with nary a soul left except maybe three or four with clean conscience and immaculate souls. 🙂

    Only in da Pilipins.

  41. supremo,

    i have been a programmer for 19 years, the first six on mainframes. but of course, that’s irrelevant.

    what do you mean by “software based encryption do not work?” are you claiming you can crack triple-DES? how about rijndael? the NSA needs a supercomputer farm to crack old algorithms. there is nobody in the industry even claiming current cryptosystems are insecure. what were you thinking?

    and dont talk about memory chips because we are talking about keys.

    fact is, electronic voting systems can be made as secure as electronic banking. please don’t tell me my PIN is easy to duplicate. that’s nonsense.

  42. ARRM rose out of the barrel of a gun. So did the MOA-AD. Long neglected groups had to fire guns to let us know they exist. Then, cowering in fear, we give in to their demands. All in the name of peace. Which group shall next point a gun at our gall and brainless leaders?

    There was bloodshed because the MOA-AD was derailed. Yet, if approved, it could only be worse. Do you think the people of the ceded area would allow themselves to be governed by the MILF?

    Sen. Pimentel offers federalism as a solution. Already in his twilight years, he wants the country to go down with him. Is it not enough that we have an ARMM that absorbs funds intended for provinces? Is it not enough that an inter-provincial group like the MILF has grown big enough to threaten our officials?

    His intentions are well taken. We really need a change. We need to decentralize. The question is: do we need a cha-cha to be able to do so. Can we not get the benefits of federalism withing dividing the Country into States.

    I think he will admit that provinces and cities can do the job better than his proposed States. States are a redundancy. They are merely added burden to an already impoverished government. Decentralization is just a law away. And so is peace in Mindanao.

  43. Today’s online-inquirer has a picture of pro-MOA people marching in front of the Supreme court.

    So how many marches for pro-bangsamoro have there been in 2007? In 2006? Were there even any in 2005?

    Were there even a single pro-bangsamoro march held anywhere in Zamboanga this year? Last year? The year before?

  44. the parties present will activate the override in the presence of everybody else except the one party which defaulted. – jcc

    That ‘override’ is just another key so somebody will have to know that ‘override’ and that someone would again be the weak link.

    what do you mean by “software based encryption do not work?” are you claiming you can crack triple-DES? how about rijndael? the NSA needs a supercomputer farm to crack old algorithms. there is nobody in the industry even claiming current cryptosystems are insecure. what were you thinking? – mindanaoan

    As i was telling jcc, you don’t even have to go to that extent of using technology to crack the key. All you have to do is get to the person who knows the key (or their families and loved ones).


    Anyway, this whole conversation involving keys is secondary because the security (and integrity) of the Electoral System is *not* based on methods of keeping information secret (which are what keys are for).

    Quite the opposite, its security (and integrity) is based on transparency, i.e. having as many people know the results as early as possible with the assurance that these results can be traced back to verifiable precinct level counts (and not to some backroom wholesale cheating operation). This way will you have the means to cross-check results.

    The principle is similar to the Open Source Computing mantra, “Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.”. Given enough people watching, all cheating operations are shallow. Eliminating the step of conducting a precinct-level count drastically reduces the number of ‘eyeballs’ which means a bigger opportunity to facilitate cheating operations either by exploiting flaws in technology, process or people.

  45. cvj,

    your allusion to security based on secrecy versus transparency is about algorithms, not about keys. encryption and digital signatures is always built upon secrecy of keys.

    on the other hand, audit control and verification is a separate matter from data integrity. i myself want to be able to cross-check results.

  46. “if you go by the thread, you will be amazed to find that we are really a fractious society, no wonder we cannot move on.. “-jcc


    how can we move on if ‘move on’ means perpetuating the rule of GMA who is not love by 80% of the people?

  47. mindanaoan (at 7:42 pm), it’s not even about algorithms but rather, about the proper approach to security given the election process. precisely my point is that the whole approach to security and integrity in the election process is in *not* maintaining the secrecy of the results, which is why jcc’s discussion of encryption technologies is premature in the present context. the security and integrity of the data is dependent on it being broadcast at the source (i.e. the precinct) so that it can then be independently tracked. we don’t want any black boxes along the way.

    Someday, when the credibility of the COMELEC improves to a level where it is on par with the American Idol producers, then maybe we can begin to consider online or web-based voting. When that time comes, jcc’s (and your) comments on encryption technologies will be relevant.

    For now, the issue is we cannot trust the COMELEC with election data which is why we cannot allow them to possess the keys which will keep such data secret. Even with the current process where data is out in the open, you already have Abalos, Garci and Bedol. Why would we want to subject ourselves to a high-tech incarnation of these characters?

  48. ok cvj. we use an “n of m” key, where keys are distributed among comelec, namfrel and all involved political parties. only comelec+namfrel+any one (or more) of the parties can open it. any other combination can’t. fair?

    however, by definition and by design, votings systems ought to be secure from tampering by anyone, even by developers. (any hint of insecurity will drive them bankrupt).

    electronic voting is supposed to be the answer to your mistrust of the comelec. but you would rather you can trust the comelec first. you are putting the cart before the horse.

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