The President’s fury at inept underlings made the evening news and was blogged extensively (one of the first to do so was Ang sa Wari Ko; while A Filipina Mom Blogger used it as a take off point for a discussion on stress management).
I agree with him. A president with a temper is nothing new, and it could even be argued that Filipino-style management seems to require a volcanic fury to get underlings to get things done. In itself, it is neither unpresidential or unseemly. She’s displayed her temper before. But what was different was that the President displayed a different kind of anger altogether.
The political opposition to the MOA-AD that spurred the nationwide reaction against the MILF and the Bangsamoro people has dangerously transformed a peace process that is supposed to bring reconciliation to two peoples at war with each other into a grim scenario that allows no space for the Moros to have a breathing spell.
Through the MNLF, the Moros asked for a meaningful political autonomy in 1976. Instead they were granted a fake one by the GRP under the Marcos regime using the 1976 Tripoli Agreement which allowed constitutional processes to shortchange the Moros. In 1996, the Moros again under the MNLF demanded for meaningful political autonomy; and again what they were given in the so-called MNLF-GRP Final Peace Agreement (FPA) was the ARMM, which was created before the FPA and whose autonomy was clipped by the Philippine constitution. Inevitably, the ARMM ended up reduced to merely being an extension of the Office of the Philippine President. Later, it was even taken out of MNLF hands and became a political prize awarded to the Moro warlord most loyal and subservient to the sitting regime.
Now, under the MILF, the Moros want to recover whatever little is left of their ancestral domain and be given the chance to govern themselves as a sub-state entity within the larger Philippine nation-state. Peace on the basis of justice is about to be achieved under this formula. But even this does not sit well with the Filipino elite, the politicians, the Church and the Filipino colons in Mindanao. They have sabotaged the efforts of their own government. All, including those who claimed to be sympathetic to the plight of the Bangsamoro people like Senator Aquilino ‘Nene’ Pimentel, Jr., have ganged up against the Bangsamoro people to prevent them from even reclaiming areas which they now actually occupy and where they are the majority. The result: back to square one. Mindanao again is on the edge of an all-out war.
The selfishness of the Filipino ruling elite in general and the Filipino politicians in particular is dumbfounding. Their lack of sense of justice is appalling. They and their drumbeaters in the Philippine media can lie through their teeth and still have a nice sleep at night. Imagine telling the public the fantastic spin that Malaysia is arming the MILF and the Americans are behind the Moros’ desire to be an “independent Islamic State”. Why, they can’t even make sense of their allegations and lies! You can never find any mention of an “independent Islamic state” in the MOA-AD even if the pages were turned upside down. To even say that the Americans are behind the attempt by the MILF to create a “Bangsamoro Islamic State” is absurd. What fantasy! What ignorance! Hollywood hogwash has taken grip of the Filipino mind that it no longer knows what is real and what is imaginary. No wonder why the Philippine nation-state is moribund.
No wonder why tens of thousands of Filipinos are leaving this country for good. Now I can better appreciate the context of what Ustadz Salamat Hashim, the late MILF Amir, said when he stated that we should not believe the Filipino unbelievers even when they say that the crow is black!
What needs to be stated here for the record is that we Moros are not inclined to abandon our homeland to these vultures. We will fight for it as our ancestors fought for it. The mestizo leftovers of the Spaniards such as the likes of Teddy Locsin and Lobregat, and Filipino colons in Mindanao like Piñol as well as their capitalist patrons ensconced in Makati can go hang themselves from nearest lamp post for all we care. The Moros will fight. MILF Base Commander Ustadz Amirul Ombra Cato will not be alone. A war in Mindanao will drag down this pathetic, artificial country and its government to perdition. Perhaps this time we will no longer settle for a sub-state or a federative arrangement with the Filipinos. It’s useless anyway because they would never grant it. They would always insist this is ‘secession’ even if we do not have the intention to secede. So let’s give them a dose of their own medicine. Let’s aim for independence this time. For real. Like what the Algerians did when their clamor for autonomous rule was repeatedly and violently denied by the French colons. Given the Filipinos’ hostile attitude to anything Moro and Muslim, there is no other option left. This is now the reality facing us.
The mention of Algeria is signficant. It had been considered an integral part of France; de Gaulle, faced with a nationalist uprising, decided to abandon the French settlers and recognize Algeria’s independence; at one point, the French armed forces tried to mount a coup against de Gaulle. Yet independence hasn’t prevented the rise of Islamic extremism in Algeria. The problem is Arroyo is no de Gaulle.
The frustration of the writer quoted above with suggestions the Americans are in league with the MILF (or that the MILF is being armed by the Malaysians, when obviously political and even financial support is plenty of help and there are many AFP members willing to sell arms to the MILF anyway) isn’t about to change the mind of say, Tony Abaya (who says it boils down to the MILF being, in American eyes, more dependable than Christian leaders) or blogger Philippine Politics 04.
And the thing is, if one presents a narrative, even a counter-narrative, it will never end (if Moros can assert they achieved a “higher plane” of political existence with the sultanates, then by any measure a republic trumps any hereditary principality in terms of political evolution) and be trumped, always by what wars always end up being about: real estate.
In his column today, Manuel Buencamino points to the problem on focusing too much on the past as a justification for the present:
Why did the Arroyo administration agree to the MILF’s self-serving historical timeline?
Islam is no more indigenous than Christianity. The Spaniards were not our first colonizers. Luwaran, the MILF web site, does not deny that Moros are products of an earlier colonization:
“Ameen [secretary general of the MILF Central Committee] recalled that the history of the Moros and IPs [indigenous peoples] is one and inseparable, but noted that the former were always the ‘bigger brother’ while the latter [was] the ‘younger brother.’ ” Moros “have developed a higher plane of political existence” than lumads because they converted to Islam and adopted the sultanate system.
In that same Sona, Gloria Arroyo lamented that although Mindanao was a food basket, “it has some of the highest hunger in our nation.” For this sad state of affairs, she blamed “the endless Mindanao conflict.” Her solution to ending the endless conflict was to capitulate to the MILF.
Arroyo knows the BJE does not fit into the 1987 Constitution, so she asked Congress “to act on the legislative and political reforms that will lead to a just and lasting peace during our term of office.”
Unfortunately, a “just and lasting peace” through a refitting of the BJE into our Constitution won’t be possible during or after her term of office.
There will be conflicts between the lumads and the MILF, between Christians and the MILF, between Manila and the MILF over jurisdiction, ownership of lands, mineral rights, natural resources and a host of other irritants that come from drawing lines on a map without regard for its inhabitants.
There will be power struggles among self-appointed Moro leaders – the Maranao-dominated MILF, the Tausog-dominated MNLF and the traditional politicians of Mindanao – over control of the BJE.
“Better talk than fight, if nothing of sovereign value is anyway lost,” counseled Gloria Arroyo in her Sona.
Unfortunately, talking nonsense will lead to loss not only of sovereign value but also, and more important, of property. And for that, most people will fight to the death.
For the Christian (Ilonggo) side, HabagatCentral Republic offers up a personal reflection buttressing Buencamino’s insight:
There were cases of outright land grabbing from the ancestral domains of the Moros and Lumads who were then ignorant about the Western concept of “private property” as the lands were considered “communal” and for all people to share. Land grabbing that lead to land conflicts. Land conflicts that lead to bloodshed, my grandfather himself was a victim of this trechery.
I have relatives in Mindanao who have hated the Moros. They are backward, backstabbers and barbarian. Di daw dapat sila pagkakatiwalaan. Di ko rin sila masisisi. They’ve seen their love ones slaughtered by the Moro raids of the towns especially during the 1970’s. The very foundation of Ilaga, a vigilante group composed of mostly Kristyanos and some Lumads, was borne out of reaction against the Moros. They sow terrorism in the hearts of the Moros as they kill them with reported cannibal activities. As a reaction, the Moros established their own vigilante group known as the Blackshirts/Barracudas. So the question, is terrorism a Moro problem?
MNLF/MILF & AFP has instigated a somewhat revolutionary violence. The former is for the seperation of the Mindanao that they claim is rightfully theirs, and I understand them. They weren’t subjugated by the Spaniards and was never converted to Christianity as what they define as “Filipino.” They are fiercely independent and will fight for what is right. The latter on the other hand defends the Philippines and its sovereignity. Their causes are noble yet the effects to ordinary civilians were catastrophic. Casualties have reached over a hundred thousand for years of war with each other in Mindanao. No matter how noble their causes are, it is still somewhat politically-culturaly motivated. In the end, the civilians still suffer.
In my opinion, I would still uphold MILF as a revolutionary movement still. Abu Sayyaff on the other hand is just pure banditry using Islam as an excuse to their savagery. The latter in my belief is the salot. The former on the other hand has still a handful of options to sit and talk what is necessary. For the betterment of their own peoples.
Ewan ko lang pero parang hindi ko maiwasan na ibuntong ang sisi sa Pamahalaang Arroyo sa mga pangyayaring ito ngayon na muling gumigimbala sa kapayapaan ng Mindanao at Pilipinas. I went there several years ago and I was seeing optimism that finally, Mindanao can move on towards peace and progress. That the government is seating alongside with the rebels. But because of the sudden declaration of the signing of the Memo of Agreement for the Bangsamoro Judirical Entity, Mindanao was thrown into state of panic, may it be the Kristyanos, the Moros and even the Lumads.
I’ve restrained myself from looking into other blogs of the Kristyanos and even of the Moros… Its really frustrating. Parang sumulpot muli ang inate hatred towards each other. I got frustrated with this notion but I couldn’t blame them why. I understand them. But is violence or war really the solution to ever-lasting peace in this island or in this country? Care to look at Palestine perhaps? You may have crushed the rebels but you haven’t ceased yet the root of struggle. Hanggang dahon at sanga lang… pero yung ugat di pa napapatay. Purging Moro ideals to the point of genocide is of murder, that is outright savagery! So what do we do then? How can we help to stop the vicious cycle.
I was thinking then that this animosity of ours will be brought towards the end of human civilization.
Ano kaya ang tamang solusyon sa Mindanao/Bangsamoro Problem? Ridu rin ba kaya o ubusan ng lahi?
As far as making sense of events, As blogger smoke asks what many are asking: was the President even thinking?
The thing is this – the President’s men (and therefore the President herself) dangled the idea of the BJE in front of the bandits and sold themselves on the idea that it would work. This played them right into the bandit’s hands: by putting all their eggs in the BJE basket, the President’s men gave the bandits the opportunity to set up an ultimatum – give us the BJE or we start shooting again.
When the BJE was scuttled the bandits got their casus belli. Now admittedly its a flimsy rationale for the resumption of hostilities, but it is just solid enough to rile up the cannon-fodder and convince them that they’ve been shafted and therefore need to avenge their slighted pride. It’s Moro psychology 101, if anyone had bothered to check.
And that’s the point: the Commander-in-Chief is supposed to be able to take in the whole picture; to understand how various factors all contribute to the outcome. In this case, because the President’s men were allowed – perhaps even encouraged – to formulate a do-or-die solution, it is clear that there were critical factors that were ignored, not the least of which is the very well known tendency of Moros to exaggerate insults to their pride.
In hostage negotiation, one of the most basic lessons is to never say no to the hostage taker. But then again, this also covers situations where saying ‘yes’ sets you up to say ‘no’ later. Let me clarify: by saying yes to the idea of a BJE, the President’s men were committing to an outcome that was not in their control. It was stupid for them to imagine that the BJE would slip through unnoticed. More to the point, the President’s men simply failed to anticipate a negative outcome, i.e., the BJE would be challenged and stopped. So, by saying yes, to the BJE, they were blindly rushing into a future where – when the Supreme Court invalidates the MOA for instance – they would have no choice but to say no to the BJE. And there you go, they said NO to the hostage taker.
This turn of events led the hostage taker – the bandits – to now feel backed into a corner. The only way out of that corner would have been a MOA for the BJE. But with no MOA forthcoming, and the additional insult of the ARMM elections being conducted, the bandits embraced the belief that there would be no other solution than to come out with their guns blazing. No solutions. War.
But using Occam’s razon, blogger Tongue In, Anew returns to the blogosphere and puts forward this thought-provoking analysis of the situation: it was all, and remains, simple, really. According to the blogger (who, while anonymous, has had very interesting entries in the past, suggesting an individual who is plugged-in), it’s all a charade:
Assperon’s appointment to the Peace portfolio was suspect way back… Not to mention the Ass was then joiningGen. Boogie Mendoza, a former Razon protege, and an “acclaimed anti-terrorist expert”…
On the other side of the fence, a separatist front of freedom fighters on Mondays, Abu Sayyaf kidnappers on Tuesdays, Jemaah Islamiya trainees on Wednesdays, lost command on Thursdays, devout Muslims on Fridays, and plain farmers and merchants on weekends. Overseen by their provisions suppliers from Malaysia.
Now what do we have? A highly volatile cocktail made up of an administration struggling for perpetual survival, high-profile GWOT freaks looking for an opportunity to expand their military control and a wayward army of bandits all of them intelligent enough to know that peace was doomed in the first place but insist that they might just be able to pull it through.
No, Gloria didn’t plan to dismember the country via the MOA-AD, she knows it’s unconstitutional, luckily, the legit opposition saw through her, she even had to use her allies to petition for a TRO which her SC appointees readily obliged to. She was expecting widespread retaliation but the MILF hierarchy surprisingly held back, her emergency rule cannot be imposed! No martial law, no chacha either. Doom! The Ass’ loyal generals immediately had to scramble for the “Lost Commanders” Kato and Bravo who have been burning villages left and right in the past yet no sincere effort to bring them to justice was ever taken (You now have an idea why Kabalu insists these commanders were not ordered by MILF to do so). They needed them to jump start this stage of the war to put Plan B into action. Funny but Eid Kabalu hasn’t announced an all-out offensive yet. Nor has Puno and Teodoro. Who wants to really finish the war after all? Even Misuari’s MNLF are now wearing their old uniforms to defend their own territory. Against whom? The gov’t? MILF? Or the Lost Command?
Gloria’s “Defend every inch of the territory” spiel was predictably looking for just the right moment to be announced so she blew her top after finding out her staff had not even prepared the teleprompter.
This view puts forward the possibility that the administration wanted to maneuver the country into a situation permitting a state of emergency, while others in the military hierarchy quite possibly, refrained from cooperating fully, and the MILF command declined to do the government any favors. Offering a reward, accompanied by statements that only individuals, and not the entire MILF movement, will be deemed outlaws, provides an opening for tensions to subside. And all the while, the jitters continue. Blogging from Iligan City, preMEDitated recounted, yesterday:
Panic struck the city center earlier this night. People flocked to the City Hall for protection by military forces stationed there. Text messages soon followed warning of imminent MILF attacks.
Much of the rest of the populace is now in anticipatory mood.
General Luna of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has issued his statement for the populace to remain calm and to trust in them. He has also appealed to the citizens not to forward these messages as they only bring more harm than good.
PS I just heard this piece of news. It seems that this incident was sparked by a drunk who shouted,”M-I*.”
*A word used around here for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) terrorists.
See also My Life, also writing on Tuesday:
Early tonight many people got panic because of that rumors that there were sightings of MILF in Iligan City. My family and neighbors freak out because they said that MILF are already in the near barangay Abuno and a lot of jeepneys from the City went back when they reached Tubod Bridge, going to south because they said that MILF is on the way. Many people were on the city streets because they wanted to evacuate. And this is confirm as a false alarm by our city mayor Lawrence Lluch Cruz, that is was just the soldiers that was seen and they thought that they are MILF. He said that there are many soldiers around the city that some mistaken them as MILF already maybe its because of the happenings in Lanao del Norte. He just stated on a news break at ABS – CBN that Iligan City is still safe from MILF and asking those who left their homes to go back already. I hope all this conflict will stop soon.
From Dipolog City, jOnAviE’s Site writes (today),
M.I.L.F or Moro Islamic Liberation Front is on war against Arm Forces of Philippines..As a girl who lives Mindanao (a place where there are many Muslim, but I am not one of them) it’s usual to hear news that Mindanao was that, was this, but you know August 2008 War was the only war that makes my province Zamboanga del Norte and my City, Dipolog to be afraid… Afraid because the whole Mindanao was really involve, the MILF want all the regions in Mindanao to be included in MOA or ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) to expand their teritory… Everybody was really panicking.. Even in my city, we receive Bomb Treats and War Rumors, and what did we did..? We packed up our things then really really get ready for what would happen. Last night we sleep at 1 a.m. because of it..
Returning to Tongue in Anew’s suggestion that the Palace was operating on simple assumptions -that it’s hands would be tied by predictable behavior on the part of the opposition and the MILF, which didn’t pan out as the former was caught napping and the latter more subtle and cunning than expected.
So it strikes me as possible there was a clumsy effort to promote war jitters to try to get the country to rally around the President: because it explains why the Palace proved so tolerant of the demagoguery of Pinol, etc. who, considering the administration’s intolerance for dissent, could easily have been slapped down, taken aside, or simply bribed to pipe down at a delicate time when the administration was claiming to be seriously behind the RP-MILF agreement.
What complicates the situation is that the public, unaware of the plots-within-plots on both sides, or the factions that exist within the ranks of the leadership of both sides, or that the leaders either do not believe their own propaganda, or worse, believe it- has its passions inflamed by the increasingly martial rhetoric of leaders who know the game of posturing quite well and who can therefore discount it.
Certainly this seems too quick a surrender: MOA deal off, SolGen tells high tribunal.
And it may be that this time, the MILF leadership, beholden to Malaysia, etc., is being more responsible and trying to defuse the situation while saber-rattling, than the government: we forget that the MILF command had a choice to fully endorse the attacks but it did not, equivocating its official response might have been (but even equivocation is understandable in terms of the factional dynamics of any revolutionary organization). And other groups are trying to restore the momentum to reestablish at least the semblance of a brittle peace.
At the heart of these efforts are three simple ideas:
1. That if one side will insist that it is negotiating sincerely for peace, there must be a corresponding assumption the other side is also negotiating sincerely. That furthermore, national interests aside, it is in the regional interest of foreign countries to help foster peace in Mindanao.
2. That all lose when fighting resumes and all sides gain so long as discussions are ongoing, which provides a venue for differences to be threshed out, compromises arrived at, and a consensus reached.
3. That both sides have extremists who not only do not represent the majority view, but who have also figured out how their constituencies can be agitated by withholding information and an overall lack of confidence in the authorities.
As Earthly Explorations puts it (who is not for a separate Moro homeland),
The government is trying to make it appear as it was the Moro rebels fault that they hit the first strike but if you hear other sources especially the locals they were just protecting their properties. Who was taking what from whom? Or someone is maneuvering into something to make it appear as a religious war diverting the people’s attention?
Mon Casiple warned of the administration “playing the emergency card”:
The scenario is one where a justification for a state of emergency happens. Violent incidents increasingly happen and spread. The AFP is increasingly forced to defend towns and villages. The MILF, in turn, increasingly turn to its own offensives in order to defend Moro communities. In no time at all, we are into a deepened conflict until the military is convinced to agree to a declaration of a state of emergency.
For a national state of emergency to happen, there has to be demonstrated to exist a credible threat to the national seat of power in the National Capital Region, a nationwide state of war or terror, or attacks on national political leaders. The level of the resurgent conflict in Mindanao — even if it spreads to other areas in Mindanao — cannot yet justify this drastic option.
However, the next days or weeks bear watching because of the political scenario of charter change that requires neutralizing the opposition and terrorizing the people. With the recent show of widespread opposition to Malacañang’s charter change plans, only the emergency card is left to play.
Let us hope that desperate people do not cross the line of sanity.
Beyond hoping, this is a time to add your voice, not in endorsement of one particular proposal or another, but to voices opposed to conflict. Charo Logarta, a military wife, puts it this way:
Whatever it is, there’s gotta be a better option to this. The majority must be allowed peace and harmony. We have to end decades of strife and conflict. We, the majority, deserve better. Military wives and kids do not have to endure loss. Soldiers don’t have to die for causes that don’t even matter to many average Filipinos who simply want a better life.
Just think how optimistic most people were in Mindanao a year ago. And how, now, plans involving Mindanao are all on hold. See Stacy Nelson.