Appeasement
Appeasement PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 13 June 2018 11:14

BEHIND  THE  LINES

BY BOB JALDON

Without an iota of doubt, the extremely sensitive Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will be endorsed for enactment into law by the bicameral conference committee of congress that, according to its framers, would end decades of “war” in Mindanao and conclusively end the so-called social injustice against Filipino-Muslims.

That is the supposition. A man called Ferdinand Madcos, in all his genius, tried to end the Mindanao conflict by appeasing the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) by creating two separate autonomous regions for the different Muslim groups that couldn’t mingle with one another because they have been quantized by their own kind of cultures.

Former presidents Fidel V. Ramos and Benigno Aquino III initiated peace deals with the disgruntled groups that concluded with the signing of peace agreements with the MNLF in 1996 (Ramos) and 2012 with the MILF (Aquino). The Aquino initiative is now the subject of a law that will abolish the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and its replacement of another ARMM that will be granted a whooping P60 billion infrastructure and developmental budget so that the region may catch up with the other regions of the country in terms of socio-economic development.

Zamboanga city was at the receiving end of both treaties as the displeased MNLF staged a bloody siege on our land that killed soldiers and civilians and destroyed property in the millions of pesos, not to mention the economic backlash at it created resulting from that raid. The dawn attack on Zamboanga underscored the weakness of our military intelligence because of poor resources for mobility and information gathering.

While a powerful leader as El Presidente de Davao may be amused at the passing of the urgent BBL measure, people from the south aren’t. They ask: why did the government involve only the MILF in the peace negotiations and not the MNLF, too, and other tribes? Who’s going to control the purse? Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi are three of the poorest provinces in the country.

Violence is something we despise. But by bypassing the MNLF, the beneficiary of the 1996 peace agreement, for a larger armed group seeking self-rule, violence might erupt in southern Mindanao as soon as the BBL is signed into law. Hard-line Islamic groups aligned with ISIS and the MNLF might strike again to make their voices heard.

Mindanao is everybody’s land. Here, the Muslims and Christians live together. To them, not to just a segment of the people, the spoils of paradise belong. I wonder if the drafters of the BBL took into consideration the elementary question of diversity of history, culture, religion, ethnicity — not to mention the power and armed struggles over who rules.

The BBL is meant to triumph over the sea of blood and ethnicity, and building the Muslims’ own system of laws. But the economic and financial crises has weakened the ARMM’s political influence because of geography that makes it almost impossible for the separated provinces to come together.

ARMM geography will not be easily resolved. When a federal government is instituted, the ARMM will diminish in area because of the possibility that Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi may be bunched together to form one federal region. If that happens, the ARMM shall be redefined, its borders redrawn and a constitutional amendment shall ensue. I’m just saying.