Bye, ARMM; Hello, Bangsamoro



Except for discredited Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Nur Misuari, majority of Muslim and Christian leaders representing different sectors hailed the so-called Framework Agreement between the Philippine Government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The agreement for the new political entity in Muslim Mindanao spells out the general principles that would guide the drafting of a Bangsamoro Basic Law under the sponsorship of the Philippine government. The agreement will eventually put in place a new autonomous political entity called Bangsamoro Juridical Entity to replace, within three to four years, the present Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao ARMM.

The name Bangsamoro, in the words of President Benigno Aquino III, “symbolizes and honors the struggles of our forebears in Mindanao” and “celebrates the history and character of that part of our nation.” The Presidential proclamation brought Muslim leaders to tears, as they embraced the peace deal that took more than 15 years to establish.

* * *

The peace deal between the government and the MILF immediately raised doubts about what kind of concessions were traded in the course of negotiations. The suspicions are not without basis because of the country’s experience with the same MILF, which together with the government reached and “initialled” the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) in 2008.

The MOA-AD during the time of then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would have culminated in the final signing of a covenant between the parties, except for the timely intervention of the High Court which issued a court injunction and later, a decision that struck down the agreement because it violated the Constitution.

The MOA-AD would have added 712 barangays to the existing ARMM configuration. Not only that, then executive secretary Eduardo Ermita hinted of broad powers for the new political body in the areas of defense, natural resources, finance, education and foreign relations. Even on paper, it was a tempting scenario for young Muslims to join the MILF’s clamor for separatism.

Naturally, the pact agitated politicians in North Cotabato, Zamboanga and Iligan who were highly suspicious of the agreement’s effect on their political interests. It was then North Cotabato Vice Gov. Emmanuel Piñol and Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat who led local government officials in bringing the case before the Supreme Court.

In the wake of the MOA-AD debacle, my favourite Inquirer columnist Manolo Quezon wrote an article where he implied that the negotiation between the MILF and the GPH was chiefly aimed at granting MILF its real purpose—legitimacy abroad. Certainly, the separatist group didn’t believe the Arroyo government would deliver on the substance of the pact, Quezon said in so many words.

Ano sila sinuswerte?

As a rejoinder, I wrote then that even if the MILF waved a document that is sure to be derailed by Congress, or trashed in a plebiscite, the group would have already gained the “respect” of the United States, Australia, European Union governments, and especially the Organization of Islamic Conference. The title of Manolo’s piece: “The Agreement Itself is the Prize”.

* * *

The Christian majority in Mindanao must have subjected the Framework Agreement to closer examination to check if the creation of the BJE, subject to the guiding principles of the FA, would alter existing political territories.

According to MindaNews, the would be new autonomous political entity will have for its “core territory the present five-province, two-city Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the six towns in Lanao del Norte (Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan and Tangkal) and the barangays in the towns of Kabacan, Carmen, Aleosan, Pigcawayan, Pikit and Midsayap that voted for inclusion in the 2001 plebiscite; the cities of Cotabato and Isabela in Basilan and all other contiguous areas where there is a resolution of the local government unit or there is a petition of at least ten per cent of the qualified voters in their area.”

I’m not going to interpret this information, but if the reaction of Mindanao politicians is any indication, there are no major changes in political territories, which means the MILF agreed to drop belligerence and work within the aegis of the national government with no conditions, except changing the name of the autonomous region from ARMM to BJE. Still, that is not something to sneeze at because the new set up places the MILF in the center of political and economic power.

* * *

There are many factors that brought about the birth of the Framework Agreement, but chief of that would be the realization by Muslim leaders that time is no longer on their side. The younger Muslim generation has wakened up to a new world where education and new technology, certainly not political extremism, could enable them to achieve economic liberation.

The Muslim separatists are ageing and if their chief goal is really to bring peace and development to Muslim Mindanao they need to act fast or they lose their chance. When that happens, these Muslim leaders become irrelevant.

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  • johndcross1

    Go Dutch – but why wait until 2013?
    The Netherlands, where six per cent of the population is now Muslim, is scrapping multiculturalism.
    The Dutch government says it will abandon the long-standing model of multiculturalism that has encouraged Muslim immigrants to create a parallel society within the Netherlands.
    A new integration bill, which Dutch Interior Minister Piet Hein Donner presented to parliament on June 16, reads: “The government shares the social dissatisfaction over the multicultural society model and plans to shift priority to the values of the Dutch people.
    In the new integration system, the values of the Dutch society play a central role.
    With this change, the government steps away from the model of a multicultural society”.
    The letter continues: “A more obligatory integration is justified because the government also demands that from its own citizens.
    It is necessary because otherwise the society gradually grows apart and eventually no one feels at home anymore in the Netherlands.
    The new integration policy will place more demands on immigrants. For example, immigrants will be required to learn the Dutch language, and the government will take a tougher approach to immigrants who ignore Dutch values or disobey Dutch law.
    The government will also stop offering special subsidies for Muslim immigrants because, according to Donner; “It is not the government’s job to integrate immigrants.” (How bloody true).
    The government will introduce new legislation that outlaws forced marriages and will also impose tougher measures against Muslim immigrants who lower their chances of employment by the way they dress.
    More specifically, the government will impose a ban on face-covering, Islamic burqas as of January 1, 2013.
    Holland has done that whole liberal thing, and realised – maybe too late – that creating a nation of tribes will kill the nation itself. The future of Australia, the USA, UK, NZ and Canada may well be read here. READERS NOTE: Muslim immigrants leave their countries of birth because of civil and political unrest “CREATED BY THE VERY NATURE OF THEIR CULTURE.” Countries like Netherlands, Canada the USA, UK, NZ and Australia have an established way of life that actually works, so why embrace the unworkable? If Muslims do not wish to accept another culture, the answer is simple; “STAY WHERE YOU ARE!!”
    This gives a whole new meaning to the term; ‘Dutch Courage’ – Unfortunately Australian USA,UK, NZ and Canadian politicians don’t have the … guts to do the same. There’s a whole lot of truth here!!!! ELECTION 2013 IS COMING
    A Nation of Sheep, Breeds a Government of Wolves!
    I’M 100% for PASSING THIS ON!!! Let’s Take a Stand!!!
    Borders: Closed!
    Language: Official Language only!
    Culture: our Constitution, is the Bill of Rights!
    Drug Free: Mandatory Drug Screening before Welfare!
    NO freebies to: Non-Citizens! We the people are coming!!!
    Only 86% will send this on. Should be a 100%. What will you do? Tip toe amongst the tulips?

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