Peace advocates hopeful about Aquino counter-proposal to MILF substate

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MANILA, Philippines—With a week to go before the peace talks resume, negotiators for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front are interested to know one thing: Is the Aquino administration willing to compromise over the proposed substate?

Peace advocates, on the other hand, are decrying the public quibbling over the proposed Bangsamoro substate as counter-productive at this crucial stage of the peace negotiations.

Negotiators from the government and the MILF are returning to the table on Monday next week in Malaysia, with the government panel expected to present its counter-proposal to the creation of a substate.

“Is he (President Aquino) willing to cast his political capital for this problem, for this process?’’ MILF senior panel member Michael Mastura said in an interview Thursday.

Mastura believed that the government panel, headed by former UP College of Law dean Marvic Leonen, would be ready with its counter-proposal by Monday next week.

“The issues are clear. If they will accede to using our draft as a working draft, that will fast-track everything,’’ Mastura said.

After Aquino’s secret meeting with MILF chairman Murad Ebrahim in Tokyo over a week ago, the MILF declared it had dropped its bid for a separate Islamic state and was settling for a substate.

As a substate, it will exercise powers over its political and economic affairs, and enforce security within the Bangsamoro territory, but remains under the Republic of the Philippines.

It would have “asymmetrical relations’’ with the national government, similar to Hong Kong’s relations with China, MILF consultants said.

Raissa Jajurie, member of the MILF’s board of consultants, expressed the rebel group’s hope that the government would meet it halfway and agree to grant the substate status.

“Bangsamoro wants to have its own responsibility in governing Bangsamoro lands. It’s a compromise. Just for the sake of having peace, they’re agreeable to a substate at this point,’’ Ms. Jajurie said.

“They’re hoping that the Philippine government will be ready to compromise their position and grant this to the Moro, given the historical injustice through the years,’’ she added.

The MILF has contended that a provision on the substate could be appended to the 1987 Constitution by legislation, and without going through the politically divisive process of a constitutional convention or constituent assembly.

UP Law Prof. Harry Roque and former Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said the proposed substate would likely require an amendment to the Philippine Constitution.

The Mindanao People’s Caucus (MPC), a grassroots network of Christians, Muslims and lumads seeking peace in Mindanao, is just as eager to see how the government panel would respond to the proposed substate.

“We are hoping that this coming August 22, the government will finally submit their counter-proposal so we’ll have an idea where this is headed. After the euphoria, they will go back to the real hard work of negotiation. August 22 is a significant day,’’ its secretary general Mary Ann Arnado said in an interview Sunday.

Ms. Arnado said the MILF has ‘laid down its cards’’ and peace advocates were anticipating “how close or how far’’ the government’s counter-proposal would be to this.

“The peace advocates in Mindanao are eagerly looking forward to a political settlement of the armed conflict. Whatever is the agreement to be reached, we will support that. We don’t want to go back to war,’’ Arnado said.

That was why the quibbling over the proposed substate has upset peace advocacy groups such as MPC and Maradeka.

Arnado chafed at former President Joseph Estrada, who assailed the Aquino-Murad meeting and belittled the proposed substate as a rehash of the proposed Bangsamoro Juridical Entity the MILF had sought to establish.

“He has lost the credibility to comment on that. He has waged an all-out war as President, and this was part of his campaign pitch when he ran for President. It’s a far cry from the position of President Aquino, who is looking for a viable formula to the problem,’’ she said of Estrada.

“We’re too quick to criticize. What the President is doing is peacemaking,’’ Arnado added.

Maradeka secretary general Nash Pangadapun also cautioned the public against such premature comments pending the government’s submission of its counter-proposal, and called for sobriety.

“Hyper-reactions can hurt confidence-building measures of both sides, while spoilers are feasting on the recent development,’’ he said in a text message.”Let us make the peace process work.’’

Pangadapun said that it would be premature to comment on the proposed substate since the government has not articulated its counter-proposal.

The more immediate concern has been to bring to the mainstream the group of MILF commander Umbra Kato, who has declared breaking away from the MILF over its frustrations with the peace process, he said.

“We don’t believe that future talks can be possible without the MILF resolving first its internal conflict, and fighting and dislodging Kato and his forces cannot either be the solution,’’ he said.

Maradeka is an alliance of pro-democracy Bangsamoro civil society groups that sat as an official observer in the 2006-2008 talks.

Despite the high-level meeting between Aquino and Murad, there’s still work cut out for both panels, peace advocates conceded.

“This is a breakthrough move. You need something dramatic to show goodwill and sincerity. This move was quite important,’’ Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute executive director Karen Tañada said in an interview.

“It’s still not easy. There are a lot of issues that need to be threshed out – this aspect of the Constitution, the issue on the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front), the issue on territory,’’ Ms. Tañada added.

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  • Anonymous

    The idea of a substate is quite interesting. But the government should not propose only 1 substate for the bangsamoro. They should propose a substate for each region of the Philippines. So that, the Philippine will become a federal country like USA, Germany and Switzerland. In such federal organization, the moros will be able to define their own rules as long as they are compatible with the national rules. They will have their own president and parliament. But the bicolanos, the Cebuanos, …., will have also the same privileges.
    A federal constitution is a very good way of governance for countries with diverses cultures. USA is a mix of territories that were previously british, French, Spanish or Russian. Germany is a union of countries like Prussia and Bayerm that were independent during 1,000 years. Switzerland is a country with 4 national languages (French, German, Italian, Romanish) and 2 main religions (Catholics, Protestants). With such a federal structure, substates can solve their own local problems without to wait the approval of the central government and the minorities are well protected.
    Why not to do that in the Philippines? That could help to solve lots of problems and the moros will be happier.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7LX6CP6JF3HUEI5MGOS6RRYVUM Joseph S

      In a Federal State the Moros would be treated like an Indian tribe, meaning they have to follow all the laws of the country and the Lands they will be on will be called a Reservation, with Federal Police, meaning none of those on the reservation would be allowed to enforce laws except for an elected sheriff! Personally I to would like these MILF to be put on a reservation as they would not be allowed to go off the reservation if they have did anything wrong as soon as they do they could be arrested and charged for all his or her crimes, Maybe you should do some research before you make a statement, Inside the United States there are States which follow state and Federal Laws an the Federal Laws supersede any state law, You already have this as each Island or city have boundaries which is exactly like states and yours have names so you already have what your thinking of having!

  • Arcsolo

    i hope the President and the MILF find a peaceful resolution. it’s time to end the conflict, and start the work of peace. 

    i hope Chairman Murad will also have the sincerity, like all peace-loving people in this country, and like all Christians we are willing to live with our brother Muslims in peace.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PPUPSBWP2WEBCCPGHRY54UCTOM Anne Torre

    Divide Mindanao, Luzon and the Visayas into substates and rename this country to “United Substates of the Philippines.” This would be fair to all Pilipinos, not just the Moros.

    Since Noynoy, the Pnoy, wants to look for or invent something new to be credited to his administration, this USP will fit exactly.

    Local government leaders must start talking and deciding to group their towns and provinces into probable substates so their creation into substates will be synchronized with the MILF substate. 

    • Anonymous

      I approve 100%. Just change the name to “United States of the Philippines”. Try to contact all the provincial governors and the senators. Me, I am a foreigner that lives and likes the Philippines. I can not have a political action.

  • Anonymous

    kayong mga nasa gobierno,mula sa presidente hanggang sa kaliitlitan na sangay ng gobyerno, kung balik tanawin ninyo ang mga nagdaan na pangyayari at prosesso ng pangkapayapaan tungkol sa mindanao tama na sana yan kakenkoyan nyo. para sa akin itigil yan peace process at  lahat na pilipino muslim man at christiano kailangan mabuhay sa ilalaim ng batas ng plipinas!

  • Anonymous

    UP Law Prof. Harry Roque and former Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said
    the proposed substate would likely require an amendment to the
    Philippine Constitution.- AND THESE WILL NOT HAPPEN !

    Mary Ann Arnado – kung alam mo gaano ka tarantado etong MILF at MNLF,ABU SAYYAP. sana ma kidnap ka .you will see how not peaceful these people are.

    Christians we are willing to live with our brother Muslims in peace. but in one government not in any substate!

    • Anonymous

      What kind of constitution do we have that cannot be amended????????????

      my question is, how many constitutions did we have before the 1987 constitution?

      ==>  1987 Constitution – Present Constitution

      ==> 1986 Provisional “Freedom” Constitution

      ==> 1973 Constitution (The Martial Law era Constitution)

      ==> 1943 Constitution ( Constitution during the Japanese Occupation)

      ==>  1935 Constitution (Commonwealth of the Philippines)

      ==>  1899 Constitution (The Malolos Constitution)

      Why do we have these trend of constitutional changes??????????????

      Because there is a need to do so to address the needs of the changing needs of the people .

      Even the UNITED STATES of AMERICA had undergone 27 times constitutional amendments…

      This is the most powerful country in the world……….

      What kind of mentality do we have?  Our nation now needs to be remedied due to the conflict that dragged us for many decades………….

      If the only way to solve the problem is by amending the constitution…..then why not?

      It is a man-made law and you cannot guarantee this to be perfect……

      The thought of nation building as one scholar said is continuous and its never complete.

  • Anonymous

    “We’re too quick to criticize. What the President is doing is peacemaking,’’ Arnado added.  bakit  wala ba peace sa kalawakan ng mindanao?? bakit yong iba may muslim na mayors at governors at congressman? di pa ba sapat yan sa intergration?
     

  • Anonymous

    sige sa ngayon let them be.. let them rebuilt their bunkers and arsenals. then what? pag ibang president na yan after 5 years.  it will be the same story..  eto lang ang president na di muna mag tanung sa tao ng taga mindanao. we want peace yes, but not this way and we are sure this (substate)will not work in the first place.letting them organize their own army?? LOL  you want another massacre?? in your face Mr. President!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7LX6CP6JF3HUEI5MGOS6RRYVUM Joseph S

    Imagine the MILF is dictating to the Citizens of this country, “The issues are clear. If they will accede to using our draft as a working draft, that will fast-track everything,’’ Mastura said. Imagine they want us, Our government to use their draft for what they want,, what a Joke, And now they continue, “The MILF has contended that a provision on the sub-state could be appended to the 1987 Constitution by legislation, and without going through the politically divisive process of a constitutional convention or constituent assembly”. This would require amending the constitution, as of right now any offer by our Government for any Sub-state, without it already being in the constitution now, it would be a treasonous act to offer or negotiate on the issue, Constitutional Law states this is against the law, and any belief in insane hopeful talks on this level would only be thrown out by the Supreme Court, it is a violation of our constitution and any party which includes the President, could be charged with treason for even giving these terrorist hope of the discussions of a sub-state or even a separate Islamic state, In many countries there are different religions in different places, but the country’s never gave in to the Muslim demands to have a country within a country, once they get a portion of the country, they will in time take over the rest of the country, look what they say about Kato who has killed so many Christians, burned their homes stole their live stock, well Kato is doing as per ordered as it is seen in Maradeka statement, Kato has to come back to the foal, meaning this Terrorist is getting orders from the higher commanders, this man should be hung, he should be given to all the people, the 3,000 people which are displaced because of him and let them cut his private parts off first before they finish the Job!*by making a sub-state or giving an separate Islamic state, we are giving to all Muslims around the world a safe haven for all the terrorist a place to hide, making the Philippines one of the most dangerous places on earth, If you think it is bad now well you better think twice, if these people want to build a Mosque, God bless you, build it in reason and remember once it is found that Mosque is aiding and Abetting an terrorist it will be subject to search and seizures at the governments will, *Doesn’t anyone see why they want this Muslim Homeland, it is to allow all the criminals all over the world to come to a safe haven in the tropics, for no other reason, just look how the MILF cannot control their own ranks, Look at the 3,000 people which are displaced for years now, and our Army which is suppose to be protecting the citizen of this country, are not clearing out these terrorist, not arresting these terrorist and charging them and hearing cases before a military court, they claim to be an Army, well the constitution clearly states no army shall exist on Philippines soil, Yet the Philippines armed forces are allowing them to exist, are allowing them to keep thousands of citizens in camps protected by our army, these Poor citizens are not allowed to go home because the Muslims are cleansing the land by removing the Christians, stealing their Property, stealing their Live stock, burning their homes, rapping our women and our Army who is suppose to be protecting us is sitting on their butt doing nothing to get rid of the terrorist, get rid of the criminals, the Army just allows them to pass and re-pass, allows them to do what they want and not enforce our constitution by taking out the invasion, this is the Philippines, and we exist as a whole, we are not any sub-state, and we are not some portion of some homeland We are the People, we are the Philippines, We are not criminals, has anyone asked why there are all Muslim’s on the Negotiating panel? Ladies and Gentlemen, we are 86% Christian in the Philippines, this means that their must be an equal part of Christians sitting on that panel! What are they afraid of? Next question we have to ask is, why are these talks being held in Malaysia? That is for another writing, as for Estrada, he is so right, you can not give Muslim’s a sub-state *If Aquino administration is willing to compromise, then each member involved should be charged with Treason….The House of representatives should be holding Impeachment hearings right now for consulting with the Enemy behind closed doors! And Meeting them in a different Country,

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