What dismemberment? On the Bangsamoro-GRP deal

August 6, 2008 § 1 Comment

If you notice the main issue opposing the GRP-MILF deal, you’ll notice one oft-repeating word: “dismemberment”. Most analysts, unfortunately including United Opposition Spokesman Atty. Adel Tamano (a born Muslim by the way), say they oppose the deal because it would cause the division of the country, which, they say, contradicts the Constitution.

I dare say, what dismemberment? What is to be dismembered when there’s no integration in the first place?

Beyond the legalities or the definition of a territory within the constitutional purview, did we, the Filipino People, really considered the Bangsamoro people as Filipinos? Are these people from Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, Jolo, Zamboanga and all the rest of Moroland even considered themselves Filipino?

Did these people inhabiting Moroland act, live and breathe like Filipinos? Do we really integrate or assimilate their culture with our prevailing one?

When ask how do we describe our country, most of us would say “we’re the only Christian nation in Asia”, right? That statement alone shows you how isolated, how disjointed, how clear the distinction is in the minds of most Filipinos. Yes, it could be a factual statement, but it is not accurate. That statement already excluded 3 million born Muslims and millions more of reverted Muslims (or what we call “Balik-Islam”).

Face it–these people constituting the Bangsamoro People–have a different system of beliefs, have a different tradition, have a different culture that totally opposes or contradicts the prevailing culture. What most Filipinos consider as legal, most are contradictory to Bangsamoro beliefs. The Bangsamoro is different. The Bangsamoro is unique. The Bangsamoro is not Filipino.

People opposing this deal do so because they’re afraid they’ll lose their powers. More than property rights, these people got wealthy enslaving the Bangsamoro. For decades, they enjoyed the fruits of the land, exploiting the natural and human resources of Mindanao, for their own. And what happened to those whom they enslaved?

Extreme and widespread poverty leading to widespread dissent and a long-standing war that has threatened the lives and futures of the Bangsamoro people. In all provinces of this country, Mindanao is the most impoverished, especially Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, Jolo and Zamboanga.

Those claiming “royal blood” oppose this deal because they’ll lose whatever “divine claims” they have over the Bangsamoro. I dare say, what right do they have to claim proprietary property claims to these Muslim lands when it is illegal to claim ownership of land under Islamic law in the first place? Besides, what “divine right” do they have when they have’nt done anything to uplift the lives of their fellow Bangsamoro in those lands which they claim to be theirs?

And those in the United Opposition who oppose this deal do so because, face it, Gloria can claim credence to this as the only president who successfully resolved the Bangsamoro Question. I oppose Gloria and want her out immediately, but, in this issue, I fully support her and the peace panel. The Opposition reject this deal because the deal is a landmark deal that Gloria can claim as her perpetual legacy to the peace issue.

The Opposition says government is entering into the deal with an insincere intention. They say government can’t deliver its promise. How do they know? Are these “oppositionists” now claiming to be psychics? I mean, how do they know that government can’t deliver? And besides, that’s the problem of the MILF right? If government can’t deliver its promises, then, government is liable to the MILF and the international community.

Opposition says they reject this deal because it would lead to charter change. I don’t believe that. MILF peace panel member Atty. Michael Mastura says that the deal only recognizes the right of the Bangsamoro to have their own state. And even if Gloria do want charter change, I don’t think she’ll succeed in it because people would definitely oppose any change other than resolving the Bangsamoro question.

We all need to give peace a chance. Those who want war, like North Cotabato Vice Governor Ed Pinol and the Lobregats of Zamboanga, let them be damned. Peace adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. is right–if the MILF imposes its rights under the deal in the future, the AFP does’nt have any right to intervene on their behalf. Let the MILF resolve these problems. It’s their territory anyway.

Let me say one thing–we need to consider this deal as a necessary small step towards the ultimate solution to the Bangsamoro question. For after this deal, there’s no more we can expect from this but a long debilitating war. And a war at this point, would affect everybody, Filipinos and Bangsamoros.



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