solving mindanao

01 August 2008

GOOD question from jego over at philippine commentary:

I have asked this question over at FilipinoVoices but it seems it’s a tough one to answer: Why is it all important that we keep Mindanao (ARMM in particular) part of the Philippines? What is so terrible about letting it go and be an independent sovereign entity? How many lives have been snuffed out because of this conflict and how many more are we willing to sacrifice just to keep the Philippines together? Is it because we need Mindanao’s resources to be able to survive? That’s not a valid reason, IMO. Mindanao’s resources should primarily be used for Mindanao’s development and not to prop up the central government and its armies. Is it because of ‘national pride’? That’s a hell of a price for the deaths of probably hundreds of thousands by now since the American occupation at least. Why isnt divorce an option a la the Czech Republic and Slovakia? Why do we have to risk doing a Yugoslavia (or Timor L’este even)?”

why is it important to keep muslim mindanao (ARMM) part of the philippines? tough question talaga. i gather (correct me if i’m wrong, anyone who knows better) that it has to do with revenues and with land. government would lose revenues, and government would have to compensate multinationals and other corporate and christian landowners who presently own land in the muslim territories. i have never been able to get any figures or who’s who on this, no thanks to media, but i gather that it’s the major, most thorny problem that government, of course, won’t discuss openly.

now check out this item from taipeitimes.com dated may 2008 that i stumbled on while googling:

Voters may block peace deal
Voters could block a proposed revenue-sharing deal aimed at ending a protracted Muslim separatist rebellion in the south, Manila’s chief peace negotiator warned yesterday. Rodolfo Garcia said Manila has agreed in principle to give Muslims a bigger share of revenues from the natural resources on Mindanao Island, but that voters could reject the change to the Constitution this would require. Peace talks with the 12,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front have stalled after the rebels accused Manila of delaying. The rebels’ claims for “ancestral domain” in the region are also “potentially controversial,” because they would force a change in the law. Only Congress, dominated by the Christian majority including Mindanao landowners, can pass laws.

it would seem that finally government is willing to give up some revenue and, i suppose, some land, except that they’re spinning it so it would require changing the constitution, i.e., shifting to federalism, which jibes with ricky carandang‘s reading that the chacha train has left the station:

Recent efforts by the Regime to resurrect the long dormant peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front have led to pronouncements by lead negotiators Rodolfo Garcia and Hermogenes Esperon that revisions to the constitution would be required in order to give more legal and fiscal autonomy to the expanded region of Muslim Mindanao. They point to a resolution to shift to a federal form of government proposed by, of all people, Senate minority leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr.

This means that aside from Arroyo and her politicans, there will be a significant number of people in Mindanao who will find it in their interest to support charter change this time around. The regime can also pre-empt potential opposition from the international community by arguing that that the revisions would enhance stability in Mindanao and make it less susceptible to terrorism. In which case extending Arroyo’s term would be a small price to pay. I’m told that this the line taken during Arroyo’s recent working visit to the US. Its almost like blackmail. If youwant stability in Mindanao, you must allow us to stay in power beyond 2010.

the question is, will the milf play along? magpagamit kaya ang milf kay gloria? say ni mon casiple:

If the peace negotiations proceeded to the charter change phase, MILF will have lost much of the goodwill it has earned among the majority Filipinos and possibly even among the Moro people who know the real political implication of a cha-cha under the GMA administration. Unfortunately by then, the Moro struggle will have been compromised and subverted by an agenda for prolonging GMA’s stay in power.

I do not think the GMA administration will allow the peace process to successfully end after the charter change. Either it will dribble the ball or it may enter into an agreement it will not implement, as what happened in the Tripoli and Jakarta agreements. It cannot simply forsake its Christian-based constituency or its Moro political allies. If the MILF is not coopted into the current political arrangement, it will not be in position to demand a favorable implementation.

The whole peace process regarding the Moro struggle for self-determination is in danger of being coopted to be sacrificed before the altar of GMA’s political survival. The MILF will then serve only as a decoy for the real charter change agenda.

hopefully the milf will listen to fellow muslims who have long been debating autonomy vs. federalism and who are justifiably wary of federalism. because dr. rene azurin of one voice is right: “devolution of power to local governments can be accomplished without resorting to federalization.”

so, too, can the devolution of power to an autonomous bangsamoro homeland be accomplished without resorting to chacha.

Posted in cha-cha, mindanao

12 Responses to solving mindanao

  1. August 1, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    I don’t believe the present leadership on both sides of the divide will ever come up with a doable solution.

    Sad to say, the right to self-determination in feudal Muslim Mindanao will never work. A look at the MNLF ARRM experience of disgraced Nur Misuari going to the slumber for corruption is indicative of what is in store for the Muslim people….. what will make it different this time around with the MILF?

    The ARRM region is also notorious for fraudulent electoral cheating with the feudal warlords and political trapos dictating who they should vote for.

    Until the Philippines get past the feudal stage, secession will only lead to the crumbling of the Republic not that it has not crumbled yet but it will be worse.

    Devolution is probably the best option, unfortunately too much money in the hands of too many people poses enormous problems and temptations in a nation where endemic corruption and proliferation of thieves outnumbering honest leaders with integrity that is if they even still exist.

  2. August 1, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    Oh I forgot to link this old post regarding the role of DILG……

  3. August 1, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    you’re right, not under the present leadership and not under the present neo-feudal system entrenched not just in manila but in mindanao mismo. . . . your old post regarding role of dilg is a must-read for anyone looking for leads to understand why federalism is just another bad idea, and pimentel is just another trapo.

  4. August 2, 2008 at 12:41 am

    A few caveats in your direction, mes ami

    Jego asks, “Why is it all important that we keep Mindanao (ARMM in particular) part of the Philippines? What is so terrible about letting it go and be an independent sovereign entity? How many lives have been snuffed out because of this conflict and how many more are we willing to sacrifice just to keep the Philippines together?”

    Indulge my curiosity but to what or to whom would you be suggesting we turn over the responsibility for this “independent sovereign entity?”

    Surely you don’t mean the MILF? The Bangsamoro people are not the only poor, oppressed people who live in Mindanao. In fact they are an absolute minority among “the other indigenous communities in Mindanao, the Lumad, belonging to the different tribes of the Manobo, Talaandig, Pulangiyon, Mamanwa, Bla’an, Dibabawon, Mandaya, T’boli, Tagabawa-Bagobo, Erumanen-Menuvu, Higa-onon and Subanon, and of course the Christians, Catholics, Protestants, and atheists.

    Minda News carries the Statement of these IPs protesting the fact that the squeaky MILF wheel is getting all the Grease in the form of that very BJE

    Regarding Self-determination…this must ultimately be expressed in the form and substance of a democratic plebiscite. On that, all are agreed. But province wide or barangay wide plebiscites? Remember we have already had two plebiscites forming the ARMM.

    I recorded the statements of Press Secretary Jess Dureza on ANC’s Crossroads talk show with Tony Vasquez Friday night and those in reply by Cotabato Gov. Manny Pinol.

    These are worth a listen to. Then puzzle me this:::

    Why are Tagalogs, Pampangos, Cebuanos, Ilokanos not considered to be “indigenous peoples of the Philippines”. Why don’t they deserve an ancestral homeland just like the Muslim Bangsamoro? Is it because they are Christian??

    Believe it or not, the Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that the answer to this last question is “YES!”

  5. August 2, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    Why are Tagalogs, Pampangos, Cebuanos, Ilokanos not considered to be “indigenous peoples of the Philippines”. Why don’t they deserve an ancestral homeland just like the Muslim Bangsamoro? Is it because they are Christian??
    — it is because the tagalogs pampangos cebuanos ilokanos largely went along with and were therefore accommodated by the colonizers, unlike the moros of mindanao who through spanish times never stopped fighting the invaders and mostly kept them away from mindanao. however the moros were no match militarily for the americans who also treated them differently, no americanization ekek as in luzon and the visayas, and so they didn’t know what torrens titles were about, and next thing they knew their lands were no longer theirs, titled instead to settlers from luzon and visayas, and americans and multinationals of course. so yes the moros were marginalized like other indigenous communities.
    if they are even more of a minority in mindanao now compared to the lumads, it’s because they’ve been leaving mindanao and looking for better lives in luzon and visayas … and yes the milf represents but one faction of the moro people, and the mnlf represents another, and there are unrepresented factions, and yes they are as divided as we christians are –
    but the dream of a bangsamoro homeland lives on, something they deserve that government has tried to deny them time and again by trying to wipe them out. so this a good thing that government is finally willing to make concessions, a step in the right direction, even if malayo pa ang landas na tatahakin on both sides.

  6. August 3, 2008 at 12:50 am

    “…it is because the tagalogs pampangos cebuanos ilokanos largely went along with and were therefore accommodated by the colonizers, unlike the moros of mindanao who through spanish times never stopped fighting the invaders and mostly kept them away from mindanao.”

    Correction, Angela: you must mean the ancestors of the Tagalogs, Pampangos, cebuanos, ilokanos, etc. The sins of the forefathers visited upon his progeny?

    And how do we know what your ancestors did, or my ancestors did with respect to resisting the Spanish colonial aggressors? How do we know that your ancestors and mine did not engage in incessant fighting against the Spanish invaders. And surely, not ALL the Moros engaged in such continuous resistance to keep the Spanish imperialists out of Mindanao. As well, not all Christians “largely went along” with Christianization.

    I would say the vast majority of the tagalogs, pampangos, cebuanos, et al were born into the world and they discovered they had long ago been baptized Catholics!

  7. August 3, 2008 at 10:37 am

    Angela,
    If we were to adopt your point of view, we would necessarily be fostering a condition of incessant war, (which may explain a lot of things by the way.)

    For consider the stark reality: there are 110 IPs/ICCs. Are their rights to ancestral lands and domains not equal in some fundamental sense of Justice as Fairness? If the govt gives in to the ransom demands of an armed group like the MILF, what is to stop one of the other 109 IPs/ICCs from organizing their own armed gang of thugs to enforce their rights under the IPRA Law?

    How can the government claim to be undertaking a “Final” Peace Agreement with the MILF, and even have many in “Civil Society” support and demand it, when it is not actually settling the same claims and rights as the 109 other IPs not represented in the Mindanao Peace Talks at all?

    Check out the State of the Indigenous Peoples Address

    I think all these IPs/ICCs are much better off seeking a universal or omnibus solution under the democratic mechanisms available to all Filipinos, indigenous or not.

    Finally, we cannot be so obtuse as to deny the existence of the elephant in the room: the very concept and proposition that Tagalogs, Pampangos, Ilocanos, Cebuanos, et al, are NOT indigenous peoples, is puissantly absurd, in the league of the-emperor-has-no-clothes absurd. But it is the logical conclusion to SCORP’s reasoning in Cruz vs IPs.

    Puno divides the Filipino citizenry neatly into two distinct classes, with one rather privileged group of “indigenous peoples” being accorded one-third of the Philippine territory as their ancestral private property (according to Panganiban’s estimate.)

    The basis of this rank ethno-religious discrimination is the alleged behavior of their ancestors, mainly that they refused to engage in a culture of incessant fighting off of invaders, but rather, they sought succor and protection from those very “invaders” who happened to have been also fighting off the same oddly familiar Moros even on the other side of the world.

    Just imagine. Acts of religious conversion by our great grand ancestors are visited upon us today as inheritable sins, the punishment for which is “no ancestral lands and domains for you, Catholics!” Just as if there were no Bill of Rights!

    There is no end to the reductio ad absurdum that can be applied to the whole IPs/ancestral domain ideology.

  8. August 3, 2008 at 10:59 am

    This is very interesting so if we go all the way back we might as well address the issue of enconmienda and demand the return of our ancestral domains land grabbed from us converted Christian Tagalogs, Visaya, Ilocanos, etc…… guess who gets hit, the Tuazon-Arroyo’s, Zobel etc… ang gulo talaga but then again that’s how it is in the land of cheats.

  9. August 18, 2008 at 8:14 pm
    >

    we cannot look on the scenario of Timor Leste-Indonesia and of the YUgoslavia complexes. this talks on our cultural identity. who actually wanted the autonomy? was it our Muslim brothers or was it their leaders, as a singularity. this is more on religious context, and after, all other possible grounds branched just to support this stupidity.

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