Category: bangsamoro

mourning marawi

check out the atlantic‘s  A Victory Against ISIS in the Philippines Leaves a City Destroyed.  see the photos and weep for marawi.  one doesnt have to be from there, one doesn’t have to be muslim or maranao, to feel anguish, especially for the sixty percent poor who lost what little they had, and to wonder if there was no other way.  read leandro dd coronel’s Marawi on one’s mind.

Marawi City used to have 200,000 residents. How many of them will or can go back to their former homes? There’s nothing to go back to.

… Did the government win? Did the Maute lose? … What is clear is that the people of Marawi are the losers in the battle of Marawi City. The place is in such total devastation that it will take decades to rebuild it. And it will take a lot longer than that to rebuild the people of Marawi’s lives.

but read too benignO’s Can Marawi City’s reputation as a no-go-zone for Filipino Christians be changed?

Marawi City is one of, if not the most, predominantly Muslim city in the Philippines and has, fairly or unfairly, suffered a reputation as a no-go-zone for Filipino Christians for some time. Across various online forums, assessments of how safe one could feel in Marawi City are varied. Mindanao State University (MSU) — one of the Philippines’ top universities — is located in the outskirts of Marawi. It is often cited as proof that Christians can be counted as inhabitants of Marawi and, indeed, the majority of MSU students and faculty are Christian. However a commentor in the Living in Cebu Forum site noted that most MSU students “go to Iligan [City] for their big city needs”, presumably a preference to the option of venturing into downtown Marawi. Indeed, another went further to describe Marawi as “a scary place”…

Safety, it seems, is conditional and relative in Marawi City. A Yahoo! Answers thread yielded some interesting anecdotes from Netizens responding to the question “Marawi City: Is it safe to go around? I am a christian…?” One remarked that Marawi is safe “if you are from that place or have friends to watch over your back” …

Another said that it is a place where vehicles stolen in Cagayan de Oro City are sent to, never to be recovered again — perhaps a reference to stories about military and police personnel pursuing criminals themselves being disinclined to pursue them into Marawi itself.

As such, it is not surprising that Marawi and cities like it are prime candidates for Islamic terrorists to establish footholds in. Because they are regarded as “Muslim territory” the perception that people in these regions are more tolerant or even accommodation of Islamic extremists is there.

It comes back to the question of how well Filipino Muslims, as has been asked of Muslim minorities living in predominantly Christian or secular societies around the world, can police their own ranksand manage on their own issues that contribute to the radicalisation of members of their community. Lanao del Sur and surrounding provinces are part of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao and, as such, enjoy some degree of freedom to self-govern. This granting of latitude to govern as an autonomous entity was on the basis of religious identity as the name given to this collective of provinces implies.

The people of Marawi and the greater community of Filipino Muslims should confront the reality of Islamic extremism and how, by all accounts, much of it flourishes in predominantly Muslim-populated regions in the Philippines. This reality cannot be escaped by simply “praying for peace” or counting on social media “influencers” to liberally issue meaningless calls to “stand together in solidarity” with their “Muslim brothers”.

i’m afraid that in marawi’s case, the major consideration was not the residents’ welfare in the immediate then-and-now but the marawi (and mindanao) territory’s status in the long-term.  hapilon and the maute brothers were not only leaders of extremist terrorist bands but hapilon was also the ISIS caliphate’s official rep in east asia.  the goal was to take over and turn marawi into an ISIS province with hapilon as governor.  in effect dismembering the philippine republic.

dismemberment, losing a territory, is anathema to the republic.  losing control over predominantly muslim parts of mindanao to terrorist groups and islamic fundamentalists scares the bejesus out of us all — including peace-loving moros i would think — in a mindanao that is already predominantly christian.

there has to be a way of granting the bangsamoro self-rule and i believe a BBL, not federalism-for-all, is the way to go.

calling out congress #passBBL #no2revgov

it’s great that the war in marawi is practically done.  we all need breathing space from the killings and destruction, the misery and loss.  we need to stop and take stock, seriously consider how to prevent pre-empt more war in mindanao.

in two speeches, before and after hapilon and maute were taken down, the president was unequivocal: federalism is the only way to keep the peace.

“The MI pati MN has been hanging on to the range of their forces. They are cooperating with government, fighting alongside with government forces, but they are hoping that what they have been asking for centuries will be given.

“If we fail to come up with a reasonable counter proposal, then I assure you that there will be fighting everywhere in Mindanao. For then, the mainstream rebel groups would now be joining with the extremist groups.  …their common determination, their dream is … magkaisa itong lahat against the Republic of the Philippines.  And I have it in good authority that they will declare an independence. They would declare an independent Mindanao.” [oct 12]

“… it would be easy if we agree na mag-federal tayo.  kapag hindi, talagang sasabog ito, because then i would predict that the MI (and) MN would now join with everybody in, and there are aplenty…. armas. mahirap talaga tayo magsurvive as a nation, the republic, intact.  hindi ko kayo tinatakot….  sinsasabi ko yan noon pa sa kampanya. bec i know that it would create division and eventually maybe a breakage. ang mahirap nyan kung papasok na naman yang mga UN at … makialam … then if they recognize a belligerent state now, then you would have to treat it as an independent entity. yan ang delikado diyan. once makialam itong mga united nations … we would be reduced from the … yugoslavia, before, then you have serbia, you have so many city states, the balkan states, watak watak na sila, kanya kanyang state …”

Because then if there is a status of belligerence given to them, then it becomes very, very, very serious for all of us. …  And the Americans will realize to their sorrow that they have been too myopic in this thing. [oct 16]

the president has not mentioned the draft BBL (version 2017) transmitted by the palace to congress in mid-august and which the senate prez and house speaker promised will be passed by yearend, na tila di gumagalaw; anyway walang balita except a tidbit from ANC‘s  Bangsamoro and Beyond: A National Conversation taped oct 5 and aired oct 19, na meron na daw itong more than a hundred signatures sa lower house.  totoo?

tila walang sense of urgency sa legislature, and this might explain why the president is antsy, seeing destab plots, and threatening  revolutionary government, by hook or by crook?  revgov na lang, kung walang BBL by yearend, para makapag-chacha para makapag-shift to federalism para maibigay sa MI at MN ang matagal nang inaasam na regional autonomy for muslim filipinos?

naguguluhan ako, at siguro ang lehislatura rin, dahil back in july 2016, his first month as president, this is what the president said:

If majority of Filipinos vote against federalism in a plebiscite, President Rodrigo Duterte will throw his support behind the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), he said.

“If the Filipino nation in a plebiscite would not want it, I am ready to concede whatever is there in the BBL law. We will see to it that it will pass,” said the Philippine president on Friday, July 8 during a gathering of Muslim leaders in Davao City.

Duterte said he is eyeing a “framework” on federalism to be ready by the end of 2016.

“Towards the end of the year, we can come up with the framework,” he said. The framework could entail a “reconfiguration” of territories of ethnic groups like the Tausug, something desired by Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Nur Misuari.

okay lang naman kung BBL muna, i can’t imagine why not. calling out speaker alvarez and senate prez koko, paki-explain why you guys aren’t bothered by the president’s fearless forecast of war in mindanao if BBL does not happen.  (i know, i know, they’re all on vacation.)

of course, puwede ring plebiscite muna to vote on a new charter that provides for federalism and a truly autonomous bangsamoro region, why not.  balita pa nga ng rappler, meron nang draft constitution na naisumite ang PDP-Laban Federalism Institute sa lower house.

… a draft Constitution that would govern the Philippines under a federal system of government. The draft is the result of research and consultations done by a group of experts gathered by PDP-Laban president Aquilino Pimentel III through the institute. 

i always figured that it’s the president’s call, as he’s so astig.  but, yes, he needs the cooperation of congress, whether for the BBL or the new charter, and congress is proving to be uncooperative, even recalcitrant.

come on, guys!  kaysa naman mag-revgov?  or is that the goal.  argh.  these trapos.

#passBBL #no2revgov

Why the MILF prefers BBL over federalism

Miriam Coronel Ferrer

“Only a shift to federalism will satisfy the Bangsamoro,” President Duterte has stated several times. This, according to him, will correct the historical injustice committed against the Muslim population in Mindanao.

True, federalism could accommodate the proposals of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which were modified or even discarded in the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

Yet, the MILF continues to push for the passage of a Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in spite of its limited constitutional parameters.

So, why is the MILF not hitching its wagon to the President’s federalism gambit?

Against generic ‘phederalism’
To begin with, the MILF did not fight the government to change the whole Philippine system. It’s the Communist Party of the Philippines that aims to do that—overthrow the old and build a new regime.

What the MILF leaders want is their own self-governed territory in parts of their claimed homeland in Mindanao. They are neutral on what the rest of the country does to itself.

A one-size-fits-all federalism, spelled “phederalism” by some proponents, does not resonate with the MILF. Notably, all developed proposals consist of converting existing regions into similar or “symmetrical” federal states.

For the MILF and its Bangsamoro supporters, a shift to a federal setup won’t do justice to the uniqueness of the Bangsamoro quest for their right to self-determination, their identity and institutions.

Bangsamoro stakeholders also criticize the more recent scheme of four federal states made up of Mindanao, the Visayas, Luzon and Metro Manila. They believe this would reduce the Bangsamoro into an “enclave” of a Mindanao state.

Morevoer, these proposals seek to confine the prospective Bangsamoro state to the current territorial jurisdiction of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

To the Bangsamoro stakeholders, the ARMM’s five provinces, and Marawi and Lamitan cities fall short of what’s left of their claimed Mindanao homeland.

The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, on the other hand, seeks to rectify this limited territorial coverage by enabling contiguous geographic areas to join a Bangsamoro state should they wish.

Different imagined substate
True, the reference to a Bangsamoro state in the original 2010 draft MILF compact was a substate entity enjoying wide autonomy.

This document imagined an “asymmetrical compact of free association” that is more akin to associated states like Puerto Rico or the free associated state of Palau, which are attached to the United States but enjoying nation-state status.

The MILF drew from these existing historical constructs but developed its own context-suitable model that didn’t require a federal system.

This, the group believed, could be possible via a constitutional amendment, specifically an appendage that keeps the rest of the Constitution intact.

Clearly, the MILF’s vision then and now was for the Bangsamoro since the group is negotiating for them, not for or of the whole Philippines.

Ownership of process
Also, the MILF wants ownership of the outcome of the peace process.

The Moro leaders want a Bangsamoro entity that results from their own struggle — one that had moved from independence through armed struggle, to a peacefully negotiated solution within the Republic of the Philippines.

Neither a constituent assembly nor a constitutional convention is an arena that the MILF can claim as its own. Although the MILF has belatedly, albeit hesitantly, learned to engage Congress and only Congress can legislate a Bangsamoro state into existence, the group assumes that the end result would still be based on the agreements.

Without such participation by the MILF, the “free choice of the Bangsamoro people in regard to their national identity” — as they had put it in their original proposal — cannot be achieved.

Complicated, shaky
The MILF thus finds the dual track of a Bangsamoro Basic Law cum federalism complicated and shaky.

Even as the MILF continues to publicly express their trust in President Duterte, the private comments and social media posts of the Bangsamoro stakeholders reflect brewing doubts on the real intent of his administration.

Given the President’s tight squeeze on Congress, a BBL could have easily gone through the legislative mill within a year.

But the President issued the needed executive order (EO) to establish the expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission only in November last year.

A month later, he created the Consultative Commission, a body that was given six months to recommend changes in the Constitution. The MILF found this confusing.

In April, the President assured the MILF by saying he will only constitute the Consultative Commission until after a draft BBL is submitted to Congress. The submission of a draft bill just might happen next month when Congress reopens.

Still, it is unclear from the President’s repeated privileging of federalism how Congress will navigate the dual track.

Add to this the third track with Nur Misuari’s faction of the Moro National Liberation Front, which is just focused on amending the existing ARMM law.

Sticking to signed documents
The MILF is just being consistent by adhering to the signed agreements.

After all, in the absence of legislation, these agreements are the MILF leaders’ only hold on the government. They know that any major change could only retrogress into more changes and delays.

From this basic need for security, it behooves the MILF to stick to the signed Bangsamoro roadmap.

As MILF panel chair Mohagher Iqbal puts it: “We [had] better secure a 10 centavo already in the basket than having to gamble for a peso [that] is still in wilderness.”

Evidently, between a BBL now and federalism in the future, the MILF pragmatically prefers the former.


If federalism is the answer, what is the question?

Amina Rasul

On Dec. 15, the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy and the Institute for Autonomy and Governance organized a forum on Federalism, Autonomy, and Mindanao Peace Process at Club Filipino. We gathered leaders of the Bangsamoro diaspora, a potent sector never consulted by government as a group, regarding the present call of the government to shift to federalism.

The keynote speaker, Former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. stressed the need to break the hold of the central government (Imperial Manila) on powers, despite devolution and the Local Government Code.

The panel included DFA Undersecretary for International Economic Affairs Manuel Teehankee, Atty. Raul Lambino, and Atty. Naguib Sinarimbo. Usec Teehankee focused his discussion on the fiscal and economic benefits of federalism. Atty. Lambino, who has been organizing forums on federalism for the past four months, provided additional insights into the distribution of powers that will benefit the regions under federalism. Atty. Sinarimbo, who has been a part of the MILF negotiating panel for many years, detailed the powers needed for genuine autonomy to be implemented and how autonomy fits into a federalist system.

The panel were in agreement on a major point: under the present unitary system, the control of powers and resources — inspite of the Constitution and devolution — have alienated the Bangsamoro people and other indigenous cultural communities. They acknowledged the neglect and discrimination suffered by indigenous peoples.

Former Senate President Nene Pimentel proposed 12 federal states — five in Luzon (one for the indigenous peoples of the Cordilleras), four in Visayas, and three in Mindanao (including the Bangsamoro State, which could have regions of autonomy).

The proponents also argued that the present ineffective and irresponsive system and the weakness of the rule of law have allowed political warlords, and corrupt politicians and dynasties to exist prosper.

Will federalism result in a more effective, equitable and responsive system? Most of the participants, after discussions with the panel, believed it would. In a quick survey held at the forum, 76% (48 out of 63 Muslim leaders) expressed their support for federalism.

Will federalism end the aspirations for independence of frustrated and angry armed groups in the South? Or, like the grant of autonomy by Congress, will it end up as a piece of legislation that will paper over differences? We need a well-designed home with a strong foundation to hold all our peoples together, not a house of cards. That political architecture can only be designed if our peoples are part of the drafting. As the forum participants opined, we need a Constitutional Convention.

I myself support the core arguments for federalism. However, I do believe that we need to have more engaged discussions — not just mass forums that do little to elicit serious thought about what it takes to move from the present political system to another. I echo the comments of many of the leaders present at the forum: majority of our people, from Tawi-Tawi to the Ilocos, who say they support federalism see it as a miraculous system that will immediately change our situation. We need more engagement. I repeat the query at the federalism forum of the UP School of Economics: if federalism is the answer, what is the question?

Autonomy, Federalism or Independence?