Monday, December 21, 2015

A state within a state

A state within a state





The  encompassing but vague agreement signed by the government  with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to create a Bangsamoro is now sending shivers to most of our people living in Mindanao and Sulu.  They fear they will be placed under the jurisdictional authority  of an Islamic state out to impose their religion and culture. This lackluster government being  desperate in wanting to have an achievement to present, thinks that maybe the sellout agreement it signed last October 15, 2012 would help refurbished its badly tarnished image.  But as many predict, the calm usually comes before the storm.  


Notably, the agreement has elevated to a higher level the problem of secessionism in Mindanao.  It will no longer be an armed conflict to contain secessionism, but one where the Philippines will be placed on the defensive for failing to honor the agreement it signed.   The peace accord reached by this corrupt and incompetent government effectively made official  the country’s balkanization, a problem all administrations fought hard to prevent from happening.  

President Aquino’s approval of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) would have the legal effect of formalizing our recognition of that area to be covered by the jurisdiction  of that newly created state the MILF would undoubtedly claim it won by the sheer stupidity of the government panel.     For the leadership of the MILF led by its chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, it would no longer matter whether the Supreme Court will declare constitutional or unconstitutional the document worked out by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.  All that   would matter thereafter is that we officially extended recognition to the creation of a Bangsamoro, enjoying the benefit of a  basic law or constitution.
The MILF would have no reason not consider themselves as a state within a state.  They could readily commence hostilities against the Armed Forces claiming violation of their sovereign jurisdiction under the agreement we signed, and witnessed by the country that trained and armed secessionist fighters  Malaysia’s Pangkor Island, in the province of Trak.
The Philippine panel that negotiated that sellout agreement failed to consider the insistence by the MILF negotiating panel of a BBL  to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in fact amounted to concurring to the collateral amendment of Sections 15 to 21, Article X of the Constitution defining the autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao. An amendment to the Constitution would require not just the ratification of the people in  the covered area, but of  the entire Filipino people.
Moreover, the core issue that gave birth to the Muslim secessionist movement is our Sabah claim.  It must be recalled that the father of the incumbent President tried much to discredit our  claim by making a hype of the debacle we suffered in the so-called “Jabida Massacre” to the delight of the Malaysian authorities.  Nonetheless, the peace agreement entered into by the Aquino government with the MILF contained tricky provisions that once approved could technically estop both the Sultan of Sulu and the government from pursuing our claim. Even if we did not  officially drop our Sabah claim in that agreement, the BBL could prevent the Sultan of Sulu from pursuing the  Sabah claim without the authority given him by the Bangsamoro.
There is even much doubt whether the  Sultan of Sulu could maintain his current status as the acknowledged leader in the people Sulu archipelago area.  The approval of the BBL  would mean that the Sultan of Sulu would now have to secure first the consent of the MILF, altering altogether the traditional leadership and tribal patriarchy practiced by the Tausug people in the Sulu and in Sabah.   That means that under the proposed BBL, the Sultan is now subordinate to that MILF leadership that has exhibited more loyalty to the country that deprived him of his dominion over Sabah.
If that is denied by the Bangsamoro, which is expected, logically it follows that the government, by virtue of the instrument of cession given to it by the Sultan, could no longer pursue its Sabah claim.   The Bangsamoro need not even drop our claim, but only insist that  to do so would violate the agreement the government singed with the MILF; and that the BBL is the supreme law once approved by Congress and declared constitutional by the High Court.
Besides, many political analysts could not understand why the Philippine negotiating panel acceded to the use of a single-word title “Bangsamoro” without the MILF denominating of whether it refers to an autonomous region, or to a state waiting to ripen to full status.  It is to many a  64 dollar question. The title Bangsamoro Basic Law means that all laws that would be inconsistent to it could be disregarded by them as unconstitutional, or worse may even contest the applicability of our Constitution on matters involving the validity of existing laws affecting  their rights.
The name Bangsamoro may be innocuous, but it has reference to an embryonic state which the MILF leadership could invoke as having been impliedly recognized by PNoy.  Let us not kid ourselves on what a Bangsamoro means.  It is  the vernacular or Maranao word for a  Moro State. The MILF could easily twist the term to declare itself a state as contingency would demand, insisting that it has been recognized by our signing of the agreement.
Right now the Bangsamoro exercises its powers in the context of an autonomous region, but that is as far as the government is made to believe. Should the situation change, it could simply proclaim itself a state much that there is no prohibition or identification of it as an autonomous region. It can proclaim itself a  Bangsamoro Republic or a  Bangsamoro Islamic Republic. Some political analysts and constitutionalists say that Malaysia need not even recognize it as a state. It can claim that the Bangsamoro state already existed by virtue of its being a witness to its creation.
Although there are several groups espousing the fervor of Islamic fundamentalism, the MILF is only separated from the rest by mere hairline, so to speak.  One could hardly distinguish their objectives from that of the  Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the Abu Sayaff, both of which just declared their support for the  war now waged by Islamic States of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has been  characterized by violence and extreme cruelty to people they  consider infidels.  In fact,  the  coziness of the MILF with the Abu Sayaff was observed during the Estrada Administration when the two joined hands to stem the tide of the government offensive.

rpkapunan@gmail.com

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