Sunday, March 22, 2015

Repudiate the BBL

By Rod Kapunan
Knowing that we have been dealing with foreign nationals is more than enough for us to  repudiate the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.  This we have to bear in mind for while the government is willing to negotiate peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, it cannot enter into an agreement with the parties who are citizens of other countries adversarial to our interest.  To accede to that proposition could change altogether the parameter of the negotiations.  It will no longer be one of how far the government is willing to grant autonomy to our Muslim brothers in Mindanao, but on the future status of the territory that will be demarcated as part of the Bangsamoro. 
When the Philippines negotiated the proposed BBL with the chairman of the MILF, Al Hajj Mura Ebrahim and with its chief negotiator and spokesman Mohagher Iqbal, the government was made to believe they were negotiating with Filipinos.  Even if at times they exhibited their disloyalty and were adamant in their demand for independence, it was understandable as they were acting pursuant to their spirited desire to maximize what they could exact from the Philippine panel.  The thing that is important is that we are dealing with Filipinos, although in the category of rebels, even if they refuse to recognize the authority of the government.  
Only by dealing with Filipinos – a Muslim secessionist rebel or a communist ideologue seeking to overthrow the government – can a government, worthy of its status as a sovereign state, achieve peace in the context of the conflict remaining an internal problem.    Every state battling an insurgency problem is doing everything to prevent the rebels from attaining the status of belligerency, thereby allowing it to claim that the fighting remains an internal war, and giving it the right to invoke the UN Charter of non-interference in its domestic affairs.
Thus, when the leaders that we have been negotiating with turn out to be Malaysian citizens, this is solid ground to repudiate the proposed BBL or for our panel to withdraw their signature.  This automatically puts the issues of autonomy out of the question.   Murad and Iqbal, strictly speaking, can no longer represent the Muslims in Mindanao. 
This explains why all that has been coming out from their mouth is the interest of Malaysia, and their representation is a de facto intrusion into an otherwise our internal affairs which normally would be unacceptable to the other party.  Most dangerous, once the BBL has been ratified, all that their proxies in the negotiating table would do is to submit the approved agreement to the Malaysian authorities, for it to either recognize the newly independent state or demand that it join the expanded federation of Malaysia.     
In fact, it would seem that there is no way we could back out of the blunder committed by our negotiating panel  because the Philippines did not reject, at the outset,  the representation made by Mural and Iqbal.  To arrest these people could only complicate the situation, for then Malaysia could intervene in the name of protecting its citizens and its rights and interests under the agreement. Maybe there was logic in the argument of Iqbal in refusing to submit their version of the report of the Mamapasano incident. They are, after all, not Filipino citizens who could be obligated to submit the report. 
In a similar development, to divert our attention away from the Mamasapano massacre, people sympathetic to the cause of the MILF, like Anak Mindanao Representative Sitti Djalia Hataman, insists that the government accept the responsibility for the incident that happened in March 1968 where some of the Muslim trainees who  staged a mutiny were killed.   The incident was most unfortunate because the creation of a special squad known as “Jabida” was not meant to curtail the rights of the Muslims or commit genocide, as others would like to project it, but to liberate Sabah from Malaysia.  Today, people in the mainstream media who have been styling themselves as investigative journalists continue to blame the Marcos government for the incident.
Maybe the incident gave Malaysia the opportunity to exploit our local Muslims by funding and arming the secessionist rebellion. It became an occasion to steer up the sentiments of the Muslims which led to the founding of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), headed by a Tausug named Nur Misuari.   Sadly enough, the incident was exploited by then-Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. and some of his accomplices in the opposition. They took turns in trying to discredit the incident without understanding that it was meant to recover what was historically and legally belongs to us.  
No sooner did the secessionist rebellion intensify.  It spread from the Sulu archipelago area to central Mindanao.  When the MNLF realized that its cry for liberation of genocide and discrimination no longer rings a bell, much that it was used by Malaysia to effectively deny the Tausugs of their right to claim their ancestral homeland Sabah, things slowly began to move in favor of the government. The MNLF began to shift its attention to recovering Sabah from Malaysia, and the idea of independence lost much of its enthusiasm.    
It was an agonizing re-examination of the objectives of the MNLF that while it was being urged to secede from the Philippines, it did not curtail its members’ obsession with being reunited with their fellow Sabahans living in Sabah.  Many of the Tausugs in Sabah were deported.  That policy of depopulating Sabah of its native inhabitants was carried out by deporting many of them as illegal Filipino immigrants.
When that became clear to the Tausugs, whose loyalty remains with the Sultan of Sulu, many of the MNLF fighters began to abandon Misuari.   Coupled by the massive development projects undertaken by the Marcos administration, the success of then- First Lady Imelda Marcos to convince the Arab states that the government was doing all it can to alleviate the plight of our Muslim brothers, and that the Armed Forces was gaining the upper hand in the fighting, and with the government winning the hearts and minds of the Muslim population, Malaysia had to form a new secessionist group tasked to recruit  Muslims  from Central Mindanao, specifically coming from the Maranaw and Maguindanao tribes, to form the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).   This explains why in the BBL gave the final and only authority to the MILF leadership, and that includes their decision to drop our Sabah claim or not to consult the Sultan of Sulu. 
Maybe the alleged “Jabida Massacre” became a watermark in the Marcos administration, but as we look back to reexamine the past, the truth is slowly coming out that the intention was for the recovery of Sabah and restoring it to the rightful owner, the Sultan of Sulu, who has sworn allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines.

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