United we stand, divided we fall

AS A MATTER OF FACT - Sara Soliven De Guzman (The Philippine Star) - February 23, 2015 - 12:00am

The peace in your conscience should have more value than the money in your wallet. “Money, money, money it’s what makes the cauldron boil in Sulu and Basilan,” this was what my late father used to say.

Money has divided this nation. Our most recent dilemma is “giving peace a chance” in Mindanao. But how can peace be achieved with a price tag? Senator Ralph Recto described it as “financing peace.” He said that, “On the first year alone of the Bangsamoro establishment, the projected minimum cost is P75 billion. A big chunk of this is in the form of a block grant, which in 2016, according to testimonies of government officials, will be around P27 billion.” Aside from this, Recto added that, “The BBL also provides for a ‘Special Development Fund’ which will be remitted by Manila to the Bangsamoro government. This is P10 billion, an amount that is bigger than the combined budget of the Trade and Industry (DTI) departments, or the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and Tourism (DOT).” Not to mention that, “If oil is found in the area, the taxes, fees, royalties will be divided equally. In case of metallic minerals, the Bangsamoro gets three-fourths of the income due to the government, while the national government will have to be content with one-fourth,” Recto said. He further stated that, “The Bangsamoro will get 75 percent (while national will get only 25 percent) on all taxes on income or goods or services sold in the region, from candies to cars. Sanamagan!

It is very obvious that by negotiating “peace” thru the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the MILF is likely to share sovereign powers with our government in Mindanao. Granting “territorial control” over a large slice of Central Mindanao is an alarming betrayal to our sovereignty.

How can a fraction of our population claim such territory as theirs? Ancestral land? C’mon! We are in the 21st century – this land is our land. It belongs to the Philippines not to any Tom, Dick or Harry.

The people in Mindanao are divided into three main groups: 18 indigenous tribes collectively known as Lumads, the Moros and the Christians. But we are all Filipinos under one flag. We all belong to one race – the Filipino race. Why divide the country? As the adage goes, “United we stand, divided we fall.”

MILF wants peace? The very name of that insurgent organization makes clear the intentions of the MILF. They call themselves the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. How can we be so blind? I cannot forget what my late father wrote about in 2006: The MILF dreams of an Islamic Caliphate ruling Mindanao even the predominantly Christian cities and provinces. No amount of sweet-talk will dissuade them from this irredentist ambition. Their negotiators are merely jerking us around and what’s dismaying and disgusting is that many of La Presidenta’s (former President Gloria Arroyo) advisers and Cabinet members seem to be urging her to give in to their outlandish demands.

The more GMA promises that a “peace” settlement will soon be signed, the bolder those MILF renegades and rascals become. To date, they’ve not even delivered on any of their promises. They pledged to help us curb and capture the terrorist Abu Sayyaf, yet ASG Chieftain Khadafy Janjalani and a large band of Abu Sayyaf, to evade hot pursuit by our Army, sought sanctuary a few months ago in the MILF “controlled” territory. The MILF reported their presence to the government only after Janjalani and his bunch had left for other parts.

The MILF keeps on swearing that they have nothing to do with the terrorist Jemaah Islamiyah, yet our military intelligence, and the intelligence services of Singapore and Indonesia, keep on complaining about JI training camps in at least two locations in Central Mindanao. Owing to Malacañang’s desire not to irritate the MILF, our own military is loathed to invade what those MILF insurgents insist is their domain.

How can we go on tolerating this cancer in our archipelago? It defies all logic, not to mention national dignity.

The echoes of yesterday are still heard and felt today. This is exactly what happened in Mamasapano tragedy which opened Pandora’s Box: The MILF is still jerking us, government advisers to P-Noy are still urging him to give in to the demands, MILF has not helped us in capturing the ‘terrorist’ as promised, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters won’t return their firearms, and latest news is that the MILF will not surrender members in Mamasapano clash. So what else has change? Mr. President, can you please define PEACE?

*      *      *

The Lenten Season has begun with the celebration of Ash Wednesday last week. It is time for reflection and cleansing. It is time to look into our spirituality as a person and as a citizen of this country.

The Woes of the Pharisees is a list of criticisms made by Jesus against the Pharisees for being hypocrites. The Pharisees were observed to be too ostentatious in the clothes they wore, in the banquets they prepared, in their boastfulness and pride. Jesus saw their moral fabric as being impatient, impertinent, angry and deceitful which the public couldn’t see from the outside. They needed much inner reform before goodness can prevail.

By the way, the seven woes of hypocrisy which Jesus listed are: (1) They taught about God but did not love God (Matt 23:13-14); (2) They preached God but converted people to dead religion, thus making those converts twice as much sons of hell as they themselves were (Matt 23:15); (3) They taught that an oath sworn by the temple or altar was not binding, but that if sworn by the gold ornamentation of the temple, or by a sacrificial gift on the altar, it was binding (Matt 23:16-22); (4) They taught the law but did not practice some of the most important parts of the law — justice, mercy, faithfulness to God (Matt 23:23-24); (5) They presented an appearance of being ‘clean’ (self-restrained, not involved in carnal matters), yet they were dirty inside: they seethed with hidden worldly desires, carnality. They were full of greed and self-indulgence (Matt 23:25-26); (6) They exhibited themselves as righteous on account of being scrupulous keepers of the law, but were in fact not righteous: their mask of righteousness hid a secret inner world of ungodly thoughts and feelings. They were full of wickedness. They were like whitewashed tombs, beautiful on the outside, but full of dead men’s bones (Matt 23:27-28); (7) They professed a high regard for the dead prophets of old, and claimed that they would never have persecuted and murdered prophets, when in fact they were cut from the same cloth as the persecutors and murderers: they too had murderous blood in their veins (Matt 23:29-36).

Do the acts and thought patterns of the Pharisees in Jesus time remind you of our leaders today? This is a good reflection kit for Lent.


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