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Can we still talk peace in Mindanao, and with whom?

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - February 15, 2015 - 12:00am

There is no doubt whatsoever that there are many good Muslims as there are also bad Christians. In fact, some of my best friends are Muslims. My Muslim students in the college of law are among the best.  In the same manner, there are bad Muslims and good Christians. But the point is, the Mamasapano is an MILF-controlled territory. Why was the international terrorist Marwan inside that territory, allowed to operate his terroristic activities? Is harboring a terrorist not a violation of the ceasefire agreement? When our police forces just entered the area to serve a subpoena and arrest a terrorist, why were they massacred? After all these, can we still talk peace with them?

The MILF itself admitted, under oath, and before the Philippine Senate, that, unless the Bangsa Moro Basic Law is passed, the MILF remains as a revolutionary force. That is an explicit blackmail and putting the Philippine government under the barrel of their guns. The MILF is practically subjecting the government's decision-makers to undue pressures, bordering on coercion, force, and intimidation. Thus, any act under such vitiation of consent and will shall make the BBL, if ultimately passed, an unconstitutional piece of attempted legislation. Thus, we should, at this point, abandon the BBL as a fruit of the poisonous tree.

The MILF does not represent the entire Muslim communities. They do not have any formal and informal mandate from all the Muslim people. They cannot claim to represent all the Maranaws, all the Maguindanaoans, all the Tausugs, and all the other tribes, all the sultanates, and all the non-aligned Muslims. There are many other groups, like the MNLF, the BIFF, the Abu Sayyaf, and even some who admit links with Jamiya Islamiya. The MILF does not have a sole and exclusive bargaining authority, unlike the ARMM, which is a duly-constituted authority and their officials, duly-elected by the people.

Perhaps, and I say this with my highest respect to both the government and the MILF, it was a grave error of judgment for us to have negotiated with this group. A sovereign nation granting, in effect, a belligerent status to an admittedly revolutionary group, and exacerbated by holding the negotiations in another state, one country with a territorial dispute with the Philippines,  Malaysia. Well, it was all in the name of peace, peace after all of thousands who died in Mindanao – Muslims, Christians, and lumads. We can all appreciate the need to negotiate peace, but at what price and with whom?

If the MILF, speaking through its chair, Mohagher Icqbal, in answer to Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, cannot guarantee complete control of their own territory in Mamasapano, then why are we talking to this group? If and when we pass the BBL, then there is no guarantee that the BIFF will not start another war. Then, why are we doing all these? We are not prepared to adopt the President Joseph Estrada doctrine of ALL-OUT WAR. That would be an extreme option. But if our communities are attacked and our own national security is in grave and imminent danger, would we not defend our territory?

The paradox of peace is that, in its defense, peace-loving peoples have died and may continue to die, fighting wars, all in the pursuit of peace.

josephusbjimenez@gmail.com

ABU SAYYAF BANGSA MORO BASIC LAW JAMIYA ISLAMIYA MAMASAPANO MILF MOHAGHER ICQBAL MY MUSLIM PEACE PHILIPPINE SENATE PRESIDENT JOSEPH ESTRADA SENATOR ALAN PETER CAYETANO
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