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Political Tidbits is the prestigious column of Belinda Olivares-Cunanan that ran for 25 continuous years in the op-ed page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the newspaper that she helped put up with its multi-awarded founder, the legendary Eugenia Duran-Apostol, in December 1985, just two months before the EDSA Revolution.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

How come our national leaders and stakeholders in Mindanao appear have been kept in the dark on Bangsamoro development? Nur Misuari vows to question negation of GRP's 1996 agreement with MNLF (ARMM) before the ICJ.



GRP Panel Chair Marvic Leonen

If the GRP panel vis-à-vis the MILF does not watch out, the proposed framework agreement scheduled to be signed this Monday in Malacanang, with no less than the Malaysian PM as witness, could get mired in the constitutional issue---just like what happened to its predecessor, the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), which was struck out as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in a tight 8-7 vote in 2008.

Fierce debate rages about the constitutionality issue, with government panel chair and former UP Law dean Marvic Leonen insisting that the “ministerial nature” of the proposed Bangsamoro is allowed by the 1987 Constitution as a “sub-state” of the Republic. But Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, a renowned constitutional expert who chairs the Senate committee on constitutional amendments, argues that such ministerial function can only be carried out under a parliamentary government and not the presidential sytem we have. Santiago insists that there has to be a constitutional amendment, as the Bangsamoro will only become a “dependent state” or a “non-sovereign state,” and not a "sub-state" which doesn't not exist in our present set-up. 

Without a constitutional amendment, she foresees the SC voiding this framework agreement with the MILF.  

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MNLF Chair Nur Misuari

MNLF Chair Nur Misuari, who prides himself as a political science graduate of the UP and former professor there, has registered stiff protest against this agreement with the MILF. He claims it will result in the negation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the Philippine government in the Ramos era and the MNLF, that was forged with the approval of the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference. Misuari vows to challenge this new agreement with the MILF before the International Court of Justice in The Hague. 

Misuari readily agrees with Miriam on the constitutionality issue, and in fact he tweets Leonen on where he learned his law---“pareho naman tayong UP graduates.” Misuari, who has just filed his certificate of candidacy for governor of ARMM, also warns that the MNLF, far from being a spent force, could make things difficult in the South if this new agreement is pushed.

Mention of constitutional amendment, however, is anathema to President Aquino who obviously feels that the 1987 Charter is family property, having been drawn up in his mother’s time. His opposition is also understandable, for once Congress authorizes a constitutional convention or turns into a  constituent assembly, there’s no telling where it could lead (a shift to the parliamentary could even result in P-Noy disappearing from view).

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A lot of the current treacherous shoals that the framework agreement with the MILF is running into could have been avoided had there been wider consultation with the nation’s leaders and stakeholders. Leonen has been quoted as saying the agreement has undergone no less than 32 sessions of exploratory talks and 126 consultations on each of the points there. But from the seeming perplexity of our national leaders, these talks appeared to be typically limited to the close Palace circle.

For instance, was the National Security Council, the nation’s highest advisory and consultative body, fully informed of the developments on the exploratory talks with the MILF on the Bangsamoro over the last two years---a subject that would change the entire political landscape? But then, come to think of it, I don’t recall the NSC being convened in the last 2 ½ years.

Rep. Al Francis Bichara

Were the Senate and the House foreign relations committees closely informed about it? From the way Sen. Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate committee and star candidate of the LP coalition in 2013, sounds, she appears to have been kept out of the loop until last Sunday’s announcement by the President---all she could do was to acquiesce. On the other hand, Rep. Al Francis Bichara, the House foreign affairs chair, our former ambassador to Lebanon and an NP ally of P-Noy, has not been heard from on this issue.  

Obviously, Sen. Miriam Santiago has not been consulted, and now prominent Mindanao leaders, including those from the lumads, are complaining that neither were they.  

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All patriotic Filipinos want peace to descend on Mindanao, which has been wracked by seething ideological turmoil and bloody wars in the past 40 years. But many of our citizens also harbor fears and concerns which are valid and should be taken into consideration by our leaders dealing with the MILF now.

For instance, there are those deeply concerned that Bangsamoro, which this administration hopes to fully institutionalize by the time P-Noy exits in 2016, would be showered with enormous local and foreign resources,  in order to lift the standards of this poorest region. According to the agreement Bangsamoro would get 75% of all tax collections and income from economic activities in that region---far more than the 40 percent other regions derive from similar sources. 

The problem is, what assurance is there that such enormous resources won't be squandered in the culture of corruption prevailing in Muslim Mindanao?  

As some observers point out, it’s no secret that corruption has been deep-seated among various Muslim political families over the decades, and that elections have brought about only a change of rulers, but the corruption would persist. The story of squandered opportunities by MNLF Chief Misuari, handpicked by FVR as the first ARMM governor, and that of the Ampatuan dynasty are too recent to be forgotten, they argue.

What will be done to address this problem so as to bring about true transformation of the region?  Would more autonomy bring about change of values and better governance? Good questions.

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A citizen emailed his concerns about the Shariah justice system in Bangsamoro:  “By allowing and even fostering the institutionalization of the Shariah justice system in what is now Philippine territory, the national government will be under pressure to address demands of Muslims who live in Manila and other big cities, to allow them to live by the Shariah law. Thus, there will be two systems of justice in Ph---one for 95% of the Filipinos and another for the Muslims. And there will be increasing pressure to allow the large concentrations of Muslims in Manila, Cebu and other metropolitan areas outside of ARMM and the eventual Bangsamoro to operate their own judicial system under Shariah law.“

This citizen’s proposal: “Grant the Muslims their independence and operate the new Bangsamoro state as a protectorate of the Philippines. Establish a common market and a common currency. But encourage Muslims who live in Manila, Cebu and other cities to repatriate themselves and their families to this new state.”

This citizen's fear actually stems from the fact that where over the decades Muslim Filipinos had been concentrated in what we knew then as “Muslim Mindanao,” today they're found in virtually all provinces of the country---most of them industrious and thriving entrepreneurs.  His concern is how to apply the Shariah law in those areas outside of the traditional enclaves.

I can see the logic there.



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1 comment:

  1. Business world's success can make one strong leader too. Therefore, muslims should emphasize on Muslim Entrepreneurship business setup. Building a business according to islam law,is really pious.

    ReplyDelete