R.TIGLAO: DID AQUINO SIGN MILF PACT TO EXALT A MYTH?

The colossal flaws in President Aquino’s pact with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front are in the title of the agreement itself: “The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (italics supplied).” For starters, it is certainly not “comprehensive” as it totally ignores the peace agreements with the Moro National Liberation Front entered into by the Marcos regime in Tripoli in 1976 and finally implemented under the 1996 Final Peace Agreement by President Fidel Ramos. The Tripoli agreement even has the international legal status of a treaty, as Marcos technically at that time represented not only the Executive but the Legislative branch as well, and it was under the auspices of the OPEC. Government cannot just unilaterally discard the 1976 Tripoli agreement, the way the Aquino pact does, with its cavalier provision that the “Bangsamoro” will replace the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao. More deplorably and importantly, though, Aquino’s negotiators demonstrated their inexcusable ignorance of the history of the Muslims in Mindanao and their situation in the modern era by agreeing to the term Bangsamoro as the key word in the titles, and, in fact the key concept in the entire pact with the MILF, the framework agreement and the annexes. The concept of a Bangsamoro is a modern invention. What it attempts to portray is a myth: that there was and is, a nation (“bangsa”) of Muslims in Mindanao called “Moro.” It was the Spanish colonizers who called the Muslims in Mindanao “Moro,” after the Muslim Moors of North Africa who humiliated them by its conquest of the Iberian peninsula in the 8th century. “Moro” was a pejorative Spanish term, even a racist one used in Europe referring to anyone of dark color. CONTINUE READING BELOW...

R. TIGLAO: MILF to have own police force; won’t lay down arms yet

Under Aquino’s pact, the Bangsamoro entity will be the government not only of the current Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Magundanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, but also the cities of Isabela and Cotabato which voted in 2001 to reject inclusion in the ARMM. Congress would also have to pass a law—if that is at all possible—that would abrogate the 1996 Final Peace Agreement with the MNLF which created the ARMM, since the MILF’s Bangsamoro entity would replace that entity. What makes such abrogation of that MNLF pact difficult if not impossible is that it was based on the 1976 Tripoli Agreement, which is considered an international treaty. Aquino promised the creation of the Bangsamoro state in October 2012, when his popularity was as its height and he had Congress under his thumb because of his control of pork barrel funds. Indeed, his success in getting a landslide vote in May 2012 in the Congress—even the opposition in the Senate sided with him— to boot out Chief Justice Corona convinced him he could do whatever he wished during his term. But now his popularity has started its decline; there are no more pork-barrel funds, and he is a lame-duck president. It is neigh impossible for him now to ask Congress to jump at his bidding, and pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law. The last “annex” signed, the “Annex on Normalization” confirms Aquino’s will to disregard for the Constitution. It has even made an imminent threat the worst nightmare of non-Muslims in Mindanao: the MILF’s armed forces being legalized as a police force. An MILF police. Aquino’s latest “Annex on Normalization” on the other hand would allow the MILF to organize its own police force. It even implicitly requires the government to make a “gesture of goodwill” by undertaking programs to make the MILF’s six military camps productive—instead of wiping out any trace of them. READ IN FULL BELOW...

JOSE ZAIDE: Win war, but lose face

Despite Chinese requests to delay it, PH filed its memorandum (called a Memorial in international law) challenging before the United Nations China’s territorial claims over South Of China Sea. Win War, But Lose Face. WHAT’S IN A NAME? China’s 9-dash line claims almost the entire South China Sea as its own.  But how cum India does not claim all of the Indian Ocean? An Executive Order renamed our territorial claim West Philippine Sea. What’s wrong with the old name Luzon Sea which was recognized by international cartographers? SITUATION HOPELESS, BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE. Former ambassador to the UN Lauro Baja said, “When we filed a case against China at the UN that was the end of diplomacy.” The Chinese Charge d’ Affaires added, “In our culture, bringing someone to court is like assaulting him.” The submission of the 4,000-page Memorial to the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague locks in positions. But the Chinese Charge d’Affaires in Manila said China is hopeful that the dispute could still be settled through negotiations. Legal experts are concerned that the UNCLOS Arbitral Tribunal would consider the issues raised by the Philippines as territorial disputes. The Tribunal decides only on disputes on overlapping maritime zones, while the International Court of Justice decides on territorial disputes. Moreover, China has refused to participate in the arbitration. The Ayungin is located 150 nautical miles from Palawan and within our EEZ; China claims it from its historical maps. Interestingly, despite its known mandarins and scribes recording all quotidian transactions, the Middle Kingdom has no recorded accounting within the 9 dashes. The recent relief convoy with media on board was able to dodge the harassing Chinese coast guards and carry out its mission. But we may not be so lucky next time to get past Chinese blockade. During the Cold War, Russia tried to cut off West Berlin, but the heroic B-29 bombers shuttled food and coal to the beleaguered city. Neither side wanted to escalate the confrontation, and when Russia saw that it was losing the propaganda war, the blockade was lifted. If push comes to shove, the Chinese could blow the BRP Sierra Madre out of water. Moreover, nobody expects to get reparations vs. China. But the prayer is that China knows it will win the war, but will lose face.

J. ROBLES: Miriam strikes again

See, this is why we need a Miriam Defensor-Santiago: to expose the stupid, shame the unthinking and poke fun at the self-important. Many times, I’ve wondered if the existence of all of Congress is not actually justified simply because Miriam is in the Senate. Santiago minced no words when she declared that the new Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro is unconstitutional. In a speech in Olongapo City, the noted constitutionalist and feisty lawmaker said the pact contained provisions that were “beyond ridiculous.” Miriam said her preliminary reading of the agreement showed that it has provisions similar to those of the Arroyo-era Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain that the Supreme Court had declared unconstitutional. “Both the MoA-AD and the Bangsamoro Agreement appear to facilitate the secession of the Bangsamoro from our country, in a manner similar to the secession of Kosovo and Crimea,” she said. Citing one example, Santiago said the agreement states that one of the functions of the Bansgamoro Transition Commission is “[t]o work on proposals to amend the Philippine Constitution for the purpose of accommodating and entrenching in the Constitution the agreements of the Parties whenever necessary without derogating from any prior past agreements.” To which Miriam could only respond: “Say again? What?” The agreement, she said, grants the consent of the Executive branch to amend the Constitution, in order to accommodate the agreement. “The basic function of a Constitution is to list the powers of the state and the rights of the citizens. The Constitution is a list of sovereign powers reserved for the government, meaning to say, all the three branches. This is the principle of constitutional supremacy. It is beyond ridiculous to state that the Constitution should accommodate agreements whenever necessary,” she said. Palace spokesmen and the people who crafted the agreement rushed to placate Santiago, saying they intend to sit down with her to explain that no constitutional provisions have been violated. I wish them luck as they try, with all the individual and collective intelligence at their command, to match wits with Miriam.


READ FULL REPORTS HERE:

Did Aquino sign pact to exalt a myth?


by RIGOBERTO TIGLAO

MANILA, APRIL 7, 2014 (MANILA TIMES)  The colossal flaws in President Aquino’s pact with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front are in the title of the agreement itself: “The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (italics supplied).”

For starters, it is certainly not “comprehensive” as it totally ignores the peace agreements with the Moro National Liberation Front entered into by the Marcos regime in Tripoli in 1976 and finally implemented under the 1996 Final Peace Agreement by President Fidel Ramos.

The Tripoli agreement even has the international legal status of a treaty, as Marcos technically at that time represented not only the Executive but the Legislative branch as well, and it was under the auspices of the OPEC. Government cannot just unilaterally discard the 1976 Tripoli agreement, the way the Aquino pact does, with its cavalier provision that the “Bangsamoro” will replace the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao.

More deplorably and importantly, though, Aquino’s negotiators demonstrated their inexcusable ignorance of the history of the Muslims in Mindanao and their situation in the modern era by agreeing to the term Bangsamoro as the key word in the titles, and, in fact the key concept in the entire pact with the MILF, the framework agreement and the annexes.

The concept of a Bangsamoro is a modern invention. What it attempts to portray is a myth: that there was and is, a nation (“bangsa”) of Muslims in Mindanao called “Moro.” It was the Spanish colonizers who called the Muslims in Mindanao “Moro,” after the Muslim Moors of North Africa who humiliated them by its conquest of the Iberian peninsula in the 8th century. “Moro” was a pejorative Spanish term, even a racist one used in Europe referring to anyone of dark color.


Sultan Jamal ul-Azam who ruled the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo from 1862 to 1881. But no “Bangsamoro.” (PHOTO FROM “MUSLIMS IN THE PHILIPPINES” BY CESAR ADIB MAJUL.)

It was also so for mainstream Filipino society: the term Moro—as in “parang Moro siya”—in fact even meant somebody going amok, referring to American colonizers’ reports—and depicted in the early movies—of Moro fighters’ suicidal attack with only their kris for weapons against US soldiers.

Muslims in Mindanao never referred to themselves using the pejorative term Moro. It would only be the young Manila-educated radicals who in the 190s would express their defiance of mainstream Filipino society’s prejudice against them by embracing the term “Moro.”

There are no references to “Bangsamoro” previous to the rise of the Muslim insurgency in the 1970s, and the term—ironically, as he and his organization were left out of Aquino’s pact—was an invention of MNLF founder Nur Misuari.

Why Misuari chose the Malay word “Bangsa” instead of the Filipino term “bansa” is a puzzle.

One account was that he was mimicking the set up of the Communist Party, whose founder Jose Ma. Sison was initially his ideological comrade. Sison differentiated his Party from its armed wing, and called it the New People’s Army.

Misuari called his Muslim separatist movement Moro National Liberation Front, and his army the Bangsa Moro Army. The term stuck and popularized by Misuari’s militants, probably simply as it sounded better than just “Moro Army.”

Trained in Malaysia

By using the Malay word bangsa though, Misuari may have unwittingly revealed the crucial role of Malaysia in the formation of the MNLF. The top commanders of both the MNLF and the MILF (which broke off from the MNLF purportedly to protest the 1976 peace agreement) were trained in Malaysia by ex-British special forces as their instructors, with one of the first of the several batches (which they proudly call “Batch 90”) being the MILF chairman Murad Ibrahim.

The peace pacts with the MNLF and the many communiqués between it, the MILF and the government had absolutely no reference to a “Bangsamoro,” although there were references to the “Bangsamoro people,” apparently since government negotiators thought that using solely “Moro” would be pejorative.

The 1976 Tripoli Agreement and the 1996 Final Peace Settlements were the key pacts between the government and the MNLF. Both had no reference at all to a “Bangsamoro.” Aquino though elevated the myth of a Muslim nation state in Mindanao into a legitimate aspiration by agreeing to name the “Framework” and “Comprehensive” agreements as being on the “Bangsamoro.”

Muslim militants had embraced the term Bangsamoro, and successfully popularized it, as part of their political strategy to project the myth that there once was a Moro Nation in Mindanao, which the Spanish colonizers ruthlessly dismantled.

The narrative therefore was that the Muslim insurgency is a liberation movement to gain independence for the “Bangsamoro.”

“Bangsamoro” was to supporters of the MNLF and MILF what “National Democracy” was to cadres and activists of the Communist Party since the emergence of these insurgencies in the 1970s. These were their code-words for their revolutionary aims, their wished-for societies that would result from their struggle.

There never was a “Bangsamoro” in Mindanao. From pre-hispanic times to the present, Muslims in Mindanao have been seeing themselves not as members of a nation-state, but as members of any of the thirteen “nations” all professing the Muslim faith, but are from different ethno-linguistic groups in specific places: Magindanaoan, Taosug, Maranao, Sama, Yakan, Jama Iranun, Mapun, Ka’agan, Kalibugan, Sangil, Molbog, Palawani and Badjao, the biggest of which are the first three.

There wasn’t a single state ruling over these groups to make them a real nation.

Instead there two major sultanates until the Spanish colonization: the Sultanate of Sulu of the Tausugs (“The brave people”) whose domain includes North Borneo of which Sabah is a part, and the Sultanate of Maguindanao which ruled over the Maguindanaoans (“People of the Plains) in Central Mindanao and the Maranaos (“People of the Lake”, that is, Lanao Lake). Read that again, and you may start to believe the conspiracy theory that Malaysia is so supportive of the MILF because of Sabah.

Tausugs and Maguindanaons

Misuari is a Tausug and the membership of the MNLF he organized were mostly Tausugs from Sulu. The late MILF chairman Hashim Salamat founded the MILF when it broke away from the MNLF after the 1976 Tripoli peace agreement.

Salamat, the present chairman Ibrahim Murad, vice-chairman Ghazali Jaafar, and most of the MILF commanders and soldiers are Maguindanaoans.

Because of his early attempted-indoctrination by the communist Sison, Misuari gave his Tausug revolutionary movement the veneer of being a “national liberation” movement. Salamat on the other hand, partly because he was trained cleric in a Saudi Arabian Islamic university, gave his Maguindanaon movement an Islamic ethos.

The fate of the MNLF and the MILF reflected the trends in the Muslim world. In the 1970s, Muslim militancy was led by the Muslim socialist movements exemplified by Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi. Starting in the 1980s though, the leadership would be taken over by religious Islamic movements.

In many ways, the myth of a Bangsamoro was the creation of both local international circumstances.

Without the Marcos dictatorship that foolishly announced that all arms, including those held by Moros, would be confiscated, there would wouldn’t have been such support of the MNLF as there was.

Libya under Qaddafi supported the MNLF as part of its worldwide revolution against the infidels of US imperialism.

Malaysian support of the MNLF and then the MILF aimed to check Marcos’ plans to take over Sabah in the 1970s, and finally to bury the Philippine claim on that Philippine territory. Without the rise of militant, fundamentalist Islamic movements in the 1990s—that even rich Arabs such as Osama bin Laden supported—Muslim radicals, like the MILF, would have lost steam.

Without Marcos’ martial law, Libya, Malaysia, the rise of global Islamic fundamentalism, and the poverty in coconut-producing Mindanao areas, the MNLF and the MILF would not have grown in strength as they did. But that does not mean there was a “Bangsamoro,” and that peace would be achieved by allowing its organization to form another state within the territory of the Philippine nation-state.

An analogy would be that without the massive student uprising of 1970, martial law, Mao Tse Tung with his ideology and finances, and those of North Korea as well, the Communist Party pf the Philippines with its New People’s Army would not have grown the way it did. But that doesn’t mean the Philippines, as the communists claim, is a “semi-feudal and semi-colonial” society and that the establishment of a CPP-led “national democratic state” is the solution.

Division narrowing

Despite the growth of the MNLF and the MILF though, and without denying the fact that Spanish, American, and Luzon colonizers robbed Muslim communities of their lands, and even committed atrocities, the reality is that the division between Muslim and Christian communities has been narrowing since the 1960s. This is most exemplified in the cities of Cotabato and Zamboanga city. Christians had even been intermarrying in great numbers with Muslims since the 1960s.

Much of the problem in Mindanao has not been because of conflict between Christians and Muslims, but because of the corruption of both Muslim and Christian warlords. The Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao was not a failed experiment. It was the Muslim politicians that ruled the region that impoverished it with their corruption.

What’s the relevance of all this history review? This: that Aquino’s pact with the MILF is fundamentally flawed, not just because of its unconstitutionality and its problematic details such as the disarmament process.

It commits the Republic to setting up a Moro Nation-State (the real translation of “Bangsamoro”) in a territory that had really had no historical experience as being one state, and encompassing a territory of different ethnic groups.

Worse, the new nation state would in effect be put under just one ethnic group, the Maguindanaons, who organized and lead the MILF. The Tausugs won’t certainly agree to this—as manifested by the stand of the Sultan of Sulu, his wazir and other cabinet officials.

The model for political settlement with the MILF should have been former President Ramos’ 1996 Final Peace Settlement with the MNLF that established the ARMM, and provided for the MNLF’s integration into the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.

The 1987 constitution was even designed to prepare for that pact by providing for the establishment of two autonomous regions, one in Mindanao and the second in the Cordilleras.

The parameters for negotiations with the MILF should have been strictly limited to how their aspirations could be accommodated within the ARMM, and accommodated by amending the Organic Law that established it.

Aquino and his negotiators were fooled into agreeing that there was and is a “Bangsamoro.” Then they even foolishly committed to dismember the country so that the mythical “Bangsamoro” could be erected.

Or is Aquino merely so desperate for achievements, and obsessed with his fantasy of winning a Nobel, that he became so willing to sell the Republic so he could claim that he brought peace to Mindanao?

TIGLAO'S EARLIER COLUMN

MILF to have own police force; won’t lay down arms yet
by RIGOBERTO TIGLAO on JANUARY 28, 2014

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda melodramatically declared on Saturday at the signing ceremonies of the so-called “Annex on Normalization” by President Aquino’s negotiators and those of the insurgent Moro Islamic Liberation Front: “To those who ask what will define the Aquino presidency, I say, today is a defining moment.”

I couldn’t agree with Lacierda more.

Aquino’s pact—and all its annexes such as this most recent one—defines his regime, even his personality: A farce, buttressed by empty rhetoric and a timid media.

Aquino’s agreements with the MILF would be merely comedic footnotes in a future history of our country if not for the fact that these have created a time bomb, bound to explode if not during his term, then when a new administration comes in.

The big reason for this, as I have written in several columns both here and in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, is that Aquino and his negotiators promised the MILF the moon in order just to put a peacemaker feather on his cap. (Refer especially to “Aquino-MILF pact a curse on the nation,” PDI, October 25, 2012).

Aquino even thought he was on such a roll, dramatically meeting with MILF leaders in Tokyo in August 2011 and then having the “Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro” signed in October 2012, that he would be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in time for its February 2013 nomination deadline.


Under Aquino’s pact with MILF, its mujahideen will become the Bangsamoro police.

Having been promised their substate—the “Bangsamoro entity”—the MILF of course agreed so swiftly to the “Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro” and its four “annexes.” (The use of the term “Bangsamoro” is so revealing, as it means Moro Nation, with “nation” referring to a “nation-state.”)

Supreme Court approval required

However, everything Aquino promised the MILF would have first to be okayed by the Supreme Court since three suits have been filed there alleging its unconstitutionality. Given the fact that the High Tribunal in 2008 ruled as unconstitutional the Memorandum Agreement on Ancestral Domain (the MOA-AD), it is almost certain the Court will also throw out Aquino’s Bangsamoro pact.

Why? The MOA-AD, as it were, was a “lite” version of Aquino’s Bangsamoro Framework Agreement. On a scale of 1 to 10, and giving the MILF its own independent state at 10, Aquino’s Bangsamoro pact would be at 8, and the MOA-AD at 2—for it wasn’t even a pact but a proposal, a mere a memorandum for a pact

Even Aquino’s “Bangsamoro Framework Agreement” recognized the fact that it would require amending the Constitution if it is to be implemented, since among other reasons, our Constitution is silent on the creation of such a substate as the “Bangsamoro Entity.”

The agreement’s Section VII paragraph (b) requires the government “To work on proposals to amend the Philippine Constitution for the purpose of accommodating and entrenching in the Constitution the agreements of the Parties whenever necessary without derogating from any prior peace agreements.” But Aquino has already announced that he isn’t interested in changing the Charter.

Even assuming that the Court would rule Aquino’s pact constitutional, a hurdle just as big is that the agreements wouldn’t move an inch forward unless the Congress approves these by passing a “Bangsamoro Basic Law” that would contain all the provisions of the framework agreement and its annexes.

Isabela and Cotabato cities

Under Aquino’s pact, the Bangsamoro entity will be the government not only of the current Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Magundanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, but also the cities of Isabela and Cotabato which voted in 2001 to reject inclusion in the ARMM.

Congress would also have to pass a law—if that is at all possible—that would abrogate the 1996 Final Peace Agreement with the MNLF which created the ARMM, since the MILF’s Bangsamoro entity would replace that entity. What makes such abrogation of that MNLF pact difficult if not impossible is that it was based on the 1976 Tripoli Agreement, which is considered an international treaty.

Aquino promised the creation of the Bangsamoro state in October 2012, when his popularity was as its height and he had Congress under his thumb because of his control of pork barrel funds. Indeed, his success in getting a landslide vote in May 2012 in the Congress—even the opposition in the Senate sided with him— to boot out Chief Justice Corona convinced him he could do whatever he wished during his term.

But now his popularity has started its decline; there are no more pork-barrel funds, and he is a lame-duck president. It is neigh impossible for him now to ask Congress to jump at his bidding, and pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

The last “annex” signed, the “Annex on Normalization” confirms Aquino’s will to disregard for the Constitution. It has even made an imminent threat the worst nightmare of non-Muslims in Mindanao: the MILF’s armed forces being legalized as a police force.

Former President Fidel Ramos’ “Final Peace Agreement” in 1996 called for the gradual disbandment of the Moro National Liberation Front—from which the MILF broke away—with the MNLF fighters’ being integrated into the military or the Philippine National Police. Some 3,000 of MNLF’s officers and soldiers reportedly joined the military and the PNP, with some of them having demonstrated their loyalty by risking and even sacrificing their lives in battles with terrorists and even the MILF armies.

An MILF police
Aquino’s latest “Annex on Normalization” on the other hand would allow the MILF to organize its own police force. It even implicitly requires the government to make a “gesture of goodwill” by undertaking programs to make the MILF’s six military camps productive—instead of wiping out any trace of them. At the top of the annex list of these camps is the MILF’s former headquarters, Camp Abubakar as-Siddique, in Maguindanao, which then President Estrada’s military conquered in 2000.

The Annex’s section A (entitled “Policing”), section 1 specifies that a “police force for the Bangsamoro” (will be created) whose primary function will be “law enforcement and maintenance of peace and order in the Bangsamoro.” Its section 2 provides that the “Police force for the Bangsamoro” “will be responsible both to the Central Government and the Bangsamoro Government . . .”

No amount of careful word play would conceal the fact that this provision patently violates the Constitution and even the basic definition of a sovereign state, which is that it has the sole legal monopoly on the use of force.

Article XVI, Section 6 of our constitution reads:

“The State shall establish and maintain one police force, which shall be national in scope and civilian in character, to be administered and controlled by a national police commission.“ (Emphasis mine.).

Several laws in the 1990s implemented this provision of our constitution passed in 1987, and abolished the Philippine Constabulary and the Integrated National Police to create a single “Philippine National Police” (PNP), administered by the National Police Commission, which is chaired by the interior and local government secretary with two other members who are required to be confirmed by Congress.

Aquino’s “Annex on Normalization” creates a separate “police force for the Bangsamoro,” answerable to the “Central Government” and the “Bangsamoro Government” controlled by the MILF.

Decommissioning?
“MILF rebels ready to lay down arms,” the headline of the Philippine Star and that of the web version of ABS-CBN News read. “Body to oversee decommissioning of MILF arms,” was that of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, as if that would happen soon.

But when will “decommissioning” actually start, when will the MILF surrender its first AK-47?

Section C, paragraph 9 tells us when: “The decommissioning of MILF forces shall be parallel and commensurate to the implementation of all the agreements of the Parties.”

But the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement and its annexes aren’t worth the papers it is written—and aren’t real agreements—until Congress passes the Bangsamoro Basic Law which would contain its provisions. The “Framework Agreement” is a misnomer: it is a framework, but not a binding agreement until Congress adopts it by passing that “Basic Law.” And it will not be constitutional until the Charter is amended.

Therefore, the first MILF rifle will be laid down and the very first MILF fighter will return to civilian life only when Congress passes that “Bangsamoro Basic Law” which would implement the agreements. I don’t think Congress will ever pass such a law.

And when Congress shows no sign of passing that law, the MILF would then feel betrayed, and feel bitter umbrage having been used for Aquino’s image-building project. As is his wont, Aquino would then blame Congress for the ensuing bloodshed.

I strongly suggest that whoever our next President will be should now prepare a Plan B to defuse that MILF wrath.

FROM MANILA BULLETIN

Win war, but lose face by Ambssador Jose A. Zaide April 3, 2014

Despite Chinese requests to delay it, PH filed its memorandum (called a Memorial in international law) challenging before the United Nations China’s territorial claims over South Of China Sea.

Win War, But Lose Face

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

China’s 9-dash line claims almost the entire South China Sea as its own.

But how cum India does not claim all of the Indian Ocean?

An Executive Order renamed our territorial claim West Philippine Sea. What’s wrong with the old name Luzon Sea which was recognized by international cartographers?

SITUATION HOPELESS, BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE.

Former ambassador to the UN Lauro Baja said, “When we filed a case against China at the UN that was the end of diplomacy.” The Chinese Charge d’ Affaires added, “In our culture, bringing someone to court is like assaulting him.”

The submission of the 4,000-page Memorial to the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague locks in positions. But the Chinese Charge d’Affaires in Manila said China is hopeful that the dispute could still be settled through negotiations.

Legal experts are concerned that the UNCLOS Arbitral Tribunal would consider the issues raised by the Philippines as territorial disputes. The Tribunal decides only on disputes on overlapping maritime zones, while the International Court of Justice decides on territorial disputes. Moreover, China has refused to participate in the arbitration.

ON THE GROUND AND AT SEA.

The DFA protested the act of Chinese vessels that harassed Saturday a civilian resupply ship, initially preventing it from carrying out its mission. “to re-supply, re-provision, and rotate troops on board BRP Sierra Madre (LT-57) at Ayungin Shoal.”

The BRP Sierra Madre, a rusting barnacled hand-me-down US WW 2 vintage vessel was run aground at the Ayungin Shoal. Was it an inspired move by former Presdient Fidel V. Ramos to assert and position our claim with both an atoll and a vessel with a fluttering Philippine flag?

The Ayungin is located 150 nautical miles from Palawan and within our EEZ; China claims it from its historical maps. Interestingly, despite its known mandarins and scribes recording all quotidian transactions, the Middle Kingdom has no recorded accounting within the 9 dashes.

The recent relief convoy with media on board was able to dodge the harassing Chinese coast guards and carry out its mission. But we may not be so lucky next time to get past Chinese blockade.

During the Cold War, Russia tried to cut off West Berlin, but the heroic B-29 bombers shuttled food and coal to the beleaguered city. Neither side wanted to escalate the confrontation, and when Russia saw that it was losing the propaganda war, the blockade was lifted.

“THE MOUSE THAT ROARED.”

In a vintage Peter Sellers film, a bankrupt medieval kingdom attacked the USA in a tugboat with men in breastplate armor, hoping to lose the war and to recover through Marshall Plan reparations. Wiser counsel (“But what if we win?”) didn’t prevail.

If push comes to shove, the Chinese could blow the BRP Sierra Madre out of water. Moreover, nobody expects to get reparations vs. China.

But the prayer is that China knows it will win the war, but will lose face. FEEDBACK: jaz_aide@yahoo.com

Miriam strikes again By Jojo Robles | Apr. 04, 2014 at 12:01am

See, this is why we need a Miriam Defensor-Santiago: to expose the stupid, shame the unthinking and poke fun at the self-important. Many times, I’ve wondered if the existence of all of Congress is not actually justified simply because Miriam is in the Senate.

Santiago minced no words when she declared that the new Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro is unconstitutional. In a speech in Olongapo City, the noted constitutionalist and feisty lawmaker said the pact contained provisions that were “beyond ridiculous.”

Miriam said her preliminary reading of the agreement showed that it has provisions similar to those of the Arroyo-era Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain that the Supreme Court had declared unconstitutional. “Both the MoA-AD and the Bangsamoro Agreement appear to facilitate the secession of the Bangsamoro from our country, in a manner similar to the secession of Kosovo and Crimea,” she said.

Citing one example, Santiago said the agreement states that one of the functions of the Bansgamoro Transition Commission is “[t]o work on proposals to amend the Philippine Constitution for the purpose of accommodating and entrenching in the Constitution the agreements of the Parties whenever necessary without derogating from any prior past agreements.”

To which Miriam could only respond: “Say again? What?” The agreement, she said, grants the consent of the Executive branch to amend the Constitution, in order to accommodate the agreement.

“The basic function of a Constitution is to list the powers of the state and the rights of the citizens. The Constitution is a list of sovereign powers reserved for the government, meaning to say, all the three branches. This is the principle of constitutional supremacy. It is beyond ridiculous to state that the Constitution should accommodate agreements whenever necessary,” she said.

Palace spokesmen and the people who crafted the agreement rushed to placate Santiago, saying they intend to sit down with her to explain that no constitutional provisions have been violated. I wish them luck as they try, with all the individual and collective intelligence at their command, to match wits with Miriam.

But I’ve already said this before: the Aquino government and its negotiators with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front appeared to be in such a mad rush to check the box on their list which said “make peace in Mindanao” that they didn’t even bother to make their agreement any different from the MoA-AD. And that is why the pact could also run aground in the Supreme Court – some of whose members still remember how they shot down Arroyo’s own agreement with MILF.

And it’s only Santiago, among this country’s respected constitutional experts, who has weighed in against the Bangsamoro pact so far. But then, Miriam has always been ahead of the curve.

* * *

I am glad that the University of the Philippines has allowed four students from its Manila campus to graduate, after officials of that unit prevented them from doing so because they had been late in paying for their fees. The four students had been considered unregistered because they had not paid, but they signed up for their classes anyway, did the course work and passed, thus qualifying them academically for graduation.

All four—Christian Reynan I. Durana, Mark Reinere D. Policarpio, Mark Ezekiel Quinto and Clive Kevin Robert V. Arguelles—claimed that they did not have the money to enroll because of financial difficulties, but were somehow able to raise the funds before the end of the last term, when they asked to be allowed to graduate and offered to pay. But officials of UP Manila, sticking to their rules on registration and enlistment to classes, would not accept their payments and denied their request to graduate.

According to university rules, revised after the recent suicide of Kristel Tejada, a student who cannot pay enrollment fees should apply for a student loan and will automatically get approval. The new rules also did away with the 80 percent limit on student loans and the 6 percent interest charge, if a student pays within the semester.

Some in UP believe that the four students deliberately did not pay their fees and refused to apply for loans to embarrass the Manila officials, even if they fully understood the rules. Their professors, according to this theory, conspired with them and allowed them to attend classes, even if they were technically no longer UP students.

According to the same theory, the four students were part of an elaborate plot to expose the officials of UP Manila as heartless bureaucrats who hadn’t learned anything from the tragic Tejada case. Tejada, of course, was the youthful Manila coed who killed herself after she was refused enrollment at Padre Faura because her parents could no longer send her to school.

But regardless of whether or not the four had a political agenda (Arguelles is a former student regent and a known campus radical), I’m glad UP set aside its rules and allowed them to graduate. UP is all about academic excellence, after all, not about the rules on registration and payment; if a student can pass all his or her courses, he or she should be allowed to graduate—everything else is bureaucracy.

Thank you, UP, for showing that you haven’t forgotten your priorities of honor and excellence. It makes this old Diliman alum proud.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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