EDITORIALS & OPINIONS OF THE WEEK:
(Mini Reads followed by Full Commentary below)

FROM THE MANILA TIMES

OPINION: GANG RAPE OF THE CONSTITUTION


by FR. JOEL TABORA, S.J. Fr. Tabora, S.J is the current president of Ateneo De Davao University. He is an educator with a doctorate in philosophy who specializes in Marxism. THERE is a gang rape ongoing. It is led by Speaker Sonny Belmonte and his gang of rapacious congressmen. It is to be joined by like-spirited senators. It is not a simple rape. It is multiple rape, violent and vicious. The victim: the Constitution. The rapacious organ? The phrase: “unless otherwise provided by law,” inserted violently over and over again to kill the Constitution’s protection of the Filipino patrimony and its mandate to social justice. In the national disarray that has seen the nation’s advocates for social justice divided – ironically – on the constitutionality of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, on the constitutionality of the K-12 basic education reform, and the ferocious unfinished debate about the presidential qualification or disqualification of a man alleged to be thoroughly corrupt and of a damsel presumed to be Filipina, the rape is proceeding surreptitiously to subjugate the Constitution to a sinister will whose master appears to be “more investments” (see the “whereas” clauses) but whose real masters seem to be big local business or powerful foreign interests. With practically no serious national discussion on the rationale and the effects of the proposed constitutional amendments, the “Resolution of Both Houses No. 01” was passed by the House viva voce without actual quorum, on the understanding that the Senate is immediately to follow their rapacious action as a matter of urgency. READ MORE...

ALSO: TIGLAO COMMENTARY INCLUDING Statement of the Association of General and Flag Officers delivered by Lt.Gen. Edilberto P Adan (Ret), June 3, 2015, at the Senate Committee Hearing on the Basic Bangsamoro Law

Commentary: Generals, admirals oppose BBL


by RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO <@ http://www.rigobertotiglao.com/
Hardly given media coverage was the position paper of the country’s Association of Generals and Flag Officers (AGFO), a decades-old organization of retired generals with star rank. Retired Lt. Gen. Edilberto Adan read out AGFO’s stand in a hearing of the Senate committee deliberating the Bangsamoro Basic Law. The position paper’s introduction partly answers the question why the AGFO members’ views should be seriously considered by Congress: “Many of them are veterans of the campaigns against insurgency and terrorism in Mindanao. As veterans, we experienced the scourge and cruelties of war, its physical, mental and psychological demands.”  A practical reason for listening to the retired generals is that they have had actual experience not only in dealing with insurgent forces, but also with the chain of command, knowing how this really works. Compared with these retired officers, our negotiators Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and her boss, Teresita Deles, are spoiled brats around which the wolves of insurgency are running circles. Only President Aquino, among the presidents of this republic, has assigned civilians and bleeding-heart give-peace-a-chance NGO types to negotiate a deal with a powerful insurgent force. Compare Ferrer and Deles with negotiators of past presidents, such as Marcos chief negotiator with the MNLF Manuel Yan, a distinguished general and diplomat; Ramos’ and Arroyo’s first negotiator with MILF, General Eduardo Ermita; and you will understand why the BBL was agreed upon that so plainly will allow the MILF to amass strength in its own territory to eventually secede it from the Philippines. READ MORE plus transcript of AGFO statement....READ MORE...

ALSO EDITORIAL: Regrettable, insensitive remarks about China
[On the Forbes magazine website, Jean-Pierre Lehmann writes:  “To compare the South China Sea to the Sudetenland displays amazing ignorance, worrying on the part of the head of State of one of the countries concerned.” ]


Aquino made a veiled comparison between China and Nazi Germany' s expansionism before the World War II with regard to the two countries' territorial disputes in the South China Sea and called on the United States to play a role in stopping China's rising might in his speech during a tour of Japan on Wednesday. His previous similar 'Nazi' attack on China was made in an interview with the New York Times last year. Xinhua 2015-06-06 17:19 (GMT+8) OF course, President Aquino should stand up against any power that threatens Philippine interests. Of course, the President should spare no effort in protecting every inch of our territory. But comparing China to Nazi Germany is not only wrong, it is also counterproductive in finding a peaceful settlement to the territorial dispute. The Palace’s attempt at damage control as stated by Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte was equally wrong. She said over the weekend the President was merely standing up for the rights of Filipinos. President Aquino could have done that without being insensitive and cruel, particularly to those who remember history. Naturally, China is fuming. Worse, the latest inflammatory remarks by President Aquino was delivered in Japan. Allied with Nazi Germany in World War II, Japan invaded the Philippines and China and committed atrocities for which Japanese leaders have yet to apologize. China’s ambassador to Manila, Zhao Jianhua, said recently that the Chinese have never invaded the Philippines, tortured Filipinos, or kept “comfort women.”  Apparently, the Chinese were not the only ones upset over the comparison. On the Forbes magazine website, Jean-Pierre Lehmann writes: “When last year Philippine President Benigno Aquino compared China’s stance in the South China Sea to that of Nazi Germany’s annexation of the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia before the outbreak of World War II, it was inappropriate, irresponsible and inflammatory. To have done so again, in a speech in Tokyo on Wednesday 3rd June, borders on the incredulous. Aquino should certainly refrain from such comparisons in the future.”

ALSO: Drop this ‘Bangsamoro’ nonsense now
[Senator Ferdinand Marcos is absolutely correct: Just amend, to incorporate the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s legitimate demands, the law on the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).]


by RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO 
Whatever law Congress would pass as its version of the BBL, it must drop the term “Bangsamoro.” Senator Ferdinand Marcos is absolutely correct: Just amend, to incorporate the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s legitimate demands, the law on the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). That’s what President Ramos did in the case of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which was largely successful. Some 6,000 MNLF fighters were gradually integrated into the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces. Many of them even fought and were killed in fighting the Abu Sayyaf and other Islamic jihadist groups. There is, after all, no such “Bangsamoro” (“BM”) in our Constitution, only “autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras.” That is, in fact, the sole mention of “Muslim” in the entire Constitution. For very good reasons: There are really no Christians, Muslims, pagans, atheists as a sub-classification of Filipinos in this Republic: There are only Filipinos. Who the hell gave President Aquino and Congress the right to create a new nation BM and for a people in Mindanao to be called BM? I have written about it before, and I will write about it again and again to the equivalent of my voice getting hoarse in shouting about it: “Bangsamoro” is essentially hogwash. It is an artificial term invented by MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari in the 1970s, of the same invented genre as the Philippine Communist Party’s “National Democracy,” and later adopted by the breakaway group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). For this Administration to have accepted the MILF’s idea of it without question, to enact a law with the term, and then call a region BM is utter stupidity, and utter capitulation to the insurgent’s ideology. To even use the term in a watered-down version of the BBL is to help the MILF create in the future its own insurgent nation. READ MORE...

ALSO EDITORIAL: No flag-waving where it matters
[What we get now are motherhood statements, the very same ones made by Aquino’s predecessors, from 1946 to 2010, a case of hearing one and hearing all, and one that ironically gets lapped up by generations of Filipinos to whom independence seems to have no meaning at all.]


INDEPENDENCE Day should be an occasion for bragging – with false modesty, of course – by any country, of its landmark economic, political, social and, yes, military achievements in the years after it frees itself from colonial, oppressive overlords. In the case of the Philippines, the latter are the Spaniards, the Americans and the Japanese. President Benigno Aquino 3rd chose to mark it differently by singing praises of Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd, presumably his anointed candidate in 2016 to succeed him as the country’s leader. The President, instead, should have spoken about Filipinos not going hungry, not having to make dropouts of their children whom they can no longer afford to send to school, not having to bear with a mother who opts to work as a maid in a richer country to make both ends meet for the family she leaves behind, not having to eat for breakfast such news as the monumental corruption that has entrenched people in high places and not seeing them get away with it. That explains the Roxas to-do, and we are the sorrier lot for the cheap politicking that already happens every day and yet still be the non-topic that occupies the mind of Aquino on a day like this. Of course, there is the traditional wreath-laying and speech-giving before some statue of Rizal in some plaza in the country where most people do not even know any difference made on their lives by the incumbent President of the Philippines and the ones that came before him. READ MORE....

ALSO:  It’s not self-indulgence, it’s reform


by YEN MAKABENTA
THAT’S the response we are likely to get from Malacañang Palace if some of us have the temerity to ask why President BS Aquino moved the official commemoration of Independence Day yesterday to Iloilo City. That’s especially so if the manner of questioning suggests that the decision appears to be an act of self-indulgence, whim and frivolity – as frivolous as his decision two years ago to move the annual commemoration of the EDSA People Power revolt from where it happened to Cebu City. But still, we have to ask because to implement this unprecedented change in our freedom day celebration, we did not only have to move scores of government officials and military personnel to the new commemoration site. Government also had to move the traditional vin d’honneur ceremony to Iloilo, and had to transport members of the diplomatic corps, including the papal nuncio, there. What great state purpose is served or achieved by performing this enormous logistical feat on such short notice?  Not the most rational president We have to ask because truly President Aquino is not the most rational and thoughtful person to serve in the highest office of the land.READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA EDITORIALS & OPINIONS  HERE:

OPINION: Gang rape of the Constitution


FR. JOEL TABORA, S.J.

MANILA, JUNE 15, 2015 (MANILA TIMES) June 7, 2015 9:21 pm - THERE is a gang rape ongoing. It is led by Speaker Sonny Belmonte and his gang of rapacious congressmen. It is to be joined by like-spirited senators. It is not a simple rape. It is multiple rape, violent and vicious. The victim: the Constitution.

The rapacious organ? The phrase: “unless otherwise provided by law,” inserted violently over and over again to kill the Constitution’s protection of the Filipino patrimony and its mandate to social justice.

In the national disarray that has seen the nation’s advocates for social justice divided – ironically – on the constitutionality of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, on the constitutionality of the K-12 basic education reform, and the ferocious unfinished debate about the presidential qualification or disqualification of a man alleged to be thoroughly corrupt and of a damsel presumed to be Filipina, the rape is proceeding surreptitiously to subjugate the Constitution to a sinister will whose master appears to be “more investments” (see the “whereas” clauses) but whose real masters seem to be big local business or powerful foreign interests.

With practically no serious national discussion on the rationale and the effects of the proposed constitutional amendments, the “Resolution of Both Houses No. 01” was passed by the House viva voce without actual quorum, on the understanding that the Senate is immediately to follow their rapacious action as a matter of urgency.

READ MORE...
With no free, informed, prior consent of their constituents, with the resolution still unpublished in the official congressional website, approval without amendment was endorsed by the House Committee on May 3, 2015 “that by a vote of three –fourths (3/4) of all its Members, each House voting separately, and pursuant to Article VII of the Constitution, to propose amendments to Articles XII, XIV & XVI of the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, with the following proposals…” Incredibly, the House has approved this rape.

The Senate has calendared its participation in it.

For instance, pertinent to “all lands of the public domain, waters, mineral, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fishers, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna and other natural resources …owned by the state” the Constitution provides, “The State may directly undertake such activities, or it may enter into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or association at least 60 per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens.”

To this provision the joint congressional resolution now inserts: “unless otherwise provided by law.”

The Constitutional provision precisely aimed at laying the ground rules in the national interest for all valid laws pertinent to such corporations exploiting the Filipino patrimony, is de-fanged by a killer provision that allows any law to disrespect or contradict this provision.

“Unless otherwise provided by law” is license for lawmakers to craft laws in the best interest of foreign investors. We cannot say that such legislative treason is beyond lawmakers.

Consider the current Philippine Mining Act (RA 7942) that allows foreigners to exploit Philippine minerals in a manner fully disadvantageous to the Filipino people.

This was acknowledged in President Aquino’s. E.O 79 on mining. The Constitution safeguards the national patrimony for the Filipino people, but the resolution allows lawmakers to totally disregard it.

For instance, pertinent to “Land of the public domain …classified as agriculture, forest or timber, mineral lands and national parks,” the Constitution provides: “Private corporations or associations may not hold such alienable lands of the public domain except by lease for a period not exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for not more than twenty-five years, and not to exceed one thousand hectares in area.”

To this provision, the resolution appends, “unless otherwise provided by law.”

This means that despite the Constitutional limits on the length of time a corporation may hold land and despite the Constitutional limitation to the size of land that may be held, Congress may legislate that owners, Filipino or foreign, may hold and exploit lands of the public domain, like mineral lands, for two hundred years.

But what happens if the mining interests and activities of such a company displaces indigenous peoples like the B’laan of South Cotabato and threatens the integrity of the fresh water supply of Mindanao?

What happens if a foreign company, that can be Swiss, Canadian or Chinese, is so capital strong that it can handle mineral exploration and exploitation in 25,000 hectares of our national patrimony, and does so, not to contribute to the development of the Philippine common weal but to maximize its profits and strengthen its own foreign economy?

Would not such investments deprive the Philippine economy of valuable irreplaceable minerals its own entrepreneurs may wish to mine, exploit and utilize in the interests of the Philippine economy?

For instance, pertinent to Philippine education, the Philippine Constitution provides: “Educational institutions, other than those established by religious groups and mission boards, shall be owned solely by citizens of the Philippines or corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of the capital of which is owned by such citizens.”

To this safeguard the resolution now inserts the rapacious clause, “unless otherwise provided by law.” This means that law may provide that schools owned, operated and controlled by foreigners may now operate in our country.

The rapacious clause does not limit this to higher education, where academic freedom is more appropriate, nor elucidate the framework within which foreign universities might interact with local universities.

It would allow fully foreign owned and foreign controlled schools to operate even on the level of basic education where foundational life-long values of the students are formed.

What if a school spouting the values of materialism in global free-market world has no interest in the value, makabayan, and no interest in the promotion of the Filipino common weal?

This rape is vicious because it hurts precisely those people which the Constitution seeks to help, the socially disadvantaged, the marginalized, the excluded, under the alibi of bringing in more investments.

At least a discussion, similar to that on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law or the K-12 reform, of the proposed Constitutional amendments in the light of the social justice provisions of the Constitution and a genuine national dialogue on the desirability of the changes should have preceded the approvals.

Where the Constitution is involved, more real thought should have been provided by our legislators to specify the changes desired rather than the use of the rapacious clause “unless otherwise provided by law” to cover their theoretical vacuity.

The changes proposed do not dismantle the “economy that excludes,” which Pope Francis condemns in EvangeliiGaudium (# 53-54). They strengthen it.

Finally, the gang rape opens up the Constitution to change of any of its other provisions. Defensive statements of legislators that this is not so are neither credible nor true.

That means, from a constituent assembly or constitutional convention called prior to the next election to amend “economic provisions” of the constitutions, other provisions of the Constitution like the mandate for autonomous regions, the protection of academic freedom, and term limits may be disturbed. To do this before a regular national election is insane.

It may even create a scenario where no elections are possible, extending the President’s term without a formal extension.

The multiple gang rape of the Constitution is a heinous crime.


JUNE 7 ---TIGLAO COMMENTARY INCLUDING Statement of the Association of General and Flag Officers delivered by Lt.Gen. Edilberto P Adan (Ret), June 3, 2015, at the Senate Committee Hearing on the Basic Bangsamoro Law

Generals, admirals oppose BBL June 7, 2015 10:48 pm RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO


by RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

Hardly given media coverage was the position paper of the country’s Association of Generals and Flag Officers (AGFO), a decades-old organization of retired generals with star rank. Retired Lt. Gen. Edilberto Adan read out AGFO’s stand in a hearing of the Senate committee deliberating the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

The position paper’s introduction partly answers the question why the AGFO members’ views should be seriously considered by Congress: “Many of them are veterans of the campaigns against insurgency and terrorism in Mindanao.

As veterans, we experienced the scourge and cruelties of war, its physical, mental and psychological demands.”

A practical reason for listening to the retired generals is that they have had actual experience not only in dealing with insurgent forces, but also with the chain of command, knowing how this really works. Compared with these retired officers, our negotiators Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and her boss, Teresita Deles, are spoiled brats around which the wolves of insurgency are running circles.

Only President Aquino, among the presidents of this republic, has assigned civilians and bleeding-heart give-peace-a-chance NGO types to negotiate a deal with a powerful insurgent force.

Compare Ferrer and Deles with negotiators of past presidents, such as Marcos chief negotiator with the MNLF Manuel Yan, a distinguished general and diplomat; Ramos’ and Arroyo’s first negotiator with MILF, General Eduardo Ermita; and you will understand why the BBL was agreed upon that so plainly will allow the MILF to amass strength in its own territory to eventually secede it from the Philippines.

READ MORE...
In a press conference in April, chief negotiator Ferrer said that if the BBL wasn’t approved, there would be “very, very bloody war.”

What kind of a negotiator would simply accept such a threat from a rebel group? Any rational administration would have fired such a negotiator the day that was said.

You can download the AGFO statement in the internet version of this column.

Some of the most important points of that paper:

§ “Conspicuously absent in these documents is an MILF’s renunciation of its separatist policy with the intent of establishing an Islamic State covering Mindanao, Sulu, and Palawan. Nowhere in these papers can one find an MILF undertaking to renounce its policy of separatism and goal of independence, as well as to affirm or acknowledge the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines. Plainly noticeable in them, though, is that the MILF is ranked equal or in partnership with the GPH, and that equality of relationship is expressly recognized as such in their provisions.

§ The BBL reference to the Bangsamoro’s “Aspiration for Self-governance.” Without any qualification, this phrase can be interpreted as either independence in running one’s own affairs, or managing one’s affairs independent of external control. Thus, duality of interpretation can give the MILF the opportunity to tailor it to its goal. It can be used to justify a declaration of independence later. The Bangsamoro people are allowed to “chart their political future.” Since the term is ambiguous, it can easily be construed as an end-state of autonomy or independence, depending on one’s purpose.

§ The proposed Bangsamoro police shall be responsible both to the central government and the Bangsamoro government and the communities it serves. This requirement violates unity of command of the PNP from the President as Commander-in-Chief down to the lowest unit of the organization. It will likewise put the head of the Bangsamoro police in a dilemma whenever conflict arises between orders from the PNP National Headquarters and the head of the Bangsamoro government.

Under Section 8, Powers of the Chief Minister over the Bangsamoro police, the Chief Minister shall exercise the following powers:(1) To select the head of the Bangsamoro police and his deputies; (2) To exercise operational control and supervision and disciplinary powers over the Bangsamoro police;(3) To employ or deploy the elements of and assign or reassign the Bangsamoro police thru the Bangsamoro police director.

We believe this provision will be a continuing source of conflict between the chief of the Philippine National Police, and possibly the Secretary of the Interior and Local Government/Chair of NAPOLCOM, in regard to PNP administration and operations. This is because the PNP chief will treat the Bangsamoro police as a subordinate unit/office of the PNP while the Bangsamoro government will look at the Bangsamoro police as “their police force,” and therefore, subject to the Chief Minister’s command and control in all circumstances.

§ Section 15 provides that the central government “may create a Bangsamoro Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines…” We recommend the deletion of this provision. No operational or area command is (presently) mandated by law; their establishment is based on the threat situation and geographic considerations among others.

§ Section 17 provides that the central government and the Bangsamoro government shall establish coordination protocols, which shall govern the movement of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the Bangsamoro.

The recent experience of the AFP in following such “coordination protocols” with the MILF is a sad story of military disasters resulting in numerous casualties, including the mutilation of our soldiers. Military operations require utmost secrecy to ensure success. Information leaks could lead to ambushes and casualties. Thus, based on military doctrines and actual experiences of the AFP such as in Basilan province, the “coordination protocols” for purely military operations being proposed to be established in the Bangsamoro law should be deleted.

Moreover, the AFP should have unrestricted authority to move or deploy troops, equipment and other military assets wherever and whenever such deployment or movements are deemed necessary in pursuit of the AFP mission mandated by the Constitution. The power and authority of the President to employ or deploy the AFP should not, in any way or manner, be diminished. We recommend that this principle be made a part of the proposed law on the Bangsamoro.

§ The CAB is unlike the peace agreements forged between some foreign countries and the militant separatist groups they respectively dealt with. On the other hand, because the DDR’s were deemed imperatives, the foreign countries indicated them in their respective agreements clearly and in a rather comprehensive and detailed manner.

The agreement between the government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement, or Gerakin Aceh Merdeka (GAM), is an example. It provided that GAM had to hand over at least 840 arms within three months after the agreement was signed – and this was completed. With regard to the covenant entered into between the United Kingdom, on the one hand, and Ireland as well as Northern Ireland, on the other, it clearly indicated that there had to be a total disarmament of all para-military organizations (like the Irish Republican Army, or IRA) and the decommissioning of all arms in the possession of all those organizations in two years – and this was done.

The agreements with the MILF directs it to decommission “its forces so that they are put beyond use”… The four phases of the program relate to voluntary registration of firearms and not handing over of firearms to the Philippine government. Not mentioned in the phasing out are high-powered guns, crew-served weapons, self-propelled guns, and the like. It, thus, becomes evident that the process of decommissioning is going to be long, slow and difficult, and only for small-caliber rifles.

And since it will not be implemented by both the MILF and the GPH in a joint manner but by the MILF alone, there can be no telling when implementation will be completed, that is, if it will be completed at all.

Meanwhile, that the long and uncertain procedure of decommissioning is supposed to be ongoing, the probability is not remote that the MILF may exploit the time to beef up its arms and equipment, quantity- and quality-wise, and fine-tune its military organization. “

And when the MILF forces shall have achieved the status or category of a standard army, then, likewise, the probability is not remote that the MILF – confident of support from other countries, would now repudiate the agreements it has made with the GPH, claiming the latter’s inability to comply with its obligations under those agreements, declare its independence and establish an Islamic state in the Philippine south.” tiglao.manlatimes@gmail.com  FB: Bobi Tiglao

* * *

Statement of the Association of General and Flag Officers delivered by Lt.Gen. Edilberto P Adan (Ret), June 3, 2015, at the Senate Committee Hearing on the Basic Bangsamoro Law

(Note: This position paper is an amalgamation of the analyses and recommendations made by Col. Cesar Pobre Ph.D. and former DND Sec. Renato De Villa. Their papers were adopted by the AGFO and the PMAAA-BIRCI as their stand on the Bangsamoro Basic Law issue. This paper is supported by several groups of retired officers and veterans.)


Lt.Gen. Edilberto P Adan (Ret)

Good morning Mr. Chairman, your Honors…

INTRODUCTION In behalf of the Assocation of General and Flag Officers, the retired members of the PMAAA, the PNP, the PCG, and as well as the BJMP and BFP, let me express our appreciation of your kind invitation for us to attend this hearing on the proposed BBL.

Members of these and other brother organizations are retired officers. Many of them are veterans of the campaigns against insurgency and terrorism in Mindanao.

As veterans, we experienced the scourge and cruelties of war, its physical, mental and psychological demands. We had to suffer the tormenting thought of leaving personal comfort and family behind, though unmindful that in putting our lives on the line we could come anytime into that fateful moment when “bells for us are rung, and our last taps is sung.”

And so when we say, “we abhor war, we long and crave for peace, lasting peace, just like anybody else,” please believe us. Our veterans fought for a noble cause … they saved Mindanao from separating from our republic and becoming a separate Islamic state.

WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED

The Filipino soldier time and again, has proven that when provided proper direction and adequate resources to defeat the nation’s enemies, he will prevail. This was demonstrated in the successful campaigns against the MNLF secessionist rebellion in the ’70s and the major operations against the MILF in the year 2000 in Central Mindanao.

We recognize that the military alone cannot resolve the problem in Mindanao but the problem cannot be solved without the participation of the military.

THE MILF: A REBEL GROUP

The MILF is a rebel group and rebellion is a crime punishable by the Revised Penal Code. The President has broad powers provided by our Constitution to deal with rebellion and sedition. He may call on the armed forces or he may choose the path of negotiations, the outcome of which should be within the conditions allowed by the laws of the land.

THE BBL: AN INSTRUMENT OF PEACE?

The proposed BBL is touted to be precisely that instrument of peace, the solution to the decades-old strife in Mindanao. But in our view, as the derivative of two covenants – The Framework Agreement and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro – the BBL in its present form and substance, may not prove to be that instrument.

This is because it contains provisions which can create more problems that it can solve. Also, it lacks provisions that will ensure its workability and prevent the dismemberment of our country.

OUR ASSESSMENT OF THE CAB, THE FAB AND THE BBL A. On the FAB and CAB, in general

1. Conspicuously absent in these documents is an MILF’s renunciation of its separatist policy with the intent of establishing an Islamic State covering Mindanao, Sulu, and Palawan. Nowhere in these papers can one find an MILF undertaking to renounce its policy of separatism and goal of independence, as well as to affirm or acknowledge the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines.

Plainly noticeable in them, though, is that the MILF is ranked equal or in partnership with the GPH, and that equality of relationship is expressly recognized as such in their provisions. Here are some examples:

    a. Repetitious mentioning of the phrase “The Philippine Government and the Bangsamoro Government.” If the spirit of the agreements is for the Bangsamoro to remain under the RP as an autonomous entity, then, it might have been more appropriate to use “Philippine Government and Autonomous Bangsamoro Region,” like the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

    b. Use of the word “asymmetric” to characterize the “relationship between the Central Government and the Bangsamoro Government.”

According to the dictionary, asymmetric means “not identical on both sides of the central line,” that is, the referent object on one side of the line is not the very same object on the other side.

That the two are positioned side by side suggests that “asymmetric” is a horizontal and not a vertical concept.

This is why the CAB describes the MILF as government in partnership with the GPH; and not a constituent part nor a subordinate of the latter.

    c. Aspiration for self-governance. Without any qualification, this phrase can be interpreted as either independence in running one’s own affairs, or managing one’s affairs independent of external control. Thus, duality of interpretation can give the MILF the opportunity to suit it to its goal. It can be used to justify a declaration of independence later.

    d. The Bangsamoro people are allowed to “chart their political future.” Since the term is ambiguous, it can easily be construed as an end-state of autonomy or independence, depending on one’s purpose.

    e. Affirming their rights to self-determination. This right, however, was shot down by the Supreme Court when it ruled out that the people’s right to self-determination does not include the unilateral right of secession.

2. Bangsamoro Participation in the Central Government. Section 9, Article VI, of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) provides:

It shall be the policy of the Central Government to appoint competent and qualified inhabitants of the Bangsamoro in the following offices of the Central Government: (1) at least one (1) Cabinet Secretary; at least one (1) in each of the other departments, offices and bureaus, holding executive, primarily confidential, highly technical, policy determining positions; and one (1) Commissioner in each of the constitutional bodies.

The recommendations of the Bangsamoro shall be channeled through the intergovernmental mechanisms.

Under the Constitution it is the President who is empowered to appoint the members of his Cabinet and heads of the various departments, offices, bureaus and constitutional bodies; even the members of the judiciary, the Sandiganbayan, GOCC’s, etc.

Therefore, to require him to pick out from a particular sector of Philippine society, like the Bangsamoro, is a stark diminution of his power, which I believe is unconstitutional.

3. A petition to accede by at least 10% of the people residing in an area contiguous to the core territory is enough to start the process of being included as part of Bangsamoro. Would this not amount to a case of tyranny of the minority over the majority, considering that only a very small number of inhabitants of a contiguous area can legally bind the rest of the population to accede to the Bangsamoro, much against their will? To be sure, that would be undemocratic.

4. The MILF cannot claim the right to represent and act in the name of all the groups of stakeholders, such as the MNLF, the traditional Muslim leaders or Datus, the Ulamas or religious leaders, the Lumads or indigenous people, the Christians, and others, in the absence of any formal declaration to that effect by each of them. For this reason, these groups are not bound by the MILF – GPH agreement. And since they will undoubtedly be affected adversely by it, the likelihood is they would oppose it and cause trouble.

B. ON BBL ARTICLE IV, GENERAL PRINCIPLES AND POLICIES

* Section 4 of Article IV provides that governance in the Bangsamoro is the responsibility of the duly elected civilian government… and that “Civilian authority is at all times supreme over the military.” We recommend that the second sentence of this Section pertaining to “civilian authority over the military” be omitted in the proposed law.

This is a provision in the Constitution under Article II. Declaration of Principles and State Policies. We believe that the phrase “civilian authority” in regard to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (military) refers to the President of the Philippines only and not to any other official of the government. Our “civilian” President is the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and he does not share that position with anybody else in government.

It will be very difficult for the AFP to take and execute orders from the civilian officials of the Bangsamoro government, as the AFP follows and maintains the doctrine that the entire organization is under the command and control of the Commander-in-Chief and operates through the established Chain-of-Command.

The military is required to operate within the bounds of law. They are also required to comply with summons from both Houses of Congress and other agencies of government conducting an official investigation when their presence is required. At the operating level, coordination between military commanders and civilian officials is the preferred approach to any situation that requires a common and cooperative effort that can be openly and publicly discussed.

C. ON BBL ARTICLE V, POWERS OF GOVERNMENT

* Under Section 1, Reserved Powers, the Central Government shall exercise as part of its reserved powers, authority and jurisdiction over Defense and External Security.

* We believe this provision limits the power of the President to address any situation with regard to national security, the threats to which may be internal or external. Thus, we recommend that this provision should be so reworded that the National Government shall have the power to exercise authority and jurisdiction on all matters pertaining to national defense and security.

D. ON BBL ARTICLE XI, PUBLIC ORDER AND SAFETY

* Under Section 2, there will be a Bangsamoro Police to be created for the primary purpose of law enforcement and maintenance of peace and order in the Bangsamoro territory… and it shall be part of the Philippine National Police.

* The central question in regard to this provision of creating a “Bangsamoro Police” is that it may be in violation of the Constitution that mandates that the “State shall establish and maintain one police force which shall be national in scope and civilian in character…”, notwithstanding the provision in the proposed law that the Bangsamoro Police “shall be part of the Philippine National Police.”

* The proposed Bangsamoro Police shall be responsible both to the Central Government and the Bangsamoro Government and the communities it serves. This requirement violates unity of command of the PNP from the President as Commander-in-Chief down to the lowest unit of the organization. It will likewise put the head of the Bangsamoro Police in a dilemma whenever there is a conflict between orders from the PNP National Headquarters and the head of the Bangsamoro government. Such predicament could mean loss of lives in an operational situation like the Luneta Hostage fiasco of 2010.

* Under Section 4, Bangsamoro Police Organization, for a period of 10 years following the enactment of the Bangsamoro Basic law, the head of the Bangsamoro Police and his deputies may be selected from a list of Bangsamoro Police Officers with the rank of Police Senior Superintendent. We believe this is impractical, divisive and discriminatory against well-qualified non-Bangsamoro Police Officers serving in the Bangsamoro area.

* Section 6 provides that the Bangsamoro Police Board shall be composed of eleven (11) members and six (6) members of which shall come from the Bangsamoro Parliament, who shall serve in concurrent capacity. We believe that this provision will encourage and provide a way for local politics to influence the administration and operations of the Bangsamoro Police if it gets established, despite the provision n Section 2 of this Article, that the Bangsamoro Police “shall be fair and impartial, free from partisan political control and accountable under the law for its actions.” Present experiences of field officers of the PNP support this apprehension. We believe it would be much better if the Bangsamoro Police Board would be manned by civilians from different professions known for their integrity and civic-mindedness in the Bangsamoro territory.

* Under Section 8, Powers of the Chief Minister over the Bangsamoro Police, the Chief Minister shall exercise the following powers:

(1) To select the head of the Bangsamoro Police and his deputies;

(2) To exercise operational control and supervision and disciplinary powers over the Bangsamoro Police;

(3) To employ or deploy the elements of and assign or reassign the Bangsamoro Police thru the Bangsamoro Police Director.

* We believe this provision will be a continuing source of conflict between the Chief, Philippine National Police, and possibly the Secretary of the Interior and Local Government/Chair of NAPOLCOM, in regard to PNP administration and operations as the Chief, PNP will treat the Bangsamoro Police as a subordinate unit/office of the PNP while the Bangsamoro Government will look at the Bangsamoro Police as “their police force’ and therefore subject to the Chief Minister’s command and control in all circumstances. This can cause demoralization and inefficiency in the ranks.

* We believe and recommend that in lieu of creating a Bangsamoro Police the Bangsamoro organic law should provide for the creation and activation of a Bangsamoro Region Police Office (BRPO), similar to the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) and other regional police offices, that will be manned, administered and function as the police force for the Bangsamoro territory, in accordance with pertinent laws, rules and regulations governing the Philippine National Police.

* The other aspects and characteristics of the proposed BRPO that are unique to the Bangsamoro government and area in regard to local requirements can be incorporated in the proposed law or document that directs the creation and activation of the Bangsamoro Regional Police Office.

* In this way, there can be no question that the constitutional mandate that the “State shall establish one police force that is national in scope and civilian in character” is being violated in the establishment of a Bangsamoro Police in Mindanao. It will also erase any apprehension that the Bangsamoro Police will metamorphose in the future into a private army of the Bangsamoro government.

E. ON BBL ARTICLE XI SECTION 15, DEFENSE AND SECURITY

* Section 15 provides that “the Central Government may create a Bangsamoro Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines…”

We recommend the deletion of this provision.

* The President and the Armed Forces of the Philippines must at all times have the flexibility to address national defense and security situations anywhere in the country at any time to protect the people and the State. Creating a subordinate command in the AFP as required by law will diminish the flexibility of the AFP to respond accordingly to a given national defense and security threat situation, especially in terms of task organizing, force mix, deployment, logistics, intelligence and combat operations. No operational or area command is mandated by law; their establishment is based on the threat situation and geographic considerations among others.

F. BBL ARTICLE XI SECTION 17, COORDINATION

* Section 17 provides that the Central Government and the Bangsamoro Government shall establish coordination protocols, which shall govern the movement of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the Bangsamoro.

* The recent experience of the AFP in following such “coordination protocols” with the MILF is a sad story of military disasters resulting to numerous casualties including the mutilation of our soldiers. Military operations require utmost secrecy to ensure success. Information leaks could lead to ambushes and casualties. Thus, based on military doctrines and actual experiences of the AFP such as in Basilan Province, the “coordination protocols” for purely military operations being proposed to be established in the Bangsamoro law should be deleted.

* Moreover, the AFP should have unrestricted authority to move or deploy troops, equipment and other military assets wherever and whenever such deployment or movements are deemed necessary in the pursuit of the AFP mission mandated by the Constitution. The power and authority of the President to employ or deploy the AFP should not in any way or manner be diminished. We recommend that this principle be made a part of the proposed law on the Bangsamoro.

G. NORMALIZATION

We recommend that Normalization as defined in the Annex to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) be included as a major provision in the proposed Bangsamoro organic law being crafted by Congress.

We are here today because a rebel group has threatened to continue its preferred form of negotiation i.e. the use of weapons and violence if we do not accede to their demands. It is just fair that the granting of their demands will be reciprocated by a clear definite commitment to disarm. Their capability to ambush and attack our soldiers and policemen and villages should be totally removed.

1. Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) Normalization, according to the Comprehensive Agreement Annex, is the means of achieving the desired quality of life, including sustainable livelihood and political participation, and ensuring human security.

It does not contemplate that in order to ensure lasting peace so that socio-economic development could proceed in earnest, there must be disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) of members of the military component of the MILF. This Agreement seems to treat these matters as merely peripheral, if not anathema. Kung ano ang pinakaimportante, yun pa ang parang hindi pinahahalagahan.

The CAB is unlike the peace agreements forged between some foreign countries and the militant separatist groups they respectively dealt with. On the other hand, because the DDR’s were deemed imperatives, the foreign countries indicated them in their respective agreements clearly and in a rather comprehensive and detailed manner.

The agreement between the government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement or Gerakin Aceh Merdeka (GAM) is an example. It provided that GAM had to hand over at least 840 arms within three months after the agreement was signed – and this was completed.

With regard to the covenant entered into between the United Kingdom, on the one hand, and Ireland as well as Northern Ireland, on the other, it clearly indicated that there had to be a total disarmament of all para-military organizations (like the Irish Republican Army, or IRA) and decommissioning of all arms in the possession of all those organizations in two years – and this was done.

2. Decommissioning

The Annex directs the MILF to decommission “its forces so that they are put beyond use.” Decommissioning, however, is not only going to be parallel and commensurate to the implementation of all agreements of the parties. It is also to be carried out by a graduated and phased program.

The four (4) phases of the program relate to voluntary registration of firearms and not handing over of firearms to the Philippine Government. Not mentioned in the phasing out are high-powered guns, crew-served weapons, self-propelled guns, and the like. It thus becomes evident that the process of decommissioning is going to be long, slow and difficult; and only for small-caliber rifles.

And since it will not be implemented by both the MILF and the GPH in a joint manner but by the MILF alone, there can be no telling when implementation will be completed, that is, if it will be completed at all.

Meanwhile that the long and uncertain procedure of decommissioning is supposed to be ongoing the probability is not remote that the MILF may exploit the time to beef up its arms and equipment, quantity- and quality-wise, and fine-tune its military organization.

And when the MILF forces shall have achieved the status or category of a standard army, then, likewise, the probability is not remote that the MILF – confident of support from other countries, would now repudiate the agreements it has made with the GPH, claiming the latter’s inability to comply with its obligations under those agreements, declare its independence and establish an Islamic state in the Philippine south.

We therefore recommend that:

1. There should be a timeline and specific calendar dates in the decommissioning of the MILF armed component and turn in of their weapons or armaments.

The provision in the said Annex (para. C9) that states that “The decommissioning of MILF rebels shall be parallel and commensurate to the implementation of all the agreements of the Parties” is too general and the process could take years to accomplish. In the meantime, there will continue to exist in Mindanao an armed MILF participating in the elections and other civilian activities in areas where they are present. It is entirely possible that “all the agreements of the Parties” could not be implemented as envisioned in the FAB for various unforeseen reasons. Would such a predicament then stop the decommissioning of the MILF rebels and their weapons and thereby stop or suspend the implementation of all Agreements?

2. The provision on Redeployment of the AFP out of or within the Bangsamoro territory should be deleted because it curtails and delimits the power and authority of the President and Commander-in-Chief to employ or deploy the Armed Forces of the Philippines anywhere in the country in anticipation of or in response to an emergency or grave security situation.

3. Policing

Law and order may be defined as a socio-political situation characterized by the absence of crime and lawlessness. A relatively lawful and orderly situation is indicated by low rates of crime or juvenile delinquency. All this would be the result of the effectiveness of the law enforcement system, including the legal social systems, as well as the family, church, civic organizations, etc.

On the other hand, peace and order is a socio-political situation characterized by the absence of organized violence. So, when for instance, anti-government elements take up arms and go violent the peace and order situation in the affected area is put in disarray as the normal activities of living break down. How to address the situation would then be a problem of the military and not the police as it would not be merely a matter of enforcing the law and keeping order but putting down violence that would have escalated to alarming proportions. Besides, the police are not so functionally trained and armed as to have the competency to deal with such a situation.

The military referred to would perforce be the AFP for the simple reason that it is the only machinery of violence of the GPH. It is the one and only organized military force with legitimate existence under the RP. It is the only government instrumentality mandated by the Constitution to protect the people and the state.

Curiously, however, the Annex on Normalization provides that “Law enforcement and peace and order in the Bangsamoro shall be the primary function of the police force of the Bangsamoro.”

Ordinarily, a police force is equipped only with light weapons, to carry out law enforcement. But since the Bangsamoro police force has also to maintain peace and order it can justify without arousing suspicions the acquisition of heavy weapons and equipment, possibly including armored vehicles, planes, helicopters, ships and what not. In other words, the said provision grants the Bangsamoro the right and the opportunity for the build-up of a military force disguised as a police force that could well become the incarnation of what by then would be a decommissioned BIAF.

Only this time however, it would be a Bangsamoro armed force that is bigger and better equipped that is capable of engaging the AFP in case of a showdown, if and when the Bangsamoro should decide to secede, declare independence and establish an Islamic state.

The same provision, which makes the Bangsamoro police force solely responsible for the peace and order, or security of the area, is closely related to some other provisions of the Annex.

These are:

a. Defense and external security. This is one of the nine (9) reserved powers of the Central Government. Note that this power is not inclusive; it excludes internal security.

b. . In the Bangsamoro the AFP is to retain only such installations as are necessary for national defense and security. Note that the provision does not specify which installations (bases, camps, training areas, temporary shelters, etc.) are to be retained. It is therefore capable of different interpretations, which could lead to trouble later.

c. The Joint Normalization Committee (JNC) shall set the criteria for the redeployment of AFP units and troops from the former conflict areas. This has the effect of negating the principle that redeployment is based on the needs of security, as determined by the Central Government.

On 18 October 2011, some 40 Scout Rangers were dispatched to serve a warrant of arrest to the criminally accused and escapee Dan Laksaw Asnawi, the deputy head of the MILF 114th Base Command, known for his penchant for beheading his victims.

Apparently, since he was believed to be with his men in an MILF territory, the troops had to ask permission to enter the premises in order to serve the warrant. Permission to enter was part of an MILF-GPH arrangement earlier agreed upon with regard to troop movement in territories pertaining to the MILF. But in so asking permission the Rangers might have unwittingly telegraphed their punches, thereby alerting Asnawi and giving him the chance to stage the ambush-slaying of 19 of the Rangers, some of whom were tortured to death and decapitated.

C. RECOMMENDATIONS

In summary, our recommendations are:

1. The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) should include a provision explicitly stating that the Bangsamoro or MILF renounces forever its avowed separatist policy and goal of independence and pledges to remain under or be a part of the Republic of the Philippines. The inhabitants therein shall be Filipino citizens, acknowledging allegiance to the Republic and rendering to its government their habitual obedience.

2. The Normalization aspect of the peace agreement, instead of being a mere Annex to the Framework Agreement (FAB) should be included as a major provision of the Bangsamoro organic law being crafted by Congress.

3. Disarmament, Demobilization and Re-integration (DDR), or Normalization as termed in the Framework Agreement as enunciated by the UN, should be carried out jointly by the MILF and GPH through a process that has definite timelines. The MILF armed component must disarm and turn in all their weapons on a fixed date.

4. All the above-mentioned provisions of the MILF-GPH agreements, in particular the FAB and CAB, on redeployment of the Armed Forces should be omitted or repealed.

5. The phrase “Civilian authority is at all times supreme over the military” in Article IV Section 4 should be deleted.

6. The Central Government shall exercise authority and jurisdiction over defense and security, both internal and external in Article V section 1.

7. There should be no Bangsamoro Police. Instead the present ARMM Regional Police should be reconstituted to become the Bangsamoro Region Police Office under the Philippine National Police.

8. The provision that allows the creation of the AFP Bangsamoro Command should be deleted.

9. Article IX Section 17 on the requirement to establish coordination protocols for the movement of AFP in the Bangsamoro area should be deleted.

10. The provision in the Normalization Annex of the FAB that the AFP is to retain only such installations as are necessary for national defense and security should be removed.

CLOSING REMARKS

Incidentally, on October 18, at the ANC talk show hosted by Ces Drilon on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), MILF Panel Chairman Mohagher Iqbal said the GPH must trust the MILF or Bangsamoro, that it will remain under the RP and the decommissioning will be carried out.

And just as the GPH’s trust is asked for, so should we also ask for the MILF to show that it can be trusted.

This it can do by consenting to the inclusion in the BBL of a provision expressing explicitly that the Bangsamoro is a constituent part of the Central Government, that it renounces its original policy of separatism and goal of independence, and that it undertakes to decommission its combat elements with all their arms removed from their possession.

It is unfortunate however, that the tragic Mamasapano Incident had to happen and that so much has already been- and continue to be- said and written about it.

Its complications though are yet to unfold. But what is now clear is that Mamasapano is sending out the message of doubt that the MILF truly deserves the trust it has been asking for.

And so in closing, your Honors, may I be allowed to express the concern of many citizens: the need to enact a law that will not only ensure peace and security but the unity of the nation and the preservation of the territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines.

The Government should not be afraid of the MILF’s veiled threat of war if the BBL is not approved in the form they want.

This challenge is great. Time is short. The decision is yours.

Sa ngalan ng inyong nagtanggol sa bayan. Salamat po.


EDITORIAL: Regrettable, insensitive remarks about China June 8, 2015 11:48 pm


Aquino made a veiled comparison between China and Nazi Germany' s expansionism before the World War II with regard to the two countries' territorial disputes in the South China Sea and called on the United States to play a role in stopping China's rising might in his speech during a tour of Japan on Wednesday. His previous similar attack on China was made in an interview with the New York Times last year. Xinhua 2015-06-06 17:19 (GMT+8)

OF course, President Aquino should stand up against any power that threatens Philippine interests. Of course, the President should spare no effort in protecting every inch of our territory.

But comparing China to Nazi Germany is not only wrong, it is also counterproductive in finding a peaceful settlement to the territorial dispute.

The Palace’s attempt at damage control as stated by Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte was equally wrong.

She said over the weekend the President was merely standing up for the rights of Filipinos. President Aquino could have done that without being insensitive and cruel, particularly to those who remember history.

Naturally, China is fuming. Worse, the latest inflammatory remarks by President Aquino was delivered in Japan.

Allied with Nazi Germany in World War II, Japan invaded the Philippines and China and committed atrocities for which Japanese leaders have yet to apologize.

China’s ambassador to Manila, Zhao Jianhua, said recently that the Chinese have never invaded the Philippines, tortured Filipinos, or kept “comfort women.”

Apparently, the Chinese were not the only ones upset over the comparison.

On the Forbes magazine website, Jean-Pierre Lehmann writes: “When last year Philippine President Benigno Aquino compared China’s stance in the South China Sea to that of Nazi Germany’s annexation of the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia before the outbreak of World War II, it was inappropriate, irresponsible and inflammatory. To have done so again, in a speech in Tokyo on Wednesday 3rd June, borders on the incredulous. Aquino should certainly refrain from such comparisons in the future.”

READ MORE...
The contributor, who notes that his mother was born in the Philippines and that he has many Filipino friends, went on to say, “To compare the South China Sea to the Sudetenland displays amazing ignorance, worrying on the part of the head of State of one of the countries concerned.”

Less bravado, more statesmanship

We concede that there are some who would applaud President Aquino’s brash behavior.

In a comment posted on our website, one reader asked whether The Manila Times wanted the President to step aside and allow China to do what it wants in the West Philippine Sea. Of course not. They are missing the point.

The bottom line:

President Aquino’s objective should be to protect our national interests.

If talking tough to the Chinese will protect our interests, then President Aquino should do so. But if that does not work, then the President should consider other alternatives, including diplomacy.

President Aquino’s provocations have triggered a hastening of China’s encroachment into areas claimed by the Philippines, along with Vietnam and Malaysia.

His statements have raised tensions in the region and revived the possibility of a new cold war. Instability in the region benefits no one, not even the Philippines.

It is time to explore other options in pursuit of our interests.

Also, talking tough to China does not mean making “asinine remarks” – to borrow from Lehmann’s piece. Talking a stand against China does not mean abandoning statesmanship and civility. Fighting for what is ours does not mean spreading false parallels that hurt the feelings of our strategic partners, one of which is China. As we have said before, we should not allow the disputed territories issue to define our relations with China.

Standing up to China should mean engaging them. We do not agree with the Palace’s decision to reject the offer by Ambassador Zhao to resume bilateral talks without any preconditions. In returning to the negotiating table, China is not asking for the Philippines to retreat from international arbitration, the ambassador said.

We believe that the Philippines should sit down with China, and if necessary, agree to disagree. And if negotiations take a long time, then so be it. It would be a miscalculation to think that China is making this conciliatory offer only because of international pressure.

Last, President Aquino should grow with experience.

He should note that not even the United States, which has been extremely critical of China’s human rights record, has likened China to the Nazis.

President Aquino should learn the difference between tough and irresponsible. It would be better if he apologizes, but given his personal history, China should not hold its breath.


Drop this ‘Bangsamoro’ nonsense now June 11, 2015 10:41 pm  by RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO


by RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

Whatever law Congress would pass as its version of the BBL, it must drop the term “Bangsamoro.”

Senator Ferdinand Marcos is absolutely correct: Just amend, to incorporate the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s legitimate demands, the law on the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

That’s what President Ramos did in the case of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which was largely successful. Some 6,000 MNLF fighters were gradually integrated into the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces. Many of them even fought and were killed in fighting the Abu Sayyaf and other Islamic jihadist groups.

There is, after all, no such “Bangsamoro” (“BM”) in our Constitution, only “autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras.”

That is, in fact, the sole mention of “Muslim” in the entire Constitution. For very good reasons: There are really no Christians, Muslims, pagans, atheists as a sub-classification of Filipinos in this Republic: There are only Filipinos.

Who the hell gave President Aquino and Congress the right to create a new nation BM and for a people in Mindanao to be called BM?

I have written about it before, and I will write about it again and again to the equivalent of my voice getting hoarse in shouting about it:

“Bangsamoro” is essentially hogwash.

It is an artificial term invented by MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari in the 1970s, of the same invented genre as the Philippine Communist Party’s “National Democracy,” and later adopted by the breakaway group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

For this Administration to have accepted the MILF’s idea of it without question, to enact a law with the term, and then call a region BM is utter stupidity, and utter capitulation to the insurgent’s ideology.

To even use the term in a watered-down version of the BBL is to help the MILF create in the future its own insurgent nation.

READ MORE...


Using girls for the sales pitch: Who’s paying for these expensive newspaper ads endorsing BBL passage? Right inset: Same ad genre of a pretty girl asking you to buy something.

Why not, for chrissakes, ask the National Historical Commission or our academic communities to tell Congress first whether BM is a word that represents a real entity, or if the term is legitimate and not some made-up slogan.

Yet, even without this clarification, Congress is in a rush to adopt a law that says that the BM are “those who at the time of conquest and colonization were considered natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago and its adjacent islands, including Palawan and their descendants…”

How crazy, or lazy in ascertaining facts have our legislators become?

Or perhaps they are just smart, if allegations are true that they have been promised hundreds of millions of their pork-barrel funds (renamed now as “Bottom Up Budgeting” projects), and even in cold cash raised through funds of a Chinese drug lord Wang Bo, who was suddenly deported to whatever country he wanted last week?

“Moro” had been a pejorative term for Muslims in Mindanao since Spanish times, just as “nigger” is for Black Americans. In our school decades ago, the bullies would get someone to yell to a Muslim politician’s son “Hoy, Moro!” to enrage him to a fistfight for their entertainment. Call your DVD peddler “Moro” and you might not get out of the market alive.

Misuari adopted it as his form of protest, even as Muslim leaders were aghast at it and even demanded that it be dropped.

“Bangsa” is a Malaysian term which Misuari and his comrades, who were in that country in the late 1960s for military training by Malaysians, copied in an utterly juvenile fashion. This was because of the popularity of proposals in Malaysia at that time to use the term “Bangsa Malaysia” to emphasize the unity of the more than 20 ethno linguistic groups forming the Federation.

From National to Islamic

The MNLF’s prestige, though, rose – and, therefore, the term “Moro” – when Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi backed the insurgent organization and threatened Marcos with an oil embargo if he didn’t agree to a peace settlement with the insurgents. When then MNLF vice-chairman Hashim Salamat broke away with half of the organization in 1976, he continued to use the term “Moro,” but replaced “National” with “Islamic” to emphasize that his force seeks to establish an Islamic state.

The term had never gained acceptance though in mainstream Muslim society, and much much less – even abhorred – by the 19 non-Muslim indigenous communities in Mindanao.

A Tausug calls himself “Tausug;” a Maranao, “Maranao;” a Maguindanaon, “Maguindanaon”, and so on, with the rest of the ethno-linguistic groups in Mindanao. Never “Moro.”

Despite the strong bargaining position in 1976 of the MNLF, because of Libya’s backing, they didn’t dare push for the term “BM” in the Tripoli Agreement. The 1996 final agreement that was implemented didn’t contain any term “BM.” The first agreement with the MILF in 1997 didn’t contain any word “BM.” None of the less significant pacts contained “BM.”

“BM” first appeared in an agreement signed by government officials and MILF negotiators in the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain of 2008. But as government lawyers had argued in the Supreme Court, President Macapagal-Arroyo later actually rejected it – an episode of that era which requires much research to be clarified.

At any rate, the Supreme Court ruled the agreement unconstitutional. Combine that ruling with Arroyo’s categorical statement that she rejected it, and it means that BM had never been adopted by any administration.

Except this one, which has even embraced and hugged it.

The website of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao claims ARMM is the “home of the BM, while the National Commission on Arts and Culture contains a lengthy essay on the BM.

Why did this Administration suddenly – without even doing research on it – embrace the artificial term BM, which is at the core of the MILF’s ideology? Could it be sheer stupidity?

Maybe so.

But a more believable explanation is that Aquino thought he would win the Nobel Peace Prize – so he could have something he could claim exceeds his mother’s achievements – by having a peace settlement with the MILF within his term. But the MILF demanded that the term be adopted, and its dozens of other demands – such as having its own parliament and armed forces, accepted even if these violate our Constitution.

That’s how depraved, or deluded this President is.

A P300 million ad campaign?

Most journalists and PR practitioners would have no doubt — as I don’t, having been in this industry for so long — that there has been a tremendous amount of money released for the media campaign to support the BBL.

Very professional press releases are being churned out almost daily from the Office of the Peace Adviser, media forums from Zamboanga to Quezon City had been undertaken, some two dozen organizations and associations have been coming out in support of the BBL.

Professionally made color-ads in newspapers — which cost P200,000 each — for the BBL have been coming out regularly. (An example, in the accompanying photo uses the same old trick of having pretty girls endorsing a product.)

Such media campaign blitz is expensive, and one veteran estimated it would cost some P300 million. Who’s paying for this?


EDITORIAL: No flag-waving where it matters June 12, 2015 11:38 pm

INDEPENDENCE Day should be an occasion for bragging – with false modesty, of course – by any country, of its landmark economic, political, social and, yes, military achievements in the years after it frees itself from colonial, oppressive overlords. In the case of the Philippines, the latter are the Spaniards, the Americans and the Japanese.

President Benigno Aquino 3rd chose to mark it differently by singing praises of Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd, presumably his anointed candidate in 2016 to succeed him as the country’s leader.

The President, instead, should have spoken about Filipinos not going hungry, not having to make dropouts of their children whom they can no longer afford to send to school, not having to bear with a mother who opts to work as a maid in a richer country to make both ends meet for the family she leaves behind, not having to eat for breakfast such news as the monumental corruption that has entrenched people in high places and not seeing them get away with it.

That explains the Roxas to-do, and we are the sorrier lot for the cheap politicking that already happens every day and yet still be the non-topic that occupies the mind of Aquino on a day like this.

Of course, there is the traditional wreath-laying and speech-giving before some statue of Rizal in some plaza in the country where most people do not even know any difference made on their lives by the incumbent President of the Philippines and the ones that came before him.

READ MORE...
In past Independence Day celebrations, military parades were the norm, with the Quirino Grandstand in Manila’s Rizal Park (Luneta) teeming with common folk given a sense of security, even a false one, perhaps, and engulfed by national pride at the sight of soldiers marching in precision before the President and foreign diplomats, as well as proud representatives from various government agencies calling attention to accomplishments in agriculture, the sciences, the civil service and other areas with their colorful floats and equally disciplined walk-bys before Filipinos and the world.

We don’t get them anymore, 117 years after we won freedom from the Americans, on whose “benevolence” our present-day leaders still depend for external security through such arrangements as the EDCA, VFA, even the MDT that is unbelievably more than 60 years old, and the list would probably go on.

What we get are motherhood statements, the very same ones made by Aquino’s predecessors, from 1946 to 2010, a case of hearing one and hearing all, and one that ironically gets lapped up by generations of Filipinos to whom independence seems to have no meaning at all.

Aquino and Vice President Jejomar Binay, in separate Independence Day speeches that were made public on the eve of June 12, talked about ridding the country of poverty – a mantra it really is, especially when hearing it from two millionaires who both probably have not taken a ride in one of those train systems whose operators practically run over their customers with their high fares and poor services.

The President goes, “We call on you to exercise the rights and freedom borne from the toil of our ancestors and continue toward shaping a more proactive and mature discourse, perpetuating positive change to the broader spectrum of society, and emancipating our citizenry from the shackles of poverty, corruption and greed.”

Not to be outdone, Binay goes, “Because of our collective struggle, the Filipino now enjoys many liberties. Yet, our freedom is not complete, for the spectre of poverty continues to cast its large shadow on many of our people despite the nation’s macroeconomic progress over recent years.”

The two gentlemen can give Filipinos more than big words such as “proactive” and “macroeconomic” that are simply snobbish and likely Greek to every Juan or Maria in these parts – unless, of course, the country’s Top 2 leaders really do not want to be understood at all by the masses.

Anyway, what the masa do not know, won’t hurt them.

Freeing speeches of jargon and rhetoric will make for an Independence Day observance that is really meaningful beyond such trivia as, “On August 4, 1964, Republic Act 4166 renamed July 4 holiday as ‘Philippine Republic Day,’ [and] proclaimed June 12 as ‘Philippine Independence Day.’”

“The United States granted independence to the Philippines on July 4, 1946 through the Treaty of Manila. July 4 was chosen as the date by the United States because it corresponds to its Independence Day, and that day was observed in the Philippines as ‘Independence Day until 1962.” It is pathetic when you have to lose sleep over July 4 and June 12.

The Philippines blew many times over its claim to national freedom and sovereignty when it had to mark its Independence Day through decree, not creed or other more honorable means.

Its citizens seem to have become jaded to June 12, anyway.

In public places that matter, such as light-rail train stations that serve millions daily, not one Philippine flag was in sight, not even on the eve of Independence Day.

Among city folk, no flag-waving was to be seen, either.

But as of this writing, we were holding our breath for the fireworks. If the pyrotechnic display falls short of expectations, however, then we have to accept that we are not really celebrating anything at all.


It’s not self-indulgence, it’s reform June 12, 2015 11:35 pm YEN MAKABENTA


by YEN MAKABENTA

THAT’S the response we are likely to get from Malacañang Palace if some of us have the temerity to ask why President BS Aquino moved the official commemoration of Independence Day yesterday to Iloilo City.

That’s especially so if the manner of questioning suggests that the decision appears to be an act of self-indulgence, whim and frivolity – as frivolous as his decision two years ago to move the annual commemoration of the EDSA People Power revolt from where it happened to Cebu City.

But still, we have to ask because to implement this unprecedented change in our freedom day celebration, we did not only have to move scores of government officials and military personnel to the new commemoration site.

Government also had to move the traditional vin d’honneur ceremony to Iloilo, and had to transport members of the diplomatic corps, including the papal nuncio, there. What great state purpose is served or achieved by performing this enormous logistical feat on such short notice?

Not the most rational president

We have to ask because truly President Aquino is not the most rational and thoughtful person to serve in the highest office of the land.

READ MORE...
From his very first day in office, when he broke tradition by refusing to be sworn in by the sitting chief justice of the Supreme Court, up to today, he has been defiant, iconoclastic, insolent and capricious.

Indeed, the modern colloquialism “in-your-face” is very appropriate to describe many of the things Aquino has indulged in. The idiom, which originally came from sports, means “shocking, annoying, in a way that is difficult to ignore.”

We have to ask during this presidency, because we increasingly feel that, without so much as a by your leave, Aquino and the culture being fostered by his regime have unmoored us from cherished beliefs, customs and traditions. Certain acts once considered taboo have become permissible under this regime. Barriers are being shattered at a rate we have not seen. And the level of public greed and corruption now appears to have no ceiling.

What he means by reform

We have to ask, yes, but then we should also be prepared for the reply, that all these bizarre acts of the President – including the move of the Independence commemoration rites to Iloilo City – are but some of the many reforms that the Aquino Administration is implementing for the welfare and glory of our people and our country.

President Aquino can reply thus because truly many critics and journalists, myself included, have been pestering him to name or enumerate the reforms he has initiated every time he declares (for the umpteenth time) how his reforms have transformed this country, and how he is so concerned that his reforms are carried forward by his successor.

Aquino uses “reform” in his speech as often as radicals talk of “revolution.”

The great political scientist Samuel Huntington has suggested that reform is more difficult than revolution. Alas, he did not have the good fortune to meet or witness BS Aquino in action.

Here’s a glimpse of how Aquino’s mind works: changes such as transferring the site of a commemoration is a form of reform; changing who swears a president into office is reform.

At the Independence Day rites in Iloilo, he made it a point to wear his yellow ribbon pin, instead of the standard flag pin. That, too, is one of the reforms he has introduced.

The truth is, there are no real reforms that he can cite, unless we get generous and concede the following as reforms:

1. The Development Acceleration Program (DAP), which cost us several hundred billions of pesos and has been ruled illegal and unconstitutional by the Supreme Court;

2. The bribery of senators to impeach former chief justice Renato Corona;

3. The prolonged detention without trial of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo;

4. The indictment and trial for plunder of Senators Enrile, Estrada and Revilla; and

5. The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, which would dismember the national territory and create a substate if passed by Congress.

Flouting the law

The truth is, what we have before us and above us is a president who thinks nothing about flouting the law, flouting the constitution and rejecting settled convention and traditions.

He does it all, because he thinks he can – and because he is the president.

But not for much longer. He will soon be the ex-president, 12 months from now.

That’s not a date which he can change as easily as he moved the Independence Day rites to Iloilo.

Thoughts on the peace process



Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/85271/thoughts-on-the-peace-process#ixzz3bN6kWGYJ
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook
 


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2014 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE