The GRP – MILF Bangsamoro Homeland Pact: A Recipe for More Bloodshed

The issue was under the radar for most of us these past few years, and the price for our collective inattention is about to be paid, probably in blood.

The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are about to sign a memorandum of agreement “to lay the foundation of the Bangsamoro homeland”.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and presidential peace adviser and former AFP chief Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. contend that the memorandum of agreement to be signed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is a “preliminary agreement” and the details of the implementation need to be threshed out in future accords, the same line being advanced by MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu. This is clever dissembling.

In truth, the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) which will be established by the Kuala Lumpur accord will have its own basic law, its own police force and internal security apparatus, and its own system of banking and finance, civil service, education and legislative and electoral institutions, as well as “authority and jurisdiction over the Ancestral Domain and Ancestral lands” which “does not form part of the public domain”. The pact is detailed and comprehensive enough such that, should the MILF in the future disagree with any of the proposals for governance put forward by the national government, it may use this document as the basis for secession. It is a legally binding covenant that effectively establishes a state within a state, a guaranteed recipe for all-out civil war.

And there are many provisions in the proposed compact which will surely give rise to conflict. Consider the coverage of the Bangsamoro homeland which will “refer to the land mass as well as the maritime, terrestrial, fluvial and alluvial domains, and the aerial domain, the atmospheric space above it, embracing the Mindanao-Sulu-Palawan geographic region “ or the “ geographic areas in Mindanao and its adjacent islands including Palawan, and the Sulu archipelago that have been recognized, and/or delineated as ancestral domain and ancestral land of the Bangsamoro people”. The definition of “Ancestral Domain” alone could conceivably include a good chunk of Mindanao and Palawan, as well the territorial waters in between. Any disagreement over scope of territory will, by itself, easily provide any party sufficient casus belli to ignite the southern Philippines tinderbox.

Furthermore Manolo Quezon is absolutely correct in pointing out that the agreement itself is the prize, in that it confers international legitimacy and recognition to the MILF’s cause.

So even if the agreement begins to unravel almost immediately upon signing, or even if it moves forward but ends up derailed either at the congressional level or in a plebiscite, we should consider the possibility that the government has already made it possible for the MILF to secure one of its most crucial objectives: legitimization abroad. The MILF will be able to tell the Muslim world that it has what up to now only the much-diminished MNLF could claim to possess: a formal agreement with the Philippine government. The proposed agreement, after all, says the MILF will gain its much-sought-after observer status in the Organization of Islamic Conference; and that, in itself, confers such prestige and access to official Islamic channels as to make the whole agreement, even if it fails, an MILF achievement. The agreement, too, establishes a precedent, requiring all future administrations to meet its provisions as the minimum basis for future peace talks.

Lawyer and opposition spokesman Adel Tamano likewise asserts that GMA “effectively ceded part of the territory of the Philippines to the MILF” and warns that the signing of the MOA would grant the MILF the “status of belligerency” which “could open the door for a declaration of independence”. Congressman Teddy Boy Locsin considers it “the formal and voluntary dismemberment of the Republic.”

If this is the price of what GMA considers an “honorable peace”, few will be willing to pay it. For instance, the Zamboangenos have made their antagonism to a Bangsamoro homeland clear years ago, and in a full-page ad in the Inquirer reiterated their “unflinching opposition to the inclusion of Zamboanga City or any of its 98 barangays in the Bangsamoro Judicial Entity (BJE) and Bangsamoro Homeland”.

I fear that the government, in taking a shortcut to peace, has created an untenable situation which will inevitably lead to war. As John F. Kennedy once said “peace does not rest in the charters and covenants alone. It lies in the hearts and minds of all people”. Few are convinced in their hearts and minds that this agreement is the proper path. In the way it was crafted and is now being rammed down our throats, the Bangsamoro Homeland pact will bring not bring about peace but the exact opposite.

The Supreme Court issued a restraining order against the the signing in Malaysia of the agreement that could lead to an independent Bangsamoro state.

Thousands of protesters marched in the cities of Zamboanga and Iligan, denouncing as “treachery of the highest order” their inclusion in a proposed Bangsamoro homeland.

MILF claims Moro homeland is a “done deal” and that it’s not bound by the TRO issued by the S.C. You’d say that too if you had as sweet a bargain as the proposed agreement. Now the crisis mounts.

North Cotabato folk prepare to defend selves from MILF encrouchment.

Raul Pangalangan looks at the possible hidden agenda for Malacanag’s apparent sellout to the MILF.

Amado Doronila expounds on why the government panel should be held accountable for compromising national sovereignty and dismembering the national territory.

The Inquirer opines that the MOA was designed to fail from the very start, in order to serve GMA’s hidden agenda.

80,000 flee as fighting flares up in North Cotabato.

Justice Isagani Cruz is shocked by the MOA provisions and sees it as nothing less than a treaty of surrender that should make the Republic of the Philippines bow its head in sorrow and shame.

Amado Doronila tells why the MOA is a ticking time bomb.

The fighting spreads to the Lanao provinces. Agence France-Presse quoting residents reported that at least 16 civilians were found dead in the skirmishes in several towns in Lanao del Norte. Earlier, MILF rebels ambushed an Army convoy in Lanao Del Sur, killing seven.

Military offensive launched against MILF.

No peace in the immediate future for Mindanao, in the wake of the botched agreement which wrecked the peace process.

Death toll mounts in Mindanao clashes.

More violence seen in Mindanao.

The Supreme Court declares The memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain (MOA-AD) between the government and the MILF illegal and unconstitutional, and the process that led to its crafting was “whimsical, capricious, oppressive, arbitrary and despotic” .

It described the agreement as “contrary to law and the Constitution,” and called for public consultations in accordance with the right to information with respect to any further peace agreement with the rebel group.

16 thoughts on “The GRP – MILF Bangsamoro Homeland Pact: A Recipe for More Bloodshed”

  1. I can smell the blood of many people in my own place called, “home.” There was no consultation about this BJE. It is definitely dividing the people of Mindanao; and the worst, confusing the people…

  2. Definitely. And even the “lumad” of the various tribes in Bangsamoro were not consulted about the pact. Which, apparently, is the biggest and most ironic rub of all. The government and the MILF want to have peace by giving the Bangsamoros what is due to them, but even the tribe leaders were not informed about all these things.

  3. thanks, warrior lawyer, true, v-gov penol was asking people to arm themselves… and now, people, hundreds already started to leave their dangerous places today paticularly in midsayap, cotabato… and the worst, i read from the news (TV) that govt, won’t help pag sinalakay ng MIlf ang cotabato…. whew!

    indeed, whatever the religion, it’s all about peace still…. nakakatakot but it’s true… i was in jolo few years ago, and i cant go out from our convent without marine bodyguard, a privilege that made me a prisoner, i hope di mangyayari yan dito again….

  4. BJE is not a solution to peace problems….Im from Mindanao, specifically Marawi City… this BJE would just create indolence between Christians and Muslims…. By 2 to 3 weeks, i know a lot of students/professors will be kidnapped in our School (MSU-Marawi) because of that BJE issue…..kawawa talaga ung mga tao dito especially Christians…….

  5. People in high places, people who are responsible, should be punished. These “betrayals” will keep happening until someone powerful and responsible gets severely punished.

  6. @ Msuan, the situation is certainly volatile in your area, and your proximity to Iligan City, which has expressed its opposition to the BJE in very strong terms, will add to the tension. I hope any violence spares the MSU community.

    @ BrianB, yes, it a shameless betrayal of the public trust.

  7. it is completely ironic that iligan will protest. very much ironic. i subscribe to the idea that zamboanga should never really be included in the bje. come hell or high water. the item written by noralyn mustafa attests to the soundness of that idea. in general however, the maguindanao-dominant milf and the other tribes, really need to be given back their land. specially the heritage sites. imagine government overrunning the camp rajjamudah that has been with the maguindanao sultanate for now, in my count at least, 27 generations! and those that pretend to be intelligent say that giving land to our brother muslims is treason? how much more ignorant could they get? 27 generations and suddenly by edict of a corrupt and pseudo president waging all-out war, takes it away from them. and how about the rest of the land taken away from all the maguindanaoans? tausug? yakkan? badjao? manobos? higaonons? dumagats? the list goes on and on and on. our ancestral domain awards (please!) to these brother filipinos cannot even begin to appease generations of their sufferings. and fools are quick to shout treason. my God. suddenly the worst wordsmiths are coming out of the woodwork after erap went away. and they’re not even worth half his brain…

  8. Pa Answer nmn po ng mga tanong ko.. pls.. need lang po for my assignment.
    1.what is the so-called Bangsamoro Judicial Entity?
    2.in your opinion, what is the effect of BJE to the phil as state.. ancestral domain..?
    3.what is the important pertinent, provision of the MOA between the govt and MILF.
    4.is the BJE constitutional or not? why?
    5. illustrate and enumerate the diff territories that will compose the BJE.

    thx so much po.. hope u will help me.. e-mail po. [email protected].. BSN student po.

  9. Sir, I have hardly understand of what the MILF want’s?And I want to know what are the general things which causes the mindanao conflict now?I fell bad and sad to hear that were filipinos are fighting to each other,and i cant blame the government also but i just want to know also what are the possible plan of government now to solve the problem.

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