After a thorough discussion, and with the timely intervention of Datuk Othman, the MILF agreed to be silent on the word “freedom”, but not after pointing out to the government all the documents, including the General Framework of Intent signed on August 27, 1998 and the Tripoli Agreement of 2001, that contained the word. The insistence by the MILF Panel on the inclusion of the phrase “non derogation of prior agreements” more than makes up for the silence on “freedom” because this binds both parties to all previous agreements in which freedom is cited as a major principle.And of course, General Garcia doesn't care to demand DISARMAMENT by the rebels as an absolutely necessary condition for any peace agreement. I think he should be arrested for obstruction of justice for his role in last year's beheading of ten Marines on Basilan island, in which he prevented the service of arrest warrants against his MILF "partners in the peace process."-- not insanely rewarded and given a negotiating task for which he is neither morally nor intellectually qualified.
Today's headline is like a nightmare coming true, as the government of President Arroyo announced that it had reached an agreement with the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front for the establishment of a "homeland" for the 3 million Muslims in Mindanao:
The “projected” territory referred to as the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity is the “current” Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which may be expanded to include 712 barangays (villages) in five provinces in Central Mindanao, Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said Thursday. He said the five provinces were Lanao del Norte, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Zamboanga-Sibugay and Palawan.Since there are only 3 million Muslims and at least 30 million non-Muslims in Mindanao, it is highly doubltful that in FREE and FAIR plebisicite, any of the above places would vote to come under the heel of the MILF warlords and politicians. The province of North Cotabato legislature already passed a resolution against being included in such a dubious Moro homeland. Palawan, with its rich natural resources and large majority Christian population may soon also pass such a resolution.
This blog has been a most vocal opponent of this idea because I believe it won't lead to peace any more than the last "final peace treaty" that was signed in 1996 with the Moro National Liberation Front of Nur Misuari (MNLF) that created the ARMM, since neither the latter, nor the present Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are actually in any position to guarantee anything they agree to. It will be recalled that the MILF split off from the MNLF after the former President Fidel Ramos reached that last deal. Instead the MILF went to war in order to now secure their own deal with Gloria Macapagal Arroyo!
Indeed, PGMA has the most reprehensible record in dealing with terrorists: she is the RANSOM QUEEN of the Terrorists, beginning way back in 2001 when she ransomed her billionaire buddy Reghis Romero (and his girl friend) from the clutches of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf bandits who made off with them and several dozen others from the Dos Palmas Beach Resort in Palawan and led the military on a merrie chase for over a year, ending in the death of missionary Martin Burnham and the rescue of Gracia Burnham. It was also PGMA who bowed down to Baghdadi terrorists and ransomed the kidnapped Angelo de la Cruz in Iraq (for a reported $6 million). More recently, in 2007, she ransomed her own "peace negotiator"--Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino--from the MNLF [sic!], paying hundreds of thousands of pesos for "board and lodging" after he was hostaged during a "peace negotiation" with the very same group that had already signed a similar peace agreement in 1996! Likewise, the release of the Italian priest Fr. Giancarlo Bossi suspiciously involved DILG Sec. Ronnie Puno telling the media that no ransom was paid, and that the priest's freedom was secured by "tricking" the Abu Sayyaf Group holding him (*wink*).
This of course is the same Ronnie Puno who has also denied a P15 million peso "second ransom" payment made for the freedom of ABSCBN News personality Ces Drilon last month--which has led to two more kidnap for ransom incidents in just the same number of weeks, first of four Basilan Electric Cooperative linemen, and at present two Globe telecomm subcontractors.
But perhaps the most despicable of Gloria Arroyo's failures has to do with those ambuscades and murders of over fifty Philippine Army and Marine troopers in Sulu and Basilan last year, including ten who were beheaded after they got close to an MILF/Abu Sayyaf lair in Basilan whilst looking for that oh-so-lucky Fr. Bossi (whom the Catholic Church and his Italian missionary group PIME) quickly spirited away after his release and clamped omerta on him. None of the perpetrators of these gruesome crimes have been brought to justice. In fact, after a Basilan Regional Trial Court judge issued over a hundred arrest warrants against the suspected ambushmen and beheaders, in comes then Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza and the present head of the peace panel, a certain Gen. Rodolfo Garcia (ret.) demanding an "independent investigation" of the matter, and a suspension of the arrest warrants because they happened to include so many of their "partners in the peace process" from the MILF! Nothing came of the "independent investigation", its report was never released, and the murdering bastards have gotten away scot free. Then of course, ABSCBN News aired institutional ads for over a year with the same Gen. Garcia intoning that "We want to know who was behind those beheadings." It was actually a massive cover-up!
In some sense, the upcoming agreement with the MILF would be the BIGGEST ransom payment of them all, a pay-off like all the rest, supposedly to free an entire nation held hostage to a forty year insurgency led by warlords and politicians mouthing a false and fake history of Mindanao, abetted by bleeding hearts who seem to think that paying ransom buys anything more than the NEXT kidnapping, as even recent experience amply shows.
After pouring over P80 billion pesos into Nur Misuari's private fiefdom called the ARMM, now comes this Bangsamorostan Juridical Entity (BJE), which is far larger, more sinister, and a really, really bad idea, folks. Even now, various homicidal maniacs like Umar Patek and Dulmatin (the Bali Bombers) and other internationally wanted terrorists, are hiding out in Mindanao (under the protection of the MILF/MNLF/Abu Sayyaf according to terrorism experts), yet they seem to be untouchable.
Wait till the Long Beards and Long Legs from Waziristan find out that Gloria has lots of nice lil tropical island paradise bases waiting for them in the southern Philippines.
Islamic Rule in Cotabato (read by Dean Jorge Bocobo)
European Impositions and the Myth of Morohood (read by Dean Jorge Bocobo)
My reading of The Great River (Chapter 12, History of Jesuits in the Philippines, by Horacio de la Costa, S.J.) continues a series of readings in Mindanao history.