Friday, July 18, 2008

The Biggest, Most Stupid Ransom Payment of Them All

Update: On the ABSCBN Noontime news, Gen. Rodolfo Garcia (ret.) head of the RP govt peace panel tried to give the impression that the MILF has given up on its demand for "freedom" from the Republic, claiming this is what broke the negotiating logjam. But look at what the MILF says on its website about this:
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.

24 comments:

blackshama said...

Now we will have to fight for Ilocano self-determination. We have more rights to our "Ilocoslovakia" than the Moro to their "Bangsamoro". We have our own cultural and religious identity, we are the bastion of the Independent Church, we have our own brand of "kumot", we have tobacco, we were the first ones to mount a credible revolt to against colonial oppression! Best of all we had the Great Apo Ferdinand I!

We have been always independent(and never had kind words to say about the Kapampangans :) :)!

Continue the struggle for an Ilokano nation!
:) :) :)

(Of course we are kidding. Ilokanos were the first ones to defend the unitary Republika Filipina. That's why we never had kind words about the ........)

Richard said...

DJB,

Right on...and like all appeasement, it won't even end here...it's just the beginning.

Equalizer said...

The Gloria Arroyo administration will do anything to extend its hold on power beyond 2010.Gloria is desperately trying to force the nation to amend the constitution.It will invent any excuse to do so shortly.
Here's one dumb example from gloria's political general turned " expert "constitutionalist:

"A federal state is not allowed within the current framework. And so because of that, the final agreement will not be executory until we have an enabling act [for a federal state]. This will come in the form of an amendment to the Constitution," he said.

"If there is a need to accommodate or amend the Constitution because of the provisions in the peace agreement [with the MILF], then we will go through that," Esperon added.

Esperon: You are needed in the Mental Hospital Recovery room !

Amadeo said...

There may be closer to 4 million Muslims in Mindanao, though some Muslim scholars would cry undercount and quote a figure closer to 6 or 7 million.

But the more relevant question is where these Muslims now reside. In a very Christian city like Cagayan de Oro, situated in the northern part of Mindanao and a world away from the hostilities in the south, the Muslim presence is more than just passing and trickling. They are here in large numbers, any cursory observation around town will easily tell you that. Coming to reside from faraway Zamboanga, from fertile Cotabato, and of course, from the nearby Lanao provinces contiguous with Misamis Oriental.

They are here for the same reasons we are all here. To live in peace and harmony and pursue what we want out of life. Living and being part of an independent state all their own is I believe farthest from their minds.

And you can replicate this same situation in any city in Mindanao where there is relative peace and security.

manuelbuencamino said...

Malaysia wins. The MNLF/MILF aee Jabidahs in reverse. Those people are nothing but pawns for the establishment of a buffer zone for Sabah.

If the goverment negotiators had any brains they should have told the rebels why fight over little islands when you can have Sabah. It's yours go and get it boys!

DJB Rizalist said...

MB--Haha better watch out. people will think you're becoming a neoconservative warmonger!

DJB Rizalist said...

amadeo, Your observation--that Christians and Muslims are now inextricably mixed in together--both in war and peace, in prosperity and poverty, all in this sad Republic--that is why a "Muslim homeland" would be chancre of instability and conflict. IN such a "homeland" the old Maguindanao "sacred inequalities" would be re-established, replete with its Muslim theocracy and social injustices.

It would be like a victory of the Confederacy in the US Civil War. It must be prevented!

blackshama said...

DJB

Guess what my Ilocano elders in the family would like to call the Ilocano homeland?

It's no longer "Ilocoslovakia". That was the name they called it during Martial Law.

"Ilocanostan" is what they want to call it in their struggle against Gloria!

DJB Rizalist said...

ben,
haha good one. My Tarlaqueno forebears, who were originally Ilocanos fleeing the hard scrabble life up there might be tempted by the idea of Tarlaquistan, too.

But seriously, all Filipinos really need to think this one through. I think it would spell the end of the Republic. And I've put my finger on the central fallacious argument: that somehow the Bangsamoro people would be better off under a theocracy led by Imam Eid Kabalu or Sultan Nur Misuari and the Constitution replaced by their ancient "tarsilas"--the basis of their concept of "sacred inequality"

NOT!

john marzan said...

i'm sorry. but i think this is the worst kind of ransom payment in recent memory. a disaster for israel.

john marzan said...

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.

nope, they're more like 20 percent of the Mindanao population, tito dean.

ricelander said...

Are we about to see non-Muslims arming themselves to the teeth and putting up an army to engage the muslims inch by every inch?

DJB Rizalist said...

ricelander,
I doubt that. What needs to happen is a decisive defeat at the ballot box (plebiscite). The one thing I want to develop is the idea that we cannot accept a plebiscite in which the only participants are those five provinces. the integral nature of the Republic is basic. We must insist that the entire electorate approves of any such establishment of theocracy within the framework of democracy.

And THAT, cannot be allowed to happen.

john marzan said...

the citizens in those 5 provinces should be allowed to decide it's fate. ganyan rin ang nangyari sa east timor. if the muslims there have the majority, they should prevail, and they should get their land.

john marzan said...

unless the 712 villages (where muslims are the majority???) that will participate in the plebiscite constitute only a small portion of the total number of villages in the 5 provinces (Lanao del Norte, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Zamboanga-Sibugay and Palawan)

manuelbuencamino said...

There is no Bangsa Moro. There are warlords and there are tribes. Bangsa Moro is a creation of Malaysia. It is the blowback of Jabidah. Only an idiot would have invited Malaysia to mediate.

This Bangsamoro thing started long before the war on terror thing. With or without the war on terror the MILF/MNLF will be ther doing Malaysia's work.

Consider why is it that MILF vehemently objects to Libya and Indonesia becoming active mediators? It's not the MILF that objects, it's Malaysia really because the MILF are just handpuppets of the Malays.

DJB Rizalist said...

john marzan: "the citizens in those 5 provinces should be allowed to decide it's fate. ganyan rin ang nangyari sa east timor. if the muslims there have the majority, they should prevail, and they should get their land."

I disagree! Take the US Civil War. Would you have said that peaceful resolution could've been achieved by allowing a plebiscite only among the Southern States regarding secession?

The Republic is a whole. Just because amadeo doesn't live in CDO for example, doesn't mean he might not have relatives or interests there.

We may live in Luzon, but so what. The whole Philippines is our country, not just the lil bit of it we happen to live in.

This is the fatal fallacy in the GMA concept. Check out the post that came after this and after I flesh out the argument in its full glory.

There is no constitutional or rational basis for a "partial plebiscite"

Besides, we need to question now why we should deliver the Bangsamoro people to uhmm, Malaysia, or Hashim Salamat or Nur Misuari, or whoever the eff is about to become Sultan down there.

DJB Rizalist said...

mb,
yes, i think there is a lot of merit to looking at Malaysia role in all of this. Luwaran dot com is always all praises for them and they certainly have a strong interest in manipulating the situation in Mindanao to their advantage. MNLF is a different matter though than MILF and their antagonism means MNLF has other patrons and allies.

As for the "war on terror" that actually began in 1599 after a series of massive raids undertaken by the Maguindanau Confederacy in which thousands of Bisayans were enslaved, enwived and/or sold to ... hehe what was then Malaysia.

manuelbuencamino said...

DJ,

Do not conflate the MILF "independence" program with the war on terror which they are riding on. Keep your eye on the ball. How come that neither the MNLF nor the MILF have ever spoken of taking back Sabah? The MNLF specially since Sabah is a Tausog sultanate. But the MILF inherited MNLF's mantle when Misuari cut a deal with the government and became ARMM governor. Malatsia was not pleased with that and so MILF which was led by a religious fanatic became the perfect substitute. Think of ASG. Who are they? Originally former MNLF close to Misuari who didn't get a share of the promised pay-offs from the government. I once heard Misuari lamenting that a brave MNLF fighter had gome back to the hills because he felt double crossed by the government. That man was one of the "founders" of ASG. Well, who benefits most from all these? Osamam bin Laden or Malaysia?

manuelbuencamino said...

DJ,

There is a lot of smoke and mirrors thrown up by interested parties in this "independence" struggle.

Let us not be fooled. Who wins big if Moroland is established?

Analyze it in not in terms of transitional ideological or religious conflicts that wax and wane with the times but in terms of realities like land location, ownership, and sovereignty.

Geoplotical reality is more permanent than ideology or religion. The USSR crashed just like that and so did Mao's vision of China but look at that old admiral's analysis of what the real struggle in the world is all about,

The same area continues to be the heart of contention, as it has been since time immemorial and not just because of religion but because in the olden days it was the trade route and now because it sits on a sea of oil and no oil gets in and out of it without going through the same old tried and true trade routes.

DJB Rizalist said...

MB,
When I refer to the "War on Terror" what I always have in mind is a global struggle between Democracy and Something Else. That something else takes many forms, everything from the Global Jihad of OBL to the so-called independence struggles.

Granted we cannot say with very much certainty what the various leaders of the Moro insurgency are thinking, believing and planning.

But the objective fact is that the establishment of "Moroland" will surely be exploited by Radical Islam in many different ways. One of those ways is the slow but certain transformation of such a place into a Bangsamorostan. For once "independence" of some sort is achieved, what are its leaders likely to do? Work for a peaceful and proseperous Philippines, with them just as some kind of federal state of the broader polity?

I doubt that very much. They naturally are playing down any help or connections with AQ, JI, etc, because they know the US, Australia and other Western powers, including Manila would surely shut them down before they can get a toehold.

So, even accepting your interpretation, we are forced to project and extrapolate about the likely continuation of such a development as Bangsamorostan.

Looking back in history, once the Twin Sultanates of the Maguindanao confederacy had destroyed the Spanish garrison at La Caldera, and gained a kind of independence from Spain by allying with Ternate potentates and sicing the Sulu Tausugs on the Spaniards, what did they do? Well they went on massive slave raiding missions into the Visayas, "to seek conclusions with the Spaniards themselves" as dela Costa puts it.

Seeking "conclusions" with the Republic is the only logical continuation of Bangsamorostan, not peace and prosperity for all.

I think that is why it is actually impossible to NOT conflate the "War on Terror" with the independence struggle.

We cannot deliver the Bangsamoro people unto such a political theocracy, a re-establishment of the old order in Maguindanao.

We have a duty, a human duty to the Bangsamoro people themselves to preserve the true potential for their upliftment under Democracy, because we know what awaits them under theocracy.

I don't think you can deny the religious aspect, because look at the "enemy": Moro ISLAMIC Liberation Front.

It is our duty to the democratic ideal to fight such a step backward. If you don't like the term "War on Terror" because of its association with America, that is fine with me, if you do agree that in the long run the Moros are better off under Democracy than Something Else.

manuelbuencamino said...

DJ,

All I;m trying to say is this: Even if the whole Islamic thing were to be wiped out from the face of the earth tomorrow, the indepemdemce movement in Mindanao- MNLF,MILF,ASG- will remain because it is a creation of Malaysia. A quasi or fully independent puppet state would serve as buffer zone between Manila and Sabah.

I am not disputing you on fundamentalists taking advantage of a morolanf. I am merely trying to set things straight : those fundamentalists will be riding on a problem that already exists: the geoplotical interest of Malaysia.

MNLF, MILF and ASG get their support from two basic sources. One is from fundamentalist individuals and states that are anti-American and all that.. The other and more lasting source of support, one that transcends transitional ideological and religious fashiions du jour, is Malaysia.

So my belief is we should focus on the Malaysians as the real source of the MNLF MILF ASD problem and the current ideo-religious aspect as secondary.

An independent moroland will not make anybody happy except the Malaysians and the puppet leaders they will install.

The war on terror is a recent addition to the issue. It should be addressed but let's not forget the real enemy which is the creation of a puppet buffer state

That's why I have always suggested if somewhat frivolously that the way to accomodate this ancestral domain issue is by including Sabah into it.
If the rebels are serious about ancestral domains then why are they raising the issue only with us and not not Malaysia as well? Does not ownership of Sabah predate even the establishment of Malaysia?

The only danger I see with pursuing your conflation of the issue with the war on terror is that it allows Malaysia cover. If we look at the conflict separated from the war on terror and islamic issues then the logical political and secular question would be why is a country with whom we have a territorial dispute with actong as mediator and interested party in a secessionist movement located next door to the dispted territory?

DJB Rizalist said...

MB,
Malaysia has its own legitimate interests to protect, just as the Philippines does.

Rhetorically, it may be attractive to "include" Sabah in the whole ancestral domain concept, but I think that is going the wrong direction because it gives in to the central fallacy involved with "ancestral domain". Which is that the Philippines, Malaysia, the Spanish, the Americans, and the Dutch were all wrong and are to blame for a huge historical injustice by taking away the land of the Moros.

I don't think it is practical or reasonable to try and change the course of history now, or worse to try and make up for the loss that unjust and cruel sultanates suffered at the hands of unjust and cruel colonizers and their inheritors.

It's what I've called all these years "self-loathing" because there is a kind of national guilt trip involved, instilled in us by folks like Constantino, Joma and Nur Misuari.

The principled position is I think that of democracy and its possibilities for creating a peaceful and prosperous future for all.

I question the fundamental assumption most people seem to make: that the Bangsamoro people would actually be better off under a restored Maguindanao Confederacy. It would as if in the sixties we in America gave up and said, let's just give all these niggers their own lil homeland, say in South Carolina or Alabama, or Puerto Rico. Or ship them all back to Africa, make reparations for enslaving them and keeping the whole country white and Christian.

Malaysia itself is a flawed democracy like ours, but what democracy was born perfectly well formed and ordered. Even America was built on slave labor.

But if we believe, as I do, that Democracy is the answer to both the past as well as the future, then we must fight for its principles, not give in to the argument that because it was flawed in the past, or imposed on us by imperialists that ergo the theocracy of the sultanates ought to be restored.

I agree though that we need to play our cards a lil sharper when it comes to Malaysia, which can have a mischievous self-interest.

But Malaysia is a country just like ours: a former colony in which democracy and independence have not automatically created a Utopia. But I think there can't be any going back.

I think the big issue in Mindanao is the very existence of the Philippine Republic, its integrity and viability.

The War on Terror is important because it's basically the same struggle except on a global scale. I think that will become clearer if and when Obama becomes President, or even if John McCain does because America has no choice either. Despite her own imperfections, sins and failures in the past, we need to go in the direction in which she has gone, zigzagging though the course may be.

It is the corrigibility of democracy that we must rely on, for that is her greatest virtue.

The homeland idea is an admission of, nay, the beginning of democracy's defeat, the re-emergence of tribalism and the breaking up of the Republic which is the best hope for all, whether Muslim or not.

Anonymous said...

You shut the hell up guys those sh1t you talking bout ain't gonna bring peace. My solution is the christian to fight back like our uncles, grand father used to, form the ''Ilaga'' once again and drive those warmonger to the forest. I'm from Pikit Cotabato and I'm going to donate money to my barangay to depend my it, and I encourage some of you who's from the affected area to do too. We can no longer sit and watch while our relatives, friends or neighbor are getting killed.