Saturday, August 23, 2008

Apartheid Begins With Two Sets of Laws

"In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful..." begins the now famous and highly controverted Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain between the GRP-MILF -- whose every syllable is now being analyzed and scrutinized since it is at the center of a renewed armed conflict in Mindanao.

In speaking about it on the talk show Korina Sanchez Today, Senator Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel also discussed Senate Resolution No. 10 and the proposal to shift to a "federal republic of the Philippines. For me the most significant thing he said was that ultimately, the only thing that would solve the "Moro Problem" in Mindanao is to allow a prospective Muslim state like the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity to adopt sharia law for cases involving Muslims, but that in cases which involve say Muslims and Christians, federal law would apply.

I think this makes a total mockery of the Bill of Rights on religious, civil, political and economic freedoms, and undermines the very foundation and integrity of our system of laws EQUAL PROTECTION. We are not talking here of the difference between federal and state law such as we find in the United States, because in no case may such laws be applied on the basis of race, religion, creed or sexual preference. Here we have an explicit reliance on the difference in religion that Pimentel is brazenly pushing and which Malacanang is abetting for the even nastier purpose of extending Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's Desperate Death Grip on supreme power.

The Federalism that Nene Pimentel is pushing is really the beginning of apartheid, because it sets up two very different sets of laws for citizens that ought to be indistinguishable in the eyes of the law. Under sharia law for example, adultresses are stoned to death (and may even be raped tortured and ridiculed to save the honor of their brothers and fathers!)

An interesting thing I've noticed has to do with the bangsamoro concept itself. Taking the pejorative term "Moro" and lashing it to "Bangsa" was a brilliant stroke by folks like Nur Misuari and Hashim Salamat who created thereby, a new collective noun with nationalistic symbolic power to refer to the specifically Muslim inhabitants of Mindanao as one nation, one people.

In the MOA-AD the concept of the bangsamoro is extended to include ALL such inhabitants of Mindanao and their descendants, whether Muslim or not, as in the section on Principles & Concepts:
1. It is the birthright of all Moros and all Indigenous peoples of Mindanao to identify themselves and be accepted as “Bangsamoros”. The Bangsamoro people refers to those who are natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and its adjacent islands including Palawan and the Sulu archipelago at the time of conquest or colonization and their descendants whether mixed or of full native blood. Spouses and their descendants are classified as Bangsamoro. The freedom of choice of the Indigenous people shall be respected.

2. It is essential to lay the foundation of the Bangsamoro homeland in order to address the Bangsamoro people’s humanitarian and economic needs as well as their political aspirations. Such territorial jurisdictions and geographic areas being the natural wealth and patrimony represent the social, cultural and political identity and pride of all the Bangsamoro people. Ownership of the homeland is vested exclusively in them by virtue of their prior rights of occupation that had inhered in them as sizeable bodies of people, delimited by their ancestors since time immemorial, and being the first politically organized dominant occupants.

3. Both Parties acknowledge that ancestral domain does not form part of the public domain but encompasses ancestral, communal, and customary lands, maritime, fluvial and alluvial domains as well as all natural resources therein that have inured or vested ancestral rights on the basis of native title. Ancestral domain and ancestral land refer to those held under claim of ownership, occupied or possessed, by themselves or through the ancestors of the Bangsamoro people, communally or individually since time immemorial continuously to the present, except when prevented by war, civil disturbance, force majeure, or other forms of possible usurpation or displacement by force, deceit, stealth, or as a consequence of government project or any other voluntary dealings entered into by the government and private individuals, corporate entities or institutions.

4. Both Parties acknowledge that the right to self-governance of the Bangsamoro people is rooted on ancestral territoriality exercised originally under the suzerain authority of their sultanates and the Pat a Pangampong ku Ranaw. The Moro sultanates were states or karajaan/kadatuan resembling a body politic endowed with all the elements of nation-state in the modern sense. As a domestic community distinct from the rest of the national communities, they have a definite historic homeland. They are the “First Nation” with defined territory and with a system of government having entered into treaties of amity and commerce with foreign nations. The Parties concede that the ultimate objective of entrenching the Bangsamoro homeland as a territorial space is to secure their identity and posterity, to protect their property rights and resources as well as to establish a system of governance suitable and acceptable to them as a distinct dominant people.
There are a number of striking LEGAL and HISTORICAL questions posed by the above MOA provisions. First, is who ARE the "indigenous peoples" referred to? Second and third are what exactly is meant or referred to in the various occurrences of phrases like "at the time of conquest or colonization" and "since time immemorial"?

In effect, Principles No. 1 and 2 of the MOA-AD regards all the indigenous peoples living in Regions IX, X, XI nd XII as being part of the "Bangsamoro" super-nation, (reunited with sentimental fondness for the suzerain authority of a restored Maguindanao Sultanate run by the MILF!). Never mind that it was those very sultanates with their "suzerain authority" who kidnapped, enslaved, haremized, bought and sold, bonded and traded human beings they found all over Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Actually, what we know from history is that those sultanates were founded quite recently as far as "time immemorial" goes, and by readily identifiable foreign and non-indigenous conquerors and proselytizers in the form of Islamic "missionaries" as well as the far-wandering seed of the Prophet Mohammed bearing their pieces of carefully preserved paper--the genealogical warrants attesting to their nobility and therefore sacred right to rule over and even own other human beings. The arrival of Sharif Kabungsuan, the legendary founder of the Cotabato sultanates, was definitely an event the 16th century--just yesterday compared to the 30,000 years or so of archaeologically established human habitation of the Philippine Archipelago. The Sultanate of Sulu was established somewhat earlier but there is no reason to believe Islam existed in any significant form in these islands much before the dawn of the 15th century. By contrast, there is ample physical and anthropological evidence that Malays, Australo-Polynesians, Indians and Chinese have inhabited the Philippine Islands 'since time immemorial', or at least the Iron Age of 40,000 years ago.

But just to take the seminal event of Sharif Kabunsuan's establishment of the Cotabato Sultanate as a prime example, what could be more obvious than that Islam is as much a "foreign religion" as Christianity? The founder of those fabled sultanates was himself a refugee-prince from the Sultanate of the Moluccas that was conquered by the Dutch in the latter half of the 15 century. His arrival in the Pulangi River region and establishment of a new noble line based on his direct descent from Prophet Mohammed, cannot possibly be distinguished from the arrivals of Magellan or Legaspi and their establishment a foreign "suzerainty" under Spain.

For the convenience of our readers, the pertinent provisions of the Indigenous People's Rights Act are quoted below:

The Indigenous People's Rights Act of 1997 (R.A. 8371) states:
"Sec. 3 [h]. Indigenous Cultural Communities/ Indigenous Peoples refer to a group of people or homogeneous societies identified by self-ascription and ascription by others, who have continuously lived as organized community on communally bounded and defined territory, and who have, under claims of ownership since time immemorial, occupied, possessed and utilized such territories, sharing common bonds of language, customs, traditions and other distinctive cultural traits, or who have, through resistance to political, social and cultural inroads of colonization, non-indigenous religions and cultures, became historically differentiated from the majority of Filipinos. ICCs/IPs shall likewise include peoples who are regarded as indigenous on account of their descent from the populations which inhabited the country, at the time of conquest or colonization, or at the time of inroads of non-indigenous religions and cultures, or the establishment of present state boundaries, who retain some or all of their own social, economic, cultural and political institutions, but who may have been displaced from their traditional domains or who may have resettled outside their ancestral domains."
The IPRA Law also enumerates the 110 officially recognized INDIGENOUS PEOPLES (as quoted in Justice Reynato Puno's December 2000 Separate Concurring Opinion):
Presently, Philippine indigenous peoples inhabit the interiors and mountains of Luzon, Mindanao, Mindoro, Negros, Samar, Leyte, and the Palawan and Sulu group of islands. They are composed of 110 tribes and are as follows:

1. In the Cordillera Autonomous Region-- Kankaney, Ibaloi, Bontoc, Tinggian or Itneg, Ifugao, Kalinga, Yapayao, Aeta or Agta or Pugot, and Bago of Ilocos Norte and Pangasinan; Ibanag of Isabela, Cagayan; Ilongot of Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya; Gaddang of Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Itawis of Cagayan; Ivatan of Batanes, Aeta of Cagayan, Quirino and Isabela.

2. In Region III-- Aetas.

3. In Region IV-- Dumagats of Aurora, Rizal; Remontado of Aurora, Rizal, Quezon; Alangan or Mangyan, Batangan, Buid or Buhid, Hanunuo and Iraya of Oriental and Occidental Mindoro; Tadyawan of Occidental Mindoro; Cuyonon, Palawanon, Tagbanua and Tao't bato of Palawan.

4. In Region V-- Aeta of Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur; Aeta-Abiyan, Isarog, and Kabihug of Camarines Norte; Agta, and Mayon of Camarines Sur; Itom of Albay, Cimaron of Sorsogon; and the Pullon of Masbate and Camarines Sur.

5. In Region VI-- Ati of Negros Occidental, Iloilo and Antique, Capiz; the Magahat of Negros Occidental; the Corolano and Sulod.

6. In Region VII-- Magahat of Negros Oriental and Eskaya of Bohol.

7. In Region IX-- the Badjao numbering about 192,000 in Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga del Sur; the Kalibugan of Basilan, the Samal, Subanon and Yakat.

8. Region X-- Numbering 1.6 million in Region X alone, the IPs are: the Banwaon, Bukidnon, Matigsalog, Talaanding of Bukidnon; the Camiguin of Camiguin Island; the Higa-unon of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Bukidnon and Misamis Occidental; the Tigwahanon of Agusan del Sur, Misamis Oriental and and Misamis Occidental, the Manobo of the Agusan provinces, and the Umayamnon of Agusan and Bukidnon.

9. In Region XI-- There are about 1,774,065 IPs in Region XI. They are tribes of the Dibabaon, Mansaka of Davao del Norte; B'laan, Kalagan, Langilad, T'boli and Talaingod of Davao del Sur; Mamamanua of Surigao del Sur; Mandaya of the Surigao provinces and Davao Oriental; Manobo Blit of South Cotabato; the Mangguangon of Davao and South Cotabato; Matigsalog of Davao del Norte and Del Sur; Tagakaolo, Tasaday and Ubo of South Cotabato; and Bagobo of Davao del sur and South Cotabato.

10. In Region XII-- Ilianen, Tiruray, Maguindanao, Maranao, Tausug, Yakan/Samal, and Iranon.
You will notice that the concept of bangsamoro has been vastly expanded to included over half of the indigenous peoples of the Philippines listed above from Regions IX, X, XI and XII.
The way this is going we could have 110 separate little BJE-type homelands instead of ONE COUNTRY.


Richard said...


Yes, exactly right..welcome to our shared muliti-cultural nightmare...where every cultural tic (or atrocity, in this case) is as valid as any other because it is fundamentally racist to judge other's ideas if they are not western ideas...well, yes, that was sarcastic, but true.

The indigenous people's rights act, which you reference, is nothing more than the same lefty transi-pomo garbage the has been circling the western toilet bowl for the last 15 years...lefty pols (and, many needy amoral pols) make a very nice living for themselves in peddling this moral-equivalence crap. It's the same old 'divide and conquer' strategy that is always used by corrupt politicians when they need a sound-bite that makes it seem they are doing something for their wages.

When you hear this kind of stuff, you know instantly the character of the toxic source. In the US, we call this Identity Politics..a specialty of the leftist Democratic cannot criticize the obviously idiotic (and/or corrupt), anti-western politician, because to do so immediatly indicates (as they always allege) that you are a racist.

Much like your hero Obama is doing in the US, I might add...I find you a very ironic man.

Pedestrian Observer Gb said...

Say what now? Sharia law! What in the name of 72 virgins was that all about, Pimentel must be losing it really really bad......... as if we are able to enforce and abide with the present laws we have now they will even add another set of laws, que barbaridad....

john marzan said...

"The Federalism that Nene Pimentel is pushing is really the beginning of apartheid"

unfortunately or fortunately, depending on one's POV, the US, japan, Australia, the OIC and the international community will wholeheartely support this "apartheid" if it comes around.

unlike in south africa.

john marzan said...

besides, kung natuloy nga ang MOA-AD, it's not a done deal that the 712 villages will become part of bangsamorostan. may referendum pa, diba? and if the population statistics are correct, most christian dominated areas will not join because they have the numbers (80% christian and lumads, 20% muslims).

manuelbuencamino said...


Setting up a muslim state is wrong because it favors one religion, contrary to our bill of rights.

However, two sets of laws are not uncommon. Sabadistas were exempt from military draft in the US. Injuns were allowed peyote. Mormons were allowed polygamy. In Malaysia, Chinese, Indians, and tourists can enter the Genting Highlands casino but not muslim Malaysians. Malaysian religious police can raid hotel rooms and bust unmarried Muslims but not non muslims. Sharia law applies to muslims only.

So to me what's objectionable is the creation of territory for a religious denomination.

I have no problem allowing any denomination to subject its adherents under their law, in addition to also being subject to our civil and criminal law. If muslims want to cut off the hand of muslim thieves in addition to turning them over to secular authorities, that's fine with me. I'll provide the ax even.

But don't anyone tell me that religion is a license to your own religious territory in my secular state because then that's apartheid and I will apartheid his head from his body

Perez said...

Apartheid, are you kidding? Ancestral Domain law has been around in Australia long before IPRA under the name Native Title. Not some lefty-pomo contrivance but a piece of progressive legislation that grew out of the land rights movement. It has empowered indigenous people and improved race relations. Recognising the legitimacy of a system of law that has been practised before the advent of European law and continues to this day, isn't apartheid. That's an insult to those who suffered under true apartheid. Concerned that Bangsamoro will bring in stoning as a punishment? How many muslim nations actually do this? 'Sharia' doesn't automatically imply extremism. Visit Indonesia.

DJB Rizalist said...

no I'm not kidding. ancestral domain is a different concept than apartheid, which of course was a racial philosophy. IPRA and the MOA are based on similar fallacies as underlie racial apartheid. The MILF/ASG have done beheading of civilians and soldiers (as have the Indonesians!) Stoning women is just practice.

blackshama said...

Perez and DJB

Native title legislation in Australia recognised that indigenous Australians have a right to their land. Perhaps the only thing progressive in this is that the High Court of Australia recognised that "terra nullius" had no basis in law.

The reason why Capt Cook and company adopted terra nullius is that the aborigines had no concept of property. But since then aboriginal Australians have developed a concept of property. The Australian high court recognised this.

Now your argument that it has emporwered indigenous Australians is open to question. Have you visited the Palm Islands?

As for improving race relations, Australians (mainly the urbanites) should be commended but in rural Australia native title has contributed to strained relations.

The whole idea of native title should be separated from ancestral domain. Indigenous Australians do not have a separate state for themselves. The Northern Territory is not an Aboriginal state. The is no Australian state for people that worship the Rainbow Serpent!

The Australians recognise that they indeed are a people with an identity and this is part of today's Australian identity. The Rainbow Serpent is part of the culture of the Champagne Socialists of Double Bay and that of the Aborigines in let's say Cooktown.

It is very ridiculuous to equate aboriginal Australian claims to Australia from "Bangsamoro's" claim to Mindanao.

As for DJB's assertion that apartheid begins with two sets of laws,this argument needs several qualifications.

DJB's argument is valid only if there is a motive to discriminate and oppress a segment of the population. The state principle that the law if for the common good is supreme here.

I don't see Sharia law as discriminatory for Christians since it shouldn't apply to them. As for Muslims it should protect their culture and be for their own good.

The first global sovereign entity that has at least two sets of laws is the Catholic Church. The Code of Canon Law applies to the majority Latin Church while the Code of Canon Law for the Eastern Churches applies to the Eastern Catholic Churches. The latter seeks to preserve the culture and worship of the Eastern Church from the Latin Church majority. The two sets of canon laws do not oppress one party or the other.

The premise is that the Eastern Catholics had from right from the start of Church history when Christ gave Peter the keys, a separate juridicial entity.

Does the Bangsamoro have this historical claim? This is a question that the Bangsamoro and Gloria Arroyo must answer.

manuelbuencamino said...


In Australia you are dealing with an issue that is literally black and white. Based on skin color it is easy to tell who were the original inhabitants of the land.

Now in our case how do we dictinguish which brown skinned man came first? And how can religion be used as a basis when the religion itself was chosen arbitrarily?

Concern about the MILF going extreme on sharia law is well founded. They have beheaded infidels haven't they?

Perez said...

@blackshama: you're confusing landrights with native title. Native title is described as a 'bundle of rights'- principally the right to continue to practice a given law and culture in an area where it has been practised in an unbroken way since European sovereignty. It is not ownership as such but it can lead to freehold. Palm Island is not under native title - not sure what your hypothesis is there. Are you suggesting the Palm Island murder is somehow representative or symptomatic of race relations generally? I'm a white Australian living in a remote native title area. I haven't encountered any of the 'strained relations' you seem so keen on though I don't deny they exist - just that native title is unlikely to be the cause. I'm enjoying your quaint wikipedia notions about rainbow serpent worship. Come to Australia some time.
@manuelbuencamino - yep, I agree. The definition of 'indigenous' is necessarily different in the philippines and my analogy is clunky. Nonetheless, it is not black and white in Australia. Being indigenous is about being recognised as a member of a community. Skin colour as such doesn't enter into it. Tasmanian aborigines, for example, look very white.

DJB Rizalist said...

there are no fundamental disagreements that I can detect on the matter of human rights and communities. There are obviously differences in political philosophy and how societies ought now to proceed, and on what ideological basis.

But I challenge everyone here to convince me (my mind really is open to this) that it is NOT absurd for the result of all this to be that Tagalogs, Pampangos, Ilocanos, and all Bisayans are NOT indigenous peoples of the Philippines.

This simple legal fact, non-rhethorical but literal, is to me an indication that somewhere, somehow the logic of it all went off the rails!

blackshama said...

I did live in the Australian (Queensland) outback for seven years. All sorts of Aussies, Indigenous, Irish, Italians and a few Champagne Socialists are my mates. The last cities I saw during my stay is Sydney and Melbourne!

I was in Oz when you blokes were considering dumping the Queen. To which one fan of Johnnie Howard said to me, "she doesn't cost much."

I've been from Tassie up to NT and even to the Nullarbor. The celebrity highlights for my stay is getting to meet Steve Irwin and Cathy Freeman! (Fair dinkum! I don't think Irwin represents what a broad accent really is! Freeman really is an amazing athlete.But her wrapping herself in an Aboriginal flag did generate a chockablock of contoversy. That's why I say that the Australia hasn't reconciled with its past.)

I consider Down Under a sort of second country. You see, the Land does get a grip on you. Anyone who has lived in Australia even if it were only for a just a time would know.

Australia can have an indelible mark on aman . I still wear an Akubra years after I have returned to my own country. Worst of all I still listen to John Williamson's songs! Listening to Cold Chisel isn't that bad according to friends in the Philippines.

Good on us mate! I hope we can meet up and bludger you for a shout. Too bad my work in the Philippines doesn't give me chances to go back for a visit.The last time was in 2005.

Even in that short time after I came back in 2003 ,Australia has indeed changed. On a Brissy train platform, I saw a poster that I thought I would see only in a totalitarian state. The poster read " Help protect Australia. Report unusual activity."

Aussies dobbing in anyone? I thought that was so unAustralian.

Indeed things have changed. How is Kevin Rudd doing as the PM? Who is that rock star in his cabinet?

Perez said...

@blackshama - John Williamson? Disgraceful. It's The Waifs and Archie Roach all the way for me. Re: Steve Irwin, our feral dog is such a wild specimen we thought of calling him 'Crikey'. Since Rudd things are much less totalitarian than under Howard (no more national security advertisements, dismantling of detention centres) and the National Apology has set the stage for a bunch of other long awaited reforms. Time will tell.

Anonymous said...

Australians are Texans at heart.

Anonymous said...

Go check out a new facet of sharia. A bank in London just launched a debit card whose fees include:
Card issue fee £9.95
Monthly subscription fee (per account) £4.95
ATM withdrawal UK £2.00
ATM withdrawal non-UK £3.00
Cash withdrawal at bank £3.00

and they call it prepaid Cordoba Gold MasterCard: sharia-compliant.