Monday, August 25, 2008

Stupid Cat, Wily Mouse

hile listening to Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro and AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Alexander Yano just now talking to Ricky Carandang on Dateline Philippines I got a sinking feeling. It was the realization that these two key personalities of our Defense Establishment may not even see things regarding the MILF quite the same way, a dissonance that reflects the even greater incoherence at the level of Malacanang Palace.

On the one hand we have General Yano telling Ricky Carandang he doesn't think the MILF leadership actually controls Commanders Bravo and Ombra Cato and that as far as he can tell they are just acting on their own. He also reports not seeing "any major movement or action" from the other MILF "base commands" to support the units of the two hard-liners. How in the world they could verify a negative escapes me. If they can't even find Kato and Bravo (he admits the AFP has not even had a major engagement with Bravo's Lanao fighters) how do they know which MILF members, singly or in small and large groups are moving around from base to base helping each other.

On the other hand, the Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro stated that he could not understand why Al Hadj Murad Ebrahim and the MILF "leadership" did not condemn the atrocities committed by these two units (murder, arson, hostage-taking, property destruction and population displacement and illegal occupations). He said however, that the military offensives would not stop until the two were captured or voluntarily turned over to the authorities. He characterized Al Hadj Murad's publicly order for the two commanders "to stand down" -- given over a week after atrocities started and were forcibly ended by Philippine troops--as a belated gesture and "way below the level required of them" to show good faith.

I agree with Teodoro. Such a belated statement made-for-TV by Murad, (who has already adopted the demeanor of a head of state) ought to be backed up by more convincing and positive acts that the leadership is truly committed to peace and eschews the act of its own closest men. Why for example, is it suddenly the job of the AFP alone to capture these two terrorist commanders? If indeed Yano believes they are mere rogues--another case of a lost command--then why doesn't he expect the other MILF commands to help shut down the atrocities? Granted he's the soldier of the pair, but precisely, why is he the one acting like a politician!?

All I can say is the good general better make good on his words and get the two bloodthirsty thugs soon. I hope I wasn't mistaken about him before, I hope that he is not part of the Dureza-Garcia duo of terrorist coddlers on the peace panel who are the true progenitors of the current state of affairs. People will recall that it was Jess Dureza and Rodolfo Garcia who saved the top MILF leadership from blame and arrest after those fourteen Marines looking for Giancarlo Bossi in Basilan (July 2007) were ambushed and beheaded by the MILF/ASG head choppers. I said way back then that they did that because they were trying to save some kind of big peace deal legacy thingy for their Boss, the Mistress of Capitulation and Surrender to Terrorists. Sure enough, in August 2007, I first heard Gloria Macapagal Arroyo utter the words, "Bangsamoro Juridical Entity". She was even suggesting the Palace might just "pilot" the project and establish this BJE even without plebiscites "if the Christian communities wouldn't mind it."

KRISTIE KENNEY: GO HOME! Lots of people, including this writer, were thoroughly nonplussed to discover that US Ambassador Kristie Kenney was there in Petrajaya, waiting to witness with the Malaysian puppeteers of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front last August 5, the signing of that now infamous Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain, (MOA-AD) whose patently unconstitutional, illegal and dangerous provisions have galvanized the vast majority of Filipinos in opposition to it. So strident is the ongoing condemnation of the MOA-AD that the Palace itself has variously proclaimed it will no longer sign the agreement--presumably in order to give its allies on the High Court enough reason to persuade the Court that the issues raised by the petitioners (that they be given copies of the document and to have the MOA annulled by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional) are now moot and academic.

I think President Arroyo has been able to hornswaggle the naif US Ambassador Kristie Kenney into thinking that they had the Mindanao thing handled, a peace deal would be signed, and why doesn't the good ambassador (wearing a veil of course) go and have a nice visit and chit-chat over at Al Hadj Murad's pad (which she foolishly did last February!). Photos of their convivial lil tete-a-tete are circulating in the blogosphere.

It was really a big mistake for George W. Bush to have skipped the Philippines on his way to Beijing, and a continuing idiocy on the part of the Democratically controlled Congress to have funded those dimwits over at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) with all their crazy "peace technology" eck-eck. The Philippines having dropped off the American radar once more (due to its own inconsistency as an ally in the war on terror) this set of circumstances, let loose an increasingly delusional Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to clutch at desperate straws, agree to the most outrageous demands of the terrorist MILF to get her "peace legacy", try to force a charter change to make them good, and by the way to extend her term beyond 2010.

Now Mindanao is burning, bleeding and could soon blow up in all our faces.


Judicial Independence is a Moral Duty Not a Self-executing Right
AMADO "JAKE" MACASAET was Cheche Lazaro's special guest on ANC's Media In Focus episode recently. Last week, the Supreme Court, acting on its own behalf in a rare case, found the Malaya newspaper's editor and publisher, guilty of indirect contempt and fined him P20,000. The Majority Decision is here (by J. Ruben T. Reyes) which frames the matter thus:
FREEDOM of the press and judicial independence (kalayaan ng pamamahayag at kalayaang panghukuman) – two constitutional values which unfortunately clash in this case for indirect contempt of court – have to be weighed and balanced against each other.
I don't like J. Reyes' translation of "JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE" into "KALAYAANG PANGHUKUMAN" which he says must be balanced against Press Freedom ("kalayaan ng pamamahayag").

Jake himself points out the following passage in the decision as ominous:

The role of the press in relation to the judiciary needs to be regulated. This can be done through voluntary codes of conduct on the part of the press and through judicial policies, such as the rule on sub judice and contempt of court rulings. The absence of clear voluntary codes developed by the press, as its self-regulator, strengthens the need for the Court to use its power in the meantime to cite critics for contempt. This is necessary in cases where such criticism is obviously malicious or in violation of the sub judice rule, or where there is an evident attempt to influence the outcome of a case. Judges have the duty to defend and uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary. They should sanction those who obstruct or impede the judicial processes. The effective administration of justice may only be realized with the strong faith and confidence of the public in the competence and integrity of the judiciary, free from political and popular pressure.

The Code of Judicial Conduct succinctly states:
PREAMBLE

An honorable competent and independent judiciary exists to administer justice and thus promote the unity of the country, the stability of government, and the well-being of the people.

CANON 1

A JUDGE SHOULD UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY
AND INDEPENDENCE OF THE JUDICIARY

RULE 1.01 - A judge should be the embodiment of competence, integrity and independence.

RULE 1.02 - A judge should administer justice impartially and without delay.

RULE 1.03. - A judge should be vigilant against any attempt to subvert the independence of the judiciary and should forthwith resist any pressure from whatever source intended to influence the performance of official functions.
The integrity, and indeed the independence of the Supreme Court is today undergoing two severe tests in the case of the controverted Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) and the Sabio Bribery Case involving the Court of Appeals.

It's really up to the Justices, to demonstrate by the wisdom and courage of their decisions, that indeed the Judiciary IS independent. Like everybody else they have the same protections against a possibly overzealous and rambunctious press: the libel laws!

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.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Debating Ancestral Domain

Whether it is Umbra Kato in North Cotabato, or Commanders Bravo and Pangalian in Lanao del Norte, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front has been suffering from an epidemic of Lost Commands in just the last week --that comfortable old shoe of plausible deniability that has been worn for generations by successions of rebel "leaderships". Now, the carnage of wanton death and destruction being left in the wake of brazen Moro Islamic Liberation Front attacks in Lanao del Norte and Saranggani provinces yesterday is being recorded by a perhaps incredulous media as Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Alexander Yano characterized the MILF offensives and atrocities as a "virtual declaration of war." Everyone gets his meaning, but such a statement only abets the pretensions of the MILF to a status of belligerency, or worse, the recognition as some kind of sovereign power.

This is the inevitable result of a failed policy: agreeing to ceasefires that do not lead to disarmament or peace, but only to more "peace talks" . In Kauswagan and Kolambugan towns in Lanao which reject inclusion in the BJE homeland deal, MILF rebels have been "attacking civilians with machetes, burning down their homes, taking dozens hostage and using them as human shields before killing them like chickens." Spokesman Eid Kabalu denies that the "central command" of the MILF gave orders for the attacks in Lanao, and even the alleged renegade Commander Bravo reportedly called into Newsbreak in order to tersely deny leading the attacks in Lanao yesterday.

Meanwhile, in condemning the fresh MILF atrocities, the President once more vowed to "crush them." -- referring to her erstwhile partners in the peace process. Considering what a debacle this whole MOA on Ancestral Domain is turning out to be, they are altogether to blame: Gloria and her bungling advisers like Jess Dureza and Rodolfo Garcia, Gazali Jafar and Eid Kabalu and the MILF leadership and their bungling advisers. Also with egg on their faces are the Malaysians, who've been acting in Southern Philippines much as Russia has in South Ossetia, (which is to say with mischievous and malevolent intentions.)

The roots of the present morass lead back to the IPRA Law and the clash of Opinions that accompanied a challenged to its Constitutionality. On December 6, 2000 (on the eve of Joseph Estrada's historic Senate impeachment trial), the Supreme Court promulgated a most indecisive 7-7 Decision [GRP 135385 Dec. 6 2000] Republic Act No. 8371--THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE's RIGHTS ACT OF 1997. According to the Separate Concurring Opinion of Justice Reynato Puno in the above case,
"When Congress enacted the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), it introduced radical concepts into the Philippine legal system which appear to collide with settled constitutional and jural precepts on state ownership of land and other natural resources. The sense and subtleties of this law cannot be appreciated without considering its distinct sociology and the labyrinths of its history. This Opinion attempts to interpret IPRA by discovering its soul shrouded by the mist of our history. After all, the IPRA was enacted by Congress not only to fulfill the constitutional mandate of protecting the indigenous cultural communities' right to their ancestral land but more importantly, to correct a grave historical injustice to our indigenous people."
Technically speaking, Justice Puno is talking about 110 separate historical injustices, but let that pass for now. I think IPRA's concepts are so radical and collide so mightily with those constitutional and jural precepts that Justice Puno refers to, that he ought to have struck IPRA down as unconstitutional, with all its "sense and subtleties" all at once. Indeed, despite the nobility of its goal, the IPRA Law only barely escaped being annulled by the Supreme Court in a 7-7 Decision [GRP 135385 Dec. 6 2000] Speaking for the seven Justices who who decided that IPRA is unconstitutional, then Justice Artemio V. Panganiban noted the gross and explicit violations of the Constitution inherent in IPRA, particularly on the matter of natural resources utilization:
Already, as of June 1998, over 2.5 million hectares have been claimed by various ICCs/IPs as ancestral domains; and over 10 thousand hectares, as ancestral lands.[34] Based on ethnographic surveys, the solicitor general estimates that ancestral domains cover 80 percent of our mineral resources and between 8 and 10 million of the 30 million hectares of land in the country.[35] This means that four fifths of its natural resources and one third of the country's land will be concentrated among 12 million Filipinos constituting 110 ICCs,[36] while over 60 million other Filipinos constituting the overwhelming majority will have to share the remaining. These figures indicate a violation of the constitutional principle of a "more equitable distribution of opportunities, income, and wealth" among Filipinos.
But wait. WHO are the indigenous peoples of the Philippines and how did they come to be "indigenous"? Justice Reynato Puno wrote in December, 2000 for the seven prevailing Justices:
"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."
I shall let Justice Artemio V. Panganiban reply:

Indigenous peoples may have long been marginalized in Philippine politics and society. This does not, however, give Congress any license to accord them rights that the Constitution withholds from the rest of the Filipino people. I would concede giving them priority in the use, the enjoyment and the preservation of their ancestral lands and domains.[41] But to grant perpetual ownership and control of the nation's substantial wealth to them, to the exclusion of other Filipino citizens who have chosen to live and abide by our previous and present Constitutions, would be not only unjust but also subversive of the rule of law.

In giving ICCs/IPs rights in derogation of our fundamental law, Congress is effectively mandating “reverse discrimination.” In seeking to improve their lot, it would be doing so at the expense of the majority of the Filipino people. Such short-sighted and misplaced generosity will spread the roots of discontent and, in the long term, fan the fires of turmoil to a conflagration of national proportions.

Peace cannot be attained by brazenly and permanently depriving the many in order to coddle the few, however disadvantaged they may have been. Neither can a just society be approximated by maiming the healthy to place them at par with the injured. Nor can the nation survive by enclaving its wealth for the exclusive benefit of favored minorities.

Rather, the law must help the powerless by enabling them to take advantage of opportunities and privileges that are open to all and by preventing the powerful from exploiting and oppressing them. This is the essence of social justice – empowering and enabling the poor to be able to compete with the rich and, thus, equally enjoy the blessings of prosperity, freedom and dignity.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Which Came First, the Union or the States?



Joint Resolution No. 10 -- introduced in April, 2008 by Sen. Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel-- resolves as follows: (after a raft of whereases):
NOW, THEREFORE, Be it resolved as it is hereby resolved by the Senate with the House of Representatives concurring, upon a vote of three-fourths of all the Members of both Houses voting separately, to convene Congress into a constituent assembly pursuant to Section 1, paragraph 1 of Article XVll of the Constitution, and revise the Constitution for the purpose of adopting a federal system of government that will create 11 States, constitute Metro-Manila as the Federal Administrative Region, and convert the nation into the Federal Republic of the Philippines.
Joint Resolution No. 10 also names the eleven "States" that would become united under the new FRP (Federal Republic of the Philippines).
1. The State of Northern Luzon;
2. The State of Central Luzon;
3. The State of Southern Tagalog;
4. The State of Bicol;
5. The State of Minparom;
6. The State of Eastern Visayas;
7. The State of Central Visayas;
8. The State of Western Visayas;
9. The State of Northern Mindanao;
10. The State of Southern Mindanao; and
11. The State of BangsaMoro

... in addition to the country's only one center of finance and development in Metro-Manila which shall be constituted as the Federal Administrative Region;
Commentary:

It is a self-evident and significant fact that the above-named eleven "States" do not actually exist as JURIDICAL ENTITIES There is no such thing today as The State of Northern, Central or Southern Luzon, or any of the others, including the "State" of Bangsamoro. Since the proposed Federal Juridical Entity is by definition a union of the enumerated States, it is unavoidable that the above States will have to be created as the separate parts that will unite together in the notional federal republic, a "United States of the Philippines" if you will.

Evidently, Joint Resolution No. 10 envisions the Federal Republic of the Philippines, as a "juridical entity" that is itself a UNION of other juridical entities called 'States' which will unite to create the new federal republic being proposed. And it will be these States that will "ratify" the Federal Constitution.

Can the notional Federal Constitution of the United States of the Philippines even be written and proposed to the people by the Fourteenth Congress of the Unitary Republic of the Philippines? I believe the answer is NO because only the States that will constitute that federal republican union have the authority to enter into and make good that arrangement.

Simply put, the Federalists have to create the States first before the States can create the Union.

Proponents of a shift to federalism often give the example of the United States of America as a model, being the oldest and inarguably the most successful of the genre. But we must confront a most signicant historical difference and future difficulty. Unlike the original Thirteen Colonies which united to form the US of A, the Eleven States of the prospective United States of the Philippines, do not in fact exist as juridical entities today, and as JR.10 states, they must be created simultaneously with the establishment of their Union.

For indeed, where are the Philippine entities that would vote to federate into the Federal Republic of Pimentel? It should be recalled that the American Colonies agreed that their "perpetual union" and the US Federal Constitution would be deemed ratified by all if 9 out of 13 of the States held successful plebiscites favoring the Union.

The Filipino Federalists have their work cut out for them from the git-go. They must first lay the predicate, so to speak, for the proposed FRP by literally creating first the juridical entities, the Eleven States and the Federal Administrative Region (Manila) that will later constitute the Union.

An important question and predicament now intrudes:

Can the Union of States called a "federal republic" by the Joint Resolution come into existence before or simultaneous with the creation of the very entities that have the sole and exclusive power to enter into that said Union? For eample, and not to put too fine a point on it, the United States of America is a union of 50 states, not 300 million citizens. The US Constitution was never ratified in a universal national plebscite since the Thirteen Colonies decided and agreed in 1787 that the Constitution would be deemed ratified if 9 out of 13 states

I think it is a metaphysical impossibility for the Philippine Congress to create and propose the Federal Republic without first creating and proposing the constituent States as enumerated in the Joint Resolution.

How should the prospective Philippine States be defined, created and proposed? We could take the recently controversial Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA AD) defining the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity as a model. To form Eleven States there must be at least eleven plebiscites in which all the persons affected by the establishment of all those eleven new juridical entities must have a chance to ratify or reject the same. In other words, democratic plebiscites must approve of the massive gerrymandering of provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays that has to be undertaken just to create the future constituent States of the envisioned Federal Republic of the Philippines.

Before the Federal Republic can be created, established and ratified by the constituting or federating States, those very States must first be created, established and ratified by the people who will become residents and voters in those States. By parity of reasoning, ALL of the people in the Eleven States enumerated by JR 10 ought to be given the opportunity to decide in plebiscites if THEY want to be part of one or another of this set of Eleven States.

The Palace and Congress have used the concept of requiring popular plebiscites to ratify such rearrangements as the establishment of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, and even in the controverted Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) where barangay-level plebiscites are being propoed to "expand" the territory of the ARMM (though under MILF stewardship and management!)

But it would seem to be a requirement of equitable treatment that if the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) can only be formed after a plebiscite, so too with the other "States." For example, the people in the presently existing provinces whether their people will allow their province to become a part of a proposed "State" of the future federal republic.

I think these and other very basic and simple considerations represent insuperble stumbling blocks for the Federalists...at least those who are in a hurry. The trajectory," (as Press Secretary Jess Dureza is fond of putting it nowadays) involves the Congress convening itself into a Constituent Assembly and crafting a new Federal Constitution of the United States of the Philippines before the Constitutional Clock runs out on Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in May 2010. As I've shown above, I think, there have to be not one but two SETS of PLEBISCITES, those to create the States, and then those to authorize the Union. These processes cannot be combined and made simultaneous, for it would be absurd to suggest that the same plebiscite creating a given State can also decide if that State will join a federation all of whose prospective members are themselves not yet in existence!

Given less than two years to go before the May, 2010 elections, the prospects Fast-tracked Federalism are dim and problematical.

Watching the Race According to a Futures Prediction Market


US Public Opinion Polls using standard random sampling techniques have been notoriously unreliable during the primary season this year at predicting the outcome of the various nomination contests, even those that have been taken just before actual balloting. I think it has something to do with the "lazy" telephone-based sampling techniques. But there does seem to be a new alternative to them in the form of real-money futures trading markets in which the point is not to find out whom respondents WANT to win and would vote for, but who they think WILL win and must put their money where their mouth is. One of the most successful of these is the Iowa Electronic Market whose head-to-head data on Barack Obama versus John McCain since 2006 has never predicted a victory by the GOP candidate, at least by the participants of this particular market. It is typical of the genre and may depress some while cheering others. The data is from their "Winner Take All" sub-market. It remains to be seens if this "wisdom of the crowds" approach will eventually displace the traditional random sampling method of predicting future events. It has one disadvantage: there is no quantitative prediction of how big the winning margin might be, though in this particular case the prediction trend is amazingly consistent among the market's participants who've bet consistently since 2006 that Barack Obama will be the next US President. The most significant data are those since May 2008 when it became clear these two candidates would be the GOP and Democrtic party nominees. The race may narrow in these last hundred days or so before the historic 2008 US presidential election.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Watch the Explainer Episode Tonight: "The Perils of Partition"

I'll be the guest on Manuel L.Quezon III's The Explainer talk show on ABSCBN's ANC channel this evening at 6pm, with replays throughout the week in case you can't catch it live. We'll be discussing the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain between the GRP and MILF, which I think will implement a form of ethno-religious apartheid--a veritable dismemberment not just of Philippine territory but of the Filipino people themselves. Topics sure to come up are the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997; the history of armed struggle in Mindanao and the prospects for peace; President Arroyo's desperate attempts to amend the Constitution, as well as the roles of Malaysia and the United States.

The Other Shoe Comes Off

Well, well, well the other shoe now comes off as President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo calls for chacha on federalism. Everything is coming clear on why the palace was willing to sign off on anything with the MILF in that silly MOA-AD

For me, the real tip-off was the oh-so-coy remarks of MILF spokesman Eid Kabbalu saying they knew nothing of these chacha moves. The way I listen to him is usually to assume that he is lying and means exactly the opposite of what comes out of his mealy mouth and waiting to see if events prove the assumption right. (Works 99% of the time!)

So the truth that comes out in the wash is that the MILF saw this chacha gambit of the Palace and they played hardball with that soft-skull Dureza and the clueless Esperon to get everything they ever wanted and more as the deadline towards the SoNA approached.

The President's desperation to extend her term is now showing like a whore's stained slip as the Supreme Court received a major challenge to look at the MOA's Constitutionality from motions to intervene from former Senate President Frank Drilon and Opposition Senator Mar Roxas.

Even the role of US Ambassador Kristie Kenney and apparent US acquiescence to some kind of deal with the MILF can now be understood in this light. My theory is that the Palace was able to convince the naive Ms. Kenney (though not necessarily the State Dept. or the White House, which aren't exactly paying any attention to the Philippines right now because of other more pressing events) that President Arroyo will be able to get the chacha choochoo going. The constant repetition by Jess Dureza of the argument that any MOA has to pass Constitutional muster and popular plebiscites anyway, suggests to me that this was also the argument they presented to Ambassador Kenney. She may have been swayed by such an argument, given her time here is limited anyway by the US President election, but Condi Rice and the Americans may have bad hair day when they have a better look at the MOA-AD, whose final form and substance were only finalized in the run-up to the SONA. By then, not even the fantabulist ideas of Pastor Boy Saycon, Butch Valdez and Billy Esposo about a "Muslim client state in exchange for a US base in Bangsamorostan in preparation for a final showdown war with China" -- will seem very funny. Considering how the relative calm in Mindanao has been shattered by the unravelling of the GRP-MILF peace talks and all-out war looming with an emboldened MILF raising the flag of independence in its base camps (according to Cotabato Vice-Gov. Manny Pinol), the US will surely be reviewing its understanding of things.

With PCGG Chairman and Arroyo water-carrier Camilo Sabio's role in trying to influence his brother Jose on the GSIS-Meralco case coming to light, the Supreme Court's independence, not just the CA's, is really on the dock now.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Jess Dureza Claims TRO on MoA-AD is "Moot and Academic"


Press Secretary Jess Dureza, (formerly Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process) has just told ABSCBN News that the issues raised by North Cotabato Vice-Gov. Manny Pinol and other local government officials over the GRP-MILF Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) have been rendered MOOT AND ACADEMIC after the Palace gave them copies following the Supreme Court's Temporary Restraining Order last week. Unfortunately for him and Malacanang former Senate President Frank Drilon and Opposition Senator Mar Roxas have filed petitions to intervene in the case over the central Constitutional issues involved. I recorded their "debate" on the early evening news today:


Manuel L. Quezon III has a huge roundup on this issue today on The Perils of Partition.

Meanwhile, Korina Sanchez also had a hilarious interview with Pastor Boy Saycon and Butch Valdez of the Philippine Larouche Society, with which i think the "chair-wrecker" Billy Esposo is also affiliated. Wikipedia's entry on the Larouche Movement offers an interesting insight:

The Washington Monthly writes that the LaRouche movement has been referred to as Marxist, fascist, a political cult, a personality cult, a criminal enterprise, and "one of the strangest political groups in American history."[2] The magazine argues it would be more accurate to call the movement a "vast and bizarre vanity press."[2] The movement promotes a number of beliefs which are called conspiracy theories by critics. Some of these beliefs have been accused of being anti-Semitic.[3]

The crackpot trio's basic thesis is that the United States is supporting the MILF-GRP MOA-AD because it wants to turn Bangsamoro Juridical Entity into its protectorate for the purpose of setting up a military base in Mindanao in preparation for an impending war with China. They interpret even the war in Iraq and threats on Iran as a way of crimping China's ability to get oil, and claim the US is trying to corner "the remaining mineral and other natural resources of the world" such as those in the Philippines.

SourceWatch of the Center for Media and Democracy considers the Larouche Movement to be a cult of conspiracy theorists...

(I'm still trying to stop LOL...)

John Marzan (Politics '04) wonders if it would make me happy to see a US Military Base on Mindanao from which to fight the War on Terror in this region. MY answer is: NO! (probably the same as the US itself). It is more important that Filipinos help in the effort by getting rid of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo by 2010, if not sooner. She's been the greatest source of trouble for that effort because certain American officials, like US Ambassador Kristie Kenney seems to be totally fooled by her, and ought to be recalled by abetting the debacle unfolding before our eyes around this silly MOA-AD with that visit to the MILF last February. I hope the State Dept. recalls her soon.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

America's Moros

If anyone doubts that the MOA-AD represents ethnoreligious apartheid check out this graphic currently displayed on the MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT WEBSITE:

Former Senate Pres. Franklin Drilon is quite right that the signing would be a culpable violation of the Constitution. Take a look at the very first line of the MOA-AD, which to me espresses the real essence of its motivation as the establishment of religious apartheid:

IN THE NAME OF GOD, THE BENEFICENT, THE MERCIFUL

These are the very words that MILF/ASG ambushmen were screaming as they sawed off the heads of ten marines last year, and which every suicide bomber utters as they press the trigger that takes them up to a paradise of sexual debauchery.

The fact that the MOA AD does not even mention the Philippine Constitution in its Terms of Reference, as Dean Pangalangan and even Joaquin Bernas noted today, drives home the point that it is a treacherous and unacceptable document that no one ought to seriously believe is about peace.

Much as I join in the desire for peace to be achieved in Mindanao, we cannot do it by giving up our most unalterable convictions about the need for secular society in which the State does not do things in the name of Relgion, any religion.

It is a misdirection play to bring about chacha.

Whichever one is referred to here, (though one would be utterly disingenuous to deny that it is Malayasia’s preferred deity), it is simply NOT in the name of God that we ought to be pursuing peace–for that would surely lead to war.


Below continues my recorded readings from Thomas McKenna's book, Muslim Rulers and Rebels (Chapter 5: America's Moros, Anvil Publishing House, 1998). It will be fascinating for readers to discover that the very concept of Philippine Morohood is basically a conscious American creation during the colonial period in preparation for the eventual independence of the Philippines.

The two previous chapter readings are also here:

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.) follows. It provides a window in centuries of Moro sultanic slaveraiding in the Visayas and Luzon and puts to flight any notions of their peaceble nature--nd reveals why most the Filipinos became Christians.

Friday, August 8, 2008

So, What's Wrong With Apartheid?

"APARTHEID" is pronounced "APART-HATE" and means pretty much the same thing! Anglicized, the word might be rendered as "APART-HOOD" -- a state of physical, social and political separation of the people in one country based on racial, ethnic, cultural and other differences. Since the bitter experience of South Africa, it is a hateful and hated concept that attempted to segregate people into "separate homelands" while hypocritically pretending they were "separate but equal."

Now, we must face the question: how different, really, is APARTHEID from the legal concepts and practical effects being promoted under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 and sought to be implemented in the recent Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines?

Manuel L. Quezon III takes note of the Wall Street Journal's August 7, 2008 editorial page article by Brett M. Decker, Gloria’s Terror Gambit, which addresses the ill-fated MOA-AD which distills a number of points Philippine American Commentary has been making in a large series of posts since this all started last year when Gloria Macapagal Arroyo first broached the idea of Bangsamorostan:

First, by carving up provinces into separate Muslim and Christian enclaves, the deal would surrender any hope that Filipinos can find a way to live together and instead falls back on the myth that countrymen can live healthy “separate but equal” lives in an apartheid-like arrangement. This would undo the decade of progress toward greater political integration since former House Speaker Jose de Venecia started welcoming Muslim representatives into his ruling congressional coalition.

Second, it would increase rather than decrease the likelihood of territorial disputes because the agreement concedes to claims that the region constitutes a traditional Islamic homeland. This would likely inflame Christians, who would be kicked off of land where they have lived for decades when Muslims make claim to their legally mandated “ancestral domain.”

Third, further removing Muslims from the rest of Philippine society and enabling them to shape an entirely separate culture would encourage the separatist mentality that dreams of carving out a pan-Islamic state from other existing countries in the region, such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. This has been a MILF goal since its founders broke off from the Moro National Liberation Front in the 1980s after that group made peace with Manila.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly for the outside world, greater Islamic independence and less Philippine control over the Islamic regions would invite even more terrorist activity in an area that already has strong ties to al Qaeda. With the deployment of U.S. Special Forces to the southern Philippines now in its seventh year, joint U.S.-Philippine operations have pacified the most lawless Muslim areas. Expanding the Islamist sphere of influence now threatens to undo this success.

In my opinion, "ANCESTRAL DOMAIN" -- is a twisted gnome of an idea in altruistic clothing with guilt-trippy psychedelic colors that emerged as the incestuous progeny of the 1997 Indigenous People's Rights Act and a December 2000 Supreme Court decision (Isagani Cruz vs. NCIP). The latter's main discursive ponencia is really a dark and scary fairy tale version of Philippine history. It begins in an idyllic, Eden-like setting where the ancient Filipinos, despite being divided into 160 recognizable tribes, lived in harmony and prosperity with nature and each other in a benign tropical paradise, until the Pacific winds and waves blew in with the Serpent of colonialism, who devilishly turns 50 of those tribes into Christianized traitors who may no longer be called indigenous peoples of the Philippines. Meanwhile, a list of 110 of them purportedly ran away into the forests and mountains where they valiantly resisted the new God of the White Men, kept up the old archipelagic ways and traditions, and are today deemed to be the genuine indigenous peoples of the Philippines who by the way own about one-third of the present territory as their private property:
"Ancestral domains and ancestral lands are the private property of indigenous peoples and do not constitute part of the land of the public domain."
Some previous posts that may be useful to those studying this matter in depth are the following:

Ancestral Domain Regime of Bangsamorostan (August 14, 2007) which quotes the following alarming statement by President Arroyo to some business leaders but which most people ignored:
"If it would not adversely affect the Philippine negotiating position and provoke alarm among Christians, a pilot implementation of the envisioned Muslim ancestral domain regime shall be undertaken, to demonstrate our sincerity to achieve peace,” Ms Arroyo said.

She said the government had declared many ancestral domains among indigenous peoples.

“I really don’t see why anybody should be scared if there is an ancestral domain declared for the Muslim people,” she added.

The issue of ancestral domain or territory is about the areas to be recognized as part of a Muslim homeland and which will be placed under a so-called Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE), the probable name of the governing body of the new Moro homeland.

It is not clear how much autonomy the BJE will have. But the proposal is for the MILF to have full fiscal, political and religious authority in the BJE.

Several analyses of the IPRA Law and the Supreme Court Decision are to be found in this series of posts:

Are Ilocanos, Pampangos, Tagalogs, Batanguenos, Naguenos, Cebuanos "Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines?"

Laughable Textbook Errors in Crucial Supreme Court Decisions

Do You Think This Version of Ancient Philippine History Is Correct?

Chief Justice Puno on Terrorism--Sophomoric, Uninspiring, Self-Loathing"

Creation Myth of the Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines


Click on the tag labels below to get a full listing of related posts.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Black Hole Catastrophe Theory and the Large Hadron Collider

(You deserve a break from catastrophic Philippine news...)

Der Spiegel (Physicists Allay Fears About the End of the World) points to the YouTube video above which depicts the wildly popular catastrophe theory that the world's largest ever "atom smasher"--the Large Hadron Collider about to be switched on at CERN (European Nuclear Research Center) any time now--could create a black hole big enough to swallow up the Earth. Of course, being a German magazine, (and therefore no fun at all), the report concentrates on the debunking of the theory by a group of German Quantum Physicists:
KET argues that those concerned about a tiny black hole growing into a large black hole fundamentally misunderstand well-established rules of quantum physics. For one, mini-black holes, the KET Web site assures its readers, would be just one billionth of a billionth of a gram in weight and would be extremely unstable. Indeed, according to a theory developed by the famous physicist Stephen Hawking, they would vanish almost instantaneously -- a phenomenon known as Hawking radiation. Anyone who says otherwise, KET says, doesn't completely get Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.
In another lifetime, I was working on the design and manufacture of powerful superconducting magnets for the General Electric Co. which had been tapped to supply some three thousand of them for what would've been America's own version of the LHC, called the Superconducting Super Collider. But the US Congress killed the project in 1994, which would've been built in Texas. There is an apocryphal story that claims a US Senator asked the Nobel Laureate, Harvard Physicist Steven Weinberg, whether the SSC would help us read the Mind of God, but got the wrong answer (or a disdainful look!) and that's why the SSC was never built and had to wait for Europe to do it with the LHC. The cancellation was a really huge disappointment for the entire scientific community, and some say it marked the end of American dominance in particle physics.

Well I dare say we'll probably understand how to make and use black holes much sooner than we will figure out the US Congress. It's just our luck though...the CERN Black Hole would swallow up Mindanao and the MILF last of all.)

MILF Attacks and Occupies 5 Towns, 9 Municipalities in Cotabato

(From a live Press Conference at Camp Crame) Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno, speaking at a press conference with other government officials has admitted that the claims of Vice Gov. Manny Pinol of North Cotabato province, are true. MILF insurgent forces numbering some 800 have apparently attacked and occupied some 5 towns (Aliosan, North Kabuntalan, Libungan, Alamada, and Midsayap) involving 9 barangays in North Cotabato province since July 1. Some 1536 families composed of over 6500 individuals have been taken into National Disaster Coordinating Committee evacuation centers after armed insurgents of the MILF began harrassing them, burning homes, stealing farm animals and driving the residents away during a critical harvest time period. A 24-hour period for the MILF forces to vacate these areas has been announced by the government. The joint ceasefire committee and international monitoring team have been informed of the violations by the MILF in preparation for "clearing operations" to be conducted tomorrow by a joint task force of the Philippine National Police and the AFP. Vice-Gov. Manny Pinol has been having a word war with Esperon and Press Secretary Jesus Dureza over statements made by Esperon to Pinol that AFP might not lend them protection against the MILF if the Supreme Court TRO'd the Memorandum of Agreement he was about to sign in Malaysia last Tuesday. Esperon finally, finally, released official copies of the MOA at the Press Conference, including the list of barangays to be included in the expanded Bangsamoro Juridical Entity ("Bangsamorostan").


CAVEATS:

SACK'EM ALL: More than Hermogenes Esperon should be relieved of his post for the unfolding debacle involving a Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain that has been TRO'd by the Supreme Court for culpable violations of the Constitution. This after all is mostly the work of the current Press Secretary, Jesus Dureza, who had Esperon's job as Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process for many years up until a few months ago. The other derelict is Rodolfo Garcia, who together with Dureza has been shielding the MILF for years as their "partners in the peace process" -- notably in stopping warrants of arrest against many MILF members and leaders last year in connection with an ambush-beheading of Philippine Marines near Tipo-tipo, Basilan. Meanwhile, I suspect that Sec. Ronaldo Puno is also culpable for his role in the delivery of ransoms in a series of kidnap for ransom situations, from that of Fr. Giancarlo Bossi, to the hostaging of Gen. Ben Muhammad Dolorfino, to Ces Drilon and the four separate kidnap for ransom incidents taht quickly followed the latter incident. It would be in keeping with his low character and moral dwarfism to take this expedient route as a means of quickly resolving these embarrassing incidents, actions akin to pouring gasoline on a spreading prairie fire of terrorist financing through kidnap for ransom operations.


EATING CROW: Hermogenes Esperon was eating a lot of crow in today's Press Conference as everything that transpired there vindicates the accusations made against him and the administration by Vice Gov. Manny Pinol, Zamboanga Mayor Celso Lobregat and other local govt officials, that the AFP has been restraining its troops from acting against MILF incursions like those in the towns and muncipalities mentioned in North Cotabato.


SALING PUSA Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro is largely a bit-player and water-carrier in these tableaux involving the MILF, Mindanao and the "peace process". But I thought he made the most important point today that compliance with the government's ultimatum for insurgents to vacate these towns they have attacked and occupied, is a test of the MILF's good faith. It's also a test of the government's continued credibility with the populace not only in Mindanao but everywhere.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

No More Deals Without Disarmament

I think that most Filipinos are sick and tired of watching the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) brandishing heavily armed fighters parading around and shouting insurgent slogans before news cameras and reporters while their spokesmen talk hypocritically of peace negotiations and memoranda of agreement as "done deals."

It is even more disgusting when government officials like Hermogenes Esperon (Adviser on the Peace Process) speak darkly of "consequences" that might result from not giving the MILF what it is demanding at gunpoint, and even tells local officials that the government might not defend them against retaliatory attacks by the MILF for that Supreme Court TRO stopping the Bangsamorostan deal. It's no wonder that a pinhead like Esperon would dare to say such things when "legal advisers" like Atty. Bong Montesa illogically claim that the Supreme Court could "kill" the peace process with the MILF when it is the latter that has been lobbing mortar shells at our armed forces, harrassing civilians and raring for a fight.

I don't think that any self-respecting nation ought to give in to armed thugs demanding that it carve out a homeland for their wanna-be sultans and rajahs. When folks like Ghazali Jafar, Eid Kabalu and their "partners in the peace process" like Jess Dureza and Rodolfo Garcia talk about "confidence building measures" Filipinos ought to shout back one word: DISARMAMENT.

I don't see why we should entertain any further negotiations without demanding that such negotiations only be done without the threat of the MILF fomenting violence and war. Whenever a group of people take up arms against a government, it is a sign that they really want out of the political and constitutional arrangement that gives that government any and all rights to exist in the first place.

So I think the MILF must choose: either it gives up separatism and their dream of a theocratic sultanate, or face up to the fact that the Filipino people will not, and cannot agree to anything that is forced upon them by an armed insurgency.

For their part, the Philippine government has to develop a spine with a brain attached to it. DISARMAMENT should be a precondition for any deal that requires changes to the Philippine Constitution.

That seems to me to be a fair and equitable give and take, otherwise no progress can actually be achieved. It is patently absurd for this nation to agree to anything at all under an armed threat. And it is simply treasonous (as well as Macchiavellian) for Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to promise heaven and earth to these insurgent thugs with such a threat hanging over the Republic.

No more deals without disarmament!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

MILF Claims Bangsamorostan is a "Done Deal"

The MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT (MILF) claims that the initialing of a Memorandum of Agreement by Hermogenes Esperon and Rodolfo Garcia means that the deal between it and the Arroyo administration to establish a Bangsamoro Juridical Entity is now a "done deal", even if the Supreme Court has issued an indefinite-time temporary restraining order against it. Here is the full statement of the MILF Central Committee:
“We have initialed the text of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral domain last July 27, 2008. The pact is a done deal. It is binding on the contracting parties who are obliged to refrain from acts that would defeat the object and purpose of their agreement.”


This was the initial statement coming from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), after the Philippine Supreme Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to stop the government from signing the MOA-AD with the MILF.

The formal signing ceremony was due to take place, Tuesday, August 5, at Marriott Hotel, Putrajaya, Selangor, Malaysia. A public ceremony only gives importance politically to that “done deal” as a means to establish their consent to be bound to the initialed text of the MOA-AD.

Speaking through Mohagher Iqbal, MILF chairperson of the committee on information, described the TRO as an internal process of the government, which has no binding effects on the MILF.

“The act of initialing the MOA-AD agreed text between the parties,” Iqbal said, “constitutes a signature of the Philippine government and MILF.” Initialing was in fact “done with a credible third party witness, the Malaysian government as facilitator of the talks since 2001,” he went to say. Adhering to diplomatic practice, the MILF peace panel and the GRP peace panel exchange the agreed on text to establish their consent.

Secretary Rodolfo Garcia, GRP chief peace negotiator, and Secretary Hermogenes Esperon of the Office of the Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process (OPAPP) likewise initialed the document for the government, while Mohagher Iqbal for the MILF, and Datuk Othman bin Abdulrazak, the chief peace facilitator, for the Malaysian government.

Iqbal said the signing ceremony is a matter of formality, but even without this ceremony, the document is already legally binding on the parties.

Asked what would be the impact of the aborted signing to the MILF, he said: “Nothing! This is not even a setback to the MILF. We are on the upper hand especially in the battle for moral ascendancy.”

He added: “It is the Arroyo administration which is shamed in the eyes of the international community. There are so many ambassadors already in the Malaysian capital to attend the signing ceremony, only to be told that it is cancelled at the last minute.”

Among those foreign dignitaries already in Kuala Lumpur are US ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney and Ambassador Sayed ElMasry, adviser to Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) Secretary General and Special Envoy for Peace Process in Southern Philippines.

Sayed ElMasry agreed to officially endorse the GRP-MILF MOA-AD; in fact, his name is appearing in the initialed document as one of the signatories.

The MOA-AD is the textual version of the consensus points arrived upon by the government peace panel and the MILF peace panel for about four years of peace negotiations which commenced way back in December 2004.
By the way, I think that Ding Gagelonia at Filipino Voices was maybe seeing too much in a simple typographical error on the Luwaran website, interpreting it as meaning that the MILF had announced a postponement of the signing ceremony that would have been held today, August 5. Here is the August 4, 2008 post on Luwaran:
In what is considered as the most significant and historic event that ever happened in the annals of the 11-year old GRP-MILF Peace Talks, the MILF has sent some 50 persons including its peace panel, secretariat, technical committee, and representatives of its nominated non-government organizations (NGOs) to the formal signing ceremony of the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain (MOA-AD) in Putrajaya, Selangor, Malaysia August 25.
If the report is true, US Ambassador Kristie Kenney is a bigger fool than I thought. Esperon, Garcia and Dureza really are the Three Stooges of this whole sorry mess.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Sultanic Verses

UPDATE: The Supreme Court has issued a Temporary Restraining Order against the reported signing of a Bangsamoro homeland deal between the government and the MILF.

A Memorandum of Agreement has been published purporting to be the compact that the administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will sign with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Malaysia tomorrow. (PDF) The matter has raised a howl of protest from a broad swathe of Philippine society, after copies of it circulated late last week. The provisions in the MOA explain why the Palace has been moving heaven and earth in a now futile attempt to postpone the August 2008 ARMM elections because if the elections move forward and a new set of local officials are elected in ARMM, there is no credible way for the Palace to deliver on its deal with the MILF, as Opposition spokesman Adel Tamano pointed out on the noon time news on ANC.

The gerrymandering of the present ARMM into the more grandiose concept of a Bangsamoro Homeland (in which the MNLF will be delivered into the hands of their mortal enemies in the MILF!), would become virtually impossible to do. Now it turns out that the MILF want not only Nur Misuari's tribes to be suborned to them, but all of Mindanao's Indigenous Peoples, together with their lands and domains, to be united under "the suzerain authority" of a modern Moro Sultanate, in the guise of the MILF itself!
From the GRP-MILF MOA: CONCEPTS AND PRINCIPLES

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 of its descendants whether mixed or of full blood. Spouses and their descendants are classified as Bangsamoro. The freedom of choice of the Indigenous people shall be respected.
CAVEAT: Considering that there are actually 110 named Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines, it borders on the megalomaniac for the MILF to claim as "Bangsamoros" all those that happen to be in Mindanao. Indeed from Minda News, here is the answer to the MILF from the Manobo, Talaandig, Pulangiyon, Mamanwa, Bla'an, Dibabawon, Mandaya, T'boli, Tagabawa-Bagobo, Erumanen-Menuvu, Higa-onon and Subanon and other indigenous peoples who may not want to have anything to do with their Bangsamoro Juridical Entity. These were the very lumads that the Moro sultanates were predators of. Why should we, or they, agree to fall under the thrall of "sacred inequality" again?
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.
CAVEAT: The claim to being "the first politically organized dominant occupants" is specious and subject to questions of historical veracity and relevance. The Philippine Constitution does not recognize any such criterion for awarding the "ownership of the homeland" to any body of people, sizeable or not, dominant or not.
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 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.
CAVEAT: The claim that ancestral lands and domains never fell into the public domain is the conceptual centerpiece and rhetorical piece-de-resistance of the Supreme Court's December 2000 ruling on the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997. This law purports to reverse alleged injustices done throughout centuries of imperial colonialism and democratic republicanism in one fell swoop of historico-legal revision and expiation. But it defies logic why this should now lead to the restoration of the immoral, if not suzerain authority of slave-trading, human trafficking Moro sultanates:
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 distinct dominant people.
CAVEAT: The claim made above that the Moro sultanates were endowed with all the elements of a modern state is extravagant and immodest. The historical record contains a much less flattering description. It is also highly doubtful that we, the Filipino People, want to yield to the suzerainty of some restored version of the old Maguindanao Sultanates and certainly NOT to "establish a system of governance suitable and acceptable to them as distinct dominant people."

Prof. Thomas McKenna of the University of Alabama, Birmingham, tells the story of SHARIFF KABUNSUAN, the legendary founder of the Maguindanao Sultanates in what is now Cotabato Province.
The coming of Sarip Kabungsuwan to Cotabato is the charter event for the claims of the rulers of Cotabato in the historical period to nobility and moral authority. The story of the arrival of Sarip Kabungsuwan is told in the tarsilas , the written genealogies that link the royal houses of Cotabato with their progenitor. The term "tarsila" is derived from the Arabic "silsila," meaning name-chain, and the genealogical accounts in the Magindanaon tarsilas not only linked living datus with Sarip Kabungsuwan, their apical ancestor, but also contained supplementary sections tracing the ancestry of Sarip Kabungsuwan to the Prophet Muhammad. The tarsilas were written on paper in Magindanaon or Malay in Arabic script and were possessed by the sultans and all leading datus. Individual tarsilas were frequently recopied for updating or to replace worn copies.

According to the tarsilas, Sarip Kabungsuwan was the son of Jusul Asikin, the daughter of the Sultan of Johore, and Sarip Ali Zain-ul Abiden from Mecca. Thus, Kabungsuwan was the offspring of a princess of the Melaka royal family and, more significantly, the son of a sharif (the original Arabic form of "Sarip"), and hence a direct descendent of the Prophet Muhammad. [Majul (1973)] suggests that the historic Kabungsuwan must have sailed to Mindanao some time after 1511, when the Melaka royal family, to which his mother belonged, was driven from Melaka by the Portuguese and established a sultanate in Johore.

The tarsilas relate how Kabungsuwan arrived by chance at the mouth of the Pulangi River and began to convert local chieftains and their followers to Islam. He married the daughters of some of these chieftains, thus establishing in Mindanao a barabangsa, or royal lineage, whose members claimed a sacred genealogy, tracing their origins to the Prophet Muhammad. The tarsilas report that the first wife married by Sarip Kabungsuwan in Cotabato (Putri Tunina) was found in a bamboo stalk. Kabungsuwan's son, Sarip Makaalang, married a woman who emerged from a crow's egg. The existence of these supernatural children raised the status of the female descent line, thus further distinguishing the barabangsa line from autochthonous lineages.[12]

Sarip Kabungsuwan founded the Magindanao Sultanate at the coast and his rule passed to his son, Sarip Makaalang. The upstream Buayan Sultanate originated, according to the tarsilas, from a union between the daughter of Sarip Kabungsuwan and a Buayan chieftain. Because the male descent line carries more genealogical weight than the female, the Magindanao Sultanate was able to designate itself the premier royal house of Cotabato, while the rulers of Buayan for most of its history used the title raja (prince) rather than sultan.[13] The traditional system of hereditary ranked statuses is also traced to the arrival of Kabungsuwan. This system, in its most general configuration, comprised four tiers. At the apex were the datus—rulers or descendants of rulers. Their ascendant status stemmed from Sarip Kabungsuwan's assumption of sovereignty over Muslim Mindanao (and its dependencies) and from their ability to trace descent from Kabungsuwan and, through him, to the first ruler of Muslims, the prophet Muhammad.
WHAT KIND OF SOCIETY DID THE BANGSAMORO SULTANATES MAINTAIN?

Prof. McKenna further describes the four tiers of the hierarchical society of the Maguinandanao Sultanates:
The traditional system of hereditary ranked statuses is also traced to the arrival of Kabungsuwan. This system, in its most general configuration, comprised four tiers. At the apex were the datus—rulers or descendants of rulers. Their ascendant status stemmed from Sarip Kabungsuwan's assumption of sovereignty over Muslim Mindanao (and its dependencies) and from their ability to trace descent from Kabungsuwan and, through him, to the first ruler of Muslims, the prophet Muhammad.[14]

Passing over, for a moment, the second level, we find on the third tier the endatuan , meaning literally "those who are ruled." The endatuan were the subjects of datus rather than of the realm; they were considered residents of particular ingeds (settlements) and subordinate to specific datus. The status of the endatuan seems to have been negatively defined. They were the followers of (and likely bore some kinship relation to) local chieftains. But unlike their rulers, they were unable to demonstrate sufficient kinship links with Sarip Kabungsuwan, the prime datu ancestor, to qualify as datus.

The second tier was occupied by the dumatus. This intermediate status has not been reported for other Philippine Muslim populations. The dumatus, as they describe themselves today, were neither datu nor endatuan—neither rulers nor ruled. The dumatus are the descendants of Tabunaway, a legendary Magindanaon chieftain who welcomed Sarip Kabungsuwan to Cotabato. The tarsilas record that Tabunaway acknowledged the sovereignty of Sarip Kabungsuwan and his descendants in exchange for certain privileges. The first entitlement was that neither he nor his descendants would pay tribute to any datu. Hadji Abbas expressed the distinction between endatuan and dumatu in his inged this way: "At harvest time the datu sent sacks to the endatuan who were obliged to fill all the sacks the datu gave them. The dumatus were not sent sacks and did not have to provide rice to the datu." The second dumatu entitlement was that no datu could be proclaimed as sultan without the participation of a Tabunaway descendent.[15] The dumatus have kept their own genealogical records of the Tabunaway descent line, principally to preserve their privileges vis-à-vis the Magindanaon aristocracy. Theirs is the only tarsila in Cotabato that does not trace descent from Sarip Kabungsuwan. The special status of Tabunaway descendants has allowed them to maintain, more so than any other group, their separate bangsa by remaining ancestor focused, self-ruled, and relatively corporate.


The fourth and lowest tier comprised the ulipun , or "disfranchised" (W. H. Scott 1982, 142) persons.[16] Ulipun were debt-bondsmen whose unfree status resulted from punishment for a legal offense, from failure to pay tribute or repay a debt, or from being sold by relatives (or occasionally by self-sale) into servitude in times of economic crisis. Ulipun status, unlike the other three estates, was, in general, neither ascribed nor permanent. It could, however, be inherited and, in practice, the system inhibited self-redemption by debt-bondsmen, probably because datus favored maintaining a high proportion of bound followers. As Warren (1981) describes the system of debt slavery in another Philippine Muslim polity—the Sulu Sultanate—the debt-bondsman's service to his creditor "did not generally count towards repayment of his debt" (1981, 216). Ulipun status was likely similar in most respects to the position of debt-bondsman described by Warren. Despite their inferior status, the ulipun, as Magindanaons and Muslims, were societal insiders and possessed certain rights, including the right to own chattel slaves (banyaga ). Those ulipun who were members of a datu's retinue were treated as household dependents and were occasionally able to rise to positions of significant responsibility. Banyaga, on the other hand, were despised outlanders who were not included in the system of social rank. They were captives acquired for the most part outside the territory of the sultanates, were usually not Muslims, and had no recognized rights and no social status other than as acquired persons—the property of others.[17]

The central organizing principle of this system of ranked statuses was maratabat (from the Arabic "martabat," or "rank"). Among the Magindanaon, "maratabat" primarily connotes rank arid secondarily the honor due to rank. Maratabat is the quantifiable essence of status rank and is measured most commonly as a monetary valuation when determining the proper amount of bridewealth (bantingan ) to be exchanged at marriage or the amount of wergild (bangun ) required to avert a feud. It is expressed generally as a gradation of four standard sums required for bridewealth within each of the four ranked estates; datu maratabat is valued at one thousand units, that of dumatus at seven hundred, the maratabat of the endatuan at five hundred, and that of ulipun at three hundred units. These quantities were expressed to me in Philippine pesos by informants but almost certainly referred originally to Mexican silver dollars, used as media of interregional exchange in Southeast Asia as recently as the early American period (Forrest 1969, 279; Gullick 1958, 20 n. 1; Miller 1913, 341).[18]

It was surely in honor of this revered ancestor and forefather of the Bangsamoro People that the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao's regional legislative assembly caused the creation of the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan. Much has been made of the fact that plebiscites are being proposed and will be used to determine if local political subdivisions such as cities and provinces agree to be included in the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity. However, it is instructive to take note of a recent Supreme Court decision that voided as patently unconstitutional, the creation of the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan even if the same was approved by a plebiscite among the involved municipalities and established by law by the legislative assembly of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

In this case, the High Court ruled, righteously in my opinion, that the regional legislature of ARMM could not enact laws that would result in changes to the membership and composition of the House of Representatives, which is an organ of the national government. This shows the limitation of local or partial plebiscites in ratifying acts of local and autonomous government units.
FULL TEXT OF THE DRAFT MOA: The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) herein referred to as the “Parties” to this Agreement.

Terms of Reference

The context of referents follows:

The Agreement for General Cessation of Hostilities dated July 18, 1997 Between the GRP and the MILF, and its Implementing Administrative and Operational Guidelines;

The General Framework of Agreement of Intent Between the GRP and the MILF dated August 27, 1998;

The Agreement on the General Framework for the Resumption of Peace Talks Between the GRP and the MILF dated March 24, 2001;

The Tripoli Agreement on Peace Between the GRP and the MILF dated June 22, 2001;

The Tripoli Agreement Between the GRP and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) dated December 23, 1976 and the Final Agreement on the Implementation of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement Between the GRP and the MNLF dated September 2, 1996;

Republic Act No. 6734, as amended by R.A. 9054, otherwise known as “An Act to Strengthen and Expand the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)”;

ILO Convention No. 169, in correlation to the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, and Republic Act No. 8371 otherwise known as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997, the UN Charter; the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law (IHL), and internationally recognized human rights instruments; and

Compact rights entrenchment emanating from the regime of dar-ul-mua’hada (or territory under compact) and dar-ul-sulh (or territory under peace agreement) that partakes the nature of a treaty device. For the purpose of this Agreement, a “treaty” is defined as any solemn agreement in writing that sets out understanding, obligations, and benefits for both parties which provides for a framework that elaborates the principles declared in the Agreement.

Have agreed and acknowledged as follows:


CONCEPTS AND PRINCIPLES

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 of its descendants whether mixed or of full 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 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 distinct dominant people.

5. Both Parties affirm their commitment to mutually respect the right to one’s identity and the parity of esteem of everyone in the political community. The protection of civil rights and religious liberties of individuals underlie the basis of peace and justice of their totality of relationships.

6. Both Parties agree that the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) shall have the authority and jurisdiction over the Ancestral Domain and Ancestral lands, including both alienable and non-alienable lands encompassed within their homeland and ancestral history, as well as the delineation of ancestral domain/lands of the Bangsamoro people located therein.

7. Vested property rights upon the entrenchment of the BJE shall be recognized and respected subject to paragraph 9 of the strand on Resources.

TERRITORY

1. The Bangsamoro homeland and historic territory 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. However, delimitations are contained in the agreed Schedules (Categories).

2. Toward this end, the Parties entered into the following stipulations:

a. The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as the Parties to this Agreement commit themselves to the full and mutual implementation of this framework agreement on territory with the aim of resolving outstanding issues that emanate from the consensus points on Ancestral Domain.

b. The Parties confirm their understanding that the mutual goal of reaching an agreement on Bangsamoro territory specific to mapping the outlying borders and the boundaries affecting local government units will lead to consolidation of the agreed texts on the Ancestral Domain Strands.

c. The Parties affirm that the core of the BJE shall constitute the present geographic area of the ARMM, including the municipalities of Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan and Tangkal in the province of Lanao del Norte that voted for inclusion in the ARMM during the 2001 plebiscite;

d. Without derogating from the requirements of prior agreements, the government stipulates to conduct and deliver, within six (6) months following the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain, a plebiscite covering the areas as enumerated in the list and depicted in the map as Category A attached herein (the “Annex”). The Annex constitutes an integral part of this framework agreement.

e. The areas covered by Category B has already been reflected on a map and officially agreed by both Parties.

f. Internal Waters:
The Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) shall have jurisdiction over the management, conservation, development, protection, utilization and disposition of all natural resources, living and non-living, within its internal waters extending fifteen (15) kilometers from the coastline of the BJE area.

g. Territorial Waters:
(1) The territorial waters of the BJE shall stretch beyond the BJE internal waters up to the Republic of the Philippines (RP) baselines south east and south west of mainland Mindanao. Beyond the fifteen (15) kilometers internal waters, the Central Government and the BJE shall exercise joint jurisdiction, authority and management over areas and [of] all natural resources, living and non-living contained therein. The details of such management of the Territorial Waters shall be provided in an agreement to be entered into by the Parties.

(2) The boundaries of the territorial waters shall stretch beyond the 15-km BJE internal waters up to the Central government’s baselines under existing laws. In the southern and eastern part of the BJE, it shall be demarcated by a line drawn from the Maguling Point, Palimbang, Province of Sultan Kudarat up to the straight baselines of the Philippines. On the northwestern part, it shall be demarcated by a line drawn from Little Sta. Cruz Island, Zamboanga City, up to Naris Point, Bataraza, Palawan. On the western part of Palawan, it shall be demarcated by a line drawn from the boundary of Bataraza and Rizal up to the straight baselines of the Philippines.

The final demarcation shall be determined by a joint technical body composed of duly-designated representatives of both Parties, in coordination with the appropriate Central Government agency in accordance with the above guidelines.

h. Sharing of Minerals on Territorial Waters:
Consistent with paragraphs 5 and 6 of the provisions on Resources, all potential sources of energy, petroleum in situ, hydrocarbon, natural gas and other minerals, including deposits or fields found within the territorial waters, shall be shared between the Central Government and the BJE in favor of the latter through production sharing agreement or economic cooperative agreement.

i. Activities Allowed on Territorial Waters:

(1) The Parties shall have authority to carry out the following activities within the territorial waters:

(a) Exploration and utilization of the natural resources, whether living or non-living within the territorial waters;

(b) Establishments and use of artificial islands, installations and structures;

(c) Marine scientific research;

(d) Protection and the preservation of the marine environment;

(e) Conservation of living resources;

(f) Regulation of shipping and fishing activities;

(g) Enforcement of police and safety measures, including interdiction of the entry and use of the waters by criminal elements and hot pursuit of suspected criminal elements;

(h) Regulation and control of contraband and illegal entry of prohibited materials and substances, including smuggling; and

(i) Such other measures as the Parties may otherwise mutually agree.

(2) Activities relating to exploration and utilization of non-living resources, as well as paragraphs (c) and (d) of the Authorized Activities will be carried out on a joint basis agreed by the Parties which may be in the form of production sharing agreements or joint development pacts.

j. Establishment of a Joint Commission:

(1) The Parties shall establish a Joint Commission, which shall elaborate the modalities for the implementation and the carrying out of the Authorized Activities and the measures adopted in cases of allegation of breach, and carry out any other functions which may be assigned to it by the Parties for the purpose of implementing the joint management of resources.

(2) The Joint Commission shall consist of one representative from each Party, who are assisted by advisers as may be needed. The conclusions of the Joint Commission shall be adopted by consensus and shall only be recommendatory in nature. Only when the conclusions of the Joint Commission are adopted by the Parties do they become binding on the Parties.

k. Demarcation and Status of Territorial Waters:

The demarcation and status of the BJE territorial waters shall be finally determined together with the demarcation and final status of Category B of the BJE.

3. From and after entrenchment of compact rights over the Bangsamoro homeland and the territorial jurisdictions for associative governance shall likewise embrace those under proclamation for agricultural and human settlements intended for the Bangsamoro people, all alienable and disposable land, pasture lands, timberlands together with all existing civil and military reservations, parks, old growth or natural forests declared as forest reserves, watersheds, mangroves, fishponds, wetlands, marshes, inland bodies of water and all bays, straits and channels found within the BJE.

4. All territorial and 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 as their geographic areas, inclusive of settlements and reservations, may be formed or constituted into political subdivisions of the Bangsamoro territorial jurisdictions subject to the principles of equality of peoples and mutual respect and to the protection of civil, political, economic, and cultural rights in their respective jurisdictions.

5. For purposes of territorial delimitation, the Parties have agreed to the joint determination of geographic areas encompassed within the territorial borders of the Bangsamoro homeland and territory based on the technical maps and data submitted by both sides as provided above.

RESOURCES

1. The Bangsamoro juridical entity is empowered with authority and responsibility for the land use, development, conservation and disposition of the natural resources within the homeland. Upon entrenchment of the Bangsamoro juridical entity, the land tenure and use of such resources and wealth must reinforce their economic self-sufficiency. Among the purposes or measures to make progress more rapid are:

a. Entry into joint development, utilization, and exploitation of natural resources designed as commons or shared resources, which is tied up to the full setting of appropriate institution, particularly affecting strategic minerals.

b. Stimulation of local economy by a range of mechanism, in particular the need to address unemployment and improvement of living conditions for the population in the Bangsamoro juridical entity;

c. Intensification of measures needed to uproot the cause of poverty in the Bangsamoro juridical entity through responsible harnessing and development of its natural resources; and

d. Undertaking program review of public services, industrial or trade-related and agrarian-related issues in situations of different sectors of the society in the Bangsamoro juridical entity, which acquire communal character deriving from the special nature of their industry.

2. The Bangsamoro People through their appropriate juridical entity shall, among others, exercise power or authority over the natural resources within its territorial jurisdiction:

a. To explore, exploit, use or utilize and develop their ancestral domain and ancestral lands within their territorial jurisdiction, inclusive of their right of occupation, possession, conservation, and exploitation of all natural resources found therein;
b. To conserve and protect the human and natural environment for their sustainable and beneficial enjoyment and their posterity;

c. To utilize, develop, and exploit its natural resources found in their ancestral domain or may enter into a joint development, utilization, and exploitation of natural resources, specifically on strategic minerals, designed as commons or shared resources, which is tied up to the final setting of appropriate institution.

d. To revoke or grant forest concessions, timber license, contracts or agreements in the utilization and exploitation of natural resources designated as commons or shared resources, mechanisms for economic cooperation with respect to strategic minerals, falling within the territorial jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro juridical entity;

e. To enact agrarian laws and programs suitable to the special circumstances of the Bangsamoro people prevailing in their ancestral lands within the established territorial boundaries of the Bangsamoro homeland and ancestral territory is within the competence of the Bangsamoro juridical entity; and

f. To use such natural resources and wealth to reinforce their economic self-sufficiency.

3. The Bangsamoro Juridical Entity, and the Central Government agree on wealth-sharing based on a mutually agreed percentage ratio in favor of the Bangsamoro juridical entity through an economic cooperation agreement or arrangement over the income and revenues that are derived from the exploration, exploitation, use and development of any resources for the benefit of the Bangsamoro people.

4. The Bangsamoro juridical entity is free to enter into any economic cooperation and trade relations with foreign countries: provided, however, that such relationships and understandings do not include aggression against the Government of the Republic of the Philippines; provided, further that it shall remain the duty and obligation of the Central Government to take charge of external defense. Without prejudice to the right of the Bangsamoro juridical entity to enter into agreement and environmental cooperation with any friendly country affecting its jurisdiction, it shall include:

a. the option to establish and open Bangsamoro trade missions in foreign countries with which it has economic cooperation agreements; and

b. the elements bearing in mind the mutual benefits derived from Philippine archipelagic status and security.

And, in furtherance thereto, the Central Government shall take necessary steps to ensure the Bangsamoro juridical entity’s participation in international meetings and events, e.g. ASEAN meetings and other specialized agencies of the United Nations. This shall entitle the said juridical entity participation in Philippine official missions and delegations that are engaged in the negotiation of border agreements or protocols for environmental protection, equitable sharing of incomes and revenues, in the areas of sea, seabed and inland seas or bodies of water adjacent to or between islands forming part of the ancestral domain, in addition to those of fishing rights.

5. Jurisdiction and control over, and the right of exploring for, exploiting, producing and obtaining all potential sources of energy, petroleum, in situ, fossil fuel, mineral oil and natural gas, whether onshore or offshore, is vested in the Bangsamoro juridical entity as the party having control within its territorial jurisdiction, provided that in times of national emergency, when public interest so requires, the Central Government may, during the emergency, for a fixed period and under reasonable terms as may be agreed by both Parties, temporarily assume or direct the operations of such strategic resources.

6. The Bangsamoro government-take or profit split from total production shall be shared with the Central Government on a percentage ratio of 75%/25% in favor of the Bangsamoro juridical entity. All royalties, bonuses, taxes, charges, custom duties or imposts on natural resources and mineral resources shall be shared by the Parties on a percentage ratio of 75%/25% in favor of the Bangsamoro juridical entity.

7. The legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro people arising from any unjust dispossession of their territorial and propriety rights, customary land tenures, or their marginalization shall be acknowledged. Whenever restoration is no longer possible, the GRP shall take effective measures of adequate reparation collectively beneficial to the Bangsamoro people, in such quality, quantity and status to be determined mutually by both Parties.

8. All proclamations, issuances, policies, rules and guidelines declaring old growth or natural forests and all watersheds within the BJE as forest reserves shall continue to remain in force until otherwise modified, revised or superseded by subsequent policies, rules and regulations issued by the competent Bangsamoro authority or juridical entity.

9. Forest concessions, timber licenses, contracts or agreements, mining concessions, Mineral Production and Sharing Agreements (MPSA), Industrial Forest Management Agreements (IFMA), and other land tenure instruments of any kind or nature whatsoever granted by the Philippine Government including those issued by the present Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) shall continue to operate from the date of formal entrenchment of the Bangsamoro juridical entity unless otherwise expired, reviewed, modified and/or cancelled by the latter.

10. The Parties recognized an immediate need to establish a five-member Bangsamoro economic-expert mission (the “Mission”) bearing in mind that the functioning of the economy and the operation of institutions involve financial and other resource management as well as parallel or complementary means, by which the Bangsamoro Development Agency will manage and administer resources acquired for the above purposes, especially in coordinating strategies and programs for cooperation in all fields.

11. The said Mission acts as a link in the conduct of Bangsamoro juridical entity’s associative parallel relationships and shall cooperate fully with all organizations involved in implementation of the peace settlement. It shall launch a plan and joint international appeal for the repatriation and development of the conflict affected areas in Mindanao. Persons appointed thereto must be familiar with the specific economic, political and legal characteristics in the Mindanao-Sulu-Palawan region and must possess recognized competence, integrity, and high moral standing.

12. Cognizant that the Bangsamoro economic-expert Mission will benefit from international expertise, both the Central Government and the BJE hereby join the Third Party facilitator in inviting international funding institutions or equivalent entities for reconstruction and development to appoint two members and to designate one as the Chairman. The BJE shall designate one member as Co-Chairman. The remaining two members shall each be designated by the Central Government and the BJE.

GOVERNANCE

1. The recognition and peaceful resolution of the conflict must involve consultations with the Bangsamoro people free of any imposition in order to provide chances of success and open new formulas that permanently respond to the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people.

1. 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. The parties respect the freedom of choice of the indigenous peoples.

3. The Parties agree to invite a multinational third-party to observe and monitor the actual implementation of the comprehensive compact which will embody the details for the effective enforcement of this Agreement. The participation of the third-party shall not in any way affect the status of the relationship between the Central Government and the BJE.

4. The relationship between the Central Government and the Bangsamoro juridical entity shall be associative characterized by shared authority and responsibility with a structure of governance based on executive, legislative, judicial and administrative institutions with defined powers and functions in the comprehensive compact. A period of transition shall be established in a comprehensive peace compact specifying the relationship between the Central Government and the BJE.

5. The modalities for the governance intended to settle the outstanding negotiated political issues are deferred after the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain.

The establishment of institutions for governance in a comprehensive peace compact, together with its modalities during the transition period, shall be fully entrenched and established in the basic law of the Bangsamoro juridical entity. The Parties shall faithfully comply with their commitment to the associative arrangements upon entry into force of a comprehensive compact between the MILF and GRP.

7. The Parties agree that the mechanisms and modalities for the actual implementation of this MOA AD shall be spelt out in the comprehensive compact to mutually take such steps to enable it to occur effectively.

Any provisions of the MOA on Ancestral Domain requiring amendments to the existing legal framework shall come into force upon signing of a comprehensive compact and upon effecting the necessary changes to the legal framework with due regard to non derogation of prior agreements and within the stipulated timeframe to be contained in the comprehensive compact.

8. The parties agree that the BJE shall be empowered to build, develop and maintain its own institutions, inclusive of, civil service, electoral, financial and banking, education, legislation, legal, economic, and police and internal security force, judicial system and correctional institutions, necessary for developing a progressive Bangsamoro society the details of which shall be discussed in the negotiation of the comprehensive compact.

9. The Parties further agree to undertake activities which will enhance the capacity of the government institutions during the transition through technical assistance, information-sharing and human resource development.

10. Matters concerning the details of the agreed consensus points on Governance not covered under this Agreement shall be deferred to, and discussed during, the negotiations of the comprehensive compact.


READINGS:

Islamic Rule in Cotabato (read by Dean Jorge Bocobo)

European Impositions and the Myth of Morohood (read by Dean Jorge Bocobo)