MINDANAO CHRISTIAN AND HIGHLANDERS ALLIANCE (MICHA)
POLITICAL ISSUES AND CONCERNS UNDER THE NEW ADMINISTRATION OF HIS EXCELLENCY BENIGNO SIMEON C. AQUINO III ON THE GPH and MILF PEACE NEGOTIATION
July 14, 2011
After the aborted signing of Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) representatives met to discuss the resumption of the peace talks. On July 7, 2009 a secret meeting was held at
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and revealed by the MILF in an
interview over the radio at . MILF demanded that they
want the previous agreed points and the provisions of Memorandum of Agreement
on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) as basis of the continued peace talks. Cotabato
Subsequently, the panel met again on July 28, 2009 at
July 29, 2009 both parties acknowledged each party’s stand that: The GRP acknowledges the stand of MILF that
MOA-AD was initialed, and the MILF acknowledges the stand of GRP that MOA-AD
was unsigned. Kuala Lumpur,
On the December 08-09, 2009 resumption of GRP-MILF formal talks, the parties made a joint statement which states among others that: With the resumption of the Talks, the Parties agree to begin in earnest the negotiations on a Comprehensive Compact;
Based on the joint statement, the peace talks between the GRP and MILF has reached this important stage where the parties AGREE to BEGIN the NEGOTIATIONS on a COMPREHENSIVE COMPACT skipping other substantive aspects of importance before negotiating a comprehensive compact agreement, and with clear implications of recognition of the (defunct) MOA-AD.
As MILF demanded, they have now the International Contact Group (ICG) to guarantee whatever shall be agreed or entered in the resumption of the peace talks, continued presence of International Monitoring Team (IMT), safe return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), continued existence of Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG), except the presence of a UN peace keeping force, a suspect but hidden in the new terms of reference of IMT.
On April 21, 2010, the GRP-MILF panels concluded their 18th round of exploratory talks and made a joint statement with the following excerpts of important points:
1. In these 18th exploratory talks, They (GRP and MILF) were joined by representatives of the International Contact Group (ICG) during the two-day session.
2. In Kuala Lumpur, the two parties met to review drafts on arrangements transitioning towards a Comprehensive Compact as well as xxx, support for the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) and xxx.
3. The Parties agreed to mobilize technical and administrative resources including the facility for the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) to fulfill its role as a capacity building center for emerging Bangsamoro leaders and professionals.
4. The parties formally exchanged amended drafts proposal and matrices, discussed their proposals and agreed on areas of common ground, subject to endorsement by the Panels to their respective principals. This would be the basis of crafting the interim document in early May 2010.(Taken from paper of Concern Christians/Lumads of Central Mindanao (CCCM) submitted to Hon. Rafael Seguis, Chairman of then GRP Peace Panel).
To date, people of Mindanao have not seen the amended draft proposals between the parties. The Arroyo administration left without the intended May 2010 interim document.
THE NEW ADMINISTRATION OF PRESIDENT AQUINO
In its legislative brief on 28 September 2010, the Government Peace Negotiating Panel under OPAPP made the statement that, Earlier in June of this year (2010 under the outgoing Arroyo Administration), the Declaration on the Continuity of the GRP-MILF Negotiations was signed by the parties. It contained consensus points achieved by both sides on the continuing engagement of the GRP and MILF Panels until the conclusion of the comprehensive compact. It acknowledged past gains and put a closure to this stage of the peace negotiations and laid down the foundation for the continuation of the peace process well into the next administration (referring to the new Aquino Administration).
The new administration stated five (5) parameters to guide the conduct of negotiations, and one of which is: (d) The sentiment of the general public, which is far as practicable, shall be taken into consideration;
II. IMPORTANT ISSUES AND CONCERNS
Based on the joint statements and developments, the new administration has to consider much of the document in existent between former GRP Negotiating panel and MILF to include the MOA-AD and the MILF draft of the Comprehensive Compact MILF submitted on January 27, 2010 at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia under the GRP Negotiating panel led by Hon. Rafael Seguis.
MILF had made a great leap and paving the way towards signing of the Comprehensive Compact and towards transfer of power from local leaders to the MILF. Their insistence and tenacity in the negotiation had brought them victory against erstwhile GRP Panels.
Several position papers were sent by MICHA to GRP panels from the time of Estrada government then to the two terms of Arroyo. It thanked God and the Seguis negotiating panel that the signing of comprehensive compact was not pushed through in 2010.
Lately, the MICHA reviewed the MILF draft of Comprehensive Compact submitted on January 27, 2010 and found it full of pitfalls and ruses. MILF had it mixed up to hide certain provisions with sugary and idealistic coatings which if left in the comprehensive compact will still lead to independence. Deception is intertwined with the draft.
The following general examples are briefly stated:
1. Bases of the compact, “having in mind the principles embodied in the Initialed MOA-AD and its annexure xxx, (par. 5 of Preamble MILF Comprehensive Compact). Comment: It still seek to include MOA-AD when in fact it is already declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and the GRP promise that it shall not be signed in whatever face it is.
2. Parties affirmation to end the Conflict in Mindanao “xx traced to Historical injustices xxx”; acknowledgement of consolidation without derogation of prior agreements xxx”; Recording of inclusions of conceptual network of the initialed MOA-AD xxx constituted comprehensive clauses xxx”; and recognition of “the conclusion of the agreement on ancestral domain xxx” (pars.: a, b, c and d of Section 1 Article 1, ibid). Comment: The same as to MOA-AD.
3. Parties affirmation of the legitimacy of whatever choice the Bangsamoro People in regard to their national identity and the right to determine their political status, etc.; and that two sides acknowledged the present wish of a majority of the Bangsamoro people in Mindanao is a Territorial unit comprising their ancestral domain for asymmetrical compact of free association; It is understood that, the interim jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro STATE covers the land base and territorial waters set out in the AGREED schedules (Annex 2), Category A,B & C) xxx (Sec. 1 & 2 of Principles and Purposes, Article II, ibid). Comment: It seeks to legitimize the concept of first nation and ancestral domain by having the GRP affirm the identity, political status, governance and territory of the so-called Bangsamoro.
4. Transfer of power and authority to Bangsamoro; the Bangsamoro Basic Law; Concept and Definition of who are Bangsamoro; Eligibility to public office based on citizenship (Article X on Basic Rights and Safeguards, ibid). Comment: Simply stated, MILF tries to tell the government that since you can no longer govern us, you better transfer us the authority, then we make our laws, we determine who are our cohorts who shall only be eligible to public office, you not included as you are not Bangsamoro (Art. X, sec. 5).
5. Moro province xxx in its entirety remain the heartland geographical areas of the Bangsamoro Ancestral domain and patrimony (sec. 1, Patrimony and Land Ownership, Art. XVI, ibid). Comment: xxx same. Do not forget that we the Bangsamoro has Moro province which comprise the entire Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan to start with, and wait until we can invade you in the future to seek redress of your conversion of our brothers in Visayas and Luzon.
6. Bangsamoro also demands: reparation and restitution from GRP due to these historical injustices. Comment: xxx same, you pay us back for you lost the war and you consented to be subdued.
These are samples of the many basic dangerous parts of the aims
and principles in the negotiation inside this MILF Comprehensive Compact which if PUT IN SUBSTANCE will lead to sub-state and eventually to independence.
It is worth stating that what MICHA dislikes so much is that MILF reverses the situation as if it was the government that is troublesome when in fact it was them. They alluded to the MICHA and those who opposes the GRP-MILF MOA-AD as spoilers of peace, when in fact they were ones who started the fighting and all this trouble in Jolo, Basilan, Zamboanga, Lanao, North Cotabato and Maguindanao in Mindanao. Not to mention Christians and Highlanders and few Moro they massacred, kidnapped, beheaded and women raped including religious missionaries. Definitely, MILF has turned a deaf ear to these and often help to release victims of kidnapping but let the kidnappers (“kuno”) free with hefty board and lodging ransom. Added insult to injury, they get financial support from the comrades in ARMM and fellows in the government to finance their nefarious activities (frying the government by its own oil) and laughed at previous GRP panels as they nearly got the MOA-AD out of their magic. A warning that the new GRP Panel should take note as under Muslim traditions even pledges/promises in words are binding like contracts in civil law and they will insist on performance no matter what even through violence. In addition, per our information MILF had inserted a mole to create a hole in the negotiating panel. This is following the strategy of infiltration, conversion and intimidation, to deceive the panel to get at their aims.
These are the some of the reasons why Christians and non-Moro of Mindanao ignore MILF cravings for a Bangsamoro State. Christians and Highlanders do not want all these evils and scary pictures that this MILF and their terrorist cohorts were doing. That is MICHA is anathema to changes towards Bangsamoro State and so with the hideous Bangsamoro Basic Law which will legally force incorporation of the non-Moro to their lifestyle of hospitality and retaliation (Rido), the Islamic way.
As to the issue of alleged historical injustices, it is opined that based on the facts and direct observations of the Christians, Highlanders and even their fellow Filipino Moros, the root of injustice was traced from the Datuism in the area whereby many of the Datus denied or robbed their fellow hapless ordinary Moro of their lands and basic needs. To stress this point, when settlers of Mindanao arrived, ordinary Moros have no lands of their own and were used by their Datus as their workers and goons. It is only their Datus who have vast lands, and who dictate and regulate their living. It is hard to accept that long ago majority of the Moros are either slaves or purely workers of Datus and historically suffering from injustices. With definiteness, these alleged injustices were not caused by colonization or by settlers in Mindanao per se.
Another note of caution, the MILF had been following the archaic examples of the Ottoman Empire and was well into the pan_Islamic idea. This conflict they stage stemmed from religious impositions by Prophet Muhammad and dream of having a nation of all Muslims. To reiterate, for the prophet, religion is non-negotiable, you have to subdue and convert. And that this conflict will follow the same pattern and cannot be resolved by negotiation as they will ask for the whole, not fractions, as we can see, many more groups will be born and seek another territory in Mindanao. That is the least we can think of if we lack foresight, but we are definite that they will ask for more, including the Visayas and Luzon. This is following the rule that if you cannot fight us now then you can never in the future – this knowing the psychological disposition of the government think tanks of economics of war and fear of bombings, hostage taking and kidnappings.
This is the reason and basic aim of entrenchment and transfer of power, formulating basic law (to impose Shar’ia Law), reformulation of public land law based on ancestral domain and the withdrawal of GRP troops in Mindanao to hasten the subjugation and take over. It is clear that upon signing of the Comprehensive Compact and bearing in mind the MILF insistence of the defunct MOA-AD, etc., the Christians, Lumads and few Muslims against the MILF agenda together with their properties shall become the booty of war. All these are in the name of peace.
The 1996 GRP-MNLF agreement is a litmus paper that showed clear and evidentiary result out of the GRP negotiation with MNLF. Out of which MILF surfaced. The war raged between GRP and MILF, but the MNLF sat down, watched, and many of them supported the MILF. Now GRP has not even concluded its negotiation with MILF, here comes now, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) led by Ombra Kato, and other organizations like Abu Sayyaf, Jemaah Islamiah which will bear so many children in the future. To be definite, the BIFF as son of MILF (though they deny) conducts kidnapping to finance their activity and deceive the GRP that the same is distinct from them. Will the government ever learn out of this manipulative style of MILF? Will the GRP close its eyes on the massacre of innocent Christians that MILF did at Lanao? To rewind, part of those kidnappers killed and nabbed in Pigcawayan and Midsayap in the Province of North Cotabato were from Municipality of Sultan Kudarat, Province of Maguindanao, the present political base of MILF hierarchy at Barangay Darapanan and Simuay where Gadzhali Jaafar also has residence. And some kidnappers were known to be staff of MILF commanders.
MICHA will not elaborate on these points stated above as its stand was then and now is to scrap the MOA-AD and that the government should address only the basic problem of rehabilitation and development of Mindanao. If MILF continue to disrupt the peace in Mindanao or rebel against the duly constituted government then it is the responsibility of the government to address this with police action, notwithstanding the cost as its constitutional mandate. If the government needs MICHA and its sympathizers, then it will fight for the government until normalcy and peace reign in Mindanao.
III. The PROPOSITION:
Considering the above facts, the MICHA proposes to the new administration of His Excellency Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III to be circumspect in entering into any agreement with the MILF and beware of their deceptive hospitality, as any agreement entered into affects the 80% majority Christians and Lumads of Mindanao and other non-Christians outside of MILF.
MICHA also proposes to de-emphasize so much illegitimacy and memories of historical injustices and instead to discuss with them plans how to live and work for the better future of all Mindanaons and the Republic of the Philippines.
MICHA members pray that the members of the GRP panel, especially the Honorable and Panel Chairman Atty. Marvic Leonen and his team be guided by the Almighty Father, the God of Abraham, and of Aaron in handling the peace talks.
For the MILF, MICHA members also wish that they (MILF members) go back to the mainstream of the Philippine society and live as good Filipinos in every aspect of their life, living in their normal Islamic way without necessarily bringing forth secessionist ideals and terrorists’ activities brought about by concept of new identity as Bangsamoro.
And lastly, MICHA also pray that in all phases of negotiation, the GRP panel should be transparent and ascertain first from the majority people in Mindanao their true position in the on-going peace talks before any decision is made.
As always, MICHA embraces peace and denounces war, but is ready for war if time calls for it.
(Sgd.) MIKE SANTIAGO
Chief, MICHA Information Office