Our Muslim crabs
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2012-10-16
Muslim Filipinos, more than Christian Filipinos, form the bigger impediment to attaining a better life for our Muslim brothers in Mindanao. If the so-called Filipino Christian crabs are bad, the Filipino Muslim crabs are no better.

Our Muslim brothers in Mindanao have long suffered from the ravages of war. They have been forced on several instances to flee from their homes when the fighting had expanded into their neighborhood. When that happens, there’s not just a loss of domicile but an economic dislocation that’s created. One would expect that Muslim leaders would be the happiest when news of a peace breakthrough has been attained.

The actuations of the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) leaders headed by Nur Misuari immediately after the announcement last October 6 by President Benigno S. Aquino III (P-Noy) of the Bangsamoro Framework for a Peace Agreement — dramatically contrasted with the reactions of people all over the world. All over the world and here, people were elated that we’re finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel — the very good prospects of attaining a lasting peace in Muslim Mindanao that would uplift the economy there. The Bangsamoro Framework breakthrough was hailed by the US, UK, European Union, UN and ASEAN. Filipinos and the religious sector here hailed it too.

Only Nur Misuari and his ilk were far from happy and were threatening to wage more war. Appearing on ANC with Tony Velasquez, Firduasi Abbas was posturing like only he had balls in this country, threatening us with more war, fire and brimstone. Abbas makes you wonder where he got the impression that Filipinos are afraid to fight. We may not have his appetite for war but isn’t it obvious that we have been in conflict in Muslim Mindanao because the majority of Filipinos are not about to cede a portion of its territory and will fight for it? The way Abbas opens his mouth makes you wonder if he’s not the opposite of what he’s trying to project — the case of a mouse trying to growl like a lion.

After over 28 years of involvement in Philippine politics, the one impression that’s etched on my mind is that Filipino Muslims are more against Filipino Muslims than they are against Christian Filipinos. The poverty that’s so prevalent in Muslim Mindanao isn’t so much because of neglect by the national government but because of the feudal structure in Moroland where the leaders get the bulk of the resources allocated for the region or province and the rest live off crumbs from their tables. If you add all the money that the national government and other foreign donors have injected into Muslim Mindanao, you’ll realize that they shouldn’t be lagging behind the Christian parts of Mindanao. 

In 1986, when I was Director-General of the Cory Aquino for President Media Bureau, I asked for a briefing on the issues in Muslim Mindanao. Six gentlemen came to brief me, among them was the late Ambassador Alunan Glang. The discussions were flowing smoothly until two of the six resource persons left. As soon as the two left, the remaining four resource persons started discrediting what the two who had left presented during the discussion. Then another three of them left and the last remaining resource person wasted no time undermining the stated positions of the five others on issues, even their loyalties. The meeting left me confused on campaign issues but it was a ringside seat to the odd dynamics of Muslim politics in our country.

P-Noy deserves the accolade that he has been receiving for attaining the peace breakthrough with the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front). He tapped a solid team of effective silent workers that pursued the elusive peace formula through very trying obstacles, a lot of which have been the residual bad vibes from past failures. The attitude being displayed by Government Panel Chairman, Dean Marvin Leonen, is very encouraging.
Leonen was quoted that when he took the job, he thought that it would be very, very difficult. Now, he just sees it as very difficult.

Indeed, the Bangsamoro Framework of Agreement is a major breakthrough, especially when one considers how its precursor — the Supreme Court-junked MOA-AD (Memorandum of Agreement-Ancestral Domain) — had deepened animosities after the disappointment the MILF felt when that agreement was scuttled. The MOA-AD was suspected of allowing the establishment of a virtual state. There was no such entity in the Bangsamoro Framework for Agreement.

With China already encroaching on Philippine territory in the South China Sea, the last thing that we need is another conflict to distract the already thin and overstretched resources of our armed forces. It’s also not improbable that China might decide to play a hand in the Muslim Mindanao conflict if only to distract us from defending our territory. Even the big gains in our economy could be derailed by renewed hostilities in Muslim Mindanao.

The bright future that we Filipinos aspire to attain is in jeopardy if we cannot forge a lasting peace in Muslim Mindanao. We should all unite for peace and junk these counter productive notions some crabs are peddling.

* * *

Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.” 

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

[Click here for the Archive]

Home | As I Wreck This Chair | High Ground | Career Brief and Roots | Advocacies | Landmarks Copyright 2006 The Chair Wrecker by William M. Esposo