ARMM polls deferment: The confluence of 3 agendas
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-07-29
Typical of the pivotal periods of our history, majority of Filipinos are not even aware of the underlying circumstances and the big picture why Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) is suddenly in favor of postponing the ARMM elections.

And from the way even the Opposition and most of media have reacted – you might say that they are as ignorant as most Filipinos.

It is easiest to see the MILF agenda in wanting to postpone the ARMM elections until after the MILF peace pact is signed. The MILF would want to have ARMM elections after the definition of their ancestral domain is finalized in an inked agreement. ARMM elections after the signing of the peace deal would mean a big double victory for the MILF.

Most Filipinos can sense GMA’s selfish agenda in all this, suspecting a regime plot to use the MILF pact in order to change the Constitution. The Charter change, in turn, paves the way for GMA to change the form of government to parliamentary where she can stay in power beyond 2010 as Prime Minister.

Are most Filipinos surprised by GMA’s motives? I would not consider it beyond her to give away half of Mindanao if it ensures her prolonged stay in power. The GMA I know will consider trading anything if power is to be auctioned.

What most Filipinos are clueless about is the US agenda in Mindanao , the third agenda to be served by postponing the ARMM elections. This is the agenda that cements the cooperation between GMA and the MILF.

I first wrote about the US real agenda in Mindanao in my “Who is the US supporting in the Mindanao War?” column of August 19, 2007 and “What’s in it for the US in an independent Moroland?” column of September 2, 2007 . Both are available in archives.

I wrote in September 2, 2007 that “A US Protector of an independent Moroland will provide the following benefits to American geopolitical interests in the region:

1. The US is able to deal first hand with the threat of extremist Middle East Muslims spreading its clout in the region, especially in Indonesia which has the biggest Muslim population. If you were the US , you would rather deal with that problem yourself than entrust it to a corrupt, incompetent Philippine government.

2. The main objective of Mindanao Muslims to have their own Moroland is not incompatible with US interests especially if such an independent Moroland enhances the US presence in Asia’s strategic region and can be the repository of US weapons, including nuclear (now banned by the 1987 Constitution).

3. It may just be cheaper and easier for the US to serve their geopolitical interests through an independent Moroland under their Protection rather than be dealing with the Philippine government and all its attendant problems with a dysfunctional democracy, worsening poverty and unchecked insurgency. US patronage will always be more enticing to Muslim Mindanao warlords compared to what they are now getting from Philippine politicians. It can only be a blissful union.

Am I right or am I right? Is there still a doubting Thomas out there in the light of the events that are unfolding?

In my August 19, 2007 column I featured the January 20, 2003 letter of the late MILF chief Hashim Salamat to US President George W. Bush. I was told that this letter was personally hand carried to the US President by the then US Ambassador to the Philippines . Who knows — the US Ambassador may have suggested it himself to serve the US agenda.

In that letter, Hashim Salamat outlined three justifications for the US to press for the independent Moroland, as follows:

1. The US guaranteed to give the Muslims their independent Moroland, as stated in the 1898 Treaty of Paris between Spain and the US and the subsequent Kiram-Bates Treaty of 1899.

2. The US accepted the role in those treaties of being the Protector of an independent Moroland.

3. The Muslim territory was already recognized as an independent Moroland even before we became an independent state in 1946. That would tend to counterweigh the provisions of the Constitution defining Philippine territory.

The cited provisions of the Treaty of Paris and the Kiram-Bates Treaty were factual as was the pledge of the US to the Moros to be the Protectors of that Moroland. The US , just like other treaties with Native Americans, opted to disregard those agreements unilaterally in the early 1900s but is now reversing course to suit the present needs of US geopolitical interests.

Somehow, I sense that GMA’s US visit was more of a face to face with the US President on what the US wants to happen in Mindanao . I would not also be surprised if the US expressed their extreme displeasure over GMA’s tilting towards China . In fact, I’d be most surprised if they didn’t express displeasure over that!

The big question that must now be asked is this: What is GMA getting from the US in return for dancing to the tune of Washington ?

  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

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