The big mistakes the MILF must not commit
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-08-14
The MILF did not win the war in Mindanao. Where they won was in the peace negotiations and with a great deal of thanks to foreign parties at interest who stood to gain once the MILF attains their Ancestral Domain or now called the BJE (Bangsamoro Juridical Entity).

But the MILF struggle is far from over. The BJE deal has to pass the scrutiny and approval of the Filipinos who are forever wary of anything the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) regime attempts to fasttrack into a done deal.

The biggest issue of the BJE deal is that the GRP committed to so many things that violate the Constitution. Even a Supreme Court (SC) that has recently displayed a favorable heart towards the GMA regime will find it hard to justify this issue: How can an officer of the Constitution (like GMA and her negotiators) commit the country to so many features of a deal that violates the Constitution?

If the SC TRO that stopped the signing of the BJE deal is any indication, the SC will most likely also junk the BJE deal on the grounds that it violates the Constitution. And that will bring the MILF back to square one.

If the MILF will learn the lesson of the founding of the State of Israel, it must note that taking over territory is one aspect of victory but winning and securing the peace is the more crucial aspect of the task.

The recent action in North Cotabato is a major setback to the image the MILF should be projecting. What that action projected was an MILF who could not wait for a deal that is properly done. It also projected the MILF as an entity that will grab territory through negotiation or through sheer brute force. Rather than win the confidence of the rest of the country, the North Cotabato action merely reinforced age-old biases and fears about the Muslims.

The MILF will do well to keep these in mind:

1. They must allay — not reinforce — Christian mindsets like “Muslims are not trustworthy,” “Islamic governance is severe and prejudicial against non-Muslims” and “Muslims are easily inclined to use brute force.”

2. Reinforcing Christian fears can lead to a revival of the days of fighting with the Ilagas before martial law. A BJE under a war zone will never develop.

3. The MILF cannot rely on the “total” and “unlimited” support of its main sponsor, the US. The US can easily switch to the opposite side if that suited their interests. US history of the last 70 years will demonstrate that.

4. The worst promoter of the BJE is Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo because she does not have the trust of the majority of Filipinos. GMA is so distrusted that something as controversial as the BJE deal can only be rejected out of sheer spite for the local sponsor.

5. Should the MILF succeed in getting public approval, the next big task is to attract development partners in the BJE. The MILF behavior now should confine itself to projecting what will be attractive to potential development partners.

6. The MILF should also be concerned that the other superpower — China — against whom the BJE plan was promoted by the US may decide to play its hand. Neither the BJE nor the rest of the country will want to become pawns in a US-China Cold War.

The MILF should bear in mind that in the confrontations with China since the Korean Peninsula War of the 1950s, the US has never won. China helped kick the US out in North Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia. China will easily absorb 100,000 casualties. The US has suffered a little more than 4,000 casualties in Iraq and Americans are already crying to go home.

The worst manner by which the MILF can secure the BJE is if it is done by declaring martial law with the help of course of the US. Marcos could not have declared martial law if the US did not support it. An expert in geopolitics who was present in the Vladivostok Accord that ended the Cold War — Prof. Manoling Yap — believes that it was the US that provided Marcos the blueprint for martial law. It certainly coincided with that period when the US was creating dictatorships all over the world because of the US fear of the spread of Communism.

Assuming that GMA is able to impose martial law (a big IF considering that she does not have the total support of the AFP unlike Marcos in 1972) and to ram down the throat of the Filipinos the creation of the BJE — that will only provide the legal basis in the future for Filipinos to claim it back and scrap the BJE deal.

The MILF can never feel comfortable with a BJE deal that has been secured under those highly questionable means. The MILF cannot also delude itself that a GMA martial law is secured with US support. A mighty China can easily support any group that will attempt to topple the US-backed GMA martial law regime.

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All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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