We can wax poetic about the history behind how the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) came to be and analyse to death every letter of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). But the answer to whether or not any further work and public resources should be invested in progressing the BBL does not lie in history stories nor in legal black-and-white. The answer lies in how we respond to just three hard questions:
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(1) Do the MILF represent Filipino Muslims?
That is a question only the Filipino Muslim community can answer. Indeed, doing just that, in principle, an easy exercise. All Filipinos, after all, are represented in Congress at a district level. So all Congress need to do is to file a resolution categorically stating whether or not the MILF can speak for Filipino Muslims or, for that matter, all Filipinos who will be directly affected by the creation of the Bangsamoro “nation”.
Were Filipino Muslims, or their representatives in Congres, consulted when this whole Bangsamoro deal was conceived? It is worth asking now what the affected peoples’ duly-elected “representatives” think.
(2) Is the MILF an Islamic terrorist group?
Answering this question is a two-step process. The first step is to ascertain whether or not the MILF is a terrorist organisation. Most Filipinos think so. There is no compelling argument to convince an intelligent person otherwise. What legitimate reason can MILF members offer to justify their bearing arms without the right licenses issued by the Philippine government? Only criminals and terrorists will continue to bear arms in defiance of an order to lay them down.
The second step is to determine whether said terrorism is Islamic in nature. Well, really, this is a no-brainer. The “I” in MILF, stands for “Islamic” after all.
What else are they, considering they are so both in action and in name.
(3) Are the MILF sincere about cooperating with the investigation?
Not likely. If the MILF were truly sincere about cooperating with on-going investigations surrounding the massacre of 44 police officers, the obvious first step they would have taken by now is to surrender to Philippine authorities the commanders of the units directly involved in butchering our cops. So far that obvious first step had not been taken, and there is scant indication that the MILF ever will.
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In short, (1) the MILF as representative of Filipino Muslims is hopelessly debatable, (2) they are undoubtedly an Islamic terrorist organisation, and (3) they cannot be trusted to honour Philippine law.
If outlaws being given an opportunity to go legit cannot even be trusted to do as they are told, one can easily imagine what they could be like when given legitimate “autonomy”. The scariest part of the deal, as Manila Times columnist Rigoberto Tiglao pointed out in the past is their being given authority over their own police force. That means these bandits will be sharing with the “Central Government” a capability to apply state-sanctioned violence on its citizens. Consider that, even without that authority, they already see themsevles as possessing that right to effect violence on innocent civilians. Scary indeed!
Offering the MILF “autonomy” to govern and “keep the peace” over a big chunk of Mindanao is like giving a blowtorch to a two year old to play with and then leaving him to watch over your house alone. It just does not make sense. The Bangsamoro Basic Law just does not make sense — not when you step back from the distracting detail and look at it from outside the square that imprisons the Filipino mind.
It’s time we abandon President BS Aquino’s delusional vanity-fueled fantasy and get back to regarding the MILF for what it is — a bunch of murderous terrorists who had found a sucker of a government to hoodwink into thinking their “demands” are worthy of a seat in a table of equals that includes the office of the the Philippine president no less.
[Photo courtesy The Malaysian Insider.]
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