United States President Barack Obama announced on national television the other night that the US will be stepping up its military involvement in the Middle East to crush the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) — specifically “degrade and ultimately destroy” it.
Meanwhile, the Philippines is in the process of authorising the creation in its own backyard of what many describe as a modern-day Islamic caliphate. The Bangsamoro Basic Law which Philippine President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III has submitted to Congress for approval has been described as the beginning of a “dismembering” of the Philippine Republic. Under the proposed law, an autonomous “political entity” will be created in Mindanao which will enjoy an “asymmetric relationship” with the Philippine government. The implications of that term used in the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) on the future of the wellbeing of the people of Mindanao is anyone’s guess. Manila Times columnist Bobi Tiglao writes in his article Bangsamoro bill: Have they lost their minds? how the BBL…
“I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are,” he said. “That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”
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[…] will set up practically an independent state with “exclusive powers over a long list of “matters,” which a sovereign country normally exercises over, except for a short list of matters “the Central government has reserved powers,” mainly defense and external security, foreign policy, coinage and monetary policy, and postal service.
More disturbing, the BBL stipulates in Article IV, Section 1 the entity’s “right to self-governance and self-determination” in its aim to freely “pursue its economic, social and cultural development”.
Tiglao highlights the point that it opens the Bangsamoro nation to the possibility of seceding from the Philippines and possibly joining Malaysia as a state in its federation. But what could be a lot more interesting is the possibility of the Bangsamoro people embracing — as state policy even — more militant, more fundamentalist, and more scary flavours of Islamic practice. Most ominous of all, Article X Section 1 of the BBL clearly states that the Bangsamoro state will implement a justice system based on Sharia Law “which shall have supremacy and application over Muslims only.” This does not bode well for Filipino Chrisitians living in the area who may have to seriously consider leaving what may become a no-go zone for “infidels”.
Already, there are reports that alleged foreign jihadists have entered the Philippines to indoctrinate Filipino Muslims in militant Islamism. Recently, Canadian imam Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips was nabbed by police in Mindanao and is currently facing deportation proceedings. Philips is currently in the blacklist of several countries including the United States, Germany, Australia and the United Kingdom because of his teachings and practices and is even alleged by Washington to be a co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. But residents of Marawi City in Mindanao, a towering bastion of Islamic radicalism in the Philippines’ south have reportedly taken to the streets in large numbers to protest Philips’s deportation — a testament to how much radical Islam is resonating amongst Filipino Muslims.
Indeed, the possibility of the Bangsamoro “nation” seceding and joining the Malaysian Federation is the least of Filipinos’ problems. That may even be a better prospect considering the alternative — that they stay and develop into a cancerous infestation of Islamic terrorism that Manila will have to deal with. Worse, it could become a refuge for Arab Islamic radicals fleeing US forces in the Middle East if America successfully crushes the Islamic State over there.
Observers have long criticised the US for its penchant for arming future insurgents. Indeed, the late Osama bin Laden himself was a beneficiary of previous US governements’ initiatives to arm elements seen, at the time, to be a common ally in the fight of what, again at the time, were America’s enemies. But the Philippine government’s approach to making “peace” with its own Muslim community is in a league of idiocy of its own. President BS Aquino counted as his partner in this initiative the terrorist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which, even now, has not categorically disassociated itself from their militant Islamic roots.
The Philippines, like the United States, has had extensive experience fighting Islamic fighters. Many young Filipino soldiers have lost their lives in these battles. It is a shame that their memory and surviving families will be betrayed by a government that, in its renowned shortsightedness, may count as part of its legacy, what could become the single biggest sellout of Philippine sovereignity.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.