Sleeping with terrorists: Why we should abandon any further work on the Bangsamoro Basic Law

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:

* * *

(1) Do the MILF represent Filipino Muslims?

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The hard question: Is this a handshake between equals?

The hard question: Is this a handshake between equals?

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.

Islamic terrorist.

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.

* * *

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.]

24 Replies to “Sleeping with terrorists: Why we should abandon any further work on the Bangsamoro Basic Law”

  1. “Traidor ma na ang mga Muslim.” is a common sentiment where I’m from at least.

    The MILF haven’t given me any reason to trust them. They have no problem using violence; it even seems like a first option to them. They’ve been an obstacle to growth and development in Mindanao and its painfully obvious they don’t give a shit about the rest of the country or anyone else.

    1. Same here, my father often throws this at me.

      But truth be told, I’ve Muslim friends who are good, well meaning people, who’re not much different from everyone else apart from religion (and how the women dress).

      I don’t think the MILF represents the thoughts and hopes of Filipino Muslims at large, and I think what Eric has to say is pretty much true.

      Our government just sucks with security threats – they botched the Grandstand hostage rescue, they get our men killed when they could’ve sent them in and given them better chances of success little to no fatalities… now we’re negotiating with terrorists.

      1. True that. Noynoy is a good president in that he is not corrupt. Unfortunately he doesn’t have enough balls and brains to run things right. The reason he ordered the standing down of the AFP from sending a rescue operation on the beleaguered SAF was because of Peace Advisor Teresita Deles’ stupid advice. I sure hope for her own sake she does inherit the ire of the families of the SAF soldiers.

    2. @Stierlitz: I agree with what you say, that “I don’t think the MILF represents the thoughts and hopes of Filipino Muslims at large”.

      Thing is, though, Filipino Muslims will have to organise themselves a bit better and come up with a unified collective categorical statement to that effect. They can’t go around forever whispering to one another or to bloggers like us who point out Islamic terrorism in reference to the MILF’s activities that, no, the MILF are not their representatives. They have to SPEAK UP.

      One way to do this is to get their representatives in Congress to make a CATEGORICAL resolution disavowing all of Filipino Muslimdom of any association with the MILF and other terrorist groups.

  2. Tricky one I should say. Let me try if I can give some clarity if not an exact answer to the questions.

    (1) On the issue of representation, I don’t think the MILF falls in that category considering that they are rebels or insurgents or armed group who opposes the government policy towards the Moros. In other words, they are illegal; not bound by the law or Constitution. Congress has no authority over them to determine if whether they represent the Muslims or not.

    Yes, there are elected Filipino Muslims (FilMus) in Congress but they cannot be consulted on something, they too, have no authority nor control of.

    (2) Is the MILF an Islamic terrorist group?

    One man’s terrorist group is another man’s liberation army. Of course, if we’ll strip to the bone what the MILF group is, it’s a terrorist group. It’s armed; it opposes the government and has continue to wage war and attrocities against the duly constituted authority. It advocates violence and resort to it for the accomplishment of its objective.

    But here’s the punchline, we talk and negotiate with them which practically stripped them of the ‘terrorist’ title.

    Even if PNoy declares tomorrow, which he can, that they are terrorists, he will be estopped or prevented from doing so without looking stupid. He cannot now deny something that he acknowledged before and that can be proven by the series of official communications and contacts and the signing of several agreements we had with the MILF.

    He will be pulverize here in Get Real if he does that. And rightly so.

    (3) Are the MILF sincere about cooperating with the investigation?

    The answer to that question hangs on the MILFs side. I don’t know where the stage of the investigation is but I would assume that, by now, the authorities have more or less an inkling what the MILF is doing towards the resolution of the case.

    Is there an indication that the group will accede to the gov’t.’s call for them to surrender the suspects subject of the operation? What do they officially say, as a defense, on their involvement or non-involvment, if such is the case, in the killings of the PNP personnel?

    A lot of things can be use as a gauge if the group is sincere not only in the investigation but also to the whole objective of the negotiation with the government. Ironically, the PNP killings will be the main instrument to find out if sincerity even means something to the group.

    1. Then that highlights two things — the impotence of individual members of Philippine Congress when it comes to “representing” the interests of their respective constituents further highlighted by the government’s folly in negotiating with terrorists, perhaps to bypass that impotence.

      The more you look at it, and the deeper in between the lines you read, the more screwed up this country looks.

      Indeed, as you’ve mentioned more than once, “one man’s terrorist group is another man’s liberation army.” But, see, the debate here is framed by the perspective of the interests of the state — which means in evaluating the latitude one might give to the MILF, it necessarily comes from the starting principle that the “central government” is what is legal and the MILF the illegal party that, presumably this “peace effort” is trying to re-integrate into the legal space. Until that happens, the MILF remains illicit party here. They may be liberators to “another man” but, by transitivity, said “other man” would also be a party to criminal activity or even treason.

      1. The question in my mind is, how can the gov’t. disabuse itself of the belief that it can achieve genuine and permanent peace with the MILF? It cannot for it already enabled the group to elevate itself at par with the gov.’t that represents the PHL.

        The Aquino administration and the next administration will be hard put to untangle the shroud of legal standing the MILF has acquired by virtue of the negotiation and agreements the gov’t. accorded to it.

        Looks like what we have exactly in our midst is the modern version of Frankenstein.

  3. I’m from Mindanao, and I can tell you for a fact that most Mindanaoans aren’t Muslim. So many people here in Mindanao aren’t happy with the BBL because the whole thing was created without our being consulted.

    The people of Mindanao are divided into christians, muslims and lumads (non-muslim tribes.) The muslim claim that Mindanao was once all-muslim before the Spanish came is not acceptable to the lumads because they were here first. They outnumbered the muslims then, and they still outnumber them now. When the muslims came to Mindanao, they drove the lumads out of their lands and into the mountains and those who remained and refused to convert to Islam were forced to pay tribute in the form of slaves.

    I don’t think the BBL will solve anything. Knowing how the MILF behaves and its propensity for double-talk, once it gains a position of strength it will break the agreement and start another conflagration.

    I agree with Tank. The MILF cannot be trusted.

    1. I agree, although I do not believe in any religion, I have kept a neutral disposition and believed that there is good in all religions but as I have continued to study the sacred text of Islam (Qur’an, Hadeeths, sira, tafsir, Sahih etc.) I start to doubt my assumptions.

      I will not go into much detail but many of the tenets of Islam goes against the values of democracy and plurality. If you have time take a look at this simple passage:

      There are indeed many moderate Muslims in the world but like Moderate Catholics, they do not really study and read their own sacred text.

  4. The MILF is afilliated with the ISIS and Al Queda. Their religious/political ideology is Islamic Radicalism and fundamentalism. The presence of that “Murwan” , in their midst is a clear indication, that they want to terrorize , anybody, against them.

    In the Islamic Koran; it states, that dealing with non Muslim or infidels; you must us deception, to win over them…

    MILF does not represent all the people of Mindanao. And Mindanao is not all Muslim…

    The only solution, is to scrap the deal; and win an all out victory…Russia’s Putin style in Checkniya, Russia…

  5. If history has something to teach us, leaders who do not value human life are not exactly the best leaders. Just look at the countries that are governed by leaders who are predisposed to extreme religious fundamentalism, most of them are poverty stricken, human rights deprived hell holes. The MILF wishes to govern their own part of Mindanao but I doubt they can do so properly – and I’m saying that with all the restraint that I could muster.

    I’m atheist and I think religion is indeed the “opium of the people” but I would rather live in a Christian country than a country ruled by Islam.

    1. Knowing that the MILF say one thing to the government and the press and something else to the ordinary person, believing that the MILF will fully commit to the peace process is naive and dangerous. Over here in Cagayan de Oro, which is way outside the ARMM, known MILF sympathizers are already openly talking about the BBL thing as a successful step in bringing the rest of Mindanao under their rule and their intention of imposing Sharia Law on the majority (and non-muslim) population. I cannot accept that.

  6. eh kasi nga individual filipinos do not make full use of their elected ‘representatives’. only lobbyists with vested interests take the trouble to hike over the senate building or batasan to push cases that hopefully will make them richer

  7. Tangina yang MILF at iba pang mga terorista. Sila pa ang makapal ang mukha na magdemand para sa peace process? Kung ayaw nilang sumunod sa Philippine constitution, umalis sila ng bansa. Gayahin nila yung gago at sira ulong si Joma Sison na walang ginusto kundi maging magulo ang pilipinas at ipilit yung gago niyang paniniwala sa komunismo. Pinipilit pa rin ng mga tarantadong MILF at BIFF na makahawak sila ng baril kahit di naman sila pulis o militar dapat sa kanila kinakasuhan ng illegal possession of firearms. Wala talagang bayag si Ngoyngoy, sleeping with the enemy talaga ang ginagawa. Mga bandido yang mga tang inang yan at walang isang salita. Pag nagtuloy yang Bangsamorong kagaguhan na yan, anarchy sa manila at ibang main economic cities na ang hihilingin ng mga tarantadong yan.

  8. Terrorist indeed same with their bff BIFF, I don’t believe in their story not knowing Marwan in their territory, that guy is being hunted globally and have a lot of bounty in his head, no wonder he choose to hide with them because he knew they will not forsaken him.

  9. Thank you for an essay that so succinctly captures what I was thinking, and in better words than I can say.

    I’m not sure whether people know this, but in fact our muslim brothers from some muslim areas in Lanao staged rallies protesting the BBL. Why? because they very well know that it will be the MILF leadership that will call the shots if and when the BBL passes. Iligan City, for example, which is 30min from marawi city (proposed part of BBL) and a little less from Balo-i (also proposed BBL territory) is home to many Christians, as well as Muslims. They share the place. Now the general sentiment of Iliganons is what will become of them if they stray a little bit into Bangsamoro land? Will they be summarily shot as the policemen from SAF were? Simply because they failed to “coordinate”? with whom exactly? MILF leadership? Why exactly? Are those grounds not Philippine soil, hence, free to every Filipino regardless of religion or ethnicity?
    I want to remind the government and the people outside of Mindanao, that not all Mindanawans are Muslim. Not all Muslims are MILF. Not every Muslim wants to do with the Bangsamoro. Certainly not every Mindanawan wants this either. Take a plebiscite. It shouldn’t be so hard… instead of deciding from a thousand miles away the fate of a people you do not know enough or effectively care for enough to want to know what they really want.

  10. “Were Filipino Muslims, or their representatives in Congres, consulted when this whole Bangsamoro deal was conceived? “

    The private sectors, representatives of indigenous people, other Filipino Muslims and Christians in Mindanao were not present to most of the BBL proceedings. Not even representatives of other Muslim rebel groups are present (MNLF, BIFF given that they are no different to MILF being “revolutionary group”). It seems the Central Government is acknowledging the MILF to govern not just Muslim Mindanao but the whole of Mindanao given that Bangsamoro people accdg. to BBL draft stated “Those who at the time of conquest and colonization were considered natives or original inhabitants of *Mindanao* and the Sulu archipelago and its adjacent islands including Palawan, and their descendants, whether of mixed or of full blood, shall have the right to identify themselves as Bangsamoro by ascription or self-ascription. Spouses and their *descendants* are classified as Bangsamoro.” And they are signing contracts mostly with MILF leaders.

    As always, the congress didn’t want to simply trash BBL after “sweating” on it. Or are they worried that trashing BBL which the MILF is looking forward to would make them retract the ceasefire and peace talk? Would MILF do that?

  11. The irritating thing is that people from luzon do not know the true colors of muslims.

    As a person who grew up in mindanao, i am very much against BBL. It is very dangerous for us living nearby. in my place, we fear muslims because they have this hideout place lanao del sur where they could hide and retreat everytime they cause you crime or injury. muslims are untouchable by law, they would be even more after BBL. After BBL, the christian majority will feel helpless to seek justice if the offender is a muslim. the muslim minority will be more abusive as they already are.

    In mindanao, there is just one rule to remember; never trust muslims. this phrase vary from place to place, but they all have that same common message.

  12. Democratic nations must try to find ways to starve the terrorist and the hijacker of the oxygen of publicity on which they depend.

  13. I think, on this issue, we should listen more to the sentiments of those living in Mindanao themselves. As I see, what they are saying here are true. Not all of Mindanao is Muslim, and not all Muslim is MILF, so it’s unfair for the Central Govt. to somehow force this BBL on them, as they at the Central Govt. could not totally foresee how this BBL will affect them (Mindanaoanons) in more ways than one. For one, should we leave these people (our Filipino brothers) and their fate in the hands of terrorists? That would be too dangerous and worst, CRUEL!!!!!!! Those who drafted this (BBL) have NEVER really captured the nature of what a terrorist is, or what the “culture” of Muslim fundamentalists is in haste of “what?”…..well I just don’t think it’s REALLY the peace they are in a hurry to gain for. Are they pretending to be innocent of what’s real even though it mocks them in the face, or are they just too ignorant or naïve?

  14. If you want a genuine peace in Mindanao you shouldnt have made peace deals with the MILF alone. They should have spoken first to the Sultan and later with the warlords or chieftains (MILF, MNLF, BIFF, etc.) for peace. It all works like the early barangay system which enclosed with the sultanate. Its like running a headless goverment as we speak, you pacified the MILF territory but whats the guarantee that you can pacify others. Blood will still continue to spill in Muslim Mindanao.

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