WAR IN MINDANAO?
The smell of war in Mindanao is intensifying by the hour as the signing of the MOA on peace with the MILF draws near. Opposition is only now beginning to gather forces with increasing vehemence at the late unraveling of the most contentious details. I took time to read the MOA here and I must agree that indeed, as critics say, the necessary elements of an independent state are there.
Under Concepts and Principles, the Government (GRP) has given its recognition of the Bangsamoro territorial…
…(o)wnership of the homeland… (as) vested exclusively in them by virtue of their prior rights of occupation that had inhered in them as sizable bodies of people, delimited by their ancestors since time immemorial, and being the first politically organized dominant occupants. (emphasis mine)
As such, the government recognizes that (#6) the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity shall have authority and jurisdiction over these territories.
Since time immemorial— where do you draw the boundary line there?
Now, if the BJE is vested a priori with this authority and jurisdiction over these areas, where in the equation do they intend to let in the national government? Surely, if you grant me that recognition, I can choose to let you in or not, right? See, while the word “independence” is painstakingly avoided, the whole section is unmistakably arguing for it, with the Government giving it assent.
Under Territory, I find this stipulation interesting for its implication:
d. Without derogating from the requirements of prior agreements, the government stipulates to conduct and deliver, within six (6) months following the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain, a plebiscite covering the areas as enumerated… (emphasis mine)
Hmm, what does it mean “without derogating from the requirements of prior agreement”? It does sound to me that result of the plebiscite should not derogate “from the requirements of prior agreements”, else, the result of the plebiscite would be ignored. It should have clearly stated that areas rejecting inclusion in a plebiscite would be automatically excluded territories and the Bangsamoro would recognize it so!
#4 provision under Resources is disturbing because it appears to be giving the BJE a status at par with the Republic of the Philippines: One, it can enter into economic and trade agreements by itself with other nations. Second, it could by itself open trade missions in other countries. and third, it must be represented in international meetings and negotiations.
#7 under Governance is telling:
7. The Parties agree that the mechanisms and modalities for the actual implementation of this MOA AD shall be spelt out in the comprehensive compact to mutually take such steps to enable it to occur effectively.
Any provisions of the MOA on Ancestral Domain requiring amendments to the existing legal framework shall come into force upon signing of a comprehensive compact and upon effecting the necessary changes to the legal framework with due regard to non derogation of prior agreements and within the stipulated timeframe to be contained in the comprehensive compact. (emphasis mine)
Again, what does it mean “with due regard to non-derogation of prior agreements”? It does sound that “prior agreements” are non-negotiable and legal changes must conform to these at all cost, or else…
This is not a formula for peace. This is a formula for trouble.
UPDATE: The Supreme Court issues TRO