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What price for peace?

I remember reading a work on Marcos that has him saying something like ‘I did not become President to preside over the death of the Republic (anyone who has the correct quote, please share).’ And I bring that up now because of this: the creation of a ‘homeland’ for Moros.

The “projected” territory referred to as the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity is the “current” Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which may be expanded to include 712 barangays (villages) in five provinces in Central Mindanao, Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said Thursday.

He said the five provinces were Lanao del Norte, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Zamboanga-Sibugay and Palawan.

Now I understand how desperately we want peace, but I for one want a principled peace; not the peace of capitulation. What we have now is practically peace of the second kind – the kind of peace that descends upon a defeated people who have finally accepted their inability to win the war. As DJB said, this is nothing but The Biggest, Most Stupid Ransom Payment of Them All.

And besides it seems clear to me that this desire for a ‘homeland,’ first, isn’t necessarily something that the Moros want; it’s obviously something that the gun-toting MILF wants and I’ve never accepted that the MILF actually speaks for the Moros.

Look, the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity is really nothing more than an expanded ARMM; the pleb to create the BJE then would be nothing more than another attempt to lasso those areas that have already previously rejected membership in the ARMM. Incidentally, those areas that rejected the ARMM are the biggies in terms of productivity, infrastructure, and resources – like Palawan, Lamitan City, and Cotabato. So it’s no surprise that the movers behind the idea of the BJE should try once again to get their claws on those places. So its all about access to wealth, I say, despite the MILF’s insistence that their desire for a homeland is motivated by the noblest ideals.

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38 Responses

  1. BrianB says:

    Just watched Dark Night. The themes are unmistakable (action is actually suffocating, as thrilling as waiting for a very important test result, blew me away)… unmistakably relevant.

    Someday, some psychopathic coup leader is going to appear and I’m just hoping he’ll have as much personality as Heath Ledger’s The Joker. Our current history is asking for it.

  2. cvj says:

    A few years ago, i was having a conversation with my colleagues which drifted to the Mindanao situation. My Singaporean colleague asked why we don’t have mandatory conscription in the Philippines just like what they have over here in Singaporean [aka National Service]. He said that with our population, if we had called up a few million reservists to fight in Mindanao, then the problem would be resolved sooner as the MILF would be outnumbered.

  3. rom says:

    cvj: we don’t have conscription because:

    1. We’re really good at patriotic speeches and posturing but really bad at following those speeches and postures up with action;

    2. Because we complain so much about the perceived injustice of our individual circumstances that we cannot even conceive of doing anything significant for our country – with us, it’s always “I’m a victim of the system”, “I’m a victim of the oligarchs,” “I’m not gonna support the entire government because I I didn’t vote for that president,” “I don’t have any duty to support anything the government does because I believe the president cheated in the elections.”

    3. Because, ultimately, it’s more financially rewarding to just work abroad when you can’t stand it here anymore, rather than doing something to fix the situation here so that it’s not so intolerable.

  4. cvj says:

    That’s got to be the most non-sequitur response i’ve heard from you (so far).

  5. Bencard says:

    you felt alluded to by rom’s words of truth, cvj? i thought her response was spot on. how do you think your friends at anakbayan, sanlakas, mnlf, npa, etc. would react to conscription? i could just see pimentel and jamby foaming in the mouth in rage.

    i don’t think we would have any more rizal or bonifactio because we no longer have the same oppressors. making president gma a bogey person so you can imitate our national heroes is fantasy in its most ridiculous form.

  6. UP n student says:

    to cvj: When you say something and your friend’s response is to swiftly level a double-barrel shotgun at you and then pull both triggers, you can say:

    — Non-sequitur, man!! Sit down for a minute and I’ll explain how non-sequitur your action was.

    OR you can say:

    — Wow!!! You just caught me by surprise. Why would you do that? I don’t get it.

  7. cvj says:

    UPn, i thought her response was non-sequitur because those who make the patriotic speeches are not necessarily those who would go off and fight the war. Normally, it’s the politicians who make the speeches about the need to fight to achieve a ‘principled peace’ and it is the conscript who is sent off to fight.

    As for the other reasons (#2 and #3), that’s why i emphasized the mandatory aspect of conscription, so any reasoning against it will be, moot and academic. Being mandatory, the Anakbayans, MNLF, CPP/NPA and OFW’s who won’t fight on the side of government against the MILF can be charged with draft dodging. Anyway, i suppose there are still others like Rom, DJB and Bencard won’t mind being conscripted to achieve their principled peace.

  8. BrianB says:

    Are you guys forgetting college men had compulsory ROTC?

    The insurgency problem wouldn’t be a problem if it wasn’t so lucrative to some officials in government and the military. How many times have we sent the MILF to their knees from mortar fire only to offer peace at the last minute?

    It’s not too hard to defeat the Muslim insurgents. tactically, all you need is to cordon off their territory (just create a neat circle around them), give time to civilians to go out of the “kill zone,” take all suspicious characters who cross the military line into custody and just systematically, with prudence, bombard their territory. Mortar rounds will cost a lot of money but it’s more practical in the long run.

    The NPA, which has cells in the cities, is more difficult to eliminate, legitimately.

  9. cvj says:

    Brian, that’s just training. The model that Singapore (and Switzerland) follows is two years of actual military service.

  10. cvj says:

    …and Israel as well, which reminds me of a story that was told to me by my Singaporean friend. He talked to one of his Israeli acquaintance and it turned out that both of them are ‘tank commanders’. The Israeli then asked how many tanks did the Singaporean command. The latter did not quite know how to respond because by ‘tank commander’ it meant that he commanded his own tank. The Israeli, on the other hand, said he had 120 tanks under his command.

  11. BrianB says:

    I want to be an Israeli. They live dangerous but very dignified lives. They are winners in the true sense of the word: faithful, patriotic, focused, unbribable. The exact opposite of a Filipino.

    I hate to be military in this country knowing I am just being used by bastards.

  12. J says:

    Those countries have military draft because they have small populations.

    And we don’t need a million reserves to crush the MILF. Erap proved that during the fall of Abubakar. All it takes is strong political will to discipline the military and prosecute the war profiteers.

    Not that I’m against talks with the MILF. I just want the Republic to negotiate with these rebels from a position of strength.

    I’ve no problems with expanding the ARMM as long as the people in the proposed new Bangsamoro lands would approve of their inclusion. And apparently, those people won’t approve of it. And by golly, seventy five per cent of the resources of these provinces would go to the MILF? That would fund their war machine and make them capable of seceding!

    I’m not a rightists but for the sake of all things good we should stop this madness.

  13. rom says:

    cvj:and you, uncle, what sort of peace do you want?

  14. cvj says:

    rom, a permanent peace which addresses the root causes of the rebellion.

  15. Bencard says:

    dream on, cvj. in human terms, “root causes” is an expanding horizon. no one, but no one, can catch up with it.

  16. Jeg says:

    The root cause of the rebellion is the perceived usurpation by the occupying powers (Spain, America, Manila) of the Bangsamoro nation. Whether there really was such a historical entity as the Bangsamoro, or this is just an invention is still open to debate. Therefore peace would be obtained if we just gave them their nation. “There you go, and good luck. Dont be a stranger.” Peace for us northerners that is. However, it would be a different story in the newly independent Bangsamoro as MILF and MNLF start shooting each other, and the Christians start arming themselves.

    Jer 6:13-14 “For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for unjust gain; and from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.

  17. rom says:

    Jeg: If we just gave them their nation? You mean like how the Jews were ‘just given their nation?’ Like you said, that’s a prescription for war. And how long will life stay peaceful for us northeners then, I wonder?

    cvj: root causes? like poverty and dispossession, maybe? how do you solve that to achieve peace? Poverty isn’t unique to the ARMM, nor are they being more spectacularly ignored like other poverty-stricken peoples. Hell, billions have been poured into the ARMM since it’s creation – and what have their leaders done with that money? There are still many many places in the ARMM that don’t even have running water in households; there is even an entire town that is separated from the rest of the province by kilometers and kilometers of nearly impassable roads. And all of this poverty coexisting side by side with, guess what? unmistakable signs of affluence: huge houses, gleaming SUVs, and all kinds of conspicuous consumption – all by those very same people who claim crushing poverty as their casus belli.

    Dispossession? would we then be fine with throwing away the Philippines’ territorial integrity for the sake of one claimant people? There is no disputing the cultural identity of the Bangsamoro; but the question is not identity but whether such identity cannot coexist with the national – i.e., Filipino – identity. I believe it can, if we all stopped being so dramatic about it.

    In any case, what about the ARMM as it is now? All anyone can say about the ARMM is that it’s not quite as big as was agreed upon in the Tripoli agreement. FIne, maybe it isn’t; but seriously, even with this less-than-hoped-for autonomy, what have they actually done? There would be more sympathy, I suppose, if they had transformed the ARMM into an Islamic paradise; but they haven’t, have they? What business do they have then, asking for more?

    If the ARMM had not been transformed into a fiefdom by its leaders, it could have attracted muslims from all over the country – bringing wealth, talent, and ability. But it has failed miserably to live up to this promise. What then, in the ARMM’s history, would indicate that greater territories would yield better results. If they can’t manage what they have, how can they manage having more?

  18. BrianB says:

    The root cause is that we never treated them like equals.

  19. Bencard says:

    brianb, the american blacks, as a group, claimed they were not treated as “equals”. they never atempted to create their own nation within a nation. so are the chinese in various chinatowns around the u.s. or elsewhere. people don’t secede for subjective perceptions.

  20. midfield says:

    Rom,

    I share your disgust.

  21. Jeg says:

    Jeg: If we just gave them their nation? You mean like how the Jews were ‘just given their nation?’ Like you said, that’s a prescription for war. And how long will life stay peaceful for us northeners then, I wonder?

    I think you may have misunderstood my point. My point is, there can never be peace. We can give them what we want and there still won’t be peace. The problem is us humans. We suck.

  22. Jeg says:

    I meant ‘we can give them what THEY want…’

  23. Jeg says:

    Bencard: “they never atempted to create their own nation within a nation”

    That is not factual historically. The Nation of Islam is at its core, separatist. The Black Panthers as well. Maybe not so much anymore, but Im sure you remember the 60s.

  24. cvj says:

    Rom, i also am in favor of keeping the Philippines whole. I’m just not as optimistic as you that the MILF can be treated as a group that is separate from the people of that area. Your approach of zeroing in on the Oligarchs and Warlords of that area is something i agree with. In this aspect, they are no different from the rest of the Philippines.

  25. rom says:

    Jeg: its a sad thought, that there can never be peace. I think there can be peace if we could just quit being such ninnies and treat the MILF and other armed groups as bandits and outlaws. Address the grievances of the Bangsamoro, fine, but don’t deal with the armed goons as though they were representative of the people.

    When Magsaysay broke the back of the Huk, he didn’t do it by treating the Huk as representatives of the people. He treated them as a particularly violent segment of society that had the power to air the grievances of the poor. So, even as he addressed those concerns, he made it very clear that he would not tolerate armed violence and suited deeds to words.

    In the ARMM, we treat the MILF as though they were the reps of the people and give them everything – and nothing gets trickled down to the people.

  26. Bencard says:

    jeg, you are correct technically. but i used “nation” in the context of “state”, an independent entity within a specific territory it can call its own, whose existence as a state is recognized by other states in the world, and has a government not subject to any earthly power, i.e., sovereignty. the so-called “nation of islam” a.k.a. black panther, does not have that attribute unless you apply the term to mean a islamic country such as saudi arabia, iran, syria, jordan, etc.

  27. cvj says:

    Rom, even if (for the sake of argument) it is true, i don’t it’s in the interest of the present Admin to point out that the MILF are not true representatives of the Bangsamoro people as it would inconveniently remind the Gloria Arroyo government of its own illegitimacy.

  28. rom says:

    cvj: haha. talk about non sequiturs uncle! i think, first and foremost, we have to accept that that Arroyo Government does not see itself as illegitimate. In fact, I think that most people have come to the acceptance – however grudging or ill-tempered – that the Arroyo government is the de facto government, and therefore the proper entity to run the country, despite not being de jure.

    And as the proper (as opposed to the ‘rightful’) entity to handle matters of state, it is the Arroyo government that has the responsibility to maintain Philippine territorial integrity – even if it does so for selfish reasons.

    And it can best do so by addressing the needs of the Bangsamoro, without treating the MILF as if it were a belligerent.

    Incidentally, this makes the BJE an even greater abortion than it already is. Because it is obviously motivated – at least in part – by the selfish desire to ensure that the ARMM stays loyal til 2010; and it doesn’t live up to the government’s responsibility to keep the country whole.

  29. cvj says:

    Rom, of course the Arroyo government would not admit to being illegitimate but their lack of express admission would be a naive yardstick to what they actually think. Actions speak louder.

    Your explanation in the first paragraph is also the reason why the GMA administration likewise considers the MILF the de facto authority to be dealt with. As it is within Bangsamoro, so it is with the larger Philippines. In both cases, the governed have come to accept the de facto authority of these entities, regardless of the means by which power was acquired, so in the whole equation, the former do not really matter. For the de-facto rulers of each side , it makes sense na sila sila na lang ang mag-usap. For them, bringing up the issue of being non-representative (as you have done) is an inconvenience.

  30. rom says:

    cvj: i respectfully disagree, uncle. Who cares what the Arroyo Government thinks? As you said, actions speak louder, and isn’t the Arroyo government acting like it owns everything? What is naive is to think that this whole idea of illegitimacy actually carries any real-world significance. It is, i think, relevant only in academic discussions, as the concept of de fact necessarily implies.

    Even a de facto Arroyo government has greater authority than the MILF, simply because it is representing the sovereign Filipino people. And it’s duty to the Filipino people takes precedence over the MILF’s pretensions. The Bangsamoro may have a unique cultural identity, but they also have a definite Filipino identity. The MILF cannot simply shuck the fact that the Bangsamoro are Filipinos – and as such, must be kept from straying from the fold.

    Which is why I think it is wrong for the Arroyo government to deal with the MILF.The government should address the Bangsamoro directly, not some pretender.

  31. cvj says:

    Setting aside our differences regarding the de facto Arroyo government as ‘representing the sovereign Filipino people’, (and whether or not it is ‘academic’) i’d like to ask, if you ignore the MILF who within the Bangsamoro area do you deal with and how?

  32. cvj says:

    btw, that 😉 above (at 5:13pm) is supposed to be a closing parenthesis and not a winky. (stupid wordpress parser making me look like Benign0)

  33. Bencard says:

    a government is not rendered “de facto”, as opposed to “de jure” just because one doesn’t like it. speak for yourself, cvj. who do you think you are ? big words from a puny brain.

  34. Bencard says:

    oftentimes a government has to negotiate with outlaws and criminals to save lives and avoid carnage, as when peace of an entire community is held hostage. the milf is an organized cabal of armed separatists that has been waging “war” against philippine sovereignty. it has its own command and leadership within itself. dealing with this “leadership” is no more a recognition of its legitimacy than a swat commander talking to a suicide bomber not to detonate himself.

    the sooner we stop talking about this group as “freedom fighters” worthy of sympathy, the sooner its rank and file will realize they are being used for selfish ends by its “leaders”, coveting a separate fiefdom of their own.

  35. cvj says:

    Bencard, if you read back, it was Rom who first said that GMA’s government is de facto (at 11:49am). You’re the master when it comes to selective powers of observation.

  36. Bencard says:

    cvj, the point i was trying to make applies to your idea as well as rom’s. be that as it may, my reading of rom’s statement convinces me that what she said about the matter in question was a rhetorical response to yours – in effect saying: ‘even granting for argument’s sake, that the arroyo government is, as you say, “de facto…”

    master of selective powers? it takes one to know one. but you and i cannot be the judge of that. all our comments here and other blogs are there for others to see. let them judge the question for themselves.

  37. rikkusatomi01 says:

    Kakapanood ko lang ito sa balita kanina anong kalokohan ba ito? walang pinagkaiba ito sa pagbebenta ng “Saba” ah!! saka puwede silang humiwalay sa bansa natin na kung saan wala sa constitution natin.. dapat ito tutulan na ng boung pinas dahil kinabukasan na ito ng boung bansa natin pinaguusapan… kung di ito aayusin dpat mag rally na lang at alisin na si GMA. dahil pagtataksil ito sataing bansa… Saka buti sana kung makikinabang mga normal na tao na nakatira sa BJE area.. eh ung ARMM nga eh walang na gawa nakurakot lang ni miswari at ginawang pugad lang ng terrorist/ abusayaf… Saka i dont think na mananahimik ung US dito as in sumusuporta si GMA sa mga considered terrorist at take note si President Bush parin President ng america.. Meaning di sila magdadalawang isip na gerahin tayo saka parating pa mo barko nilang malaki kaya kaya natin labanan ito???!!!!!!

  38. […] I had doubts about the wisdom of creating a BJE, I subsequently arrived at the opinion that since Moro […]

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