WORM’S EYEVIEW: Persistent cynicism

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CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/24 April) — In a way, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) can thank the weakness of our democracy for the concessions it won from negotiating with the central government.

It should also thank Nur Misuari and the MNLF faithful for paving the way to their success. No one can dispute the fact that it was MNLF that showed how rebellion and the threat of secession by a small, cohesive, and determined group can overpower a large entity with weak political will and tenuous popular support.

To be candid about it: the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) is a by-product of fierce confrontation between two determined oligarchies: Imperial Manila and the MILF.

It wouldn’t have happened within a truly democratic and inclusive system; at the least, it would have played out differently, less fraught with bloodshed and controversy, less dependent on foreign facilitation.

Because of Manila’s persistent failure to institutionalize the processes of democracy effectively throughout, we in the peripheries of central power have to make do with a poor semblance of a democratic republic.

What can sovereign citizens expect from an oligarchy dominated by greedy political dynasties bent on apportioning territory, wealth, and patrimony to themselves? Well, they could hope that somehow there will arise a leader and a party vested with a redeeming sense of statesmanship, fairness, and social justice.

But, no, there’s no limit to the aggrandizing-controlling-opportunistic urge at whatever cost. So it’s no surprise that those in charge, in their frustration about the intractability of Mindanao and the control of Mindanaons that elude them, they simply reach out to those they can buy, coerce, intimidate, or otherwise manipulate and get them to go along with a deal. A classic application of the “if-you-can’t-beat-them, join-them strategy.”

In this case, Imperial Manila simply pandered to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a fiercely tenacious armed movement, and accommodated it even at the expense of losing trust and political capital. Is there any doubt that repudiating the “Final Agreement” with the original group, the MNLF, has been costly in terms of trust and confidence?

How a sovereign state can treat a solemn covenant with its people so lightly—even if in its estimation the other signatory is already a spent force—is a puzzlement to many.

Throughout these MILF-driven negotiations, peaceable and unarmed Mindanaons, including most of the so-called Bangsamoro, had no real voice, nor were they consulted. Neither were the people of Luzon or Visayas consulted on a matter of the highest delicacy and importance to the republic, of which they are an integral part.

It can’t be helped therefore that cynicism should linger even after the agreement has been signed and made ready for execution in Congress. It wasn’t, isn’t, based on or backed by, a real consensus. It was basically a manipulated process, each side alternating by turns.
People should stop wondering why Mindanao remains the most volatile, most unstable, and most feared region. It’s unpredictable! And it’s too scarred by manipulation, artifice, deception. Plus its coasts are so porous, they play into the hands of hegemony-seeking terror cells with mayhem in mind, as well as assorted intruders, smugglers, adventurists, and crime lords.

What really ails Mindanao is its continuing status as a de facto colony of the central government. It will remain so until its peoples are truly empowered and the institutions and processes of democracy are rendered operative.

The situation will persist until the central government wakes up and compensates for its shortcomings and exploitative attitude towards this island region. Why not provide commensurate, equitable, and just share of attention and resources to Mindanao—as an equal partner of Luzon and Visayas and not as their milking cow?

Anyone who pooh-poohs this idea should explain why the region remains at the bottom of the development scale, miserably lagging in education, health, nutrition, budgetary inputs, what-have-you.

About the only generous consideration the region receives from the central government comes from the armed forces—which never fail to assign their largest deployment of warm bodies and killing machines to Mindanao.

The tragedy in this is, no one bothers to discern the ironic implications of this logistical generosity to the island region. To them it’s just a personnel-and-ordnance statistic exigent to their view of Mindanao: a battleground and a proving arena for ambitious military upstarts.

For the longest time already, what favorable consideration Mindanao gets is done mostly for the wrong reasons.

Do people notice that it’s not the natives but their spoilers who get the most benefits from all this: the warlords, gun dealers, foreign backers, carpetbaggers, opportunists, Manila-backed trapos, and the political zombies that follow them blindly.

Manny among others is former UNESCO regional director for Asia-Pacific, secretary-general of Southeast Asian Publishers Association, director at development academy of Philippines, member of the Permanent Mission to the United Nations, vice chair of Local Government Academy, member of the Cory Government’s Peace Panel, and PPI-UNICEF awardee for outstanding columnist. valdehuesa@gmail.com

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  1. MNLF RIGHT OF REPLY to “Worms Eyeview: Persistent Cynicism” (Mindanews 24 April 2014).

    MILF is not a cause-oriented group. It is a Malaysian front in Mindanao. It’s main function is to create a rivalry with MNLF and weaken MNLF. The MILF-GPH Deal is a result of Malaysian intervention. Malaysia, using MILF as front, wants to secure their interests in Mindanao, which is primarily to suppress the MNLF.

    Now, you might ask what’s going on between MNLF and Malaysia, and how did Government of the Philippines (GPH) came into the picture?

    The warriors of Sulu (now MNLF) owns Sabah because it was given to them as gratuity gift by Brunei. Sulu leased a portion of sabah to North Borneo Company in 1876 because they needed the money to buy arms to resist the invading Spaniards. British abandoned their colonization effort in South East Asia in the 1950s after the bandung Anti-Colonization Conference, and they turned over their business interest in Sabah to Malaysia. Hence, Malaysia occupies Sabah and for whatever reason, it continues to pay many Sulu Sultans the 75,000 Pesos lease payments (still using the 1876 rate).

    Sabah, by the way, is a land mass of around 70,000 square kilometer. It’s almost the same size as Mindanao.

    In 2012, MNLF started negotiating with China on a lease agreement of some 10,000 square kilometer portion of Sabah at P100Billiion per year (at a rate of 10 Pesos per square meter per year). When the lease is finalized, Malaysia will have to be evicted/ejected from Sabah. Malaysia wants to continue its hold on Sabah, but it doesn’t want to pay the right current market value of P700 Billion per year. Instead of paying the right current market value, it pays bribe to the administration of the GPH (now PNoy Administration) to suppress the MNLF.

    Since 2012, the MNLF is already planning and preparing for the Sabah Recovery Operation, which intends to take-over control of Sabah and eject the Malaysians. The launch pad would obviously the closest mainland — Zamboanga. So, Malaysia is doing all sorts of intervention, using the GPH to ensure that MNLF cannot mobilize its resources in Zamboanga to prevent the Sabah invasion.

    Malaysia uses money (bribes) to pay MILF, mass media, GPH President, GPH Senators, GPH Military and Police Generals, religious groups, even the academe to ensure MNLF is suppressed. It uses MILF-GPH Deal and MILF’s New Bangsamoro Entity for the same purpose.

    Who do you think funded the concerted campaign that ousted Erap, the President that refused to accept Malaysian bribe and bombarded MILF with intention to eradicate it? It was Malaysia. The lady who took over the Presidency from Erap practically wrote a Presidential Executive Memorandum to all government agencies ordering them to keep their mouth shut on the Sabah issue.

    How big is Malaysia’s spending in bribes in Philippines? Well, rationally, it must be something lower than P700Billion potential rent of Sabah. There is only one that they can’t bribe — Nur Misuari.

    John R. Petalcorin
    Director for Communications, MNLF

    • And you! why do you hate Malaysia so much? just because Malaysia are now starting pouring investment money to Mindanao and you can get not a single centavo? who are you and what are you compare to Malaysia? who the hell are you to talk to China about Sabah? Are you heir of the Sultan of Sulu or Pres. of the Phil.?

      • I don’t hate Malaysia. I love Malaysia. Malaysian investment in Mindanao or wherever around the world means nothing to the owners of Sabah. In fact, it only means Malaysia is excessively wealthy through non-payment of proper lease to the owners of Sabah. Its excessive wealth sprouts at the expense of the the people and warriors of Sulu who owns Sabah. The plan of leasing Sabah to China and to whatever nation can afford it is not a “Malaysian-Hate”-driven decision. It is a plain and simple real estate asset management decision.


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