THE WORM’S EYEVIEW: Party politics, elections under MILF

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CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 25 May) – It’s unfortunate that many of the most deplorable abuses that figured in elections past were perpetrated in Muslim-dominated areas of Mindanao including the Ampatuan massacre of the Mangudadatu contingent and dozens of media people in 2009.

Such lurid happenings gave the people in the so-called Bangsamoro areas a reputation for being corrupt, dishonest, and opportunistic—which remains, clouding the public’s perception on their trustworthiness.

It is understandable therefore that many people look askance at the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s initiative in forming a political party: the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP).

In view of this, for their own good and for everyone’s information, the party should now announce and disseminate as widely as possible the UBJP’s vision, mission, and platform of government.

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The public needs assurance that in vying for regional positions during the 2016 election, the UBJP can be counted on to respect the democratic process, behave democratically, and avoid acts that conjure abuses of the past and exacerbate present biases.

It is especially important that Mindanaons be now informed of its scope, governing principles, and organizational processes; we have an immediate stake in all this.

It was good to see photos of the leading personalities registering for formal membership, paying their P20 membership fees, and waving their identification cards.

But the irony of announcing or introducing them as the new party’s leaders—making statements before the formal filing of membership but without stating whether they were duly elected by the assembly—has raised eyebrows. A “new” party with “old style” leaders!

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One notices, for instance, that the way the party is organized is no different from the MILF’s chain of command—with the same cast of characters, and configured the same as the insurgent force.

This is reinforced by the spectacle of fatigue-uniformed, arms-bearing members ringing the gathered assembly—projecting an army formation rather than a party convention or congregation.

Then we see is the assumption to the party presidency of Mr. Al Haj Murad who is also the MILF’s chair, and Mr. Sammy Al Mansoor (billed as Islamic Armed Forces chief of staff) as the party’s secretary general. (Should civilian party leaders be known for their aliases?)

In other words, this is not one’s standard idea of a political party. The interlocking directorates of the Party and the MILF’s “Islamic Armed Forces” suggest that, except for the titles—presumably, one to be used for civilian affairs, another for belligerent affairs—it is geared for contingency of an insurgent nature.

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It would help to publish the UBJP’s Constitution and By-laws, to clarify the thrusts of its vision, mission, objectives, and strategies.

For example, it helps to know how the Party is structured, who constitute its members and officers, how decisions or staff selections take place, and what activities it undertakes.

Will the party seek to empower everyone—not just those already in power like the present leaders, spokesmen, and commanders?

Will it be inclusive, encouraging vertical or horizontal mobility among the rank and file? Will it level the political playing field within and without through open and free elections?

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The rest of the country should also be made aware of its platform, its main advocacy, its candidates, and related matters.

Care should be taken that none of the notorious issues of the past gets a reprise, among them: dead men voting (names picked out from the cemetery); birds and bees too on ballots as if real persons. And there should be no more of the foolishness whereby the head of family does the voting for everyone.

No more instances of manufactured votes, altered election results, hijacked ballot boxes, and dagdag bawas. And make sure that “Hello Garci…” characters including Lintang Bedol aren’t on board at any level of the elections in the Bangsamoro areas.

There are many more issues to address if we are to normalize the confidence level of Mindanaons and the peoples of the Visayas and Luzon regarding the Bangsamoro scheme. About which, more later on….

[Manny is former UNESCO regional director for Asia-Pacific; secretary-general, Southeast Asia Publishers Association; director, Development Academy of Philippines; member, Philippine Mission to the UN; vice chair, Local Government Academy; member, Cory Government’s Peace Panel; awardee, PPI-UNICEF outstanding columnist. An author of books on governance, he is chairman/convenor of Gising Barangay Movement Inc. [email protected] ]

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2 COMMENTS

  1. You cannot expect anything more from moslems. Their true agenda is already exposed if you want to face the truth. To establish an Islamic state from which more terrorist acts will continue to emanate and multiply in Mindanao. They want all of Mindanao as part of a world caliphate.

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