Mind da News: Scotland Is Not Moroland

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, September 24, 2014 – Posted on the OPAPP Website is the report “Peaceful Scottish referendum provides lessons for PH – Ferrer”. The report datelined “Manila, September 22” cites Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, GPH panel chief in the peace negotiation with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, as saying “the peaceful conduct of Scotland’s independence referendum … provides many insights for the Philippines to learn from in the establishment of the Bangsamoro”.‎

It quotes Coronel-Ferrer:“The political predicament (in Scotland) was settled through the vote. People’s support were (sic) courted through reason and arguments. To be sure, the campaign went full swing with all the trappings of a political contest. But balloons and barn-hopping, not bombs and bullets, marked the campaign.  Debates and dialogues brought forth the best arguments for and against independence.”

Coronel-Ferrer must have the Moro rebellion in mind in noting the Scotland referendum as a model in seeking independence or autonomy — that “either way the vote may have turned out, the point is that in expressing nationalist aspirations for independence and determining the will of the people in and of Scotland, nobody had to kill nor to be killed.”

The Philippine Star (September 23, 2014: Scotland referendum provides lessons for Phl – Ferrer) sums up the OPAPP Website report: “The peaceful conduct of Scotland’s independence referendum provides insights and lessons for the establishment of the Bangsamoro entity, government peace panel.”

Well observed! Well said! But the unsaid are the stark differences between political and social conditions prevailing in Scotland and in Moroland – between the predicaments of the Scots and of the Moros, between the United Kingdom and the Philippines.

To certain degrees, these are the same differences that underscore the longing of separatist movements in Spain, Italy and Belgium to be allowed to vote as the United Kingdom did for Scotland. The Scotland referendum was not the first. Referendums for the Quebec Province of Canada to become independent were held in 1984 and 1995, both yielding “No”.

Scotland and Quebec are autonomous. Their constitutions must have provisions for them to opt for independence. Their Parliaments first vote for a referendum then hold the popular vote. The ruling party leads the campaign for “Yes”. Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond of the ruling Scottish National Party resigned as head of government and of the party after the 55 percent to 45 percent vote to remain with the Union.

Will the Philippine Congress provide in the Bangsamoro Basic Law for the Bangsamoros to opt to seek independence through referendum like that in Scotland and Quebec?

You can bet your last valueless centavo! Even if Allah intercedes, the response from the Members of the Congress will be “Over our dead bodies”.

Granting such provision would be an exercise in futility. The Moros are not so politically mature and socially stable to make good use of the mechanism as the Scots or the Quebecers do. Perhaps in the future they can. But today dismembering the Philippines is as haram (forbidden) to the Filipinos, not only to their leaders in Manila, as pork is haram to the Moros.

President Ferdinand E. Marcos agreed to grant autonomy to the Muslims or Moros in the Tripoli Agreement of 1976 over the dead bodies of 120,000 casualties of the Moro rebellion and the coercive oil diplomacy of the Organization of Islamic Conference. And, thanks to Paragraph 16 of that Agreement – it affirmed the Philippine Constitution as an inviolable parameter of Moro autonomy. The 1996 Final Peace Agreement as the “full implementation of the Tripoli Agreement” was restricted to the Constitution.

No amount of vehement rejection and “language engineering” can spare the BBL bill from rigid scrutiny for constitutionality. Instead of just certifying the BBL draft to the Congress last May 5 and let the GPH and MILF panels defend its constitutionality at the Committee hearings in the Congress, the Office of the President revised and “refined” it for four and a half months before submitting it to the Congress last September 10. Regardless of the “refinement” by the Office of the President, leaders of the Congress said the BBL will be “fine-tuned”.

The predicaments of the Moros starkly differ from those of the Scots; political thinking, priorities and conditions prevailing in Moroland and in Manila starkly differ from those in Scotland and in London. We fully agree with Prof. Coronel-Ferrer. But how relevant to “the establishment of the Bangsamoro” are the “many insights” from ““the peaceful conduct of Scotland’s independence referendum “?

[Author’s Note: Mind da News, the alternate of COMMENT, is a comment on current news. The author may be contacted at patponcediaz@yahoo.com.]