COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 09 June) — Over the past decade and a half, I have seen a change in some of my colleagues in civil society. Perhaps it is fatigue on their part, hence, the willingness on some of them to accept what the late Ustadz Salamat cautioned Moros about. They are free to do that, of course. But they should also recognize the freedom of Babo and Bapa, of the general population, to decide for themselves. Furthermore, to assist them in arriving at an informed decision, give them an honest assessment of where things are. That is our duty and their right.
When FB “mujahideens” among Moro civil society throw the question “eh ano gusto mo, gyera na,” they are actually engaging in a rhetorical fallacy. That fallacy is “tanggapin na natin kahit na ano ang ibigay kesa naman makipag-gyera tayo.” Thus, it is a form of psychological intimidation to coerce Babo and Bapa to accept what heretofore they would not accept. Tatakutin sila sa spectre ng gyera para tanggapin ang kahit ano na lang na ibigay ni Lobregat, Drilon, et al.
Again, this is a rhetorical fallacy, the kind of fallacy that Muslims should not engage in during the month of Ramadan kasi makabatal ng puasa. It is also the sort of trick one can use on amateurs but not on others.
There are alternatives other than to go back to war:
First, the obvious alternative to accepting a watered down implementing law is NOT to accept it. Let the GPH’s (Government of the Philippines) obligation to faithfully implement the peace pact continue to hang and let domestic and foreign stakeholders be a witness to it. This can lay the predicate for whatever decision Moros decide later on.
Second, while the GPH dilly-dallies in carrying out its obligation, Moros should continue building and strengthening their society including their structures for self-governance. They should be critical and selective in engaging structures created by the state to govern Moro areas because they might end up entrenching the state’s power to control over their fate and future.
Third, be prepared for any eventuality. Every people who succeeded in struggling for their freedoms prepared for any eventuality. They should not seek it but they should also not be caught unprepared. Preparation includes being mentally prepared and being mentally prepared includes abandoning the thinking that a diluted BBL is the only option or that their fate entirely rests in the hands of the majority.
All of these are known and need not be reminded to leaders whom many of Moros consider their second parents. However, the reminder goes to Facebook “mujahideens” among Moro civil society who seem to get ahead of themselves and the leaders. It is easy to spot them from their posts or from their comments to posts of others. Years of engaging them in private convos were to no avail. Normally, it is best to let them be on their way except that their recent attempts to mislead the Moro public into thinking the diluted HoR (House of Representatives) version of the BBL articulates the original Moro aspirations cannot be allowed to go unchallenged.
This past week, there has been a concerted effort to discourage criticisms or bringing to light the watered down or diluted provisions of the BBL and falsely claim a criticism of the diluted BBL is criticism of what so many fought and bled for. This too is utter fallacy which they themselves should know. It is terrible if they don’t know it. It is even more terrible if they know it and yet insist on having Babo and Bapa swallow it.
There are those who have been working to support the peaceful resolution of the conflict for more than a decade now, in various capacities, quietly, but longer than most of these FB “mujahideens.” All that time, it never occurred to them to substitute their own judgments and opinions to those of Babo and Bapa, and their sons in the jungles, plains, and marshes of the Bangsamoro. They are the ultimate stakeholders who deserve truthful information.
During this month and after, may Moros in soc-med learn to engage in honest and truthful public discourse on the BBL. Whatever personal gain some of us think we might earn in engaging in false rhetorics, or in accepting a diluted BBL, it is not worth the moral price we have to pay for it.
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Atty. Zainudin Malang is a long-time analyst of the Mindanao peace process as well as former member of some of its mechanisms. He is also a humanitarian lawyer with years of experience in other conflict-affected countries in Asia, Middle East, and Africa)