Quantcast

As I See It

More sticky issues in Bangsamoro talks

By

What they signed in Malacañang last Monday was not yet the agreement that will finally bring peace to Mindanao after four decades of war. But it is a good start in the long and winding road to peace.

What they signed was only the agreement to a framework, or agenda, or points of discussion, for future negotiations until a final peace accord is reached. It may be a long rough road, or a short paved one, depending on the sincerity of each side, but the deadline they set for themselves is three years—before President Aquino bows out of office. P-Noy obviously wants to present to the Filipino people the final peace agreement as the crowning glory of his administration.

But such a deadline, and such a motive, may put P-Noy’s negotiators at a slight disadvantage. As the deadline approaches, MILF negotiators may become more stubborn and push their more sticky proposals. And P-Noy’s negotiators may be forced to bend backward too far in their desire to present their boss with a trophy as a going-away gift.

There are many difficult issues yet to be discussed. Ex-Ambassador to Egypt Macabangit Lanto, also former representative of Lanao del Norte and Speaker of the ARMM Regional Assembly, as well as Quezon Rep. Erin Tañada, explained these difficult issues last Monday at the Kapihan sa Manila at the Diamond Hotel.

Among the most difficult is the question of the possession of guns. The members of the MILF want to retain their high-powered firearms with which they have killed many government soldiers; the government wants the national law on the possession of firearms to also apply to the proposed Bangsamoro. This is very difficult because it is said that Muslims would rather give up their wives but not their guns.

Another problematic issue is the desire of the MILF warriors to be integrated into the Philippine National Police. The government is agreeable provided the warriors attend and graduate from the police academy. The question is: What if they have a hard time at the academy and don’t graduate? Will the PNP lower its standards just to accommodate them? If weeded out, won’t the disgruntled flunkers go back to being rebels?

Still another is the plight of the Christians and lumad in the proposed Bangsamoro. The negotiators seem to have forgotten them. Not only does the name, Bangsamoro, give the impression that the region is exclusively for the Muslims (there are about the same number of Christians and lumad as Muslims in the proposed Bangsamoro), its administrative and judicial systems, and especially its police force, will be predominantly Muslim. The Christians and lumad have expressed fears that they may be persecuted by their Muslim “masters.” If the Christians and lumad are persecuted by their Muslim neighbors, who do they run to for help when the police force, the courts and the regional administration are predominantly Muslim?

Then there is the issue of territory. The proposed Bangsamoro will be expanded from the present Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with the addition of more barangays and municipalities. I understand that the final peace agreement, including the Basic Law—which is another name for a constitution—and the new territory will be submitted to the people of the region in a plebiscite. It is not known whether the plebiscite on the new territories will be submitted only to the people of these new territories or to the whole Bangsamoro region.

If it is the latter, then the votes of the people of the new territories, where there are many Christians and lumad, will be buried by the votes of the old ARMM. Christians ask: Shouldn’t this issue of the new territories be voted upon only by us who are directly affected, while the whole issue of the peace agreement is submitted to the whole Bangsamoro region in a plebiscite?

And what is the purpose of submitting that issue to the whole Bangsamoro instead of only to them? they add. If the people in the new territories vote “No,” then it is assumed that they will be excluded from the Bangsamoro homeland. But what about the areas already included in the ARMM? If they vote “No,” will they be allowed to secede from the ARMM or the Bangsamoro?

Then there is the issue of the judicial system. Will the Christians be governed by the Shariah (or Muslim) law, or by Christian laws?

Ambassador Lanto and Congressman Tañada tried to explain these contentious issues but they confessed that they do not have all the answers and that future talks would thresh that out.

On the controversial P80-billion coco levy fund, Tañada said it lost P24 billion when the Presidential Commission on Good Government, which holds the sequestered shares in some private corporations, agreed to the downgrading of the fund shares in San Miguel Corp. from common shares to preferred shares. Common shares generally have higher value than preferred shares, but the PCGG said it wanted to avoid losing more if the value of the common shares drop.

What to do with what is left of the coco levy fund is another sticky issue. (The coconut levy was imposed during the Marcos administration and collected from coconut farmers for every kilo of copra they sold. The levy funds were invested in shares of SMC when the latter was headed by Eduardo Cojuangco, a crony of Marcos.)

Some coconut farmers’ groups want the money to be refunded to them. But some sectors fear that the farmers may only squander the money on nonproductive things. They prefer that the fund be used to improve the ailing coconut industry so that the farmers will earn more, Tañada said. Tañada comes from Quezon province, where the biggest coconut plantations are situated and from where come the biggest number of coconut farmers.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


More from this Column:

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Short URL: http://opinion.inquirer.net/?p=38894

Tags: Bangsamoro , coco levy , framework agreement , MILF , peace deal issues , peace pact , Philippines



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

  • Anti-gay demo in Ethiopia cancelled
  • Obama launches measures to support solar energy in US
  • Nebraska toddler gets stuck inside claw machine
  • Philippine eagle rescued by Army turned over to DENR
  • Gunmen attack Iraq military base, kill 10 soldiers
  • Sports

  • Vietnam says it will not host Asian Games
  • Nadal passes clay landmark with 300th victory
  • Wawrinka waltzes through with Monte Carlo walkover
  • Power Pinays smash India in Asian Women’s Club volleyball opener
  • PH youth boxers off to stumbling start in AIBA World tilt
  • Lifestyle

  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • This is not just a farm
  • Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  • Entertainment

  • Cannes film festival launches race for 2014 Palme d’Or
  • Jones, Godard, Cronenberg in competition at Cannes
  • Will Arnett files for divorce from Amy Poehler
  • American rapper cuts own penis, jumps off building
  • Jay Z to bring Made in America music fest to LA
  • Business

  • Total says makes ‘very promising’ oil find off Ivory Coast
  • ‘Chinese Twitter’ firm Weibo to go public in US
  • World stocks subdued, Nikkei flat on profit taking
  • Asia stocks fail to match Wall Street gains
  • Fired Yahoo exec gets $58M for 15 months of work
  • Technology

  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Filipinos #PrayForSouthKorea
  • Taylor Swift tries video blogging, crashes into fan’s bridal shower
  • DOF: Tagaytay, QC best at handling funds
  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Malaysia quarantines 64 villagers over MERS virus
  • DFA: 2 Filipinos survive Korean ferry disaster
  • PH asks airline passengers to check for MERS
  • Syria most dangerous country for journalists, PH 3rd—watchdog
  • Japan says visa-free entry still a plan
  • Marketplace