THIS REFERS to Rigoberto Tiglao’s column titled “Framework agreement for PH dismemberment” (Inquirer, 10/17/12).
Tiglao says that the agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will lead to the dismemberment of the Philippine Republic and renewed violence in Mindanao and “will be one of the biggest headaches of the next president.”
Tiglao glosses over the fact that the framework agreement, unlike the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), is not a “done deal” being rammed down the Filipino public’s throat. The agreement is not yet “the peace agreement” but just a step towards a final one. It merely outlines the parameters within which the government and MILF panels, during a specific transition period, will determine together the details of the final peace document: the Bangsamoro Basic Law.
Unlike the process that caused the non-signing of the MOA-AD, the transition period ensures that the final document will pass through a transparent, consultative and, as much as possible, inclusive process. With the final document still to be drawn up on the negotiating table, how can Tiglao be so sure that it will not pass muster in Congress?
Tiglao also conveniently fails to state that the scope of Bangsamoro’s territorial jurisdiction and the approval of the Basic Law will go through a popular ratification process within the areas specified in the agreement; and that the MILF armed forces will be gradually decommissioned and transformed into a civilian police force to be overseen by an independent commission and answerable not only to the Bangsamoro government but also to the Philippine government. As to the lumad or non-Islamic tribes in the Bangsamoro territory, the agreement clearly states that they will be given the freedom to choose to join or not the Bangsamoro.
In other words, every major aspect of the agreement—Bangsamoro territory, people, basic law, armed forces and government institutions—will be finalized only after going through several processes wherein the people are consulted and their consent have been obtained in a plebiscite; processes adhering to democratic principles such as freedom of information and freedom of choice, which, last time I checked, are consistent with the spirit and essence of the Philippine Constitution.
I agree with Tiglao: Peace must not stem from a naïve, sappy “give-peace-a-chance” mentality. Peace negotiations must proceed from a clear understanding of the fundamental issues that gave birth to the armed conflicts. In the context of Bangsamoro, peace can only be achieved if the Philippine government recognizes the historical injustice that has robbed the Moros of their identity, lands and birthright as a people. As an activist who, in his youth, joined the underground movement to fight for freedom, Tiglao should have had at least the sensibility and intellectual honesty to understand this.
—ABDUL MALIK CLEOFE,
UP Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, firstname.lastname@example.org