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MILF-not subject to our basic law

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Any objections to the recently-approved Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) no matter how logical, reasonable, and justifiable from the standpoint of our Philippines laws are rendered out of context and irrelevant if we consider the political and legal status of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as a belligerent government under international law. The MILF having been recognized as a belligerent organization which has been fighting for self-determination, liberation from the Republic of the Philippines, or some form of autonomy is not subject to the supremacy or ambit of our 1987 Constitution for its political status is equated with any independent and sovereign state. Since the MILF has already been recognized by the Philippine government as a belligerent front, its members are not citizens of the Republic of the Philippines and therefore, cannot be forced to pledge allegiance to the Philippines flag and abide by its Constitution. Its relations with the Philippine government are governed and determined by the laws of war. That is why I have consistently expressed my assertion that the CAB is extra-constitutional because it is an agreement entered into by two independent and sovereign states; one of which is belligerent and the other, civilian in form and democratic in ideology.

To my layman’s point of view, the CAB can only be rightfully and legally reviewed, discussed, debated upon and thereafter, acted upon favorably or rejected by Congress if and when the MILF renounces officially its status of belligerence and pledges its allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, its flag and its Constitution. Given the fact that up to the present, the MILF has not renounced its status of belligerence, it remains independent and sovereign military government, in the same category as any other de facto states.

Those who are familiar with the root-cause of the Mindanao Crisis would easily draw out the political implications of the newly-approved Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). From the view point of the Moro Islamic Liberation, the CAB is hailed popularly as diplomatic breakthrough, a political crowning glory for their long and arduous struggle for some form of autonomy or liberation from the de facto control of the Manila-based government. It is the best deal they could extract from the American-brokered and patterned type of Republic which does not have the slightest voluntariness to give up any portion of Mindanao and Sulu on false assumption that these two ancient kingdoms are really de jure parts of its national territory.

But wittingly or unwittingly, the act of allocating a portion of the ancient domains of the Sultanate of Sulu and Mindanao to  constitute the core territory of the New Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE), is in itself a tacit admission on the part of the Philippine government that these two territories are not legally and historically parts of its national territory and that its sovereignty over them is just de facto on account of the fact that the de jure sovereignty over them still belong to their respective royal heirs who until now carry their titles of nobility and royalty and who continuously perpetuate their monarchial rites and traditions.

The conduct of peace talks and negotiations with the two major belligerent fronts is another indication that the Philippine government impliedly admits the right of the inhabitants of Mindanao and Sulu to demand for the return of their homelands based on the historical fact that these were illegally sold and ceded to the United States by Spain on bogus claim of ownership and sovereignty over them by reason of conquest.  The ever-readiness, openness, and willingness of the Philippine government to provide diplomatic channels for the resolution of the Mindanao Crisis, have only strengthened the resolve of the two belligerent fronts to pursue their armed struggle for self-determination and in the process obtain the best peace deal they could hammer out which is politically most advantageous to the interest of their revolutionary cause.

However, while it is true that both parties in interest mutually benefit from these peace talks using the strategy of compromise and win-win- approach, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) does not guarantee the total resolution of the Mindanao Crisis. At most, it insures no more than the establishment of a New Bangsamoro Political Entity which is almost a carbon copy of the GRP-MNLF Peace Agreement forged in 1996. It is not a foolproof formula for peace, progress, and development for  Mindanao and Sulu but just a diplomatic vehicle for the establishment of a new sub-political entity to replace the ARMM which has been branded by the present national dispensation as a “failed experiment.”

By: Clem M. Bascar




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