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GPH, MNLF bound by laws


(BY: CLEM M. BASCAR)    I  consider it diplomatically admirable and procedurally congenial for the GPH Peace Panel to involve or consult with the authorized representatives of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in matters and issues that may breach or infringe upon the provisions of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and the Organic Acts leading to the establishment of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) for this is a sub-political entity that came into existence principally to put an end to the MNLF’s secessionist armed struggle  for self-determination or autonomy in Southern Philippines.

To continue to disregard, isolate, and take for granted the participation and involvement of the MNLF in the current GPH-MILF Peace talks, is to invite more complications, irritants, and diplomatic protests in the future which could once again scuttle or render null and void whatever gains have been achieved to date.

Not popularly known by the Filipino people is the fact that right now the Republic of the Philippines and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) are bound by four edicts, namely the Tripoli Agreement of 1976 concluded during President Ferdinand E. Marcos, the ARMM Organic Act of 1989 enacted during the administration of President Corazon C. Aquino, the Final Peace Agreement of 1996 passed under the leadership President Fidel V. Ramos, and the 1994 Joint Ceasefire Ground Rules forged also during Ramos incumbency as President of our country.

Previously, I cited these diplomatic documents and laws to be very materially important in the current Peace Talks with another belligerent state, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) who is pursuing together with the Philippine government the enactment of another Organic Law that will abolish and replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao which in my personal point of view, might be attended with insurmountable obstacles if the legal and diplomatic entanglements with the MNLF would not first be addressed  or diplomatically  ironed out taking into account that until today its status as a belligerent state is still recognized by the GPH and the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) with 57 member states. 

I have raised and stressed this concern over and over again to the point of being persistently annoying and irritatingly suggestive to those concerned. While I do not pretend to be a lawyer, being earnestly concerned about the possible adverse consequences of wrong diplomatic decisions and actions of Peace Negotiators, particularly by those who are alien to our geography, history and culture, compels me morally and civically to express my thoughts and sentiments about matters having to do with the general security, peace, and welfare of citizenry of this country as a matter of constitutional right. History is replete with countless diplomatic scandals, war crimes, and human rights violations committed by states and individuals vested with representative powers and delegated prerogatives which have been identified and blamed as root-causes for the outbreak and escalation of belligerence, present security threats, political disequilibrium, and other social infirmities and disorders.

Again let me state with unreserved frankness, that it is not proper or right for the Philippine government to arbitrarily and unilaterally abolish the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and replace it with another sub-political structure without the involvement and participation of the MNLF in this political, diplomatic, and legal process for the fundamental reason that the ARMM had been established principally pursuant to and in compliance with the Tripoli Agreement of 1976 for which subsequently the Organic Act of 1989, Republic Act 6734 amended by Republic Act 9054  in 2001 for its expansion, and the Final Peace Agreement of 1996 for its full implementation  were enacted by Congress. The involvement of the MNLF in this particular diplomatic and political matter, is made doubly expedient and significant because the geographical area constituting the ARMM is being made the core territory for the proposed Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) which would appear like a Congressional act of superimposing, invalidating, discrediting or rendering the diplomatic achievement of the MNLF for which the ARMM was legally established only to be handed over to  another belligerent group, the MILF.

Let’s not lose the perspective that these laws and agreements were crafted and forged toward the establishment of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), a political settlement for the armed struggle of the MNLF for self-determination within the framework of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. No one can refute the fact that without the belligerence and the aggressive diplomatic spadework and initiatives of the MNLF, the ARMM would have not come into existence in Southern Philippines. It will be a blatant insult to history for anyone to negate this political landmark in Philippine democracy and diplomacy.  

It is hard to figure out how the Philippine government can unilaterally abolish legally or diplomatically a sub-political entity which had been established pursuant to and in compliance with organic laws and a treaty with another belligerent front, without first repealing the cited organic laws and abrogating the aforementioned treaty. There is apparently lack of procedural decorum, political fairness, and diplomatic justice in doing this without prior consultation, involvement and consent of the other party in interest- the MNLF.

I am expressing these concern not to oppose or favor any party involved in the Peace Process but to remind those who are in the corridors of power and influence to be truly democratic, just, consultative, broadly participatory, and holistic in their diplomatic initiatives geared toward the final resolution of the decades-old Mindanao Crisis. We had committed these blunders, oversights, and acts of exclusion, restriction, and isolation before. Certainly, we can’t afford another major diplomatic debacle because of our gross and hard-core refusal to consider and call “a spade a spade” and to open wide  the door of diplomacy to all the stakeholders and those to be affected by the end results of the  on-going peace negotiations between the GPH and the MILF.

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