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Exchange basket diplomacy


(BY: CLEM M. BASCAR) To avoid misinterpretation or misjudgment as to the real motive behind the writing of this article, let me categorically and with all sincerity state that it carries no favor or bias for or against anyone, group, or institution. It is purely an expression of personal point of view from a citizen who claims no influence or prominence in this republic but prudently, as a regular taxpayer, has contributed continuously in a small way to the conduct of the Peace Process since its inception more than three decades ago.

Strictly from my personal point of view, abolishing the ARMM by act of Congress and constituting it as a core territory for another sub-political entity as a “peace deal” in favor of another belligerent front, is far from being the right  political solution. Bluntly said, it borders on the act of grabbing the diplomatic achievement of the MNLF-GRP peace initiative and crediting it as flagship achievement of another belligerent front. It brings to reality the famous Pilipino proverb, “Ako ang nagtanim, ang nagbayo at nagsaing,saka nang maluto  iba ang kumain.” This to me, is nothing but an  “exchange basket diplomacy.”

Congress must not forget the undeniable fact that the MNLF and the MILF  are both recognized belligerent states enjoying the same rights as any sovereign and independent country under international law like the Philippines. While it is true that the MNLF founder and chairman, Nur P. Misuari is now being hunted by the AFP for the crime of rebellion, it is grossly unfair to lay the blame entirely on the MNLF hierarchy which still maintains it status as a belligerent state and whose relations are governed by the laws and customs of war, the agreements, and the treaties it has entered into with the government of the Philippines. With or without Misuari, the MNLF still exists as a belligernet state, unless of course, it now voluntarily renounces and dissolves its belligerent status, abandons completely its original political aspiration, decides to integrate itself into the body politic of the Republic of the Philippines, surrenders all its weapons of war under certain reasonable and justifiable terms or conditions, adopts the Filipino national  identity or citizenship, and pledges loyalty to the Philippine Flag and Constitution.  

The abolition of the ARMM,  to me, is not only politically, diplomatically, and legislatively unwise, but also creates irritants and animosity between the MILF and the MNLF which could only exacerbate or further worsen the already very deteriorated peace and order situation in Mindanao anf Sulu. I don’t believe it  is  the right legislative therapy for this decades old sanguinary confrontations between the AFP and the liberation fronts in this already horribly war-ravaged geography of the Moroland, not to mention the sad reality that the true root-cause of the belligerence in this part of the world has always been intentionally or unintentionally avoided, disregarded, or kept impregnably as a “top military or diplomatic secret.”

Let’s not forget the tragic fact that the Mindanao Crisis has already claimed thousands upon thousand of precious lives of combatants and civilians, and still counting. This is not to take into account the unimaginable magnitude of destruction it has caused to the sacred patrimonial resources of this proverbial Land of Promise and the billions of taxpayers’ fiscal wealth spent  toward the enactment of an organic act for the establishment of the ARMM. Contrary to the rosy and beatific pronouncements of leading peacemakers in the palace by the Pasig river, the peace and order scenario in Mindanao and Sulu is becoming more and more irreversibly cataclysmic with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) now being steadily recognized by the Philippine government as another belligerent force.

 The establishment of the ARMM was globally recognized and acclaimed as a  major breakthrough toward the final resolution of the Mindanao Crisis for which ex- President Corazon C. Aquino, the MNLF Founder and Chairman, Nur P. Misuari, and former President Fidel V. Ramos received prestigious international Peace Awards.

The laudable, concrete, and resounding successes and remarkable demonstration of administrative competence of the incumbent Governor Mujiv Hataman prove beyond argument that the ARMM  is not really a “ failed experiment.”  The failure might have been due to lapses in administration or management but not because of the defect of this organic law  and  sub- political structure. This points to the certainty that the ARMM can really achieve the purposes for which it was envisioned and created if the right, competent, and upright officials are the ones administering and supervising its governmental affairs.

So why abolish the ARMM when it is now effectively and properly administered by Gov. Mujiv Hataman? Is this not what we all want the ARMM  to  function as a legislatively created sub-political entity? Is there no other unifiying, harmonizing, and culturally solidifying diplomatic modality that the Office of the Presidential Assistant of the Peace Process  (OPAPP) can think of to bring about genuine, lasting, generically acceptable, and historically- founded Peace Deal with the MILF in Mindanao and Sulu without abolishing the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)?  

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