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Is GRP afraid of Pandora's Box?


Our collective fear, anxiety, and confusion with respect to the burning issue on Ancestral Domain when viewed broadly from the vast landscape of our cultural and historical heritage and foundations, could easily be construed as largely instantaneous and intensely emotional reactions and panicky responses to stimuli of grave threat, insecurity, and risk brought about by forces and circumstances situated outside our sphere of control, influence, and knowledge. To a large measure, this could be attributed to our collective unfamiliarity, ignorance, or obdurate aversion to and fear of history. It seems that the ancient and colonial history of Mindanao and Sulu has become a mythical “Pandora’s Box” that the GRP Peace Panel is so afraid to touch. 

The popular and traditional terminology or definition of territorial integrity prior to the forcible entry and destructive ascendancy of colonialism and imperialism of Spaniards and much later the Americans in the Philippines via the political doctrine of democracy, the territorial jurisdictions of the Sultanates of Sulu and Maguindanao were explicitly referred to by authorities in the academic  discipline of history as the realms and the smaller political subdivisions under the effective sways of the reigning Sultans, were called tributaries and principalities.

While various leading lights in the judicial, legislative, and administrative hierarchies of our political system would instantly judge the element of history in the present  raging controversy as without diplomatic relevance, the fundamentality and materiality of valid and reliable historical evidences surrounding the issue of Ancestral Domain, are fundamentally of far-reaching  importance. This is made more indispensable and compellingly expedient in a situation where the potential and actual solutions to the dilemmas of our times could only be salvaged or retrieved from the fast-decaying and time-battered pages of our colonial past. It seems quite discomforting and frustrating to some extent, that many who for reasons of comfort ,security,  and power, have developed the  aversion to the phenomena of history which have inalienable and unimpeachable connections to the present and future realities. Irrefutably, nothing is meaningful and readily explainable without history. Everything emanates and proceeds from history. Everything about us is history and there is nothing in our nature and character that is not traceable, attributable or connected to the events of the past.

One can’t grasp the full understanding of the term Ancestral Domain, if he refuses to take a cognitive and academic trip to the past. In this particular controversy, the concept of Moro Homeland assumes higher degree of complexity and strangeness to the ordinary mind for now he is confronted  with a linguistic element not known in his entire personal and social life.  And when we assert on the basis of valid and reliable historical sources that the word “moro” is not endemic to the dialectal or linguistic heritage of the indigenous peoples of Sulu and Mindanao, almost out rightly, we are
ignored and branded as diplomatic nuisance.

Since the issue of Ancestral Domain has been elevated to plain of diplomatic discourse, it has spawned speculations and suspicions that are readily associated with super powers’ capabilities of insidious political manipulations, ulterior interventions, and diplomatic machinations. 

In the most inevitable but unlikely situation when the matter of Ancestral Domain is Insistently, persistently, and forcibly brought before the bar of public opinion for its final resolution, our last recourse and best defense to our argument, is history…without even the barest necessity of using violence. This, of course, is just purely academic in purpose devoid of any shade of prejudice against other equally respectable supportive or contrasting points of view.

By the way, why is the GRP Panel not using the roadmap of history toward achieving final and genuine resolution to the Mindanao conflict? Is the GRP afraid of history? Is it a “PANDORA’S BOX?”

By Prof. Clem M. Bascar

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