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Sub-state and autonomy


The Moro Islamic Liberation Front is back on its saber-rattling dramatics. It does not help that the peace negotiation suddenly stopped just when the nation expected something rosy will come out of the personal encounter between Pres. Benigno Aquino and MILF Chair Al Hadj Murad Ibrahim, it is also self-defeating to hear the latter rambling threats that they might have to resort to other options to attain the dream of the Bangsamoro people.

It is unfortunate that the talks were again stalled. Chairman Murad had said a mouthful in an interview with ABS-CBN that short of a sub-state, they will not entertain any other alternative from the government. On the other hand, GRP Chairman of the panel negotiating peace with the MILF, Dean Marvic Leonen is saying that the sub-state which the MILF panel demands is just another name of an autonomous region. “It is another species of autonomy”.
Being a legal luminary and dean of the College of Law of the University of the Philippines, we adhere to the definition of Chairman Leonen who succinctly explained the anatomy of the sub-state and autonomy and indeed, had the MILF did not slam the door to their recent talks in Kuala Lumpur, something substantial could have been reached by both panels.

Of course we believe that the negotiation has not been suspended. The kneejerk reaction of the MILF is part of the acts of the negotiations. Intimidation however is altogether another story and will not, in anyway, help in confidence building if at all there is sincerity in working for a peace accord.

The government is quite transparent with what it wants to offer to the Bangsamoro people. An enhanced autonomous region developed and expanded from the experiment that is ARMM which proved to be nothing more than a political eunuch which served only the interest those who man the rein of the autonomous government. Leonen let us in to what the new ARMM shall be.  In not so many words, he described an autonomous region which will put an end to the isolation and depravity of the conflict areas. He said that much of what the MILF desires and agrees to forego are among the highlights of what the government aspires to achieve.

At this point however, we have our own reservations for in retrospect we knew that those who governed the ARMM were known leaders of the Bangsamoro people. We knew how the resources of the autonomous government had been misappropriated by those in power as if these were their family and extended families enterprise.  Government auditors were tight-lipped over what they knew as they are either party to the scam or scared to be silenced forever. What guarantees do we expect this time that with the new leadership of a much improved ARMM the region will no longer be ran like fiefdom of the past?

By Menardo Wenceslao

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