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Sub-state again?


There is at present a perceptible motion that cut through various segments of society and  across the many political subdivisions in Mindanao. The movement appears to be in tangent to the proposed Bangsa Moro Substate which was among the items propounded earlier during the resumption of the peace negotiations between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the government. As a condition precedent the secessionist front had unilaterally declared that they are dropping their separatist agenda and submit themselves to the sovereignty of the government of the Philippines.
The language and the terminologies do not differ much from autonomy which is already ensconced in the constitution.

It is, a matter of defining or redefining what other possible “expanded” autonomy may be admissible. The ARMM government functions quite independently, so independent in fact, it has be enconsidered an extension of the fiefdom of those who governed it. Some measure of consideration may be made on the issue of territory but this should be limited to communities, especially in the Lanao Provinces, which are largely Muslim populated which were excluded from ARMM. This can be admitted on the matter that involves territory.

Caution should however be observed in attempting to revive the issue of territory as defined in the constitutionally infirmed Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain. It can be recalled that these resulted in savagery and murder of innocent civilians because the leadership of the MILF prematurely released that peace of document which still has to undergo a lot of processes.

That sad episode in the search for peace in Mindanao is behind us now. No matter what the cost was and will be the effort to arrive at a permanent settlement must continue. This time moreover there ought to be sanity, truthfulness and sobriety. The call for round table discussions, interfaith dialogues and other forums that are participated by political leaders. The dialogue  revolves around the MILF’s proposal for “sub-state”.

We do not know what this one connotes, but if this is just another attempt at subtlety to resuscitate the junked MOA on AD the forums will go nowhere. If by sub-state the MILF wants to have complete control of the territory, seas and skies then it is up for against strong opposition. No government will allow an inch of its territory, seas and space above it to be carved out from the country.

Happy compromises moreover can be worked out but within the framework of the present autonomous government. Some aspects of the autonomy may be redefined like the region will have specific share of revenues from the resources of the region. The ARMM however cannot have control over vital natural resources of the regionamong them like uranium and oil deposits. We believe that it is easier tooverhaul the provisions of the ARMM to accommodate the demands of the MILF than to go to the rigours of establishing a substate with the trimmings of an independent state. What is important is that the autonomous government will geta just share from the revenues derived from region resources.

But then againthe MILF should come to terms with reality that that wealth is not for aspecific group but for the entire constituency of the ARMM. In the political process, the MILF has to bear in mind that this will be participated in by the MNLF, Lumads and Christians in the region.
Overhauling the ARMM is better than going through the process of constitutional amendment which the present administration is averse to.

More importantly for Mindanawons are the issues of disarmament and the cuddling ofterrorist and kidnap-for-ransom elements that have been hounding the region. We have seen how members of the MILF pillage towns and ambush soldiers even when the ceasefire agreement is in place. KFR has become an industry. In recent events, armed clashes amongst secessionist fronts had caused displacements among Muslims, Lumads and Christian communities. For as long as those weapons are not accounted for, no amount of autonomy or even the devoutly wished sub-state will be good enough for the Bangsamoro people and the rest of Mindanao.

by Menardo Wenceslao

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