Senators fear Sabah standoff may affect peace talks
The Sabah standoff: Revolt left out sultanate’s heirs
The Philippine, and I suppose the Malaysian, media are abuzz with what’s going on in Lahad Datu, Sabah.
I have just been interviewed by the anchorperson of the radio station DWBL. I was asked about the Sabah issue.
Perhaps it is appropriate to upload here an article I wrote in 2002 during the massive deportation of Moros from Sabah. Here it is:
Who owns Sabah ? by Datu Jamal Yahya Abbas
Amil Hussein Jalilullah is 30 years old and a full time graduate student. He belongs to the Sama ethnic group, which is indigenous to Tawi-Tawi and neighboring islands. With a scholarship grant from Muslim donors, he is pursuing his M.A. in Islamic Studies at U.P. Religious and unassuming, Mel, as he likes to be called, hopes to be an Islamic scholar in the tradition of contemporary Islamic thinkers like Iqbal and Maududi.
The recent massive deportation of Moros from Sabah disheartened Mel because he could not believe that a Muslim country could do such atrocities against Muslims. Migration is very important in Islam. The first Muslims migrated to Abyssinia to flee the cruelty of the Arab pagans. The Prophet himself migrated to Madina and set up the first Muslim Community (Ummah).
Mel joined his classmates and went to demonstrate against Malaysian actions. He and his classmates are all members of their graduate students’ association, the UP-ASSABIYAH (Group Solidarity). They called on everyone to consider the plight of the Halaw. Halaw is a Malay term adapted by the Tausug to refer to migrants in Sabah displaced in a disgraceful manner. The term halaw implies that these people (their humanity) were “violated”.
Mel comes from Bongao, Tawi Tawi. He lives practically a boat ride away from Sabah. He had always regarded Sabah as part of the Sulu Sultanate just as Tawi-Tawi is part of the Sulu Sultanate although the Philippine government considers Sulu and Tawi-Tawi as two separate provinces.
He believes that the Philippines should claim Sabah because “it belongs to Sulu.” He says, “Getting Sabah would be better for Tawi-Tawi, for the Sulu Sultanate and the Philippine government.”
But who truly owns Sabah?
The massive deportation of Moros from Sabah has sparked new interest in the ownership of this rich Malaysian state in North Borneo. Perhaps thinking that it would help his country, the Malaysian Ambassador to the Philippines, Mohammad Taufiq announced on Sept. 2 that Malaysia’s Finance Ministry paid early this year the Sultanate of Sulu in southern Philippines its yearly "rent" of M$5,000 (HK$10,250) for Sabah. This surprised Filipino congressmen, who did not know that Malaysia pays annual rent to the Sulu Sultanate. For many congressmen and Christian Filipinos in general, the Sulu Sultanate had disappeared long ago and is now a mere figment of the imagination.
Realizing the logic that he who pays rent does not own the property, some congressmen immediately called for the return of Sabah to the Philippines. The Malaysian ambassador tried to cover his faux pax by saying that it was not rental fee but “cession fee”.
The Philippine government through no less than its President announced that the claim to Sabah would be studied carefully. "We affirmed that we can indeed come up with a national unified position on the Sabah issue at this time," a presidential palace statement dated 5 September quoted the President as saying. Representative Apolinario Lozada called the Malaysian presence in Sabah as an “occupation” by a foreign government.
During the dynastic war in Brunei in the 1650’s between Sultan Mu’adin and Sultan Abdul Mubin, the former asked the help of the Sultan of Sulu (Salah ud Din Bakhtiar). The Sulus came to the aid of Mu’adin and defeated Abdul Mubin. In exchange, the victorious Brunei Sultan gave Sabah and Palawan to the Sulu Sultan.
European powers recognized Sulu’s sovereignty over Sabah. Eighteenth and nineteenth-century European maps usually indicated North Borneo as "territories of the Sultan of Sulu."
On Jan. 22, 1878, the Sulu Sultan leased Sabah to Baron Overbeck. The Sulu Sultan also gave Overbeck the title of Datu Bendahara and Rajah of Sandakan, thus making him his subject.
When the Americans occupied Sulu, the US declared that while they had sovereignty over all Philippine Islands, they recognized the Sulu Sultan’s sovereignty over his possessions outside the Philippines. The US made it plain to England in official statements in 1906 and in 1920 that Sabah belonged to the Sultanate of Sulu.
Sultan Jamal ul-Kiram II died in 1936 without a direct heir. His niece and adopted child, Princess Piandao succeeded him as Pangyan (Sultana) of Sulu. But the some members of the Ruma Bichara (the Council of Elders) did not like the idea that their Pangyan was married to a non-Tausug. When Pangyan Piandao insisted that her husband, Datu Ombra Amilbangsa be declared Sultan, half of the Ruma Bichara withdrew their support for Piandao and instead proclaimed Piandao’s cousins Zein ul-Abidin II and Princess Tarhata as Sultan and Pangyan of Sulu.
With two sultans and sultanas, the ownership of Sabah came into question. It became confusing even to the Americans and the British. To set the matter straight, the heirs of Jamal-ul Kiram II asked the Sabah Court to decide on who are the real heirs of the late Sultan. The so-called Makaskie Decision in 1939 recognized the proprietary rights of the Sulu royalty to Sabah and named the heirs and their shares.
Although the Philippines became independent in 1946 and Mindanao and Sulu were included in the Republic, Manila’s hold on the South was tenuous. It practically had no idea that Sabah belonged to Sulu. Or if it did, it made no action whatsoever to include Sabah to the Philippines. In 1957 England granted its Malay colonies independence and the Sulu royals, along with the Indonesian government, protested immediately. It was only then that the new Philippine Republic faced the Sabah issue.
In 1961, Malaya invited Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah to join the federation. The Sulu royalty again protested. The Sulu royals granted the Philippine President, Diosdado Macapagal, the authority to claim Sabah. Macapagal promptly opposed the Sabah annexation and sent a delegation to London.
But neither Indonesia nor the Philippines could do anything because England declared that, with all its might, it stood firmly behind the creation of Malaysia. The US refused to back up Philippine claims and Indonesia had no one to turn to.
President Marcos tried to get Sabah by hook or by crook but it ended with the fiasco now known as the Jabidah massacre, which inspired the Moros to resume the Moro Wars in the early 1970s. One of the results of the ‘70s Moro Wars was the displacement of about half a million Moros to Sabah.
Despite Sabah’s annexation to the Malaysian Federation and Sulu’s inclusion in the Philippine Republic, the State of Sabah continues to pay annual rent to the Sulu royals as specified in the1878 lease, which now amounts to a mere token. The Sulu royalty since 1957 refuses to accept the annual rent although it receives the letters of payment.
In 1989, Sultan Jamal ul-Kiram III sent a formal notice to the Philippine government revoking the Sultanate’s authorization to the Philippine government to claim Sabah. In a press conference on September 4 at the Sulo hotel, Sultan Jama ul-Kiram III reiterated its revocation of the Philippine government’s authority to negotiate for Sabah.
Sultan Kiram’s lawyer, Firdausi Ismail Abbas, the Sultan of Lanao, said that the 1989 formal notice merely underscored the failure of the Philippine government to press the claims on Sabah, as agreed upon by the Sultanate and the Philippine government. “We actually consider the authorization nullified as far back as 1963, when Sabah became a part of the Malaysian federation," Sultan Abbas said.
ASKING PHILIPPINE ASSISTANCE
However, the Sultan of Sulu is still is asking the Philippine government to help bring the Sabah issue to the United Nations in “behalf of the Filipino people.”
But his lawyer said that the Sultanate of Sulu is giving the Philippine government only up to six months to bring the issue to the United Nations. Lawyer Abbas said that there are forums other than the U.N. which the Sulu Sultanate can air its demands.
Harry Roque, a law professor at UP says that a legal principle known as uti posseditis juris “accords pre-eminence of legal title over effective possession as a basis of sovereignty.” The Sulu Sultanate holds all legal documents to prove their ownership. However, realpolitik seems to indicate otherwise.
The prospects of the Philippine claim to Sabah do not seem to look good. Despite the lawmakers’ insistence, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said, "the Sabah issue remains a low priority."
Mel’s mentor, Prof. Julkipli Wadi of the UP Institute of Islamic Studies also believes that the Sultan of Sulu, Jamal ul-Kiram III is the rightful sovereign of Sabah but he thinks that the claim will not prosper in the immediate future. He maintains that the Philippine government does not have the “capability, the right leadership and the political will” to successfully claim Sabah. He said that the Sulu Sultanate is “sandwiched between two governments” with their own selfish agendas. Finally, he said that the Philippine government is simply “not willing” to pursue the Sabah claim seriously.
Mel is firm in his belief that Sabah belongs to Sulu. But when confronted with the idea that if Sabah becomes part of the Philippines, it might become like Mindanao and Sulu, Mel had a change of heart. “If by Sulu getting Sabah means that (Christian) Filipinos will lord it over Sabah just as they do in Mindanao and Sulu, then it would be better for Sabah to stay with Malaysia,” he concluded.
Mel’s conclusion is echoed by most of his classmates. Even with the present hardships inflicted by Malaysians on Moros in Sabah, it appears that Moro ties with Sabah and the Muslim Malays formed by centuries of shared history, kinship and religion is still stronger than Moro ties with Christian Filipinos formed by the creation of a Commonwealth in 1935 or a nation-state called the Republic of the Philippines in 1946. (END/ SEPT. 2002)
SEE RELATED POST: SABAH AND THE BANGSA MORO
FIRDAUSI I.Y. ABBAS, Ph.D. 
(The author is the Sultan of Lanao, Chair of the Bangsa Moro Party (BMP) which was founded by the Conference of Bangsa Moro Islamic Organizations (CBMIO)}, composed of Fifty Eight National Moro Organizations in 1985 and the President Emeritus of the Muslim Bar Association of the Philippines, Inc.(MUSBARAP).He is the former General Legal Counsel of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF),Legal Consultant to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) when Ustadz Salamat Hashim was Chairman and still considered by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) which is now called the Organization of the Islamic Co-operation as permanent MNLF delegate to the Tripartite Conference among the MNLF - the Philippine Government (PG) and the OIC.)
Today the Bangsa Moro (Moro People) must once more decide, this time whether or not to support the MILF and trust the President.
Atty. Marvic Leonen, erstwhile chair of the Philippine panel negotiating with the MILF, who is now an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court at the Malacañang press conference on October 8, 2012 emphasized that there must be sincerity and trust for the proposed agreement to succeed. We of the Bangsa Moro Party (BMP) are in full agreement. Indeed these factors coupled with honesty and competence are sine qua non for a propitious conclusion.
SEEDS OF DISTRUST
Already one MNLF faction accused President Benigno Aquino lll of insincerity and even betrayal because the negotiations between the MNLF and the PG are still on-going under the auspices of the OIC which recognizes the MNLF as the sole Bangsa Moro representative. Further, past events have made the militant Moro groups skeptical.
In 1976, the Tripoli Agreement was signed between the MNLF and the PG to establish Bangsa Moro autonomy in the south. President Ferdinand Marcos unilaterally implemented it and created two farcical autonomous regions - Regions lX and Xll and empowered his yes-men. President Corazon Aquino vowed to give the Bangsa Moro real autonomy and created the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) which turned out to be spurious. President Fidel Ramos signed the Jakarta Agreement with the MNLF in 1996 but the problems persisted. Even worse, the government itself maliciously projected the Philippines as a target of Muslim Arab terrorists allegedly aiming to sow destruction and chaos in many Philippine cities and consequently several Arabs were arrested, incarcerated and charged. The MUSBARAP proved that the prosecution evidence were planted by the police and the Arabs were acquitted. President Joseph Estrada handled the MILF with an iron fist and launched a crusade that left dozens of Moro fighters and AFP elements dead with thousands of innocent Moro men, women and children left homeless. Under his watch in 2000, several establishments and places in Metro Manila were blown up which were blamed on the MILF. The MUSBARAP successfully caused the charges to be dismissed against Salamat,Murad,et.al. The same pernicious scheme of blaming the MILF for a series of bombings which were masterminded by the government itself to tag the MILF as an international terrorist organization by the United Nations was perpetuated under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
OBJECTIONS TO THE 2012 FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT
Sincerity, trustworthiness and honesty were dubious with the past Presidents mentioned vis-a-vis their policies toward the Bangsa Moro. We examined the Framework and the pronouncements of Atty. Leonen and found that the elements which he emphasized are necessary to succeed are wanting.
In the Framework Agreement they coined the word - Bangsamoro. The Moros never used this word. What was and is used is the term Bangsa Moro which consists of two words - Bangsa which in Malay and in the Moro languages of the Maranaos, the Tausugs, and the Maguindanoans means race or people and Moro which means an inhabitant of Mindanao, Sulu, Zamboanga and Palawan who has historical presence. He may be a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew, a believer of any faith or even an atheist because Moro is not synonymous with Muslim. Moro connotes a historical affiliation with Mindanao, Sulu, Zamboanga and Palawan and a political identification with the Bangsa Moro while Muslim connotes religious adherence to Islam.
This term began to be used but was not generally accepted till the late sixties. It was regularly used and popularized by the Dawatul Islam, the newspaper of the Bangsa Moro Revolutionary Movement in the late sixties and early seventies under the UIFO which paved the way for the concretization of the Bangsa Moro revolutionary agenda.
Sec 1. The Parties agree that the status quo is unacceptable and that the Bangsamoro shall be established to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The Bangsamoro is the new autonomous political entity (NPE)…
Here it means the government.
Sec 5. The parties recognize Bangsamoro identity… Their descendants whether of the mixed or full blood shall have the right to call themselves as Bangsamoro…
Here it means the individual.
Sec.1. The Bangsamoro shall be governed by a basic law.
Here it means the people.
The several meanings attached to the word Bangsamoro make it confusing. Consider the statement, “Bangsamoro is the government of the Bangsamoro to which Bangsamoro can identify himself.” It should likewise be noted that the MILF does use Bangsamoro in its title, but Moro.
Sec.4. The relationship of the Central Government with the Bangsamoro Government shall be asymmetric.
Sec.5. ….their descendants whether of mixed or full blood shall have the right to identify themselves as Bangsamoro by ascription or self-ascription.
Definitely the laymen do not know these words asymmetric, ascription and self-ascription. Many professionals including lawyers have to look up their meaning in the dictionary. These words further add to the confusion.
Sec.4.The Central Government shall ensure the protection of the rights of the Bangsamoro people residing outside the territory of the Bangsamoro…
Are the Bangsamoro not Filipino citizens protected by the Bill of Rights of the PHILIPPINE CONSTITUTION?
Sec 2. The Government of the Bangsamoro shall have a Ministerial Form.
This provision again exemplifies why the PG’s honesty is doubtful. Here the attempt to conceal the real meaning as agreed upon by the parties is apparent.
There is no ministerial form of government!
The forms of government as to who exercises authority are: (1) Monarchial – Absolute or Limited, (2) Aristocratic, (3) Dictatorial, (4) Socialistic, (5) Communistic, and (6) Democratic. The forms of government as to the extent of powers of the Central or National Government are: (1) Unitary and (2) Federal. The forms of government as to the organization of government are: (1) Presidential (2) Parliamentary.
The meaning of “MINISTERIAL” is the absence of discretion or judgment (Gonzales v. Securities and Exchange Commission, SP 03247 Aug 26, 1985). But this is not what the parties meant otherwise it would be no different from the farcical and sham autonomies. What they agreed upon is that the head of the NPE will be called Chief Minister and his cabinet members will be called Ministers. Why did they not say so outright? With these titles, one might ask whether these Ministers are officials of another state, or of a “state within a state”.
Sec 5. The Parties recognize Bangsamoro identity. Those who at the time of conquest and colonization were considered natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago and its adjacent islands including Palawan.
Conquest and colonization of who and of what? Of the people of the north called Indios by the Spaniards? Of Luzon and the Visayas? But this has no relevance in the determination of Moro identity. If it refers to the Bangsa Moro and their homeland then it is a travesty.
This is a gross distortion of history which records that the Bangsa Moro were never conquered and have the distinction that among all the Malay peoples only they humbled the foreign invaders.
This historical distortion is debunked by historians who aptly pointed out:
“CONQUEST OF MINDANAO AND THE MOROS was pursued by the Spaniards for over three centuries to no avail. The Moros retained their faith, culture and institutions.” (Blair and Robertson, “The Philippine Islands”)
As late as the 1930s, the Filipino leaders in Manila were still conspiring to colonize Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan. On June 16, 1936 President Manuel Quezon of the Philippine Commonwealth laid down the government’s Mindanao policy: “The time has come when we should systematically proceed with and bring about the colonization and economic development of Mindanao. A vast and rich territory with untapped natural resources is a temptation to enterprising nations that are looking for an outlet for their excess population… if, therefore, we are to conserve Mindanao for ourselves and our posterity, we must bend all our efforts to occupy and develop it…”
Even when the Americans administered Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan, the American government still acknowledged sovereign attributes of the Sultan of Sulu as duly documented in the letter of Governor General Frank W. Carpenter to the Director of the Bureau of Non-Christian Tribes on May 4, 1920: “It is necessary that there be of official record that termination of the temporal sovereignty of the Sultanate of Sulu within American territory is understood to us to be wholly without effect or prejudice as to the temporal sovereignty, ecclesiastic authority of the Sultanate beyond the jurisdiction of the U.S. government, especially with reference to that portion of the island of Borneo, which as dependency of the Sultanate of Sulu, is understood to be under lease by the chartered company which is known as the British North Borneo Company.” Under international law, only a sovereign can have a dependency.
This provision is pernicious. It negates the legacy of the Bangsa Moro. The MILF negotiators who are professionals, with lawyers among them, could not be ignorant of Moro history. The MILF leaders’ concurrence to this perversion is plain perfidy and an outright sell out.
Historian PETER GOWING in his book MUSLIM FILIPINO HERITAGE AND HORIZON wrote: “ARMED INVADERS – SPANIARDS, AMERICANS, JAPANESE, AND CHRISTIAN FILIPINOS – always outgunned the Moros but the invaders never succeeded in crushing the indomitable spirit of the Moros. They never subjugated the Moros. Everyday thousands upon thousands of Moros in hundreds of mosques and countless homes kneel in abject surrender to ALLAH. No lesser power, certainly no power on earth can ever bring them to their knees. This is their heritage.”
6. The customary rights and traditions of Indigenous Peoples shall be taken into consideration in the formation of the Bangsamoro justice system.
3. Indigenous Peoples’ rights shall be respected.
These provisions suggest that Moros are not indigenous which is utterly preposterous. There were no other peoples before them in the Bangsa Moro homeland. The cited provisions perpetuate the scheme of President Marcos to downgrade the patrimonial claim of the Bangsa Moro by equating them with the so-called “indigenous peoples.”
Before the advent of Islam in the 13th century, the Moros, like these so-called indigenous peoples were pagans but already had a high degree of culture and civilization. They interacted with the other Malay peoples of Southeast Asia and with merchants from China. The epic of the Maranaos, the Darangan which is pre-Islamic is the Philippine national epic. The Moro dance, the Singkil dazzled millions the world over. Islam further developed the culture and civilization of the Moros and gave them consciousness that they belong to a greater community (Cesar Majul, Muslims in the Philippines).
The Bangsa Moro which is a collective people of Moro nations, of the Tausug, Maranao and Maguindanao peoples number by the millions and whose civilization and culture were recognized by other nations of the world long before the great global powers emerged. The mightiest powers of their day, Spain, Great Britain, Portugal, and the United States of America entered into treaties with the Moro sultans. There never was such a recognition bestowed on these so-called indigenous peoples which are actually tribes who co-existed with the Moros in some areas of the homeland in Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan but who were never on the same level as the Moros - politically, culturally and socially. The special considerations, positions and concessions given by the government to these tribes in the negotiated agreements with the Moro fronts is not right. While the Moros respect the indigenous tribes and lived with them for centuries, they believe that there must be a separate policy for them.
The assurances of Atty. Leonen that the law provides or could expand the jurisdiction of the Shariah Courts and exercise criminal jurisdiction further compound the insincerity and the dishonesty of the government. This is a blatant misrepresentation. Criminal jurisdiction can never be conferred on the Shariah Courts. Shariah criminal law is based on the Holy Koran. If a man steals his hand will be cut off. An adulterous wife will be stoned to death. A man guilty of a capital crime will be beheaded. These are categorized as cruel and unusual punishments which the Philippine Constitution prohibits. Even Malaysia, a Muslim state does not apply Shariah criminal law.
He vehemently stated likewise that the MILF-PG agreement will not require any constitutional amendment. The changes however which the proposed agreement exacts on the present political structure in Muslim Mindanao are not only substantive but also radical. For one, the new entity will now be called Bangsamoro. The MILF will definitely assert inclusion of the word Bangsamoro in the constitution.
These vociferous declarations of Atty. Leonen, are further muted by the following provision:
4. (b) Functions of the Transition Commission. To work on proposals to amend the Philippine Constitution for purposes of accommodating and entrenching in the constitution the agreements of the parties whenever necessary.
Very clearly, based on this article, the constitution may not only be amended but may be amended “whenever necessary” which connotes not just a single instance but several occasions.
On the basis of these confusing, misleading and offensive provisions, the BMP and other militant Moro groups definitely cannot support the proposed agreement.
POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC REFORMS
The opposition against this proposed pact is not fueled by an inveterate animosity towards the MILF leaders. It is not anchored simply on the above-mentioned provisions but more importantly on the absence of any concrete assurance to establish real autonomy and provide genuine economic opportunities.
There must be assurance that the autonomous government shall have political stability and continuity. It must be shielded against illegal, capricious and whimsical postponement of elections in the autonomous region. There must be fiscal autonomy to enable the AG to survive even with modest budgets from the national government and therefore must be guaranteed authority to raise funds primarily within the region supplemented by foreign assistance. But primarily the AG must be run by competent and dedicated Moros in a free elections which will truly reflect the Bangsa Moro’s choice and not by handpicked sycophants of the President presented as victors in a rigged and simulated electoral process.
It is imperative that the Moros be assured of a better and prosperous future to secure for themselves and their posterity a brighter tomorrow. To achieve this, it is paramount to have access to basic capital assets and the inability to do so according to a study is the main cause of poverty - a major underlying problem of peace which has the highest incidence in the Moro regions. These essential capital assets are namely Human, Financial, Natural and Physical (The European Community-Philippines Strategy Paper 2007-2013).
1. HUMAN CAPITAL. Human capital means literate or educated human resources. “Out of 100 children starting in Grade I, only 69 are able to become elementary graduates or 31% drop out for various reasons not because of intellectual incapacity but principally due to economic reasons.” (Under-Secretary Bartolome Carale, “Educators Speak”, Manila Bulletin February 11, 2000).This incidence is much higher in the Moro regions where only a small percentage of the children finish the six years elementary education.
2. FINANCIAL CAPITAL. There are few private banks in the Moro areas which do not easily give loans to the Moros who are considered high risk. The government banks which service the Moro areas are neither accessible for loans. More than ninety (90%) of the residential lots are without titles which render them non-viable as collateral. Generally lands in the Moro regions cannot be titled because these have been declared military reservations by the commonwealth government. Personal or housing loans are not available either and the western oriented commercial banks serve mostly for deposit or checking accounts.
3. NATURAL CAPITAL. This refers to accessibility to natural resources. Lands for commercial purposes are limited if not scarce. There is no visible government assistance for cottage industries such as furniture making despite the abundance of trees and bamboos in the Moro lands. The centuries-old art of brassware production called galang in Taraka, Lanao del Sur ormalong weaving among the womenfolk have not been recipients of much needed help to sustain or develop the industry. Government assistance in cultivating the fish industry in Lake Lanao is nil which is a waste of this rich natural resource. Pure mineral springs are plenty but again the needed financial capital is not obtainable. Pearls of the finest grade abound in the Sulu sea which could be a major industry but this has not been developed. The awesome Turtle Islands of Sulu is another wastage of a rich commercial and tourism resource. The Liguasan Marsh which is believed to have rich oil deposits has neither been harnessed. The agricultural lands are becoming unproductive due to lack of agricultural implements and equipment that can increase productivity. The regions’ rich timberlands are exploited by non-Moros who have exclusive logging permits and pour no capital to develop the area.
4. PHYSICAL CAPITAL. This refers to basic necessities such as electricity and water. Maria Cristina Falls in Iligan, Lanao del Norte derives its source from Lake Lanao in Lanao del Sur. The government hydro-electric plants which harness the power of the falls supply electricity to the whole of Mindanao but many municipalities and towns in the province have no electrical service. They have no lights. Even Marawi City has poor electrical service and the rates paid by the residents thereat are even higher than those of the other provinces benefiting from the electricity generated from the falls.
Drinking water which is another basic need was not a problem to the Maranaos of Lanao until recently when the water in the lake became severely polluted by the hydroelectric plants. Tens of children as well as several pregnant women have been ill. It now appears that the water from the lake may no longer be potable due to contamination and has also been observed that the abundant fishes in the lake have suddenly diminished considerably because the pollution has seriously affected spawning.
Health services are scarcely available in the Moro rural areas. The public hospitals are few, the accommodations are inadequate, the staff is undermanned and needed facilities and medical equipment are lacking. Infant and child mortality as well as maternal mortality rates are still high. The number of unvaccinated children is increasing while malaria and tuberculosis are still prevalent.
It is quite clear that the inaccessibility to the named capitals which cause poverty are either due to inimical government action, deliberate inaction or gross negligence. This government indifference and apathy to and neglect of the Moros is the primary reason for the absence of good primary and secondary public education, economic opportunities, employment (unemployment has remained at 11% since the year 2000 which is higher in the Moro areas) and income opportunities, social services and of peace and order.
Economic and social development of the Moro regions must be systematically and continuously implemented which equate to Social Justice – a mandate imposed on the state by the constitution. It requires the state to adopt measures that guarantee the right of the people to equal opportunities in all fields of human endeavor and to equitable sharing of the fruits of social and economic development with special emphasis on measures that will ameliorate the standard of living of the underprivileged groups. These measures are duties of the government imposed by constitutional fiat and require no negotiated pact with the Moro groups for execution. The economic and social amelioration of the south and the Moros is an immediate concern of the state which is long overdue and must be speedily and efficiently effectuated thru programs that shall not be advantageous to only a few as in the past but substantive, extensive, viable, productive and beneficial to the Moro masses.
The Moros have witnessed negotiations and agreements between the MNLF and the PG before which were always accompanied with so much festivity and boisterous heraldry of a peaceful and prosperous beginning for the Bangsa Moro. After a while sobriety creeps in and reality orchestrates once again the staccato sounds of gunfire and the hapless Moro civilians are once more consumed by anxiety of anticipated turbulent circumstances.
The so-called agreements were actually mere accommodations of the MNLF leaders. Presidents Marcos and Corazon Aquino accommodated MNLF commanders who surrendered in exchange for government positions, power and wealth but the problem instead exacerbated. President Fidel Ramos accommodated Nurrulagi Misuari who was made Regional Governor of the ARMM for five years. Only he, his family and a handful of his loyalists benefited. The corruption, incompetence and negligence that characterized the ARMM did not change during his term. Painfully the opportunities for reforms have been wantonly squandered. And the fighters who sacrificed terribly experienced no betterment in their lives. Their brothers who died on the battlefields are not even remembered much less honored by their leaders. And those who were determined to persevere waved another banner-that of the Abu Sayaff.
The present negotiations between the MILF and the PG is another accommodation. Some of those who will benefit from such arrangements were never in the revolutionary movement. They faithfully served under the Marcos dictatorship and some even wronged many Moro quarters. Their only link to Chairman Murad is that they are also Maguindanaon. The same is true with the MNLF that have negotiators who unabashedly declare that they are not MNLF but simply lawyering for the MNLF.
A careful reading of the Jakarta Agreement immediately exposes the evident flaws which are imputable to legal incompetence, ignorance of Moro history and lack of understanding of Islam. Lamentably the Moro negotiators are at fault. In RA 9054 which is basically based on the Jakarta Agreement of 1996 between the MNLF and the PG, the MNLF agreed to the provisions on the so-called indigenous peoples which negates the Bangsa Moro as indigenous and even provides for the creation of Tribal Courts and an Appellate Tribal Court which have civil and exclusive criminal jurisdiction over members of the indigenous communities. (ARTICLE Vlll, SEC. 19, RA 9054)
One of the important provisions of the said law is that on Shariah (Islamic law). This is under ARTICLE VIII, Administration of Justice. Consider the following provisions under this ARTICLE, SECS 11 and 18. The qualifications for Judges of the Shariah Circuit and District Courts as well as the Shariah Appellate Court are the same qualifications for Judges of Regional Trial Courts, Metropolitan Trial Courts and Municipal Trial Courts. In addition, they must be learned in Islamic law and jurisprudence. A Shariah Court is an Islamic Court presided over by a Muslim judge who adjudicate civil conflicts between or among Muslim litigants. Based on the qualifications of Shariah judges and justice under the said provisions, a Christian, a Jew or even an atheist can qualify because the phrase “learned in Islamic law and jurisprudence” is not synonymous with being a Muslim. There are many Christians, Jews and even atheists who are learned in Islamic law and jurisprudence.
SEC. 23 provides:
Bases for Interpretation of Islamic Law:
Subject to the provisions of the Constitution, the Shari’ah courts shall interpret Islamic law based on sources such as:
a. Al-Quran (The Koran)
b. Al-Sunnah (Prophetic Tradition)
c. Al-Qiyas (Analogy) and
This section is replete with many errors. It opens with the provision that Islamic Law shall be interpreted by Shari’ah Courts subject to the constitution.
First, Shari’ah Courts do not interpret the Shari’ah but simply implement it. They have no authority or competence to interpret Shari’ah, and it has been decreed a long time ago that interpretation of Shari’ah or the Koranic verses has already ceased.Second, Shari’ah cannot be subject to the Philippine Constitution. Shari’ah which is primarily based on the Koran is the law from ALLAH, GOD’s law and cannot be subject to man-made law such as the Philippine Constitution. The Christians will neither accept that Canon law or pronouncements of the Pope shall be interpreted in accordance with the Philippine Constitution.Third, it further provides that Shari’ah shall be interpreted “based on sources such as: a. Al-Quran (The Koran) b. Al-Sunnah (Prophetic Tradition) c. Al-Qiyas (Analogy) and d. Al-Ijima (Consensus). These sources, per this section are mere examples.“Such as” means precisely for example. A decision of the Supreme Court or an opinion of the President could therefore be also sources of “interpreting” the Shari’ah. This is simply outrageous. Fourth, Al-Sunnah is translated as “Prophetic Traditions.” This is wrong. In Islam, there are many recognized and beloved prophets such as Nabi Isa or Prophet Jesus, but when it comes to understanding the Holy Quran, only the customs and traditions of the Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.) can be used as basis. Al-Sunnah must be translated as the Customs and Traditions of Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.). Fifth. It is not Ijima. It is Ijma. Sixth. Ijma is the consensus of opinions of the companions of the Prophet, and the decisions taken by the learned “Muftis” or the Jurists on Islamic matters. Al-Qijas is the legal principle introduced in order to derive at a logical conclusion of a certain law on a certain issue that has to do with the welfare of the Muslims. In exercising this however, it must be based on the Qur’an, Sunnah and Ijma. Clearly Ijma is a source that precedes Al-Qijas and must be letter (c). Identical and similar errors are visible in the 2012 Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.
How can these groups or persons therefore legitimately speak on Islamic jurisprudence, moro history or represent the Bangsa Moro? This is absolutely a gross anomaly.
Agreements with the MILF and MNLF will not solve the problem in the south without the participation of the other Bangsa Moro sectors. These forces combined are not even 0.5 percent of the Moro People. Even if the MILF surrenders its firearms peace will not follow. The MNLF did this in 1996 but war broke out in 2002. The arms of the MNLF and MILF which is roughly from 15 to 20 thousand is not even five percent of the arms in the hands of the Bangsa Moro. The AFP assisted by the MILF cannot force the Moros to give up their arms. The Moros will not surrender their armaments. It is their protection. It is part of the Moro culture and a way of life. The government is aware of these facts.
Furthermore the government admits that the problem in the south is complex, that it is multi-dimensional - military, political, religious, cultural, social, economic and traditional which necessitates a holistic approach but it is however complacent and despite these indisputable premises it insists on pursuing the futile negotiations. Like the previous exercises which President Aquino refers to as failed experiments, his own test will suffer the same fate because it is the same policy, the same hypothesis.
LACK OF MORO UNITY
The fault is not however exclusive to the PG. The Moro fronts and the incumbent Moro political leaders share the blame. At the height of its popularity the MNLF rejected the participation of other Moro groups and falsely claimed to have originated the revolutionary struggle. It obviated the UIFO which internationalized the Moro issue, negotiated for foreign assistance and commenced the training of Moros including the top MNLF leaders. There would be no MNLF without the UIFO. The MNLF also blamed the Moro political leaders for the sufferings of the Moros but it was the moro leaders’ private armies who fought the soldiers – who fired the first protest shot against martial law a month after it was imposed in the historic Marawi uprising.
Today the MILF has the same divisive arrogant posture. They reject the status quo and negate the MNLF achievements - the Tripoli and Jakarta Agreements. R.A. 9054 which is based on the latter accord has many positive and beneficial economic provisions, but the MILF insists on its own independent and totally new agreement with the PG. Like the MNLF it wants to obliterate the past but the incontrovertible fact is that without the MNLF there would be no MILF. The MILF should build on the gains of the MNLF and exemplify better leadership.
Then there are the Moro political leaders. They have not supported the MNLF and the MILF in their pursuit of Moro autonomy either because of a different political agenda or belief that this is the task of the Moro fronts which is erroneous. Their participation in this enterprise is in fact crucial. The great Palestinian Yasser Arafat told Moro leaders in Tunisia in 1982, “Autonomy is the task of politicians. Revolutionaries fight for independence.” The Moro political leaders must now perform their role and call for the immediate implementation of provisions in RA 9054 such as the appointment of qualified Moros in the organs of the state to capacitate Moro participation in national policy formulation.
And despite the clearly correct and necessary holistic approach which will unite the Bangsa Moro neither the MNLF nor the MILF advised the President to adopt it. Obviously the Moro fronts are wary that on the same forum with other Moro leaders, their ignorance and incompetence will be exposed. And the President will neither take the initiative because apparently the PG does not really want to terminate the tumult and end the conflict for it serves a lot of interest and offers tremendous benefit. The armed groups justify the huge military budget, the intelligence funds allocated to the Office of the President, the considerable financial assistance from the U.S., the European Union and of course from Malaysia which fears a Moro armed force, especially one close to its shores.
The solution to the Moro problem is not military nor in the hands solely of the MNLF or MILF. It has many facets and is in the hands of all the sectors of the roughly twelve million Moros. The proposed agreement between the MILF and the PG is contemplated to be the Bangsa Moro basic law and shall be the basis of the new organic act amendatory of RA 9054. It shall be the constitution of the new autonomous political entity. This is unacceptable - a constitution for the Bangsa Moro proposed and formulated by a handful of Moros who have arrogated unto themselves the authority to represent the Bangsa Moro with a handful of selected officials by Malacañang, brokered by Malaysia which is motivated by its own interest that is inimical to the Tausug people. It is as repugnant as the 1987 constitution which is the product of fifty handpicked Filipinos.
Bangsa Moro Constitutional Convention
Let this law be acceptable to the Bangsa Moro. Let them be proud of it as their legacy. Allow them to enact this constitution in a convention which Congress shall convoke wherein all the Moro sectors shall be guaranteed appointed representatives and together with freely elected delegates duly constitute the congregation who shall reflect in this fundamental law the historicity, identity, aspirations, sentiments, hopes and dreams of the Bangsa Moro. This is the holistic approach.
The Bangsa Moro yearn for peace and live normal lives. The fiery cry for secession has been tempered by the acceptance of autonomy long ago but it is as elusive as independence. Now is the chance to do right-establish real and meaningful autonomy and resolve the age-old conflict in the south. Now is likewise the moment to rekindle hope and unfold the vision of a verdant dawn. Today the Bangsa Moro focus on the President-on the crucible of his political will. If he is guided by a sincere, competent and resolute concern, then he must listen to and grant the Bangsa Moro the freedom to charter their political course and mold their own destiny under the aegis of the Philippine Republic.
 Firdausi I.Y. Abbas was the Editor of the Dawatul Islam, the official newspaper of the Moro Revolutionary Movement under the Union of Islamic Forces Organization (UIFO) from 1969 to 1972, member of the UIFO Executive Council and Chair of the Committee on Youth and Student Affairs. He initiated and led the MNLF special team to Indonesia who met and asked Vice-President Yusuf Kalla in Jakarta on August 17,2007 to recommend the resumption of the MNLF-PG-OIC tripartite meeting. It was resumed in December 2007 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He represented the Bangsa Moro in the first international symposium of the OIC in a non-Muslim state in Seoul, South Korea and in the World Muslim League Conference in Madrid, Spain in 2008. He was also a special guest of the Ministry of Haj of Saudi Arabia in the Conference on Islam and Islamic Culture in Mecca last September 2012. He was formerly a Senior Professorial Lecturer in the graduate program in Industrial Relations at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City and a member of the PHI Kappa Phi International Honor Society. Presently he practices law.
The UIFO headed by Sultan Rashid Lucman of Bayang, Lanao del Sur who was then Congressman of the mentioned province and Atty. Macapanton Y. Abbas, Jr., Chairman and Secretary-General respectively clandestinely met with Malaysian officials headed by Tun Abdul Razak, then Information Minister who were sent by Tungku Abdul Rahman, then Prime Minister of Malaysia in Penang in 1969. Soon after the said meeting, the UIFO sent the first and last batch of Moro youth to Sabah, Malaysia for military training. This batch known as the top 90 was headed by Datu Abul Khayr Alonto, Vice-Chairman of the UIFO Committee on Military Affairs, Chaired by Datu Udtog Matalam, Jr., which included Nurrulagi Misuari aka Nur Misuari and Sultan Punduma Sani. It turned out that the Malaysians just wanted a leverage against the Philippines on the Sabah claim and gave the names of the Moro revolutionaries to President Marcos, which resulted in the arrests of many UIFO leaders including Atty. Abbas, Jr.
 A tribe as defined is a group of individuals generally few in number, who cannot be counted in thousands, living simply, crudely and even primitively as a distinct portion of a people from a common ancestor. (P.D. 705)
Tomorrow, a supposedly historic event will happen at Malacanang - the formal signing of a Framework Agreement between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Four years ago, a Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) was pre-signed in Malaysia but was prevented from being formally signed and eventually declared unconstitutional by the Philippine Supreme Court.
Although the MOA-AD and the Framework Agreement are basically the same just as the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity is practically the same as the new Bangsamoro autonomous political entity, everybody seems to be happy with this one yet was seething with venomous anger against the other. Why?
WITH THE PRESIDENT’S BACKING
I understand why anti-Muslim autonomy politicians like Senator Drilon and Sec. Roxas are quiet. They are the stalwarts of the Liberal Party, the party of President Aquino III. I understand why even opposition politicians who are anti-Muslim autonomy advocates are quiet. They do not want to go against the dictates of Malacanang as they might lose their pork barrel. I understand why most of mainstream media are supportive of the Aquino- approved Framework Agreement. The Media Agenda is basically the same as the Malacanang agenda. I am not surprised why the Supreme Court who branded the MOA-AD as unconstitutional is silent about the new Framework Agreement. Their new Chief Justice was newly appointed by the President.
But I am surprised why so many ordinary Christian Filipinos, who appeared ready and raring to join the Crusades against the Moros during the height of the MOA-AD controversy, are now silent and are even said to be "pro-Peace", whatever that means. Could it be that left on their own, the Filipino masses would actually be pro-Peace and that they are just looking for cues from their opinion leaders?
If that is so, then there is actually a possibility for peace in this country!
The question then is, will the ruling elite allow lasting peace in the country? The "No War - No Peace" condition has a lot of advantages for the powers that be. It helps them maintain their position of dominance and power - both in Mindanao and in Metro Manila.
This early, government functionaries have already said that the schedule for the finalization of the MILF-GPH peace talks will be in 2016. That would simply not work. In 2016, Aquino III will be a lameduck president. The opposition will not be afraid of him. His party-mates will be ready to abandon him. The Media will look for its own agenda.
Ms. Arroyo thought that in 2008, she could still make the MOA-AD palatable to the majority. But she underestimated her unpopularity. The obvious rigging of the elections in 2007 and her attempts to have Martial Law through Proclamation 1017 which called for a State of Emergency gave chills down the spines of many Filipinos. The opposition’s resistance to the MOA-AD gained overwhelming adherents.
In the same vein, Mr. Aquino should not over-estimate his popularity. The removal of Supreme Court Chief Justice Corona and his replacement wit a young law professor who was Aquino’s schoolmate in college does not go well with many critical-thinking Filipinos. As Senator Joker Arroyo remarked, by removing CJ Corona, Aquino effectively controlled the three branches of government thus having Martial Law powers without calling Martial Law.
Recently, this September, the ‘netizens of the country were up in arms against Aquino’s Anti-Cyber Crime Law, calling the imposition of the law as "e-Martial Law". His advisers/retinue who keep on trumpeting Aquino’s alleged popularity must have been surprised at the people’s protest. With about a dozen petitions to the Supreme Court, the Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order on the government’s implementation of the law.
If Aquino and his party-mates are truly sincere in this peace process, they must start the ball rolling this early. They cannot presume that Aquino’s popularity will remain as high as they say it is. A plebiscite in one and a half year’s time must be scheduled. The plebiscite should not be done beyond 2014. If that happens, then maybe there would be some hope for peace.
As for the doubting Moros, it does not matter who represents the Bangsa Moro. What is important is what the representatives achieve for the Moros. The best thing we got so far, after struggling for more than 40 years, is the Tripoli Agreement. If the MILF can get something less than the Tripoli Agreement but can have it fully implemented favoring the Moros, then well and good. But for me, the Tripoli Agreement remains the basic autonomous agreement. Everything else is a part of the process towards its full implementation.
However, and this is a big however, I’m afraid all this hullabaloo is just for show. The Aquino administration is simply imitating the Arroyo administration. Like Arroyo, who lured the MILF to the negotiating table by dangling a "Bangsamoro State" carrot, Aquino is dangling the Bangsamoro "autonomous political entity" carrot while taking control of ARMM by appointing his own people - Hataman et al - and letting them run for office in the coming elections. This is being done in spite of Aquino’s announcement that his team will be on a temporary capacity and will not run in 2013. (Remember when Arroyo said she wouldn’t run in 2004?). He will extend the talks until near the end of his presidential term when it will meet extreme opposition from the Christian majority.
On the other hand, the MILF will be glad to keep on talking and putting concepts on the table. The alternative is war in the battlefields. Any agreements will be bases for future agreements. The MILF can just bide its time while winning more local supporters as well as international supporters like the US and Malaysia. It probably also hopes that MNLF will somehow just disappear.
It is really a win-win situation for Aquino and the MILF but a lose-lose situation for the people.
At the end of Aquino’s reign when the s##t hits the fan, there’ll be disaster. And this time, it might not just involve two commands of MILF "rogue" fighters but might involve a whole lot more. By that time, so many Moros would have been made to believe that Aquino and the Philippine government are sincere, only to find out that they were just being had.
(And pray tell, whatever happened to the Jakarta Agreement - Ramos’s peace pact with the MNLF? It also had the US imprimatur as well as the OIC’s.)
Leonen said, “The new autonomous political entity will be created through an organic act, drafted by a Transition Commission, enacted by Congress and effective upon ratification in a plebiscite.” If this can be done swiftly with the full support of the government, then we will be on the Road to Peace. But if done near the end of Aquino’s term and left on its own, then Aquino’s road map will lead to nowhere, or worse, bigger war.
I have refrained from writing a full length article on Moro issues for quite a while now because it is quite easier to just do micro-blogging on Facebook and Twitter. But I guess I’m now forced to do so because I was interviewed for a banner article on The Manila Times and I’m afraid the reporter misunderstood my statements. The article is titled Why Muslim Filipinos Stay Calm.
NOT RELATED TO DEATH OF US AMBASSADOR
I prefaced my interview with the assertion that the movie reportedly titled "Innocence of Muslims" had nothing to do with the death of the US Ambassador to Libya. It was merely used as a cover-up because the US would be hard put to explain why their "favorite" Libyans from Benghazi killed the US Ambassador who knew well these people since the US government provided arms and political support to this group against the Qaddafi regime.
I also explained that the concerned movie clip had been posted on Youtube since around July. Why then did it immediately spark worldwide unrest only on Sept 11, 2012 - the time of the killing of the US Ambassador.
Instead of quoting me, the article contained a rather long editor’s note which read:
[Editor’s note: After US President Barack Obama, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Ambassador to the UN kept on saying for two weeks that the September 11 killing of Ambassador Stevens was solely the spontaneous act of Muslims angered by the film, they finally admitted last week that the assassinations were a premeditated operation by an Al-Qaeda-linked Radical Islamist group. The Libyan president announced this finding on September 12. US military and civilian intelligence reported this to the White House on September 12 but President Obama, Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice chose to lie about it. Apparently, US intelligence had also warned the White House in early September that al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups were mounting an attack in Libya to commemorate 9/11.]
It’s the longest editor’s note I’ve read in a news article. But it certainly is better than just quoting me or other people on the subject.
When the first news of the Ambassador’s killing came out, there were no mention of the film that supposedly caused it. See this links: Libyan attack Group Linked to US Ambassador’s Death and Chris Stevens, US ambassador to Libya, killed in Benghazi attack.
The spin that that the killing was sparked by Sam Becile’s movie clip came later. This was facilitated when an Egyptian TV station aired a 2-minute excerpt of the trailer. It can be fairly assumed that airing the movie clip on TV anywhere in the world, including the Philippines, the Muslims of that place will make a hue and cry about it.
QUOTES FROM ME
The reporter ended his article with quotes from me:
I asked another Muslim professional who studied in the Middle East is Datu Jamal Ashley Abbas about lawyer Harry Roque and his insistence on showing the trailer of “The Innocence of Muslims” to his law students.
He is a graduate of Petroleum Engineering from the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dahran, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He has a master’s in Media Studies from the University of the Philippines-Diliman.
Engineer Abbas said Roque is a “media hound” who likes much publicity to the detriment of others.
“Who is he to judge the film when has no knowledge of Islam nor the life and times of Prophet Muhammad,” Engineer Abbas, fuming mad, said.
“If Roque is trying to invoke freedom of expression then that is a dangerous act that he should not have been done in the first place. The issue here is sensibility. He should have been sensible enough not to show that trailer though there is the so-called freedom of free expression,” he said.
He said that in the United States though the Ameican people have the right to free expression, yet they won’t call anymore the American black as “niger” because of the sensibility involved, and just like we the Bangsamoro people who are the minority in this country as we are still fighting for our right to self-determination, and by all means that freedom of expression should not be invoked against us the Moro people, Engineer Abbas further said.
First of all, I was not fuming mad. I was seated in the restaurant and was not even gesticulating. Perhaps since I speak rather fast when I speak English, the reporter interpreted it as fuming mad. I may be a bit angry, but certainly not fuming mad.
I saw the interview on ANC TV with Mr. Roque and he kept on insisting that he was showing the film to his students as part of their course on Human Rights. As I wrote earlier in my Facebook posts, Roque could not give a clear analysis of the film because he is ignorant of Islam and its teachings. He doesn’t even know who the characters are. How then could he tell his students why or how the movie could be seen or interpreted by Muslims?
He also does not know anything about Film or Media Studies. Thus, he could not explain the ramifications and implications of a movie based on communication or film studies theoretical frameworks.
I don’t remember saying that showing the film is a dangerous act. In fact, I posted a link of the Youtube clip on my FB wall the minute I saw it. As I wrote in my FB wall, it is better for Muslims to see the clip so they would know what they are up against.
RESPECT FOR OTHERS’ SENSIBILITIES
I said the issue here is not Freedom of Expression but SENSIBILITIES, i.e., RESPECT FOR THE SENSIBILITIES OF OTHERS. I then gave the example of the N-word as taboo in today’s American society.
Any movie or book or speech can always cite the Freedom of Expression as its defense. I even told the reporter that I take the Voltairean view that I may disagree with what you say but I’ll fight to the death for your right to say it. But when it comes to respecting other people’s sensibilities, then it is really a different matter.
An anarchist, a communist, a capitalist, a Muslim, a Jew, a Buddhist and a Christian have the right to say anything about their ideological dogmas or criticize those of others. But when they start slandering icons and publishing falsehoods, that is another matter altogether.
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION DOES NOT EXIST IN PHILIPPINES
Harry Roque defends the showing of the anti-Islam movie as Freedom of Expression and that the media should be a free marketplace of ideas. Why then are some films not allowed in the Philippines. The movie Last Tango in Paris was banned in the country. Schindler’s List and The Piano were at first banned but was later shown because of public outcry. Sexually explicit films like Winterbottom’s 9 Songs or John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus cannot be shown in the Philippines. Where is the freedom of expression there?
Even art works that are deemed blasphemous were caused to be removed by the government.
FIGHT FOR FREEDOM
Harry Roque maintained that so many lives were spent by the Filipinos for the Cause of Freedom and they should not let their guard down now, whatever the Muslims say.
I say that Muslims or Moros have lost more than 50,000 lives, billions of dollars worth of properties and millions of people displaced - all in the name of FREEDOM.
We are still fighting for our Freedom, especially the right to Self-Determination. Our lands have been declared PUBLIC DOMAIN, our territories are under MILITARY OCCUPATION, our RELIGION and CULTURE(S) are not respected.
Peace does not mean NO WAR. Peace means all the people in the and are accorded the same rights, privileges and respect. It means that everyone enjoys the Freedom of Speech and Expression, Freedom from Want, Freedom of Worship and Freedom from Fear, as Franklin Delano Roosevelt said. The Moros do not enjoy such freedoms in this country.
We do not have media organizations to give venue to our freedom of speech and expression. A rally in Mindanao a year or so ago that was attended by tens of thousands of Moros was not even featured in mainstream media. (See my post Mranaos rally to Demand Independence). We do not have Freedom from Want. The poorest citizens in the country are the Moros. We do not have Freedom From Fear as out territories are under military control and any time bombs can start pouring in. As for Freedom of Worship, even Muslim schoolgirls are banned from wearing HIJAB or headscarves in their schools. Muslim pupils / students are also forced to take Christian religion classes in schools, even non-sectarian private schools.
NOT PEACE JOURNALISM
The Manila Times article is not an example of Peace Journalism. It is a sorry attempt to promote the government’s and media’s agenda to quiet down the Moros’ uproar against Sam Becile’s movie.
In its long lead about moderation, it quoted a dead Moro advocate for moderation: "(We) condemn the raging war in Mindanao, the burning of churches and the mounting destruction, heavy collateral damage inflicted on innocent civilian sectors (of society)—Muslims and Christians alike.” But the quote mentioned burning of churches (were there any?) but no mention of destruction and desecration of mosques. And the heavy collateral damage involved mostly Muslim civilians as the battle zones are usually in Moro territories.
Its last quote in its lead section is: “Violence would lead mankind to nowhere.” But violence is not only physical. It is also mental, emotional and psychological. Sam Becile’s movie is indeed very violent as it make fun and slanders not only the Prophet of Islam but also his wives, Companions, the Holy Qur’an, the very God of the Muslims, the religion of Islam and thus, all the Muslims in the world - past, present and future.