The most important role of government is to protect the rights of citizens regardless of their economic status, gender, ethnicity, political beliefs and religious affiliations.
Despite its many political and economic contradictions, the Philippine Constitution establishes and supports a secular society in which the religious freedom and practices of all religious groups and denominations are protected and held inviolable.
One of the greatest universal principles we borrowed from the Americans is the separation of religion and state. It is this separation clause that did not only guarantee the religious rights of the people, but also prevented possible armed, deadly conflicts among religious groups in the country. Anybody has the right to form religions and practice his own deistic beliefs as long as he abides by the rule of law and refrains from violating the rights of others. We are supposed to be a nation of law, not a tribal, primitive society of misguided men and of theocrats. We must adopt and follow logical and universal principles if we are to keep our civilization and survive as free men.
However, problems and crises occur when the government fails to protect the people’s rights and defend the separation principle that made our semi-statist society safe from religious conflicts and atrocities by giving in to the atavistic, barbaric demands of some separatist theocrats and/or religious supremacists that have been using religion to push their political, theocratic agenda.
I am talking of the ongoing Mindanao crisis that has long exposed the sheer inability of our government to defend our supposed to be secular society and to neutralize rebel groups that are determined to use illegal, deadly means to achieve their goal.
With respect to its policy towards rebel or separatist groups, our government only needs to confront the following issue– Are these separatist rebel groups determined to use deadly, illegal force to achieve their goal?
Recent history and events show they’re not just determined to resort to military force; they also resorted to terrorism by bombing public places and killing innocent civilians, kidnapping both locals and foreigners for ransom, beheading civilians, terrorizing local communities, among others.
This is what our government fails to understand– terror is not the enemy; it is merely a military tactic or strategy. That is, its fundamental goal is not to terrorize or instill fear in people and communities, but to weaken or bully their enemy, that isthe government, by simply placing it in a compromised, uncertain position. Unfortunately, the terrorists have successfully, expertly used terrorism to get what they wanted.
The official response of our government to terrorism is not just shameless and disgusting, but politically and socially suicidal as well. There’s a specific term to describe the government’s cowardice in dealing with state enemies and terrorists, and it’s called appeasement.
For decades previous governments offered moro-moro, useless peace deals and negotiations to separatist groups. They all failed. Every time our government acknowledged the legitimacy of a rebel group by entering into peace negotiations, other rebel groups emerged with almost the same tactic and political agenda.
I give credit to these rebel groups for successfully fooling government negotiators and playing them like a cheap fiddle.
So-called peace deals and negotiations are doomed to fail because they didn’t actually grant what the separatist rebels really wanted.
The truth is, our government negotiators were either stupid or dishonest whenever they sat down at the negotiating table with leaders of, say, the MILF or the MNLF. At the back of their minds, they knew the only purpose of so-called peace process is to appease the rebels by offering them certain concessions and considerations (e.g., money, power-sharing deal, wealth-sharing agreement, etc.)
Their main goal is to buy temporary peace. For decades our government have been heavily investing in the peace process business using taxpayers’ money and by compromising the rule of law. For instance, the Ramos government said that the total cost of armed conflicts with the Moros during the last 26 years was $2.78 billion. But did we actually achieve peace? Certainly not! Instead these failed negotiations simply emboldened and strengthened the terrorists!
Appeasement means weakness and cowardice. In trying to appease Adolf Hitler, Neville Chamberlain and his fellow European appeasers did not just embolden the Nazis; they also made war more likely because the German Fuhrer thought he could get away with anything.
Historian David Dilks was right in exposing the real meaning of “appeasement”, which was simply understood as “the pacific settlement of disputes” during the period of Chamberlain premiership. “It has come to indicate something sinister”, Dilks said, “the granting from fear or cowardice of unwarranted concessions in order to buy temporary peace at someone else’s expense.”
The lesson our government can learn learn from Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement is– it is impossible to appease someone who knows what he wants and is determined to get it by all means.
Now the Aquino administration indicated it was willing not only to negotiate, but also to offer lucrative deals to separatist rebels in Mindanao. The question is, at whose expense?
Here I need to reiterate that recent peace negotiations did not just empower and legitimize separatist rebel groups; they also put the safety of our soldiers and local communities at greater risk.
Consider the 75-25 wealth-sharing deal between our government and the MILF. The agreement signed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia gives the MILF a 75 percent share in taxes and earnings from natural resources and metallic minerals in the proposed Bangsamoro entity, and 50 percent from energy and other mineral resources. Very clearly, this is treason by another name. Like I said in a previous blog, this unconstitutional,treasonous deal “will enrich not just the corrupt leaders of the MILF; it will also strengthen their fight, militarily and financially, for complete separation and even a possible subsequent invasion of the Philippines.”
Just this week, Nur Misuari, a former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao governor and self-appointed leader of the MNLF, resurfaced to announce they had just declared independence during a recent gathering by the separatist group in Talipao, Sulu. That’s just a few weeks after the government and the MILF signed the wealth-sharing agreement.
Misuari unilaterally declared independence for Palawan, Zamboanga Peninsula, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, and even North Borneo or
Sabah, which is controlled by Malaysia without democratically consulting the people living in those territories.
He called it “peaceful revolution”. I call it madness! What he did simply suggests that anybody can form a rebel group, kill civilians, carry out terrorist activities, ambush a few soldiers, negotiate with the government, and then unilaterally declare sovereign power over certain territories.
I say, all freedom-loving people in Misuari’s imaginary territory (Palawan, Zamboanga Peninsula, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, and even North Borneo or Sabah) are duty-bound to declare war on the MNLF and purge it from the face of the planet. I believe this is the best option since the government is determined yet again to enter into a new round of failed negotiations with Misuari.
By conducting so-called peace talks with the MNLF, our government is, in effect, admitting that the involved territories are in a state of anarchy. This suggests that any group of people can arm themselves, form militia organizations, and then unilaterally declare independence.
But that certainly makes Misuari the biggest land grabber in the Southeast Asian region! Did he consult the people in those territories? Will the government of Malaysia stupidly acknowledge his illegal, hilarious annexation of Sabah?
In regard to this issue I posted the following note on this Facebook group:
There should be no negotiation with terrorists. Misuari obviously knows we have a weakling president and he’s taking this very opportunity to try to achieve his goal.
It appears that P-Noy’s appeasement deal– the highly treasonous and dangerous 75-25 wealth sharing agreement– with another separatist group, MILF, is doomed to fail.
Are residents in Palawan, Zamboanga Peninsula, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, and even North Borneo or Sabah, which is controlled by Malaysia, too stupid to be governed and enslaved by a power-hungry madman?
The government should purge the MNLF, as they’re willing and determined to use force against the government, and jail Misuari for life!
Here’s what Misuari said: “To the Philippine government, I think the message is quite clear: we don’t like to become a part of the Philippines anymore. I know these people are just too happy to see us go. They don’t like dealing with us anymore.”
By what legal right and authority? Misuari is either a madman or he’s simply trying to bluff the government in a cheap, yet very calculated attempt to make yet another lucrative deal with our weakling government.
Here’s the Aquino government’s most anticipated response to Misuari’s latest bullying:
“We’re very committed to the peace process. If that is mischief in his view, he’s certainly misguided. We are for peace in Muslim Mindanao. That’s the thrust of this administration: to ensure that there will be peace in Mindanao so that the peace dividends can flow to the people in Mindanao,” Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.
Malacañang also acknowledged the 1996 peace agreement between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) is
still valid and in effect. The terrorist Abu Sayyaf group denounced Misuari as a traitor for signing the agreement. This suggests that the 2012 framework agreement with the MILF has not superseded it.
It will be recalled that when Misuari was elected governor of ARMM in 1996, Pres. Fidel V. Ramos announced $1.2 billion in aid to develop the region. However, Misuari’s governorship was tainted with corruption and was later on charged with plunder and rebellion.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said both parties agree that the 1996 agreement is still in force.
Valte confirmed the government has not ignored Nur Misuari. “Does he exist at all? Of course,” she said. “You know, if we were to ignore you then, we would not respond to anything – at all.”
Here’s a report from PhilStar.com:
Valte said Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao “spoke” with Misuari, and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles continuously coordinates with members of the MNLF. “That’s why we have MNLF commanders that have expressed their support for the framework agreement (with the MILF),” she said. “We’ve already said that the 1996 final peace accord with the MNLF, we are not abrogating that, that’s very clear. Second, the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law seeks to benefit not just the MILF but also all those in those areas.”
I find the pattern of events very much interesting and worth considering. MILF’s wealth-sharing deal and Misuari’s reemergence simply proves this issue is all about political power. Both the MILF and MNLF warlords want to establish their own fiefdoms. What about the people in Mindanao? Oh, forget those earthlings!
Let’s consider Mindanao’s demography for a moment. The total population of the region, which has an area of 104,530 km2 (40,359 sq mi), as of 2007 was 21,582,540.
The population consists of the following groups:
- Christians: 63%
- Muslims: 32%
- Other religions: 5%
The question is: by what legal right and authority do these clashing, competing separatist groups declare separation or independence when the region is a melting pot of various ethnic and religious groups?
Our government needs to consider the indisputable, well-acknowledged fact that both the MILF and the MNLF seek to establish an Islamic, shariah state in Mindanao. Both groups are motivated by the same ideology and purpose– to establish a new theocratic society founded on the principles of Mohammedanism.
A sharia-based or Islamic system means death sentence to Christians, infidels or non-Muslims. And this is the reason why all non-Muslims (e.g., Christians, Buddhists and atheists) in Mindanao must form a militia coalition or organization as a countermeasure to the clashing Islamic separatist groups.
By militia, I mean Christians, atheists and non-Muslims in Mindanao need to arm themselves and protect their communities and culture against terrorist groups and attacks.
I believe this is the only option since our government has failed miserably in protecting people’s rights and in defending secularism. But make no mistake, I am not saying Christian groups must establish their own theocratic, Christian-based militant movement. A Christian-Militant militia will simply serve as a countermeasure, since some Muslims have been too obsessed with their own religion and with having their own Islamic state. This is one effective way to tell the government– ‘Mindanao is now a melting pot of cultures, hence stop feeding the majority to a loud, intolerant minority.’
There is no such thing as a right to establish a theocratic state. While I consider secession to be valid, I find separation on account of religion and ethnicity repugnant to the principles of liberty and individual rights.