BEHIND THE LINES: Nothing to give PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 23 August 2011 15:36

BY BOB JALDON

The Mindanao conflict will never come to an end no matter who or what country brokers a peace agreement between the government and armed groups. I salute our commander-in-chief for slipping out of the country to meet with leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Japan for that was a step in the right direction, if the avowed intention is to end the “war” in Mindanao. The quest for a sub-state, though, by the MILF as a compromise to end the shooting war and is totally unrealistic at this time.    Realistically and faithfully, we have given our neglected brothers the kind of autonomy they had yearned for through the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). Nur Misuari, who has vanished after being freed on bail on rebellion charges, was the first chairman of the ARMM. Now, the MILF, a breakaway faction of the
MNLF founded by Salamat Hashim, wants a sub-state presumably separate and distinct from the ARMM.      

Because we have amended the Organic Act that created the ARMM and the people of the affected regions have voted twice in plebiscite defining the new territories of the expanded ARMM, what provinces and cities that are not part of the ARMM can be “given” to the MILF to comprise its version of a sub-state? Definitely not the provinces and cities that opted to be out of the ARMM. Even if an agreement is reached in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia next week that will enumerate the probable provinces and cities that may be included in the MILF’s sub-state, will the governors, mayors and congressmen of those provinces and cities agree to such a declaration? And, granting for the sake of argument that they will, there is still going to be a plebiscite on a creation of a sub-state and the composition of such. Will the people of the affected areas agree to such an arrangement? Come, pray tell me, will those provinces and cities that voted many times before to be out of the ARMM have a sudden change of heart and vote to be included in the MILF sub-state? You wouldn’t even need to make an educated guess to arrive at an answer.

While the president’s meeting with the MILF’s highest official was laudable, the kind of peace that they seek is unachievable. Yes, to a certain degree the creation of the ARMM put a stop to the government-MNLF hostilities, but it created a political monster. With that, the MILF rose more ferociously, attacking villages and causing destruction all over Mindanao, even in some areas not considered their domain. Now, the MILF wants a sub-state, or its own version of the ARMM.

The most logical and legal thing to do is to divide the ARMM just like what Ferdinand E. Marcos did when he formed Region 9-B without going through the legislative mill of amending the constitution. Marcos also created Region 12 with Cotabato as the capital. He also sub-divided Region 4 (Metro-Manila and Southern Tagalog) After all, the president, as ruled by the Supreme Court in the case of Immanuel M. Jaldon vs. Orbos, et. al, has the power to realign administrative regions. So, we can have ARMM-A run by the MNLF and its people and an ARMM-B governed by the MILF and its followers. That way, they won’t have a problem with territorial rule. It’s a compromise worth considering, because right now Mindanao has nothing more to give to the MILF in terms of territory.