Monday, July 24, 2017
MNLF chairman Nur Misuari’s recent meeting with President Duterte has given new life to the President’s initiative for federalism. With the action oriented Duterte of Mindanao it is hopeful that the different groups will return to the table to jointly find solutions to achieve peace in Mindanao.
President Duterte has proposed a federal system to unite the Mindanao with Sulu and Palawan included (Minsupala) Whether this new initiative will succeed requires patience and the willingness to compromise. It will be difficult but as the saying goes where there is a will there is a way. There will be no winners in a war that has killed thousands unless we adopt this attitude.
The MNLF leadership is especially poised to achieve this unity. It has always recognized the 1996 GRP-OIC-MNLF Jakarta Peace Agreement and the 1976 Tripoli Peace Agreement as the benchmark of just and lasting peace that most of the Luzon-based political leaders had repeatedly betrayed. We now have a leader from Mindanao who has a consciousness of Mindanao’s history and a personal link to the problem. Is the MNLF proposal for the “Bangsamoro Nation” pledged by President Duterte to address the “injustices” done by the Manila-based colonizers? The MNLF proposal for a one MINSUPALA Federal State will include in its enclave the MILF-proposed BBL, comprising of the present ARMM areas and other Muslim municipalities and villages.
Nur’s MNLF will no longer submit its proposed ARMM amendatory law. Instead it will push for federalism instead.
There is a need for many of us Christians from Luzon and the Visayas to know the background of the Sultan’s brave attempt to get back Sabah. It may seem futile but it has forced us to know and understand what Mindanao and its conflicts are all about.
That is in itself a considerable victory because the ignorance of a greater part of Filipinos about Sabah is a major block and for this we salute the men who lost their lives that we may be made aware. Thank you for the gift of awareness. That is also true for the rest of the world who would not have known what the Sabah issue was all about.
The best source of information on the Philippine Sabah claim comes from Sen. Jovito Salonga’s reply to Senator Lorenzo Sumulong when the two debated the issue in Congress in 1962. I have already quoted Salonga in a column but I repeat it today with the issue of peace perking up under Duterte.
Here is how I understand it: Salonga was hopping mad when Sumulong contradicted the government’s stand on the Sabah claim, hence he painstakingly crafted a point by point reply that has come down to us for our guidance at this time.
“Thousands of years ago, what is now known as the Philippines and what is known today as Borneo used to constitute a single historical, cultural, economic unit. This is confirmed by scientific studies of land bridges. Indeed Borneo is only 18 miles away from us today. North Borneo, formerly known as Sabah, was originally ruled by the Sultan of Brunei. In 1704, in gratitude for help extended to him by the Sultan of Sulu in suppressing a revolt, the Sultan of Brunei ceded North Borneo to the Sulu Sultan. This is where the claim comes from.
But he was acknowledged by various European countries, among them Britain, Spain and the Netherlands as the sovereign ruler of North Borneo and entered into various treaty arrangements with him.
But in 1878, the Sultan leased Borneo to an Austrian, Baron de Overbeck for Malayan $5,000 (roughly equivalent to a meager $1,600), He later sold the lease contract to Alfred Dent, an English merchant, who established a provisional association and later a Company, known as the British North Borneo Company, which assumed all the rights and obligations under the 1878 contract. This company was awarded a Royal Charter in 1881 but the British Government confirmed in reply to critics of its appropriation that “sovereignty remains with the Sultan of Sulu” and that the Company was merely an administering authority.
In 1946, the British North Borneo Company transferred all its rights and obligations to the British Crown.
In 1962 the House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution urging the President of the Philippines to recover North Borneo consistent with international law and procedure. Acting on this unanimous resolution and having acquired all the rights and interests of the Sultanate of Sulu, the Republic of the Philippines, through the President, filed the claim to North Borneo.
It accused the British Crown of disregarding the contract of 1878 and their solemn commitments when it turned over Sabah to Malaysia. Nothing could be clearer if we are to follow the rule of law. But that is not what happened and through the years of Philippine government neglect in pursuing the claim and the arrogance of Western nations, it became “dormant.”
But it is not about the claim alone. We are told that the MNLF and the Sultan’s group feel left out of the Malaysian sponsored MILF-GRP peace agreement that would give MILF the upper hand in governing Moroland in Mindanao. Some say Malaysia did not want the MNLF and Sultanate included precisely because of the claim. So Sultan Kiram had to move boldly so the claim would not be swept under the rug.
The complexity of the problem comes from our inability to forge national unity. Had we a stronger state, GRP should have been able to manage a peace formula that would include the MNLF, MILF, the Sultanates, the Lumads and the Christians.
There would have been no need of Malaysia, the US or Britain to sponsor a peace agreement on what was essentially an internal conflict. But with the Sultan activating the Sabah claim, the Malaysian sponsored peace agreement has hit the shoals.
Here also important background for any negotiations for peace. Datu Jamal Ashley Yahya Abbas, a Muslim scholar wrote “GRP-MILF as quests for identity”.it is a mistake to look at the problem in Mindanao as if it were about the Muslims alone. His perspective for a solution includes non-Muslims, more so of Christians, colonized then and now. We had a common cause against colonialism.
A group of Moro politicians once sought the advice of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Bangsa Moro. He replied why Bangsa Moro only?
What about Bangsa Malay? That would be the wide swath of Malayland – Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia (With the threat of ISIS using the narrow borders of the three countries as their routes this idea has become feasible.)
We now have a strong man with Duterte. But is this a challenge that Duterte would be willing to take up?
Sunday, July 23, 2017
THE WAR AGAINST TERRORISM THAT WENT WRONG
The sole objective of the January 25, 2015 Police Commando Operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, was to capture Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Abdhir alias "Marwan" dead or alive.
It was a significant success in the war against terrorism.
Unfortunately, although not unexpectedly, it resulted in the deaths of 44 brave members of the PNP Special Action Force who were massacred by MILF rebel elements that were jolted by the clandestine campaign to arrest one of FBI's most wanted international Terrorists.
But the SCANDAL of the so-called MAMASAPANO MASSACRE that threatened to desecrate the memory and dishonour the heroic efforts of those who willingly paid the supreme sacrifice in dutifully carrying out their orders under OPLAN EXODUS, was the UNACCEPTABLE CONDUCT PRESIDENT AQUINO FOR REFUSING TO PROMPTLY AUTHORIZE THE RESCUE OF THE TROOPERS WHO WERE TRAPPED IN AN OPEN TERRAIN BY A NUMERICALLY SUPERIOR ADVERSARIES and HIS FAILURE TO ACCEPT FULL RESPONSIBILITY OF THE RISKY AND DANGEROUS OPERATIONS.
Ironically, P-Noy's behavior was prompted by an overriding desire not to jeopardize the GRP- Bangsamoro peace negotiations - THE BBL WHICH WAS BLATANTLY FULL OF ILLEGAL PROVISIONS.. His authorization for a police or military intrusion into a rebel-held territory without coordination with the MILF, violated a key protocol in the on going peace process. Yet to do so would have inevitably compromised the delicate top secret operation.
This to my mind was the reason why the former president deliberately tailored his orders to General Purissima and Col. Napenas to be vague and imprecise to give him the flexibility of a plausible denial of involvement should the operation be prematurely exposed by glitches. He wanted a clean exit to save face.
Simply put, at the height of a grave crisis P-Noy desperately tried to escape accountability by putting the blame on others. He displayed a fundamental flaw vital to the Presidency - LACK OF MORAL COURAGE!!!
INDEED, PRES. RODRIGO ROA DUTERTE is GOD SENT!!!
~ Patricia Laurel
Why do some people, particularly members of the Philippine Liberal Party, call President Rodrigo Duterte a dictator? I have been trying to find people who can substantiate that accusation, but none of his critics could provide anything to back their claim. Liberal Party Senators like Leila De Lima, Risa Hontiveros and Antonio Trillanes keep warning the public about what they think is a looming dictatorship. They keep harping about the “doom and gloom” scenario if Duterte is not stopped, but they simply come across as delusional since their statements are far from reality.
Somebody ought to tell Duterte’s critics what the term “dictator” means. A dictator is someone who has total power over a country. As far as I know, all branches of government in the Philippines are still functioning. Members of Congress can still vote on issues so, therefore, the country is not under a dictatorship. Congress recently exercised their mandate, convened and tackled the issue of Duterte’s request to extend Martial Law in Mindanao. Congress approved the extension of Martial Law until the 31st of December 2017 with an overwhelming 261 yes and just 18 no votes.
The extension of Martial Law is definitely a slap on the face of anti-Martial Law advocates including members of the Liberal Party and their supporters. Their shrill cries are generally ignored by the public anyway, which means the representatives in Congress are in touch with public sentiments. Anti-Martial Law advocates are way out of tune. They only talk about abuses committed in the past, not today. In fact, I’m beginning to think that anti-Martial Law advocates secretly wish the military would commit atrocities and abuse their power against civilians just to prove their point and have something against Duterte.
Anti-Martial Law advocates have become annoying. The public cannot relate to what they are saying because the public understands that the threat of ISIS-affiliated terrorists taking control of the rest of the country is more dangerous than one or two rogue members of the Philippine military abusing their positions. In other words, anti-Martial Law advocates have lost their ability to rationalise. Their arrogance is preventing them from seeing that the country is under threat. They still think that Duterte is simply exaggerating.
Liberal-minded critics still think that peace talks would be more effective in dealing with terrorist groups like Maute. Yeah, right! The Maute Group was founded by Abdullah Maute, son of Moro Islamic Liberation Front official Cayamora Maute. This just proves that despite the millions of pesos former President BS Aquino spent on brokering “peace talks” with the leaders of Moro Islamic Liberation Front, peace in Mindanao remains elusive because breakaway groups continue to pop-up and wreak havoc in the community. These terrorists are not fighting for their religious ideology; they are fighting for power. They don’t want peace because they want to take over the region and quite possibly the entire country.
Seriously, if Duterte didn’t declare Martial Law in Mindanao, his critics would have nothing new to say against him. They can only throw old problems left by BS Aquino government like the traffic at EDSA and public transportation woes. Duterte’s swearing is not even an issue anymore because his supporters don’t have a problem with it and there is nothing his critics can do to change the way he talks.
Duterte’s critics are questioning his popularity ratings and imply that survey firms did not paint a very accurate result. They cannot believe Duterte still enjoys a very high popularity rating – even higher than the previous survey result at 84%. They didn’t have a problem accepting the result when BS Aquino’s popularity rating was high though. They just can’t accept that Duterte still commands respect after a year in office.
Unfortunately for Duterte’s critics, they have nothing to pin him down with since he has not violated any law. His war on drugs is consistent with his mandate as the leader to deal with the drug menace in Philippine society, which the previous government failed to address. The courts have yet to prove that the deaths related to drug operation were the result of “extra-judicial killings”. His war on drugs even seems to be going viral. Indonesian President Joko Widodo has instructed members of his country’s law enforcement agency to shoot drug traffickers, including foreigners. We can only hope that his decision to emulate Duterte would distract US lawmakers who are against Duterte’s policy from focusing on him too much.
Indeed, a year of Duterte has resulted in a more engaged public due to the President’s determination to expose issues that were swept under the rug by the BS Aquino government. Duterte certainly doesn’t pretend everything is peachy in the Philippines. He is the first to admit that the problems in the Philippines are not going to be easy to solve. That is a good start. The first part of solving a problem is exposing it. The solution should present itself after that.
By: DJ Yap - Reporter / @deejayapINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 03:57 PM July 20, 2017
Leadership is often a struggle between doing the right thing and being popular, Vice President Leni Robredo said on Wednesday.
“It is always a choice between being liked and being respected. Sometimes, when you choose to be respected than be liked, you will have to undergo struggles first,” she told a forum with students of St. Paul College in Pasig City.
“When you make difficult decisions, you may be unpopular, but later on, you will be respected because people know that you chose the more difficult but right path,” said Robredo, whose public satisfaction and trust ratings improved in the latest surveys after taking a dive earlier this year.
She lamented how people who would make the right but unpopular choice would be “swarmed” on social media.
“Now, so many people opt to be quiet, because when they fight back, they are swarmed. I think you know what I mean. Most of you are in social media, and when you say some things that others take very personally, people swarm at you,” said Robredo.
“I have been at the receiving end of so much of that,” she said.
The titular head of the Liberal Party said the world had changed so much in recent years.
“What has become of us? If before, we could not tolerate certain things, but now there is so much that we tolerate already,” she said, apparently referring to the rise of populism and the political divisiveness on the internet.
“And you know, that is, I think, where we should decide. If these things happen, what do we do? Would we opt to take the safer route, or do we fight for what we think is right?” Robredo said.
“If you ask me, even if— again, even if it is unpopular — we always fight for what we think is right,” she said.
In March, Robredo’s popularity fell after she came under fire from administration allies for speaking out against the administration’s drug war, particularly when she sent a video message to a United Nations side event raising alarm over the killing of thousands of drug suspects.
Robredo’s remarks prompted the filing of two impeachment complaints against her by lawyers supportive of the Duterte administration, though no lawmaker has endorsed them so far.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said he was still building a possible impeachment case against the vice president.
Robredo’s public satisfaction rating recovered in June, rising by 10 percentage points from her previous net rating of plus 26 to plus 36, according to Social Weather Stations.
Her trust rating rose four points from 56 percent in March to 60 percent in June, according to Pulse Asia. JPV/rga