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Just let next admin

continue BBL game


  (First published in The Philippine Star of  May 26, 2015)

THE LATEST version of the bill creating a Bangsamoro Autonomous Region still contains contentious sections that cannot be satisfactorily resolved in the remaining session days of the 16th Congress set to adjourn sine die June 11.

Since there is actually no deadline set by law, why don’t we just allow the next administration of Mar Roxas, or whoever, to pick up the Bangsamoro ball and continue the game on extension?

Forcing through this piece of raw legislation in the last two minutes – or maybe via a special session -- is fraught with danger.

Let not obsession with taking credit becloud our view of events. The creation of a nascent Bangsamoro state could be the start of the Balkanization of Mindanao by the superpowers with designs in this part of Asia-Pacific.

Do we need another tragedy of Mamasapano magnitude to call the attention of the Aquino administration that its unsteady finger is on the trigger that could set off an irreversible chain of events that we and future generations could regret?

• MILF writes White House on Moro issue

AS WE pored through our collection of documents, we chanced on one that many readers may want to include in their own folders.

This is the letter of Salamat Hashim, the late founder of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, dated Jan. 20, 2003, addressed to then US President George W. Bush.

The note is just a page in an entire library that could explain why the United States, a neocolonial power beside the older Great Britain, has taken interest in the defiant Moro nation in Southern Philippines.

Salamat is sometimes cited to explain why the White House “chose” the MILF and not another rebel group or a mix of Muslim bands for Malacañang to talk with in its attempt to lay to rest the Moro question.

• Here’s what Salamat conveyed to Bush

SPACE limitation forces us to cull here just the substantive core of Salamat’s letter:

“In the name of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), we send our profound and felicitous greetings of peace on behalf of the Bangsamoro People of our historic homeland in Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan.

“The Bangsamoro People have always looked upon your country, the United States of America, and its people, with esteem as a great champion of freedom and democracy. The founding fathers of the American Nation as firm believers of ‘self-evident truths’ and ‘inalienable rights’ have become inspirations for the Moro Nation in our quest for the right to self-determination.


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“Your ambassador to the Philippines (Francis J. Ricciardone), who recently addressed the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines, raised the question of the US Government’s desire to know ‘what they (MILF) want or how it’s (the Problem) going to be resolved.’

“… the MILF is a national liberation organization, with leadership supported by the Bangsamoro People, and with legitimate political goal to pursue the right of the Moro Nation to determine their future and political status. As part of this process, we have an on-going negotiation with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines to arrive at a negotiated political settlement of the Mindanao conflict and the Bangsamoro problem, through the mediation and tender of good offices of the Government of Malaysia.

“Your desire to be informed of the MILF goals reminds us of the historic, legal and political relationship between the Moro Nation and the US Federal Government as borne out by documents, treaty relations and instruments. Your official policy, under William McKinley’s Instruction to the First Philippine Commission of 1900, treated the Moro Nation initially as a Dependent Nation similar to North American Indian Nations under treaty relations with the US Federal Government. Subsequently, the Moro Nation was accorded the political status of a US protectorate under the Kiram-Bates Treaty of 1899, confirming the Treaty of 1878 between Sultan of Sulu and Spain.

“Your policy to consider the Philippine archipelago as an unincorporated territory of the United States paved the way for the US Government to administer affairs in the Moro territories under a separate political form of governance under the Moro Province from the rest of the Philippine Islands.

“Your project to grant Philippine independence obliged the leaders of the Moro Nation to petition the US Congress to give us an option through a referendum either by remaining as a territory to be administered by the US Government or granted separate independence 50 years from the grant of Philippine independence. Were it not for the outbreak of the Pacific War, the Moro Nation would have been granted trust territory status like any of the Pacific islands states who are now independent or in free association with the United States of America.

“On account of such circumstances, the Moro Nation was deprived of their inalienable right to self-determination, without waiving their plebiscitary consent. Prior to the grant of Philippine independence on July 4, 1946, American Congressional leaders foresaw that the inclusion of the Moro Nation within the Philippine Commonwealth would result in serious conflicts in Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan, arising from the inability of the Filipino leaders to govern the Moro people. This condition or states of affairs have continued to prevail to the present day.

“In view of the current global developments and regional security concerns in Southeast Asia, it is our desire to accelerate the just and peaceful negotiated political settlement of the Mindanao conflict, particularly the present colonial situation in which the Bangsamoro people find themselves.

“We are therefore appealing to the basic principle of American fairness and sense of justice to use your good offices in rectifying the error that continuous to negate and derogate the Bangsamoro People’s fundamental right to seek decolonization under the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV) of 1960. For this purpose, we are amenable to inviting and giving you the opportunity to assist in resolving this predicament of the Bangsamoro People.”


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