POSTSCRIPT / November 27, 2012 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Our Cardinal Tagle, 55, is ‘Pope material’

RUSH JOB: We are now witnessing how the rush job that was the signing of the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement last Oct. 15 could trigger dissension among Muslim Filipinos that reverberates in the wider Islamic world.

Confining the negotiations to, and signing the agreement with, a minority Muslim faction without embracing other significant sectors has drawn into the resulting dispute the influential Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

The OIC, an international organization of 57 states, booms as the collective voice of the Muslim world assiduously looking after the interests of its members who feel aggrieved.

In a resolution adopted by OIC foreign ministers meeting recently in Djobouti, the Muslim bloc sought to correct the political context of the Bangsamoro agreement by seeking to bring in the older Moro National Liberation Front aside from the splinter Moro Islamic Liberation Front that Malacañang had chosen to deal with.

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RESPECT PACTS: The OIC also sought respect for earlier pacts that Philippine officials had signed with the MNLF under its chairman Nur Misuari, recognizing its contributions to the search for peace in Mindanao.

The OIC’s Resolution 10 called on its Secretary-General to “develop a mechanism between MNLF, MILF and GPH (Government of the Philippines) to oversee the implementation of these two agreements.”

There is reference to the Tripoli Agreement signed in 1976 in Libya with the MNLF with the participation of the OIC’s Secretary General and the Quadripartite Ministerial Commission Members.

The commitment for autonomy under this agreement was among the bases for the creation, as mandated by the 1987 Constitution, of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.

Unfortunately, President Noynoy Aquino has brushed aside the ARMM as a “failed experiment.”

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EXPERIMENT?: Even if the performance of the autonomous region did not coincide with what lurks in the mind of President Aquino, it is not fair or cogent to dismiss it as a mere experiment.

Like the Cordillera Autonomous Region, the ARMM was formally founded through a solemn act of the Congress and ratified by the people in a plebiscite.

If the ARMM was a failed experiment, what did Mr. Aquino — in the 12 years that he was a congressman and later a senator — do as a lawmaker to stop the test and stem the dissipation of public funds?

Is his conclusion just an afterthought? Or maybe an attempt to justify his discrediting what his predecessors had done and his foisting on the people his latter-day version of how Mindanao and its Muslim population should develop?

Is his sudden interest in Mindanao and the replacement of the ARMM by a newfangled Bangsamoro — a sub-state just a breath away from a breakaway sovereign state — suggested by some foreign power with strategic designs in Mindanao?

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SOLO ACT: The premeditated execution of the ARMM followed by its resurrection as a Bangsamoro is a solo act of the Executive — one of the three branches of government.

Mathematically, the act is just one-third of an official government act. The Congress and the Judiciary were not part of the negotiation and the signing of the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement. It is only now that the legislature is being brought into the picture.

It is misleading to call the pact a “Philippine Government-MILF agreement” as Malacañang and some media do. It should be called a “Malacañang-MILF” agreement.

The President is not the government, although he apparently thinks and acts like he is. The press releases churned out by his propagandists refer to an “Aquino Government” when they should be talking of an “Aquino Administration.”

Administrations come and go, but the government stays.

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RESERVATIONS: Now reports have it that the MILF has expressed reservations on the OIC resolution seeking a mechanism that would involve the MNLF in overseeing the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement.

The statement was posted on the MILF website luwaran.com, which quoted an unidentified Central Committee source describing the mechanism as “unnecessary” since “it will only complicate the gains of the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement.”

A complex undertaking will certainly become complicated if its starts on the wrong foot, such as by talking to the wrong party.

From the very beginning, doubts have been cast that the 12,000-strong MILF is the authentic representative and voice of the close to five million Muslim population.

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POPE MATERIAL: “From now on, you will be even more closely and intimately linked to the See of Peter.”

So said Pope Benedict XVI in his homily at the Consistory last Saturday for the creation of six new cardinals of the Catholic Church – all non-Europeans and one of whom is our very own Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle.

The charismatic 55-year-old archbishop of Manila is, according to those who know him, “Pope material.”

Vice President Jejomar Binay, who was present during the installation rites at the Vatican, said the event brings “great joy and pride to Filipino Catholics.”

“The installation of His Eminence Cardinal Tagle and the canonization of San Pedro Calungsod are important events not only for the Catholic Church, which is celebrating this year as ‘The Year of Faith,’ but also for our predominantly Catholic nation,” he said.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of November 27, 2012)

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