POSTSCRIPT / March 8, 2015 / Sunday


Opinion Columnist

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MILF is right: Senate CAB okay not needed

NOT A TREATY: This time I agree with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and disagree with one of my favorite senators, on the nature of the MILF-Malacañang contract for the creation of a Bangsamoro (a Moro nation) in Mindanao

Sen. Miriam Santiago said the agreement must be concurred in by the Senate before it can have binding effect. However, the MILF, through its vice chairman Ghazali Jaafar, said there is no need for such concurrence since what was signed was not a treaty.

Not that my opinion matters, but I agree with Jaafar on that point.

Santiago seems to be proceeding from Section 21 of Article VII (Executive Department) which says: “No treaty or international agreement shall be valid and effective unless concurred in by at least two-thirds of all the Members of the Senate.”

She has invoked the same section in insisting that the PHL-US Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement be submitted to the Senate for concurrence.

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MILF NOT A STATE: But, as pointed out by Jaafar, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed between the MILF and Malacañang is not a “treaty or international agreement” between two states.

The MILF is not a state – at least not yet. Neither is it a viable government as it seems to think after it was allowed to sit at the negotiation table facing a Malacañang panel that had misrepresented itself as the “GRP” (Government of the Republic of the Philippines).

With due respect, everybody, including the media, should stop mouthing the line/lie that the CAB is an agreement between the MILF and the government. Malacañang is not the government under our tripartite setup.

What happens when two horse traders strike a deal with one party claiming to speak for the assorted Muslim rebel groups and the other party for all of government? Answer: We get a heap of horse manure.

The president is our sole spokesman in foreign relations and in dealing with other states, but the domestic conflict in Mindanao is not foreign affairs, however hard some power brokers try to give it an international veneer by inviting other countries to poke their finger into the dung heap.

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CART BEFORE HORSE: The MILF-Malacañang contract may bind the two signatories, but does not commit the unsuspecting principals (i.e., the wider Muslim community and the entire government) that the two contracting parties had claimed to represent.

The MILF-Malacañang agreement on the Bangsamoro is a big joke. The irony is that it is not even funny. Seriously, the Palace should render an audited expense report on this costly adventure.

Realizing it has recklessly put the cart before the horse, Malacañang is now stepping back to pressure the Congress to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) spawned by the CAB — in a belated attempt to validate or ratify the flawed BBL and its CAB basis.

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MILF GOING SOLO: The MILF is still going solo. It has not started to reach out to the homeland sectors it had neglected to involve in its selfish negotiation with Malacañang’s varsity team of peace talkers.

The MILF could not even control its own trigger-happy troopers on a murderous rampage in Mamasapano last Jan. 25. Much less can it now rein in its prodigal Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and still another one tagged JIM, a splinter of the BIFF.

Santiago said the Bangsamoro that the CAB seeks to create can be considered a “substate” as it has its own government, justice system, police force and fiscal autonomy, among other features that could face constitutional challenge.

As conceived in the CAB and the draft BBL, the Bangsamoro appears to be just a breath away from spinning off as a state apart from the Philippine republic.

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BOI REPORT AWAITED: Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, chair of the local government committee, noted that the BBL, if approved, would give the Bangsamoro its own defined territory already with a resident population, and a functioning government.

The term “substate” suggests an entity that is a notch below a full-fledged state possessing all the essential elements of territory, people, government and sovereignty. For the Bangsamoro to transition to a full state, it should gain sovereignty or recognition by the community of nations.

Recognition might come easy for it, considering that several countries have already contributed to making the Bangsamoro a reality. The Aquino administration itself, wittingly or unwittingly, has made recognition of the Bangsamoro easier by allowing the internationalization of this local issue.

Marcos stressed that while he is for peace and progress in the neglected and strife-torn sections of Mindanao, he wants to see amelioration pursued within the Constitution and with justice for all.

The senator said the BBL inquiries of his committee have been suspended pending the submission of the Board of Inquiry report on the Mamasapano massacre. His committee’s last two hearings will be conducted on Jolo island and Tawi-Tawi.

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COUNTDOWN: The countdown has begun for the 2nd Clark Golf Cup that blasts off on March 27 in the challenging members’ course of the Clark SunValley Country Club in the Clark Freeport in Pampanga. Now on its second year, the tournament is organized by the Capampangan in Media Inc. (CAMI) in cooperation with Clark Development Corp. and Donggwang Clark Corp. Players get free use of a golf cart and caddie services, plus other prizes and give-aways.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 8, 2015)

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