The historic ties between the Philippines particularly Mindanao and Indonesia have been revived and strengthened anew. This came about by the recent agreement between Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Indonesian President Joko Widodo to open up a new shipping route, which links the Philippine cities of Davao and General Santos to the Indonesian province of North Sulawesi.

Forty eight days to go before May 18, the timeline unilaterally set by the government for the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) to come up with new Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). This timeline, while it is ideally sound, may not be too practical. This can only happen if the other side of inclusivity will work  wonder for the BTC; if not, even the adoption of internal rules, committees assignment, and which draft to use as working draft may take some time.

The ugly face of kidnapping has surfaced again with the beheading of Jurgen Gustav Kantner, a German, by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) last February 24. It is so disgusting that despite the all-out war waged by the military against the group, they can still play their usual terror game almost at will.

It is good news to hear that the Duterte administration is pouring at least P21 million for the planting of bamboo and mangrove in the 288,000-hectare Liguasan Marsh. By modest standard, the money is too small but as a starting point, it is more than enough.  

The use of the term “convergence” is more of a government preferred approach in handling the emerging two tracks pursued by the MNLF and MILF and government, respectively. Lately, the MNLF seems inclined to it, which drifts slightly away from the “harmonization” approach being pushed by the Organization of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).  It is not bad per se; it only requires more appreciation that convergence is more of a process; and this is mainly through the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, and more importantly, through the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF) under the auspices of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

 After a long wait, finally, the appointment papers of the 21 members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) were officially released by government last February 10. Secretary Jesus Dureza of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) made the announcement during a press conference at his office in Pasig City. 

In a speech during the Philippine-Qatar Business Forum, held in Doha, Qatar on April 15, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte reiterated again his promise to address the historical injustice committed against the Bangsamoro people, and, without saying, to set up a genuine self-governing Bangsamoro political entity, something higher and better than the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

In this uncertain times, self-less leaders are needed; those who think and act for the sake of the common good and higher interests of their people. They are who exhibit great wisdom and ability in the directing the affairs, say of the Bangsamoro people. They are what we must refer to as statesmen.

“...Take not life, which God has made sacred, except by way of justice and law. Thus does He command you, so that you may learn wisdom.”

This is what God says in the Holy Qur’an in Surah Al-’An’am, verse 151, regarding capital punishment for certain crimes especially murder.

The wars on drugs and violent radicalism in Mindanao by the administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte are yielding positive development. With some qualifications, these campaigns deserve the support of everyone. We cannot imagine a country full of drug addicts and extremists!        

The ideological and political lines determine the conduct of revolutionary struggles and their objectives. This is the reason that one revolutionary group may differ from others. For instance, communist-led struggle always call for the overthrow of existing government, replace its system, as well as those running the state. In the case of MILF, we do not seek to overthrow the government in Manila, change its system, and replace its workers. All what is desired is to allow us freely to exercise our right to self-determination. And clearly that desire for now is overwhelmingly for the establishment of a genuine self-governing and autonomous entity in the Bangsamoro. 

At long last, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) is going to be launched tomorrow in Davao City. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and MILF Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim led key personalities from government and MILF, respectively, in gracing the occasion.  Members of the international community, as well as other sectors of society, are also attending.

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