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.

Thank you, Mr. President, for your frankness regarding the issue of terrorism! Your style of telling what is in your heart resonates to us, because that is also our way to deal with people especially like you who is the highest official of the land.
This explains why there is quickness in the re-engagement in and continuation of the GPH-MILF peace process under your administration.
President Rodrigo Duterte issued a statement appealing to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) not to coddle terrorists, otherwise he will be forced to order an attack on their camps.
This quotation below is part of his statement made at Camp Siongco in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao on January 27.
            “I am pleading, do not allow the Maute and the other terrorist groups to seek refuge in your camps, otherwise mapipilitan ako sabihin sa Armed Forces na pasukin ninyo,” Duterte said in a speech before soldiers in Maguindanao.”
To many people, the statement carries something that that should not be said at all to a “partner in peace”.  We don’t buy that since we know well the attitude of the president.
 By the way, since May 2002 the MILF and the government have been cooperating with each other in “isolating and interdicting” of kidnap-for-ransom groups and other criminal gangs operating in or near MILF areas or communities in Mindanao. Terrorism, without stating, is on top of the list, because there is yet no crime called “terrorism” in probably in all criminal or penal codes in the world today.
The cooperation is mainly through the government and MILF Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG), in tandem with the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH). So many success stories are attributed to the AHJAGs and CCCHs; in fact, kidnapping in Central Mindanao is zero since five years ago, mainly through their efforts.
 In this campaign, the MILF has given everything possible, subject to provisions of agreements signed with government. If the Mamasapano incident happened in January 2015, it was because the Philippine National Police (PNP) grossly violated the terms of these agreements especially the need for “prior coordination” even if the targets are high valued. We were attacked under cover of darkness; we only defended ourselves.
  Certainly, in this campaign, we can only do as much as we can, which is limited, because we are not yet clothed with legal authority and our resources are scarce.
But once the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is enacted into law and the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) is established, which the MILF leads, it would entirely be a new kind of ball game.  The sorry part of it, however, is that until now the appointment papers of the commissioners-nominees to the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) are not yet released by the government.
By the way, if the MILF agrees to combat these kidnapping, drug trafficking, and “terrorism”, the utmost consideration is because they are against the teachings of Islam. Other considerations are mere secondary.
 Terrorism is a menace and is an insult to man’s dignity and rationality. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Whosoever kills an innocent human being, it shall be as if he has killed all mankind, and whosoever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind…” (Chapter 5, Verse 32)
The ISIS is declared by Muslim learned men (ulamas) worldwide as not an Islamic organization. Abubakar Al-Baghdadi, so-called leader or caliph, was once a prisoner of the United States in Iraq, but upon the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in 2009, the successor of Osama bin Laden, Baghdadi was released by the US for “unclear reasons”.

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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