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.
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”.
Critics and even some friends have described President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s domestic and international approaches or policies as unconventional. Some say they are “unorthodox”. His has never been like any other previous Filipino presidents’. The case of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos is another matter. He did the real sordid thing.
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.
The crafting of the new Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is extremely an urgent matter. Time is of essence. The proposed law should be submitted to Congress on or before July this year, so that Congress should have ample time to deliberate and pass it immediately.
After five decades of bloody conflict with eight millions victims, the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have clinched a final peace deal, ending seemingly an intractable conflict. It is another feather in global conflict resolutions that can be a model by itself.