for the latest click here

for starters the BJE-MoA AD = Bangsamoro Juridical Entity-Memorandum of Agreement-Ancentral Domain

My rant:

Peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the international community does not want to label this group as “terrorist” – but why? Their actions are reprehensible to say the least. The jailbreak in Basilan was a Moro Islamic Liberation Front operation to free commander  Asnawi who was implicated in the July 10, 2007 ambush of 14 marine troops, 10 of whom were beheaded in the village of Guinanta, Al-Barka, Basilan while out looking for Italian priest Fr Bossi who was kidnapped  (read BBC report dated 7/11/07) He was arrested in Zamboanga City International Airport on his way to Mecca here. The government has put up a P2Million bounty for his recapture.  Then there is the atrocities of  commander Bravo and his men when the BJE-MOA was declared unconstitutional by the supreme court in 2008. Watch how he brags about it on Youtube. (If  you don’t understand tagalog just read the info part of the page) There’s also the kidnapping of Irish priest Fr. Sinnot. There are others but that will take up most of my day….its just plain frustrating thinking about it!  It’s time for the M.I.L.F. to grow up and take responsibilty for their actions….. Read the rant of Zambaonga City mayor Lobregat here about the peace talks.

video report of attacks after the supreme court junked the MOA in 2008

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Foreign monitors of RP-MILF peace talks resume job 02/28/2010

MANILA, Philippines—Foreign monitors of the Mindanao peace talks between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front are scheduled to resume their activities today, February 28, more than a year after they were recalled following the collapse of the talks in 2008.

“Upon the request of the negotiating parties,” Japan said it has decided to send Tomonori Kikuchi, First Secretary of the Japanese embassy in the Philippines, and Yusuke Mori, Second Secretary of the embassy, back to the headquarters of the International Monitoring Team in Cotabato City, the Japanese foreign ministry said in a statement.

read more…

Malaysia sends initial party for Mindanao peace mission,ph 02/17/10

After an absence of over a year, the Malaysian contingent for the International Monitoring Team (IMT) will return to Mindanao, initially its nine-man advance delegation, to meet Thursday with the leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) headed by Chairman Al-Haji Murad Ebrahim.

MILF declines ‘enhanced autonomy’ offer

SunStar February 16, 2010

DAVAO CITY — Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) declined Monday the government’s offer of an “enhanced autonomy”, saying such should instead be given to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Another government peace panel member resigns

Sun Star Thursday, February 11, 2010

A SECOND member of the government’s peace panel resigns effective February 8 due to secrecy policy of the ongoing talks between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Mayor Celso Lobregat have expressed apprehensions over the manner the government pursues negotiations with the secessionist group. He said lawyer Tomas Cabili resigned effective Monday.

Lobregat said Cabili’s resignation validates his observations that the government and MILF are not undertaking genuine and honest to goodness consultations with the concerned stakeholders on issues concerning the peace talks.

read in full….

Gov’t open to Charter change in peace deal with MILF

MANILA, Philippines—The government has indicated its openness to talk regional autonomy and constitutional change in a draft peace agreement it had presented to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), officials said Thursday. 01/29/10

Gov’t, MILF to swap peace plans

Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The government panel negotiating peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has been given the go-signal to present a draft peace agreement with its counterpart in Malaysia, Malacañang said Wednesday. 01/28/10

Philippine Islamic rebels demand share in ExxonMobil’s oil and gas proj 01/26/10

MILF submits draft compact to peace process facilitator 01/24/10

Int’l truce monitors to redeploy in Southern Philippines 01/22/10


Na Mi Pueblo 2010-01-20

Officials from the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) are expected to come to Zamboanga end of this month to finalize plans for the conduct of a true, genuine and credible consultations involving all sectors in the city and the neighbouring areas sometime February.

Mayor Celso Lobregat bared this, following a meeting with OPAPP Secretary Annabelle Abaya and Adelbert Antonino, erstwhile representative of the local government unit and business sector in the government peace panel in Manila Monday.

“Sec. Abaya is very interested in the consultation that we propose to host in Zamboanga City,” the mayor said. “They (OPAPP representatives) will come to Zamboanga to sit down with (representatives from) our office and other local government units to prepare for the consultation.”

read full report…

Photo: 12/28/09

MILF leadership has no control of its ground commanders 01/08/2010

Mechanisms operational this month in run-up to peace talks 01/05/2010

OPAPP sets peace process consultation1/01/2010

Muslims laud UK, Japan and Turkey in ICG 12/30/09

Moro Islamic Liberation Front pushing for Mindanao self-rule 12/28/09

Turkish Foreign Minister receives Moro Islamic Liberation Front delegation 12/24/09

Botched territory deal part of new peace negotiations 12/22/09

Government, rebels eye Libya to hold peace talks By EDD K. USMAN 12/21/09

The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) are eyeing to hold the resumption of peace talks in Tripoli, Libya, tentatively set for January 11- 15, 2010, to finalize the drafting of a new organic act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Secretary Annabelle T. Abaya of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and Prof. Nur Misuari, MNLF founding chairman, met Thursday at the Indonesian Embassy in Makati City to move forward the tripartite meeting reviewing the implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA) between GRP and MNLF.

Lawyer Randolp Parcasio, one of MNLF’s legal counsels and staunch ally of the MNLF leader, described the meeting as frank and cordial, which was hosted and facilitated by the Indonesia-chaired Peace Committee for Southern Philippines (PCSP) of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

There was a common understanding between GRP and MNLF to continue the tripartite talks with a meeting of the legal panels of the two sides, he said.

Parcasio said being eyed as venue for the legal panels’ meeting are Tripoli; Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; and Jakarta, Indonesia.

read more….

Basilan jailbreak to be raised in joint ceasefire committee-P2-M bounty set for MILF commander 12/14/09 @BusinessWorld

Philippine Government, Muslim Rebel Group Move Closer To Peace Agreement @ RTTNews 12/09/09

Philippines, Muslim rebels resume peace talks


The Associated Press

Monday, December 7, 2009; 9:23 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The Philippine government and a Muslim separatist group Tuesday resumed peace talks that collapsed 16 months ago, restoring formal efforts to end a decades-long rebellion that has claimed at least 120,000 lives.

Negotiators from both sides met at a Kuala Lumpur hotel for the Malaysian-brokered talks, but they were not expected to issue any information until the talks conclude Wednesday, according to a Malaysian official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make public statements.  read more

Violence Threatens Dialogue in the Philippines @ catholic exchange

MILF quietly moving forward peace process


November 30, 2009, 7:05pm

Amidst the continuing local and international condemnation of the so-called “Maguindanao Massacre” where more than 57 journalists, motorists, and members of a Moro traditional and political clan were murdered, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is quietly moving forward to sustain the Mindanao peace process.

Peace panels of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the MILF chaired, respectively, by Ambassador Rafael Seguis and Mohagher Iqbal, have already achieved some breakthroughs in July and September but formal talks have yet to resume.

With the hosting and facilitation of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, the Muslim country’s capital, Seguis and Iqbal signed framework agreements on the creation of the International Contact Group (ICG) and Agreement on the Protection of Civilian Component (APCC) of the International Monitoring Team (IMT).

read more @

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US, Swiss groups join ICG


November 18, 2009, 6:02pm

Ambassador Rafael Seguis, chairman of the peace panel of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) in the negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Wednesday said two non-government organizations based in the United States (US) and Switzerland have accepted membership in the International Contact Group (ICG).

In a text message, Seguis said these are The Asia Foundation (TAF), with headquarters in San Francisco, and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (CHD), with its main office in Geneva, Switzerland.

Seguis and Mohagher Iqbal, chairman of the MILF peace panel, and their delegation members met in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Monday where they held talks with “candidates” for membership in the ICG.

As usual, the Malaysian government hosted and facilitated the meeting, which the MILF called a “leveling session,” with Datuk Othman Bin Abdul Razzak, the chief facilitator.

TAF country representative in the Philippines is Steven Rood for TAF, and Dr. David Gorman for the CHD.

TAF is described on its Web site as a non-profit non-government organization (NGO) that is “committed to the development of a peaceful, prosperous, just and open Asia-Pacific Region.”

CHD, on the other hand, “is an independent organization…dedicated to helping improve the global response to armed conflict.”

The GRP and MILF chief negotiators signed on September 15 an agreement to create the ICG, to be composed of interested countries and international NGOs to help move the peace talks forward.

GRP and MILF are eyeing members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the European Union, Japan and other countries to join the ICG.

Meanwhile, the MILF has been wooing the United States to help in the peace process, saying US has the power and influence to ensure the implementation of any peace agreement that would be arrived at in the over 12-year peace process.

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Montesa: One government response to One Bangsamoro challenge

by MindaNews

Sunday, 15 November 2009 12:01

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/14 November) – Peace Process Assistant Secretary Camilo “Bong” Montesa says the Phlilippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) “survived the crash” in the peace process last year and the Philippine government is “slowly moving towards the direction of a closer, integrated response to this single, yet multi-faceted, One Bangsamoro Challenge.” Montesa, head of the Peacekeeping and Peacemaking Group at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), senior advisor and spokesperson for the GRP-MILF peace process and also government chair in the Tripartite Implementation Review of the 1996 GRP-MNLF Final Peace Agreement, told the Mindanao Working Group in a meeting in Davao City last Thursda that “we cannot continue to deal with MILF peace process, the MNLF (Moro National Liberarion Front) peace process, the challenge to make ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) work, and the threats posed by extremist groups like the JI (Jemaah Islamiyah) and Abu Sayyaf as if they are separate and unrelated.”

“While different people sit at different tables and dealing with different parties, we want to bring these tables closer and closer to each other and in one room. The underlying theme of all these issues are one and the same: the challenge of distinct and minoritized people seeking recognition of identity and a space to live out this distinctiveness,” he said.

“While we engage these groups differently, we want to engage them in view of all our other efforts across the other tables. In the end, we are talking about the same people, the same aspirations, the same problems and probably the same solutions,” Montesa added.

“Concretely,” he said, “we want One Government Response to to this One Bangsamoro Challenge.”

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Montesa said they want the actions of government negotiators with the MILF “to be informed by what’s happening with the MNLF review of implementation, informed by the planning done by MEDCo, (Mindanao Economic Development Authority), informed by the inputs of our security forces and informed by the active participation of civil society and peoples organizations.”

“In the same way, we want our efforts at reviewing the implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement to be in sync with our negotiations with the MILF and consistent with our Mindanao 2020 Agenda,” he said.

Montesa explained that when government’s security and police forces plan and operate their tactical operations, “we want it to be informed by the over-all strategic objective of the ‘primacy of the peace process,’ with the participation of the autonomous regional government and conscious of the development initiatives we are doing in the area.”

He expressed hope that the the MWG initiatives in Mindanao “be actually aligned and support our peace, security and development agenda. It should do no harm.

Montesa said development in the peace process in the past four weeks has “energized” him.

“I see a lot of reasons to be optimistic and excited.”


Montesa likened the peace process to a computer operating system like Apple’s Leopard or Microsoft Windows.

“Just as an operating system is a platform to attain outcomes, the peace process is a platform to attain a specific outcome – in this case, a negotiated political settlement with the MILF – a building block in the crucial work of attaining that long elusive peace in Mindanao.”

“Operating systems crash. They are not perfect. Bugs or problems are found that create glitches and hang the system. When a system hangs, all other applications hang and there is a need to reboot or restart it. However, merely rebooting the system will not suffice. Without a permanent solution to the bugs, the system will, again and again, continue to crash and with it all other applications. The same is true with peace processes. They crash. And when they do, all the relevant applications, whether it be – third party facilitation, ceasefire monitoring, rehabilitation and development projects, and humanitarian interventions – crash with it,” he said.

He cited the number of times the peace process crashed – in 2000 when then President Estrada launched an all-out war against the MILF; in February 2003 when the Arroyo administration waged war purportedly against a kidnap-for-ransom gang but later admitted it was against the MILF.

“Every time the peace process crashes, the human, economic, and political costs are tremendous.

Lives are lost, properties destroyed and civilians are forced to evacuate from their communities.

With each crash, people’s confidence in a peaceful settlement is progressively diminished.

Nobody wants any system to crash – whether of the computer kind or peace processes. But if there is one thing that technology teaches us, it is this: to solve the problem, one must identify the ‘bugs’ that caused crash and to find a way of correcting it, usually via an ‘upgrade,’” Montesa said.

“For Erap’s ‘all-out war,’ the problem was the violation by both parties of the ceasefire agreement and their lack of mutual trust and confidence. The solution then was to bring in a third-party – The Government of Malaysia – to mediate and facilitate the negotiations between two distrustful parties,” he said.

“For the crash of the Buliok offensives, the problem was the suspicion that the MILF was coddling kidnap-for-ransom groups, like the Pentagon Gang. The solution consisted of two upgrades in the process: first, bring in the International Monitoring Team or the IMT to monitor the ceasefire agreement and second, to create the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group or the AHJAG which is a platform where the Government and MILF security forces can jointly pursue lawless and terror elements,” he said.


For the crash brought about by the Supreme Court’s issuance of a temporary restraining order on the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), Montesa cited three problems: “first, the lack of support and control, second, spoilers and third, the need to protect civilians.”

On the first, he said “the MOA-AD episode showed how fragile and weak the support was to the peace process. While the panels were about to sign a significant agreement, they failed to rally their respective constituencies around it.”

“For the Philippine Government, it highlighted the need to bring into the process and get the active support of the Supreme Court, Congress, local government officials, indigenous peoples groups and civil society organizations,” he said.

“For the MILF, it highlighted the need to bring into the negotiations their local commanders and the bigger Bangsamoro constituency – traditional leaders, politicians, civil society organizations, not just the armed groups,” Montesa added.

The electoral process in 2010 was also cited on the matter of continuity. “How sure are the parties that the peace process will survive the change in administration and that the previous agreements will be honored?”

On the “spoilers” which he described as “people and institutions who feel that they have a stake in the process and yet were excluded from having a meaningful and substantial participation in crafting the agreement. It also includes people and institutions whose interests, whether political, economic or regional, are threatened by the changes that will be brought by the peace agreement.”

“The MOA-AD episode revealed how a few but determined and well-resourced ‘spoilers’ can derail and scuttle a process meant to benefit the many.

“Biggest Casualty”

On the need to protect civilians, Montesa said the “biggest casualty of the MOA-AD episode are the thousands of IDPs still living in sub-human conditions this very minute in (Southwestern) Mindanao.”

“The plight of the IDPs remain to be the most vivid proof of the truism that civilians bear the heaviest cost of war and that whether it be all-out peace or all-out war, there must be a mechanism to protect them,” he said.

To “upgrade” the system, he said: “First, generate support by building a coalition of friends and by consolidating internally. Second, craft a strategy to deal with spoilers. Third, create a civilian protection mechanism.”

The first is being addressed by the creation of an International Contact Group (ICG) which will “publicly lend their credibility, goodwill, influence and wise counsel.”

Montesa said that on the side of government, “we will consolidate our ranks by engaging, perhaps more than we ever did in the past, the Supreme Court, Congress and Mindanao leaders to find acceptable solutions to peace in Mindanao.”

“To the problem of ‘spoilers,’ the first act should be the conduct of the broad consultations with stakeholders. However, in addition to broad public consultations, we will engage those who are opposed to the peace process in an inclusive and honest dialogue and come up with real alternatives. We will make sure that they cannot anymore use the excuse that they were not consulted,” he said.

On the need to protect civilians, “we decided to invite civil society organizations, whether national or international, to help us monitor our agents’ compliance to established norms and rules on civilian protection. We created a Civilian Protection Component of the International Monitoring Team to flesh out this commitment.”

“Civilian protection is important to us. This is the reason why although it is structurally part of the International Monitoring Team, its mandate and existence will continue and is independent of whether or not there will be an International Monitoring Team in the future,” he said. (MindaNews)

COMMENT: A Letter to Mr. Montesa, By Patricio P. Diaz

Via  MindaNews

Thursday, 19 November 2009 07:33

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/18 November) — This letter is addressed to Peace Process Assistant Secretary Camilo “Bong” Montesa. However, since it is of general concern, it is open to all the readers of MindaNews to read and comment.

Dear Mr. Montesa,

From your speech at the conference of the Mindanao Working Group last November 12, it feels upbeat to know that “exciting things are happening inside the GRP-MILF peace process” in “the past four months” – as published in MindaNews last November 15.

No one can disagree with your analogical comparison in general of the peace process to the computer as an “operating system”. However, your discussions of specific “bugs” and their remedies elicit some questions.

May I proceed according to the sequence in your speech?

The MOA-AD “crash”:

You stated: “The MOA-AD (TRO) triggered attacks by a few MILF commanders on unarmed civilian communities and the subsequent military offensives to pursue and arrest these commanders brought war, once again, to Mindanao.”

Correct. But an unstated fact is crucial: There were provocations. The commanders were provoked by the TRO. Cotabato Vice Gov. Emmanuel Piñol, even before he filed a petition for a TRO with the Supreme Court on July 23, 2008, had threatened “war” and the resurrection of the “Ilaga” because of the MOA-AD. The dual threats were not only against the MILF but the Muslims and were provocative.

Ignoring the provocations is only to half-state the “crash”. How can you fully solve the problem? Letting loose hell on the provoked but not minding the provokers is only to half-solve the problem, if not to worsen it.

*** *** ***

You identified three problems or “bugs” that caused the “crash”: “first, the lack of support and control; second, spoilers; and third, the need to protect civilians.” Let’s examine the “bugs” one by one.

Of the First:

You said: “While the panels were about to sign a significant agreement, they failed to rally their respective constituencies around it (MOA-AD)” – blaming the GRP and MILF peace panels for the “lack of support and control”, for the “fragile and weak … support for the peace process.”

Do you really mean that? Is the peace process not a team-play with the panels tasked to negotiate and the “support and control” provided by others — in the case of the GRP, starting from the President? Does EO 3 not specifically assign to the PAPP the task to undertake the public “consultation process” to generate support for the agreement?

So far as it was reported in the media, the MILF did some consultations. Obviously, the government did not?

*** *** ***

In matters of “support and control”, should the President not take direct hand when it becomes necessary? President Fidel V. Ramos did that in the GRP-MNLF Jakarta peace talks. Why did President Arroyo not do the same?

President Ramos reined in the military when it wanted to launch an all-out operation after the raid of Ipil – the burning, looting and massacre – on April 4, 1995. Ramos, as the commander-in-chief, stopped what could have derailed the GRP-MNLF peace talk.

In contrast, what did President Arroyo do? She did not stop the military from launching the February 11, 2003 Pikit war and the post-MOA-AD war in August 2008. Could she have? Should she have to support the peace process? But she supported the two wars instead.

In June, July and August of 1996, the GRP-MILF agreement hit the same stone wall as the MOA-AD did – opposition from national and local Christian political leaders with violence and a case in the Supreme Court in prospect. President Ramos took a direct hand. He asked the Senate to conduct a nationwide consultation; he commissioned his executive secretary to talk to Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Chairman Nur Misuari.

Could President Arroyo not have saved the MOA-AD had she done what President Ramos did to save the 1996 GRP-MNLF Final Peace Agreement? The Presidency has persuasive power that Congress, the Court and the local governments could not ignore.

She could have preempted the Supreme Court TRO; and, consequently avoided the international embarrassment in Kuala Lumpur on August 5, 2008, prevented the post-MOA-AD war and kept on course the peace process.

Note Very Well: Piñol filed his TRO case on July 23, five days before President Arroyo, in her State of the Nation Address on July 28, hailed the just initialed agreement as the “breakthrough” that would lead to a final agreement by the end of her term. Did she, in her euphoria, not know that a case had been filed to abort the MOA-AD? Or, was the case filed so secretly?

It was unbelievable that she did not know. Five days was so much time to persuade Piñol to withdraw his petition. If emissaries could not have prevailed on Piñol, she could have called him for a téte-á-téte in Malacañang.

At the Supreme Court, she abandoned the MOA-AD instead of defending it. She issued a new peace policy and disbanded the GRP peace panel to appease the opponents of the MOA-AD. The original policy and the GRP panel members became the scapegoats. That brought to mind a popular joke: “If you can’t solve a problem, revise it.”

It is inaccurate to attribute the “lack of support and control” to the failure of the peace panels “to rally their respective constituencies around it (MOA-AD”. In the first place, the panels had no constituencies. It is wrong to blame them for not doing what others – the President among them – ought to have done.

*** *** ***

Are you advocating that a peace agreement must be signed within the last seven and a half months of the Arroyo administration because with the change of the administration on June 30, 2010, there is no assurance (1) the support and control under the Arroyo administration will be continued; and, (2) the previous agreements will be honored?

What assurance really is there under President Arroyo? At that critical month of August 2008 and the following months the MOA-AD was denied “support and control” and was not “honored” as it so deserved – being the breakthrough in the long peace process as the President herself ecstatically proclaimed in her SONA 2008.

Of the Second:

You identified the “spoilers” and said: “The MOA-AD episode revealed how a few but determined and well-resourced ‘spoilers’ can derail and scuttle a process meant to benefit the many.”

Do you really mean that – the “spoilers” more determined than President Arroyo and better resourced than the Presidency? What a testimony to a weak Presidency! Could this be a significant reason for the peace process fiasco in her 9-year rule?

Of the Third:

What you said about the IDPs and the civilians is very true but that “there must be a mechanism to protect them” – meaning, there was no such mechanism – is fallacious.

What about the AFP as mandated in Article II, Section 3 of the 1987 Constitution: “… The Armed Forces of the Philippines is the protector of the people ….” The irony was: The IDPs were punished by the military as assets of the MILF. They were not “people”.

What about the “Implementing Guidelines on the Security Aspect of the GRP-MILF Agreement of Peace of 2001” reiterating the “GRP-MILF Agreement for General Cessation of Hostilities of 1997” and other agreements and enhancing them? This “Agreement” has implementing rules and mechanisms.

If the civilians were not protected under this “Agreement”, it was for the lack of sincerity to abide and the will to implement – not for the lack of mechanisms. Will GRP and the MILF have the sincerity and the will to honor other mechanisms?

All the “hostile prohibited acts” against the IDPs are enumerated in the “Agreement” – for instance, “burning of houses, places of worship and educational institutions, destruction of properties, and abuses of civilians” in Article II(3.1.2).

Remedies for hostile such acts are also mandated. For instance, in Article III(2): “The Parties agree to implement all necessary measures to normalize the situation in the conflict-affected areas, to pave the way for, and ensure successful rehabilitation and development of said areas.”

The atrocities suffered by the IDPs could have been avoided had Article III(11) been followed: “In cases of alleged violations of this agreement, the Parties shall refrain from taking offensives or punitive military actions of any type against each other without prior investigations by the CCCH of both Parties in coordination with the OIC Monitoring Team (IMT).”

There are more provisions in the “Agreement” to show that a must-mechanism has long been in place. However, the “Agreement” may be complemented or supplemented by other mechanisms.

Upgrading the System:

Upgrading the peace process may now be necessary after the MOA-AD was allowed to “crash”, the peace policy was revised and a new negotiating panel was constituted. May the solutions to the three “bugs” work!

The same hope goes with the (1) One Bangsamoro Challenge; (2) One Government Response; and (3) Task force HELP: Central Mindanao. The first two are the ideal – what should be. They are still in the “we want” stage. How doable are they?

The third was specifically created for the IDPs in Maguindanao, parts of Lanao del Sur, Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato (, July 13, 2009, citing Montesa). And, Philippine News Agency reported on July16, 2009 the President’s order to release P10 million for HELP’s projects and operating expenses. That was four months ago. From reports about Maguindanao IDPs, it is obvious they have not received HELP’s help.

What happened to the P10 million? You said, “The Mindanao Working Group should work closely with this Task Force. In what ways?

Your reasons to get excited are our reasons to raise questions Thank you. [“Comment” is Mr. Patricio P. Diaz’ column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. Mr. Diaz is the recipient of a “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Titus Brandsma for his “commitment to education and public information to Mindanawons as Journalist, Educator and Peace Advocate.” You may e-mail your comments to]

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The Asia Foundation, a “charity group” founded and funded by the CIA that represents American political and economic interests in Asia, is now part of a group that would help facilitate the peace process between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.


MANILA — The engagement of The Asia Foundation in the on-and-off peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signals the further deepening involvement of the United States in the Mindanao conflict.

Announced in a news release dated Nov. 13, The Asia Foundation’s involvement in the GRP-MILF peace negotiations will take the form of membership in the International Contact Group (ICG), which is “tasked with supporting the next stage of peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the MILF to end conflict in Mindanao.” Asia Foundation, the news release states, “will network with stakeholders in the negotiation, coordinate with the facilitator (Malaysia) to provide research input, and give feedback and advice for the peace process.”

US involvement in the GRP-MILF peace negotiations began in 2003 through the Philippine Facilitation Project (PFP) launched by the US Institute of Peace (USIP).  more

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The Sultanic Verses

A Memorandum of Agreement has been published purporting to be the compact that the administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will sign with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Malaysia tomorrow. (PDF) The matter has raised a howl of protest from a broad swathe of Philippine society, after copies of it circulated late last week. The provisions in the MOA explain why the Palace has been moving heaven and earth in a now futile attempt to postpone the August 2008 ARMM elections because if the elections move forward and a new set of local officials are elected in ARMM, there is no credible way for the Palace to deliver on its deal with the MILF, as Opposition spokesman Adel Tamano pointed out on the noon time news on ANC.

The gerrymandering of the present ARMM into the more grandiose concept of a Bangsamoro Homeland (in which the MNLF will be delivered into the hands of their mortal enemies in the MILF!), would become virtually impossible to do. Now it turns out that the MILF want not only Nur Misuari’s tribes to be suborned to them, but all of Mindanao’s Indigenous Peoples, together with their lands and domains, to be united under “the suzerain authority” of a modern Moro Sultanate, in the guise of the MILF itself!


1. It is the birthright of all Moros and all Indigenous peoples of Mindanao to identify themselves and be accepted as “Bangsamoros”. The Bangsamoro people refers to those who are natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and its adjacent islands including Palawan and the Sulu archipelago at the time of conquest or colonization of its descendants whether mixed or of full blood. Spouses and their descendants are classified as Bangsamoro. The freedom of choice of the Indigenous people shall be respected.

CAVEAT: Considering that there are actually 110 named Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines, it borders on the megalomaniac for the MILF to claim as “Bangsamoros” all those that happen to be in Mindanao. Indeed from Minda News, here is the answer to the MILF from the Manobo, Talaandig, Pulangiyon, Mamanwa, Bla’an, Dibabawon, Mandaya, T’boli, Tagabawa-Bagobo, Erumanen-Menuvu, Higa-onon and Subanon and other indigenous peoples who may not want to have anything to do with their Bangsamoro Juridical Entity. These were the very lumads that the Moro sultanates were predators of. Why should we, or they, agree to fall under the thrall of “sacred inequality” again?

2. It is essential to lay the foundation of the Bangsamoro homeland in order to address the Bangsamoro people’s humanitarian and economic needs as well as their political aspirations. Such territorial jurisdictions and geographic areas being the natural wealth and patrimony represent the social, cultural and political identity and pride of all the Bangsamoro people. Ownership of the homeland is vested exclusively in them by virtue of their prior rights of occupation that had inhered in them as sizeable bodies of people, delimited by their ancestors since time immemorial, and being the first politically organized dominant occupants.

CAVEAT: The claim to being “the first politically organized dominant occupants” is specious and subject to questions of historical veracity and relevance. The Philippine Constitution does not recognize any such criterion for awarding the “ownership of the homeland” to any body of people, sizeable or not, dominant or not.

3. Both Parties acknowledge that ancestral domain does not form part of the public domain but encompasses ancestral, communal, and customary lands, maritime, fluvial and alluvial domains as well all natural resources therein that have inured or vested ancestral rights on the basis of native title. Ancestral domain and ancestral land refer to those held under claim of ownership, occupied or possessed, by themselves or through the ancestors of the Bangsamoro people, communally or individually since time immemorial continuously to the present, except when prevented by war, civil disturbance, force majeure, or other forms of possible usurpation or displacement by force, deceit, stealth, or as a consequence of government project or any other voluntary dealings entered into by the government and private individuals, corporate entities or institutions.

CAVEAT: The claim that ancestral lands and domains never fell into the public domain is the conceptual centerpiece and rhetorical piece-de-resistance of the Supreme Court’s December 2000 ruling on the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997. This law purports to reverse alleged injustices done throughout centuries of imperial colonialism and democratic republicanism in one fell swoop of historico-legal revision and expiation. But it defies logic why this should now lead to the restoration of the immoral, if not suzerain authority of slave-trading, human trafficking Moro sultanates:

4. Both Parties acknowledge that the right to self-governance of the Bangsamoro people is rooted on ancestral territoriality exercised originally under the suzerain authority of their sultanates and the Pat a Pangampong ku Ranaw. The Moro sultanates were states or karajaan/kadatuanresembling a body politic endowed with all the elements of nation-state in the modern sense. As a domestic community distinct from the rest of the national communities, they have a definite historic homeland. They are the “First Nation” with defined territory and with a system of government having entered into treaties of amity and commerce with foreign nations. The Parties concede that the ultimate objective of entrenching the Bangsamoro homeland as a territorial space is to secure their identity and posterity, to protect their property rights and resources as well as to establish a system of governance suitable and acceptable to them as distinct dominant people.

CAVEAT: The claim made above that the Moro sultanates were endowed with all the elements of a modern state is extravagant and immodest. The historical record contains a much less flattering description. It is also highly doubtful that we, the Filipino People, want to yield to the suzerainty of some restored version of the old Maguindanao Sultanates and certainly NOT to “establish a system of governance suitable and acceptable to them as distinct dominant people.”

Prof. Thomas McKenna of the University of Alabama, Birmingham, tells the story of SHARIFF KABUNSUAN, the legendary founder of the Maguindanao Sultanates in what is now Cotabato Province.

The coming of Sarip Kabungsuwan to Cotabato is the charter event for the claims of the rulers of Cotabato in the historical period to nobility and moral authority. The story of the arrival of Sarip Kabungsuwan is told in the tarsilas , the written genealogies that link the royal houses of Cotabato with their progenitor. The term “tarsila” is derived from the Arabic “silsila,” meaning name-chain, and the genealogical accounts in the Magindanaon tarsilas not only linked living datus with Sarip Kabungsuwan, their apical ancestor, but also contained supplementary sections tracing the ancestry of Sarip Kabungsuwan to the Prophet Muhammad. The tarsilas were written on paper in Magindanaon or Malay in Arabic script and were possessed by the sultans and all leading datus. Individual tarsilas were frequently recopied for updating or to replace worn copies.

According to the tarsilas, Sarip Kabungsuwan was the son of Jusul Asikin, the daughter of the Sultan of Johore, and Sarip Ali Zain-ul Abiden from Mecca. Thus, Kabungsuwan was the offspring of a princess of the Melaka royal family and, more significantly, the son of a sharif (the original Arabic form of “Sarip”), and hence a direct descendent of the Prophet Muhammad. [Majul (1973)] suggests that the historic Kabungsuwan must have sailed to Mindanao some time after 1511, when the Melaka royal family, to which his mother belonged, was driven from Melaka by the Portuguese and established a sultanate in Johore.

The tarsilas relate how Kabungsuwan arrived by chance at the mouth of the Pulangi River and began to convert local chieftains and their followers to Islam. He married the daughters of some of these chieftains, thus establishing in Mindanao a barabangsa, or royal lineage, whose members claimed a sacred genealogy, tracing their origins to the Prophet Muhammad. The tarsilas report that the first wife married by Sarip Kabungsuwan in Cotabato (Putri Tunina) was found in a bamboo stalk. Kabungsuwan’s son, Sarip Makaalang, married a woman who emerged from a crow’s egg. The existence of these supernatural children raised the status of the female descent line, thus further distinguishing the barabangsa line from autochthonous lineages.[12]

Sarip Kabungsuwan founded the Magindanao Sultanate at the coast and his rule passed to his son, Sarip Makaalang. The upstream Buayan Sultanate originated, according to the tarsilas, from a union between the daughter of Sarip Kabungsuwan and a Buayan chieftain. Because the male descent line carries more genealogical weight than the female, the Magindanao Sultanate was able to designate itself the premier royal house of Cotabato, while the rulers of Buayan for most of its history used the title raja (prince) rather than sultan.[13] The traditional system of hereditary ranked statuses is also traced to the arrival of Kabungsuwan. This system, in its most general configuration, comprised four tiers. At the apex were the datus—rulers or descendants of rulers. Their ascendant status stemmed from Sarip Kabungsuwan’s assumption of sovereignty over Muslim Mindanao (and its dependencies) and from their ability to trace descent from Kabungsuwan and, through him, to the first ruler of Muslims, the prophet Muhammad.


Prof. McKenna further describes the four tiers of the hierarchical society of the Maguinandanao Sultanates:

The traditional system of hereditary ranked statuses is also traced to the arrival of Kabungsuwan. This system, in its most general configuration, comprised four tiers. At the apex were the datus—rulers or descendants of rulers. Their ascendant status stemmed from Sarip Kabungsuwan’s assumption of sovereignty over Muslim Mindanao (and its dependencies) and from their ability to trace descent from Kabungsuwan and, through him, to the first ruler of Muslims, the prophet Muhammad.[14]Passing over, for a moment, the second level, we find on the third tier the endatuan , meaning literally “those who are ruled.” The endatuan were the subjects of datus rather than of the realm; they were considered residents of particular ingeds (settlements) and subordinate to specific datus. The status of the endatuan seems to have been negatively defined. They were the followers of (and likely bore some kinship relation to) local chieftains. But unlike their rulers, they were unable to demonstrate sufficient kinship links with Sarip Kabungsuwan, the prime datu ancestor, to qualify as datus.

The second tier was occupied by the dumatus. This intermediate status has not been reported for other Philippine Muslim populations. The dumatus, as they describe themselves today, were neither datu nor endatuan—neither rulers nor ruled. The dumatus are the descendants of Tabunaway, a legendary Magindanaon chieftain who welcomed Sarip Kabungsuwan to Cotabato. The tarsilas record that Tabunaway acknowledged the sovereignty of Sarip Kabungsuwan and his descendants in exchange for certain privileges. The first entitlement was that neither he nor his descendants would pay tribute to any datu. Hadji Abbas expressed the distinction between endatuan and dumatu in his inged this way: “At harvest time the datu sent sacks to the endatuan who were obliged to fill all the sacks the datu gave them. The dumatus were not sent sacks and did not have to provide rice to the datu.” The second dumatu entitlement was that no datu could be proclaimed as sultan without the participation of a Tabunaway descendent.[15] The dumatus have kept their own genealogical records of the Tabunaway descent line, principally to preserve their privileges vis-à-vis the Magindanaon aristocracy. Theirs is the only tarsila in Cotabato that does not trace descent from Sarip Kabungsuwan. The special status of Tabunaway descendants has allowed them to maintain, more so than any other group, their separate bangsa by remaining ancestor focused, self-ruled, and relatively corporate.

The fourth and lowest tier comprised the ulipun , or “disfranchised” (W. H. Scott 1982, 142) persons.[16] Ulipun were debt-bondsmen whose unfree status resulted from punishment for a legal offense, from failure to pay tribute or repay a debt, or from being sold by relatives (or occasionally by self-sale) into servitude in times of economic crisis. Ulipun status, unlike the other three estates, was, in general, neither ascribed nor permanent. It could, however, be inherited and, in practice, the system inhibited self-redemption by debt-bondsmen, probably because datus favored maintaining a high proportion of bound followers. As Warren (1981) describes the system of debt slavery in another Philippine Muslim polity—the Sulu Sultanate—the debt-bondsman’s service to his creditor “did not generally count towards repayment of his debt” (1981, 216). Ulipun status was likely similar in most respects to the position of debt-bondsman described by Warren. Despite their inferior status, the ulipun, as Magindanaons and Muslims, were societal insiders and possessed certain rights, including the right to own chattel slaves (banyaga ). Those ulipun who were members of a datu’s retinue were treated as household dependents and were occasionally able to rise to positions of significant responsibility. Banyaga, on the other hand, were despised outlanders who were not included in the system of social rank. They were captives acquired for the most part outside the territory of the sultanates, were usually not Muslims, and had no recognized rights and no social status other than as acquired persons—the property of others.[17]

The central organizing principle of this system of ranked statuses was maratabat (from the Arabic “martabat,” or “rank”). Among the Magindanaon, “maratabat” primarily connotes rank arid secondarily the honor due to rank. Maratabat is the quantifiable essence of status rank and is measured most commonly as a monetary valuation when determining the proper amount of bridewealth (bantingan ) to be exchanged at marriage or the amount of wergild (bangun ) required to avert a feud. It is expressed generally as a gradation of four standard sums required for bridewealth within each of the four ranked estates; datu maratabat is valued at one thousand units, that of dumatus at seven hundred, the maratabat of the endatuan at five hundred, and that of ulipun at three hundred units. These quantities were expressed to me in Philippine pesos by informants but almost certainly referred originally to Mexican silver dollars, used as media of interregional exchange in Southeast Asia as recently as the early American period (Forrest 1969, 279; Gullick 1958, 20 n. 1; Miller 1913, 341).[18]

It was surely in honor of this revered ancestor and forefather of the Bangsamoro People that the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao’s regional legislative assembly caused the creation of theProvince of Shariff Kabunsuan. Much has been made of the fact that plebiscites are being proposed and will be used to determine if local political subdivisions such as cities and provinces agree to be included in the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity. However, it is instructive to take note of a recent Supreme Court decision that voided as patently unconstitutional, the creation of the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan even if the same was approved by a plebiscite among the involved municipalities and established by law by the legislative assembly of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

In this case, the High Court ruled, righteously in my opinion, that the regional legislature of ARMM could not enact laws that would result in changes to the membership and composition of the House of Representatives, which is an organ of the national government. This shows the limitation of local or partial plebiscites in ratifying acts of local and autonomous government units.

FULL TEXT OF THE DRAFT MOA: The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) herein referred to as the “Parties” to this Agreement. click Via @Amerisrael

Here is a UN report on Abu Sayyaf and the 2002 bombing in Zamboanga city and their connection with Jemaah Islamiyah or JI of Indonesia, an Al-Qaida  linked terrorist group.

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