Free Mindanao taking shape?
By Erick San Juan
By any equation, a Mindanao that is free from the grips of imperial Manila is looming in the horizon. This prospect continue to lurk, despite the issuance by the Supreme Court of an order temporarily restraining the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) peace panel from signing a pact with the Mindanao Islamic Liberation front (MILF), in effect, granting territory and an ancestral domain to the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE).
A TRO is just another TRO. It is just as good as when it is in effect. One granted a TRO is given by the court, a timeline within which to obtain, a writ of injunction, and after further legal skirmishers, the court may, if it finds merit, grant a certiorari that would give permanence to the legal restraint.
Signed or not, the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) which had been initialed earlier by both the GRP and the MILF, can not guarantee that peace would be forthcoming. In fact, civil war threats are still real and strong. As the TRO provide impasse, the protagonists maneuver themselves into tactical, legal and moral positions.
Migrant mindanaoans maintain that they would rather be free and have their own version of an independent state in Mindanao, rather than succumb, or get subjugated by a numerical minority whose claim to fame is a deal with people from imperial Manila, who do not even have personal stakes over the region.
In many parts of Mindanao, there is no more doubt that civilians have started preparing for war. Both the aborigines and the migrants have begun arming themselves and are installing the warning systems in their respective villages.
Ironically, once the government enters into a peace accord with the MILF, Nur Misuari’s MNLF could pull out of government and become the next enemy. This would turn into a classic merry-go-round.
For one, known leaders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), who are already part of the Philippine government, have clearly stated that they strongly oppose the signing any kind of a pact with the MILF, because that would, in effect, be supplanting them. In fact, the MNLF warned of dire consequences once a pact is signed with its break-away armed group.
As soon as the independent Republic of Mindanao becomes a reality, credit for its emergence should accrue to the region’s somber-thinking leaders – those who are not plagued with any political obsessions – Christians, Islamic and pagans alike.
But having an independent Mindanao wouldn’t come in that easy. Blood has to be spilt. Brother against brother. Some kind of an ethnic cleansing is one possibility that couldn’t be discounted, due to a prevailing bias again and between tribes and groups. There is bound to be some kind of a civil war, a situation where if you are not with us, then you must be against us – clearly, an enemy.
When that bloody exercise takes place, blame it first to the agenda of powerful nations behaving like puppet-masters to hungry Filipino politicians and religious Rasputins, whose lust for power billows even through their ears – public officials who would dare sell even the soul of his countrymen, if only to stay at whatever they now occupy.
As soon as we start hearing bursts of gunfire in rapid succession, punctuated by a series of bomb blasts, cannon and grenade explosions, treat it as a signal that this gory scenario is beginning to unfold.
There is no more doubt that even the magistrates have seen the wisdom in the arguments raised by the local officials of Zamboanga City and North Cotabato in seeking to compel the GRP peace panel to cease and desist from perfecting a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) it had earlier initialed with its MILF counterpart in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Most, if not all of the provincial governors and mayors of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), have joined the ranks of those opposing the inclusion of Sultan Kudarat, Palawan, Zamboanga-Sibugay, Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato in the moro homeland.
The alleged secret ante dated signing of the MoA last July 27 will agitate the Mindanaoans more. By now, Malacanang should start seeing the smoke signals emitting from the south. Tomorrow might be too late.