The GRP-MILF draft pact on Bangsamoro Homeland.
A temporary restraining order against the signing of this pact has been issued by the Supreme Court.
A very lawyerly (and astute) take on the shady and unconstitutional GRP-MILF deal.
Today, my city is in uproar. Zamboanga Hermosa, my beloved home. Por que?
The “President” of the Philippines (Our country did not vote for her twice. She rigged the elections the second time around.), Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) has struck a deal with the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Group, a Muslim terrorist group linked to Abu Sayyaf and Al-Qaeda). She has agreed to include Zamboanga City as part of the Bangsamoro Homeland. OH. MY. GOD. Que horor!
Facts first. The Philippines is predominantly Christian. But there are many Muslims in the Philippines, and most of them are in southern Mindanao. For decades, they have been clamoring for independence from the country. They want to be their own country. The Philippines does not want to give them this degree of independence but has allowed them at least the ARMM, or the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. In this region, they can make up their own laws and live as they please.
Now let us talk about my ciudad, Zamboanga City. Zamboanga City is predominantly Christian. There is no fixed tally (chalk it up to bogus census information created by the corrupt government to downplay the size and strength of the city), but it is safe to say we are 80% Christian. When the Spaniards tried to conquer Mindanao (one of the three main islands of the Philippines), they made their base in Zamboanga City. This is why our lenguaje is Chavacano (a mixed blend of Spanish plus native tongues). But mainly, this is why we are a predominantly Christian city among predominantly Muslim neighbors.
Back to current events. Ongoing is a series of peace talks between the Philippine government and the MILF. (Do not ask my why PGMA even bothers. If I were her, I would totally go with the non-negotiations, let-us-decimate-them road. These people are terrorists, for god’s sake!!!)The really sinister thing here is that these peace talks are NOT BEING MADE TRANSPARENT, and so we do not know exactly what propositions are being made, save that the current ARMM is being expanded. How far is this expansion going? Well as far as Zamboanga City, apparently.
This was disclosed by Zamboanga City’s Mayor Celso Lobregat, who said that he received information saying that parts of Zamboanga City were to be included in the Bangsamoro Homeland and Bangsamoro Juridical Entity. These parts are Zone III, Zone IV, Busay, Landang Gua, Landang Laum, Manalipa, Pasilmanta and Tigtabon. MIGOD, Zone III and IV??? Hello! This is the heart of Zamboanga City, where we have the City Hall, the Fort Pilar and the Immaculate Cathedral!!!
And this agreement is to be signed today. What, no plebiscite this time? We’ve done the voting twice before, back in 1989* and in 2001** and in both times, the people of Zambanga voted a resounding NO. Why is PGMA adamant that we are to be included as part of Bangsamoro when we are NOT Muslim and when we DO NOT WANT TO BE PART OF BANGSAMORO?
And what’s more horrible, she is not letting us decide our own fate. PGMA is signing our city away BY HERSELF to the MILF!!! As if she had the right!!! As if she owned us!!! When she knows very well WE HATE HER! (Our city is the capital of our region, but due to her losing our votes in the last election, she decided just that suddenly to move the capital of the region to Pagadian, thereby wasting the money of the taxpayers just to move ALL already erected and functioning government buildings and bodies from our city to Pagadian, a very rural small town with just one main street.)
I can’t believe this is happening again. Thrice in my lifetime, MIGOD! And I’m only 25! It’s not the first time that the predominantly Christian Zamboanga City has been offered up as a sacrificial lamb to appease the MILF terrorists. We have voted NO twice. We DO NOT WANT to be included as part of the ARMM because WE ARE NOT MUSLIMS!!!!!! Can’t she get that through her thick fucking head?!?!?
Okay, simmer down, self. Resullar. This agreement is very wrong, on so many levels. The most obvious wrong thing about this agreement is the secrecy, the lack of consultation. PGMA is playing God here. She does not own the country, she does not own its people. Zamboanga City has a right to decide her own fate, and the President has ignored that completely by offering up our city as part of Bangsamoro, without even telling us (the Mayor found out about this issue last week and they are signing it TODAY).
But the real issue here is the segregation. ARMM should never have been created in the first place. The Muslim rebels should never have been humored in the first place. The plight of Muslim rebels will not be solved by giving them land, or letting them rule themselves. In fact, it will only heighten their troubles.
I speak of Muslim rebels and Muslim moderates as different entities. In Zamboanga City, there are very many Muslim moderates who live among Christians in peace (there are also the few who do not, but let’s not digress). These people are not discriminated against, they are treated equally. I have many Muslim friends, and whatever privileges I have been given, they have been too. I studied in a Catholic university, and in our school, there are Muslim associations, Muslim places for prayer, and everything that is available to a Christian is available to a Muslim. There is no discrimination whatsoever (except of course, there are always personal individuals with prejudices).
And that’s how it should be, Muslims treated equally with Christians. The MILF, this is a rebel group that has for decades used their religion as a reason to ask for higher privileges. Like ancestral domain. Like money from the government to fund their terrorist acts. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget that when they do not get what they want, they kidnap people for ransom, and then torture and kill them if they don’t get the money, or even if they do in some instances.
For Gloria to even give this group the time of day is a horrible disservice to the Filipino people. By negotiating with this group, she is implying that their grievance actually has merit. This is a REBEL group, a TERRORIST group! These people do not have a real grievance, they are fearmongerers whose only grievance is the lack of money and power to further strengthen their evil dominance. By dallying with these rebels, PGMA is actually forsaking the real people in Mindanao who do actually have problems and issues that have be solved.
The real issues that need to be solved in Mindanao are poverty and lack of education. These issues are not religion based, but yes, they are indeed more severe in Muslim areas. But they will not be solved by ceding power to corrupt Muslim rebels, or by segregating Muslim areas from the rest of the Philippines, and especially not by sneakily selling off a Christian city to the Muslim rebels.
Mindanao, despite owning one third of the Philippines, is severely underrepresented in Philippine politics and initiatives. So much more so the Muslim areas. To PGMA, I cannot say what can solve the problems of Mindanao, but a good start would be to stop listening to Muslim terrorists and start listening to the Muslim moderates. Stop playing fire with kidnappers and killers, stop going off to kiss Bush’s ass (she apparently didn’t get the memo that America hates its president, too, or maybe that’s why she likes him so much?) and start coming over more often to Mindanao and try to understand our people. Instead of using tax money to punish the cities that did not vote for you, use it to create jobs and feed people. Mindanao needs that money more than you, Gloria.
Religion is a very sensitive issue. Peace will never be achieved if we spotlight it over and over again. Creating lands and laws based on religion will only further segregate the nation and its people. It will only seed more hatred between Christians and Muslims. Like what’s happening now. There’s no need for Christians to feel ill towards Muslims, or vice versa. But I feel right now the hatred bubbling inside so many of my Christian friends, because it’s inside me too. But I tell myself I should not feel that way. This is not an issue created by the Muslim moderates. This is an issue created by Muslim rebels and a corrupt, evil President. And only they are to blame for the current uproar.
In the end, all I can hope for is that the rest of the moderate-minded Philippines hears our plea. Today, our Mayor Celso Lobregat, our Congressman Erbie Fabian and our Congresswoman Beng Climaco filed a suit against the government in a bid to delay this agreement from taking place, so that perhaps we can remove Zamboanga City from the plebiscite. Let’s not let ARMM expand any more than it has to, and let’s not let religion rule our country.
Peace Advocacy Forum in Zamboanga City
City Seeks Support for Exclusion from Bangsamoro Juridicial Entity
Zamboanga Opposes Inclusion from Bangsamoro Entity
City Protests Against Government-MILF Deal
3000 Catholics Hold Rally
Celso Opposes Inclusionin Bangsamoro Homeland
*Where NINETY THOUSAND residents voted to be excluded from the ARMM and only five thousand voted otherwise
** Where ONE HUNDRED TWELVE THOUSAND people voted to be out of the expanded ARMM and only five thousand voted otherwise