I GAVE UP writing about the BBL, if anyone noticed, when the House and the Senate began debating it in their respective committees. I didn’t want to preempt Congress, and it seemed a waste of energy to speculate, especially in this heat. Perhaps I suffered from a “wanton excess of optimism,” but having been fed

The Peace Process: Subterfuge?

What exactly did the government panel promise the MILF during the four-year long peace talks that makes Aquino and company so nervous now? It appears they may have committed more than the public understands. And I have a bad feeling that whatever those commitments were, they had a large part to play in the decisions made by the Commander-in-Chief on that bloody day. They may also be what color the government negotiators’ statements from then to now.


The most invidious of all the inconsistencies, however, is the allegation that those who oppose the BBL oppose peace. It is a subtle and malicious assertion that does not satisfy even basic logic. I desire peace in this land, yet I am convinced that the BBL as it stands is not an instrument of harmony but of further division. Unless it is rewritten to encompass all affected groups in the region; unless the plural identities that exist there and not just the Bangsamoro are equitably delineated, upheld, and protected; unless there is a firm expression of fealty and union with the Republic of the Philippines; unless all questions of conformity with the Philippine Constitution are satisfied, I will continue to question the BBL in the name of peace.


We want to know whether the MILF legitimately represents the entire Bangsamoro people and if not, then why is our government negotiating only with this rebel entity? In the event that it is granted control of the transition government, we further want to know whether the MILF can guarantee a sustainable peace. Can it win the respect of the BIFF and other armed groups? Can it solve the problem of Datuism and other forms of turfing in the region? Is the peace panel justified in reposing trust in the MILF?


The government has got to exert more effort to draw us into this conversation; to educate us about Mindanao and its context: its search for justice, acceptance, and respect, and its various people groups who each have a stake in that vitally distressed region. I long to understand their cause, yet I also want to be assured that their quest for autonomy will not split this country apart. I want to learn but I confess I am also afraid that what I will be told may not be wholly the truth. Who will allay these fears? Who will help the individual particles of Philippine sovereignty understand all this?