To demand this time for a wider and greater autonomy to the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao rather bad for the sensibilities of the Filipino people. These desperate disciples of violence and some grandstanding politicians completely ignore the fact that the country is still mourning for the death of our soldiers killed trying to restore order from these marauding bigots.
To ignore the bloody pitch battle where our soldiers have to inch their way to dislodge those that vandalize their own city of Marawi in the name of Islam is most outrageous. Even if the Moro Islamic Liberation Front did not officially lend a hand in carrying out the siege that created havoc and destruction, nobody in his right mind would believe that they were not involved.
The Supreme Court already rejected the Bangsamoro Basic Law because it could see danger. In fact, their own mascot who participated in drafting it and now sits as associate justice; he was the lone wolf that voted to reject the martial law declaration of President Duterte because he knew the national emergency could demoralize the MILF. In fact, the US, Malaysia, and the yellow-shirted Liberal Party tried to bamboozle us to pass the BBL.
To recall, President Marcos, despite their undiplomatic rudeness in boycotting the scheduled signing of the Tripoli Agreement on December 23, 1976 nonetheless went ahead to issue P.D. No. 1092 on February 14, 1977 calling for a regional plebiscite in Regions XII and in the provinces of Palawan, Davao del Sur and South Cotabato. But just before the proposed autonomy could be ratified, Hashim Salamat and al Hadj Murad demanded the ouster of MNLF chief Nur Misuari. But since Salamat could not dislodge Misuari, his group then proceeded to form their own group committed to the goal of seceding from the Philippines.
From 1977 up the time Marcos was ousted in 1986 that magnanimous concession of granting them autonomy never truly worked because these people were in fact working hard not to allow it to work. Their reason range from the fact that the autonomy was conceived by Marcos, that it was short of their expectations, or that they simply rejected it because what they wanted was a complete separation from the Philippines. They remained firm to that objective to justify the continued financial and military support from Malaysia and other Islamic countries.
Right after Marcos was ousted, Cory up to Ramos wanted to appease the MNLF by using Misuari to get rid of the Marcos legacy by substituting the Tripoli Agreement with the version called the Jakarta Peace Agreement in 1996. Ramos naively thought that peace would come because the 1987 Constitution created two autonomous regions in the country.
However, our national leadership to the present leadership failed to discern that the split between the MNLF and the MILF is simply beyond the issue of leadership. The split has only exacerbated the age-old enmity between the Tausugs and the Maranaos that not even their Islamic faith managed to bridge their differences. Misuari has to give up the struggle to secede after realizing that most Tausugs still support the Sultan of Sulo in reclaiming Sabah. It is this point where the MNLF and the MILF differed. The MILF understandably have no sympathy for the Sultan and neither are they interested in getting back Sabah without incurring the ire of Malaysia which holds the lifeline to their survival.
In the end the much hooted Jakarta Peace Accord failed to bring about peace because the MILF was not interested, notwithstanding it was already gaining wider support from among its foreign brokers, principally from Malaysia and the US, from the rich Maranao traders and from the few fringed fanatics like the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Jemaah Islamiya, the Abu Sayyaf and lately the Mautes. Thus, from 1999 up 2010, sporadic fighting continued with the MILF and MNLF taking turns in attacking government.
Despite ominous signs, the lamentable Noynoy Aquino government continued to appease the MILF even if it had no clear idea what it wanted to achieve. On January 24, 2014, Philippine government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer and MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal signed a peace agreement in Kuala Lumpur. The agreement could have paved the way for the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.
Lately, the Maute group has gained prominence in the siege of Marawi City. This underscores why the conflict in Mindanao remains difficult to resolve with an increasing number of our people becoming resentful to any further negotiations because it seems they continue to ideologically evolve. After their first attempt to secede they have not only been able to revive their demand to establish an independent state, but are now openly demanding the establishment of an Islamic State to which they profess allegiance. Their objective now is to establish a caliphate in the country with their followers continue to take the hardline often metamorphosing to become terrorists seeking to inflict the greatest casualties and damage to our people.
After the government suffered close to a hundred soldiers killed, with more than 300 civilians’ casualties, displacing almost a million residents of Marawi City and an estimated damage to property running to billions of pesos, here comes former President Arroyo surprisingly seeking to revive the Bangsamoro law. This comes at a time when the nation is still licking its wound from the ravages of war waged by terrorists who will never recognize peace except under on their own terms.
Even if President Duterte favors the adoption of a federal system of government, advancing the Bangsamoro basic law in the name of federalism, that would not be welcomed by Filipinos considering that the events in Marawi is still fresh in their memory. The MILF remains adamant insisting that they will not back down from their original demand for autonomy despite suspicion that many of their soldiers were involved in the fighting. But at this stage, it is not that President Duterte refuses but the repercussion that the majority of the Filipinos might interpret his decision as an outright betrayal of their sacrifices to keep our Republic united under one flag.