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Posted on 14 December 2016 by cbcs_mike

For the MNLF and MILF to work together for Common Good of the Bangsamoro

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the MNLF and the MILF,

Assalamu Alaikom wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuho!

We, the one hundred twenty participants to the Bangsamoro Multi-Sectoral Leaders’ Summit held from December 5 – 9, 2016 at the Royale Mandaya Hotel, Davao City, coming from the provinces and cities of ARMM and non-ARMM provinces in Mindanao, representing different Moro ethnic groups, after series of provincial consultations and regional assemblies on current important socio-political and economic cultural developments that affect the lives of the Bangsamoro, hereby declare the following:

  1. We recognize your vanguardship and strong determination in leading the struggle of the Bangsamoro for self-determination;
  2. We praise the fact that your struggle has incremental gains and victories which are now being enjoyed by the Bangsamoro;
  3. We acclaim your sincere efforts in liberating the Bangsamoro from national oppression, exploitation and discrimination;
  4. We have taken note of the historical fact that the split in the Bangsamoro fronts had caused ill-feelings and mutual distrust among the front’s leaders and much more to the Bangsamoro masses as a whole;
  5. We acknowledged that an opportunity is at hand under the new Duterte administration for the Bangsamoro to face the challenge of drafting a common enabling law that is acceptable to the Bangsamoro;
  6. We acknowledge with appreciation your common goal of establishing a Bangsamoro society that is faithful to Islamic doctrines;
  7. We express our admiration for your common effort to put your acts together and mindful and guided by the verses from the Qur’an such as:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 “And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you), and do not be divided among yourselves;…” [Ali-Imran 103]

“Be not like those who are divided amongst themselves and fall into disputations after receiving Clear Signs: For them is a dreadful penalty,”- [Ali-Imran 105]


“For each one are successive [angels] before and behind him who protect him by the decree of Allah . Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. And when Allah intends for a people ill, there is no repelling it. And there is not for them besides Him any patron.” [Suratul Ra’d: 11]

Reflecting on the above, we earnestly appeal to your good selves to:

  • Be mindful of the spirit of the MNLF-MILF signed unity agreements in Cyberjaya, Malaysia in 2001 that created the Bangsamoro Solidarity Conference (BSC) and the Dushanbe, Tajikistan Agreement of 2010 that established the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF) through the auspices of the of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC);
  • Fully utilize the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF) as converging platform for the peace agreements:
  • Listen to the outcry of the Bangsamoro masses, whose interests you swear to promote, protect and defend;
  • Be mindful that the whole Bangsamoro people put their high hope of ending their long suffering as well as the next generation through your concerted efforts and with the aid of the Almighty Allah.

Done and signed at Royal Mandaya Hotel, Davao City this 8th day of December 2016.

NOTE: Original document signed by One Hundred Forty One (141) Bangsaamoro Leaders.

CBCS Secretariat

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Posted on 14 December 2016 by cbcs_mike

In the Name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful

Bangsamoro Platform for Unity and Solidarity (BM-PUSH)
C/O Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS)
KFI Compound, Dona Pilar St., Poblacion IV, Cotabato City,
9600 Philippines
Tel. No.: (064) 421 1686, Email Add:

December 8, 2016

The Secretary General
Organization of Islamic Cooperation

His Excellency:

Assalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu!

We are participants in the “Bangsamoro Multi-Sectoral Leaders’ Summit for Unity and Solidarity: Towards Creating a Platform for Consensus-Building among Bangsamoro Stakeholders” held on December 5 – 9, 2016 in Davao City. We are leaders of various Bangsamoro civil society organizations, academe, sultanates, religious and other organized groups. As such, we are significant stakeholders of the Bangsamoro peace processes.

We fully agree with the position of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) that there is an imperative for the two Bangsamoro Fronts to work together towards attaining a just conclusion of their legitimate struggle. We take note of the statement of your excellency on December 12, 2015, where you urged “the leaders of both the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to consolidate their coordination and cooperation through the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF) and to engage other stakeholders in order to close ranks, strengthen and consolidate their cooperation and unity and maintain their peaceful struggle for the common cause”.

The OIC has been instrumental in the negotiation of the MNLF and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) since the very start of the peace process until the signing of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement and even the Tripartite Review. For this, we are truly grateful.

Moreover, the OIC has facilitated the coming together of MILF Chairman Murad Ebrahim Al Haj and MNLF Chairman Prof. Nur Misuari on May 18, 2010, when they signed the Dushanbe Agreement in Tajikistan. In this historic meeting, both leaders agreed that “unity is indispensable to the success of the Bangsamoro struggle”. They also agreed to establish a mechanism for coordination between their respective organizations which eventually became the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF). Thereafter, the OIC continued to support the BCF and has hosted several meetings between the Fronts.

In recent developments, the Government of the Republic of the Philippines has laid down a roadmap outlining how it will deal with the two Fronts is separate and parallel tracks. Such tracks are expected to produce two separate draft laws that are designed to create/strengthen autonomy for the Bangsamoro. However, there is no clear mechanism where the two tracks meet and converge for a stronger and unified position prior to the submission of the draft laws to Philippine Congress.

In line with these facts, we believe that:

1. The MNLF and the MILF have high level of trust on the OIC;
2. The OIC has religious ties with the Bangsamoro; and
3. The OIC has a friendly diplomatic relationship with the Government of the Philippines.

Consistent with the continuing and persistent calls for unity from various sectors of society, and recognizing the essential role of the OIC, we are therefore appealing for your urgent and sustained support to assert your moral persuasion to help fast track the unity of the MNLF and MILF. Such unity will pave the way toward a unified law that will lead to stronger governance, and eventually to the attainment of the Bangsamoro right to self-determination.

We shall be blessed by Your Excellency’s favorable and timely response to this request, InshaAllah. JazakAllahu Khair.

We are:

NOTE: Original document was signed by One Hundred Nineteen (119) delegates.

CBCS Secretariat

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Posted on 13 December 2016 by cbcs_mike

In the Name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful


We, the participants to the “Bangsamoro Multi-Sectoral Leaders’ Summit for Unity and Solidarity: Towards Creating a Platform for Consensus-Building among Bangsamoro Stakeholders”, held on December 6 – 8, 2016 in Davao City, coming from Central, Southern, Northern and Western Mindanao, and consisting of different Moro ethnic groups, after going through rigorous process of reflection on current social and political issues confronting the Bangsamoro people, hereby DECLARE the following:

1. We deeply appreciate the positive response of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to our call for unity and solidarity as indicated in their solidarity messages;

2. We affirm our full agreement that unity is not only a matter of convenience, but an obligation that we, as Muslims, are commanded to fulfill;

3. We honor the the gains of all peace agreements signed by the Moro Fronts and the Government of the Philippines from the Tripoli Agreement of 1976, the Final Peace Agreement of 1996 to the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro in 2014;

4. We fully support the on-going peace processes in the Bangsamoro to end the decades of violence and to start rebuilding the Bangsamoro nation towards sustainable peace and development in Mindanao;

5. We uphold the on-going cessation of hostilities between the government forces and the Moro Fronts, which has substantially reduced violence in the Bangsamoro;

6. We appreciate the signing of Executive Order No. 8, s. 2016, which expanded the composition of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission to include other important stakeholders of the Bangsamoro in the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law;

7. We realize the importance of the act of the Duterte administration in reaching out to MNLF Chair Nur Misuari and directing the suspension of the criminal case against him, in order for him to be able to shepherd his group in the engagement for the conclusion of the Tripartite Review and the drafting of the new autonomy law;

8. We appreciate the efforts of local and international organizations for their continuing support to the peace processes, including socioeconomic programs in the Bangsamoro and other conflict-affected areas in order to build on the gains of the peace processes;

We, the Bangsamoro civil society organizations, collectively COMMIT ourselves to:

1. Relentlessly pursue the call for unity and solidarity among our leaders;
2. Reach out to the different stakeholders and communities to build constituencies to support the peace processes;
3. Engage in a sustained intra-Moro dialogues and consultations with the various stakeholders in the Bangsamoro;
4. Support the Bangsamoro Fronts in coordinating their efforts towards a draft law that will create/strengthen self-governance of the Bangsamoro as part of our exercise of the right to self-determination;
5. Directly engage the government, the Moro Fronts, the Philippine Congress and local government units to appeal for their support to lead the peace process to a successful end.

As we do the above, we make the following APPEALS:

1. To the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to reaffirm the agreement signed by MNLF Chair Prof. Nur P. Misuari and MILF Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim on 18 may 2010 in Dushanbe, Republic of Tajikistan stating among others, that “unity is indispensable to the success of the Bangsamoro struggle and that there are no basic differences between the Fronts as both are seeking to achieve peace, justice, and a fair solution to the problems of the Bangsamoro people”;

2. To the MNLF and the MILF to coordinate their efforts and find common grounds in drafting a law that would ensure the implementation of the peace agreements and strengthen Bangsamoro self-governance in fulfillment of the aspiration for self-determination;

3. To the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to exert extra efforts in bringing together the MNLF and the MILF to forge cooperation in addressing the interests of the Bangsamoro people through the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF);

4. To President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to help work for the passage of law that is consistent with the signed peace agreements and that will pave the way for stronger self-governance of the Bangsamoro, even before he moves for a federal arrangement across the Philippines;

5. To the national government to heed the call for the implementation of the recommendations of the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission in order to address the historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro;

6. To the national government to expedite the release of Moro political detainees and political prisoners who had been charged/convicted of crimes carried out as part of the armed conflict in Mindanao, as provided for in the Annex on Normalization; and lastly,

7. To the Bangsamoro people to close ranks and support the call for unity, convergence and solidarity of all Bangsamoro leaders.

Signed by the participants of the Bangsamoro Multi-Sectoral Leaders ’ Summit for Unity and Solidarity: towards Creating a Platform for Consensus-Building among Bangsamoro Stakeholders in The Royal Mandaya Hotel in Davao City this 6th Day of December 2016.

NOTE: Original document signed by One Hundred Eleven (111) Participants.

CBCS Secretariat

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The Call of the Bangsamoro CSOs and Sectoral Leaders Regional Assembly for Western Mindanao Cluster

Posted on 29 November 2016 by cbcs_mike

We, the participants of the ZamBaSulTa CSO Leaders Assembly held in Zamboanga City from November 7 – 9, 2016, coming from the various Bangsamoro Sectors and Organizations – the Sutanates, youth, women, academe and communities from the provinces of Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and the City of Zamboanga, hereby declare our appreciation of the following:

  1. The uniting efforts of the Bangsamoro masses to end violence and work for peace in the Bangsamoro Homeland;
  2. The support of the local and international NGOs in the task fo uniting the Bangsamoro leaders towards achieving a common aspration that is acceptable to all;
  3. The assistance being extended by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in bringing together the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) towards forging a joint effort in addressing the general welfare of the Bangsamoro people;
  4. The effort of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to allow MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari to participate in the peace process;
  5. The signing of the Executive Order reconstituting the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) to include other importan stakeholders; and
  6. The important role played by the Sultanates in resisting colonial aggression and maintaining the identity and sovereignty of the Bangsamaoro people.

We also declare our support to:

  • The continuation of the peace processes in the Bangsamoro between the Bangsamoro fronts and the new administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte; and
  • The ongoing call of the Bangsamoro civil society groups for unity and solidarity among the Bangsamoro leaders towards working for a unified and enhanced political proposal for the Bangsamoro.

We Call:

  • For a quadripartite meeting MNLF-MILF-GPH and OIC to help fast tract the unity of the Bangsamoro fronts towards a unified Bangsamoro enabling law;
  • For the MNLF and the MILF to religiously abide with the solidarity framework enunciated by the OIC through the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF) in order to achieve the long-term goal of MNLF-MILF agreement;
  • Urge President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to bring the Bangsamoro fronts together for a dialogue towards forging a consolidated enabling law;
  • Enjoin all the Bangsamoro to rise above tribal differences towards helping unify the MNLF and MILF to synergize their efforts to achieve the peace and development that the Bangsamoro rightfully deserve;
  • The implementation of the recommendations of the Transitional justice and Reconciliation (TJRC) in addressing the legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro, correcting the historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro and other indigenous peoples, and addressing human rights violations and marginalization of the Bangsamoro due to land dispositions; and
  • The leaderships of the MNLF and the MILF to refrain from issuing statements detrimental to the Unity and Cooperation of the Bangsamoro.

We affirm:

  • We affirm the importance of the gains of the past peace agreements from the Tripoli Agreement of 1976, the Final Peace Agreement of 1996 and the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) of 2014;
  • For the betterment of the Bangsamoro, we collectively commit ourselves to:
  1. Relentlessly pursue our call for unity and solidarity among our leaders;
  2. Raise the consciousness of the different sectors and organizations of the Bangsamoro society on the importance of unity and the ongoing peace processes;
  3. Reach-out to different stakeholders and communities of the Bagsamoro to build constituencies for unity and solidarity and support to the peace processes; and
  4. Engage in a sustained intra-Moro dialogues and consultations with the various stakeholders of the Bangsamoro on important issues that directly or indirectly affects their lives.

Done and signed in Zamboanag City, Philippines on November 9, 2016.

NOTE: Signed by 84 CSOs and Sectoral Leaders coming from Island provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Zamboanga City.

By CBCS Secretariat

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Posted on 29 November 2016 by cbcs_mike

We, the conveners and participants to the “Bangsamoro CSOs and Sectoral Leaders’ General Regional Assembly – Northern Mindanao Cluster” last October 22 -23, 2016 in Pagadian City, including a delegation of the heirs of the Sultanates of Maguindanano and Sibugay area, hereby manifest grave concern over the following unfolding realities in relation to the peace processes and the Bangsamoro struggle for right to self-determination:The never ending negotiation between the GPH and MILF/MNLF without final resolution has brought about skepticism and doubt to growing numbers of our constituents of the effectivity of the negotiation as path to attain peace;

  • More and more people are growing impatient with the negotiation in view of the failure of the congress to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) despite of the overwhelming support if not unanimous of the Bangsamoro CSOs and Sectoral Leaders;
  • More and more people are growing impatient with the negotiation in view of the failure of the congress to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) despite of the overwhelming support if not unanimous of the Bangsamoro CSOs and Sectoral Leaders;
  • The sentiments of pursuing other, but extreme, alternative means can gain ground if the negotiation continues to be inconclusive;
  • Despite the negotiation and the ceasefire, certain places in ARMM, such as Butig in Lanao del Sur, are experiencing armed conflicts where there is military bombings done on a daily basis, displacing thousands of civilians – contrarily creating favorable conditions for extremism.

However, despite these growing and alarming developments, we reaffirm our commitments to support the ongoing peace processes. We are extending our appreciation, recognition and gratitude to the contribution, help and aid of the different local and international non-government organizations in the work to attain a lasting peace, unity and sustainable developments in the Bangsamoro. We likewise extend the same to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for bringing together the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) towards forging a joint effort in addressing the general welfare of the Bangsamoro people.

In view of the renewed and strengthened peace negotiations between the GPH and the Bangsamoro fronts, we are declaring our strong support to the following:

  • The call for unity and solidarity of the two Moro fronts, MILF and MNLF, the Bangsamoro tribes in supporting and implementing the peace negotiation;
  • The immediate passage of the BBL (consistent with FAB and CAB) and the full implementation of the agreements already signed between the Bagsamoro people and the GPH;
  • The convergence of all the final agreements between the GPH and the MNLF and MILF;
  • The immediate implementation of the recommendations of the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) by the newly constituted Peace Implementing Panels, majority of which do not need congressional approval or new legislation.

In support of our declaration, we are collectively committing ourselves to:

  1. Strengthen our campaign and pursue the call for unity and solidarity among our leaders and people;
  2. Strengthen our efforts in the campaign and education of our constituents on the importance of the peace processes, its gains and the value of unity in achieving its goals;
  3. Conduct intra-Moro and inter-ethnic dialogues and consultations with the various stakeholders of the Bangsamoro on important issues that directly or indirectly affect their lives;
  4. Broadly disseminate the findings of the TJRC and its recommendations to the different stakeholders of the Bangsamoro;
  5. Actively participate in the ongoing peace processes by monitoring, responding to and advocating vital issues affecting our constituents.

We further reassert the fact that we are among the right-bearers in the peace processes. As such we will be participating in the process, in all appropriate forms, to attain its success.

Signed by the different CSOs and Sectoral Leaders in Pagadian City, this 23rd Day of October 2016.

CBCS Secretariat

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Posted on 18 November 2016 by cbcs_mike

Declaration of Support

We, the regional conveners of the Bangsamoro Platform for Unity, Solidarity and Harmony (BM-PUSH), representing the various Bangsamoro sectors and organizations– the sultanates, Moro fronts, religious, civil society organizations, youth, women, academe and communities coming from the provinces of Maguindanao, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte, Sarangani, South Cotabato and the cities of Cotabato, General Santos, Digos, Mati, Tagum and Davao, who participated in a three-day consultation/workshop on Unity and Solidarity in Davao city, hereby express our appreciation of the following:

1. The contribution of local and international non-government organizations in the work towards the realization of peace, unity and       development in the Bangsamoro;
2. The assistance being extended by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in bringing together the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) towards forging a joint effort in addressing the general welfare of the Bangsamoro people;
3. The effort of our religious leaders on educating our people about Islamic values and spiritual enlightenment which is the bedrock of the agenda for unity and solidarity.

We likewise declare our support to:

1. The continuation of the peace processes in the Bangsamoro between the Bangsamoro Fronts and the new administration of President Rodrigo RoaDuterte;
2. The enhancement of the draftBangsamoro Basic Law by the reconstitutedand expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC);
3. The on-going call by the Bangsamoro civil society groups for the unity and solidarity among the Bangsamoro leaders towards working for a unified and enhanced political proposal for the Bangsamoro;
4. The implementation of the recommendations of the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) in addressing the legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro, correcting the historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro and other indigenous peoples, and addressing human rights violations and marginalization of the Bangsamoro due to land dispossession;

We recognize the important role played by the Sultanate in maintaining the identity and sovereignty of the Bangsamoro People;
We affirm the importance of the gains of the past peace agreements from the Tripoli Agreement of 1976, the Final Peace agreement of 1996 and the Comprehensive Agreement of the Bangsamoro (CAB) of 2015;

For the betterment of the Bangsamoro, we collectively commit ourselves to:

1. Relentlessly pursue the call for unity and solidarity among our leaders;
2. Raise the social consciousness of the different sectors and organizations of the Bangsamoro society on the importance of unity and the on-going peace processes;
3. Reach-out to the different stakeholders and communities of the Bangsamoro to build constituencies for unity and solidarity and support to the peace processes;
4. Engage in sustained intra-Moro dialogues and consultations with the various stakeholders of the Bangsamoro on important issues that directly or indirectly affect their lives;

Signed by the sixty six (66) conveners of the Central Mindanao Regional Bangsamoro Platform for Unity, Solidarity and Harmony (BM-PUSH)in Davao City this 7th day of October, 2016.


CBCS Secretariat

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Posted on 31 October 2016 by cbcs_mike

THE FIRST SULTANATE SUPREME LEADERS FORUM of the Sultanate of Mandanaue Darussalam held in Cotabato City on 24TH of Muharram 1438 AH (26th day of October 2016) in the City of Cotabato, Mindanao.


Elated with the election of President RODRIGO ROA DUTERTE as the first President from Mindanaw. Cognizant President RODRIGO ROA DUTERTEs election will herald and usher in another epoch of hope for peace, security and prosperity for the peoples and communities of Mindanaw. Welcoming the pronouncement of President RODRIGO ROA DUTERTE to implement all peace agreements. Hoping that with peace ultimately setting in, the long yearned prosperity of Mindanaw, particularly the conflict-affected communities therein, can now soon be realized. 1) We reiterate our readiness to engage and participate in any and all initiatives and mechanisms of the peace process. 2) We are also ready to assist provide the platform and avenues for a more inclusive engagement of the various sectors and communities. 3) We can also be a medium in relaying information and concerns between the Government with its peace process partners and the peoples in our respective domains. 4) We can also facilitate and assist engagement with the other traditional institutions and leaders. We ask His Royal Highness ABDULAZIZ SALEM MASTURA KUDARAT V the 25th Sultan of Maguindanao to communicate this Resolution to the Government of the Philippines, the Organization of Islamic Conference, the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. DONE THIS 24TH of Muharram 1438 AH (26th day of October 2016) in the City of Cotabato, Mindanao.

Haja Sambay Salik-Suwaib                                         Bai Linang Mastura Rajamuda Otic

Bailabi sa Biniruan                                                              President – SKDOP Royal Ladies

Datu Habib M. Mastura                                              Bai Brenda Sultan Esmael-Samal

Secretary General – SKDOP

Bai Jioharia L. Nicart                                                    Datu Jaafar Siddiq A. Nicart

Bai-a-Labi sa Sugoda Buayan                                                      Datu-sa-Laling

Datu Hashim A. Dimasangkay                                     Datu Majed B. Badrudin        

General Santos City                                                                   Datu-sa-Sugod a Buayan

Datu Taps Umal                                                                      Datu Ali S. Rajamuda Otic

Palimbang                                                                                                    Darapanan

Datu Nain Mastura                                                                 Datu Max Bangen

President, SKDOP                                                                    Matabangen Association of Mindanao

Rajamuda Abdulhamid Ingkong                                             Datu Haron Hamsa

Rajamuda-sa-Sugod-a-Buayan                                                     Marajalaila sa Sugod a Buayan

Sultan Comara Manuel                                                                        Datu Sambas A. Coring

Sultan sa Davao Region                                                                                      Davao City

Datu Nonga U. Mashod                                                          Datu Mosarel Dalidigan

Hamba Raja sa Simuay                                                               Sibugay

Datu Escandal Dacula                                                                        Datu Montaser Ampuan


Datu Abusama Candao Polalon                                  Datu Tungko Agar  Sanday

Rajamuda Polalon – Maguindanao                                   Rajamuda sa Kabuntalan

Datu Ferdausi A. Uko                                                 Datu Umban Uko

Raja Datu sa Kabuntalan                                                            Datu Kaka sa Kabuntalan

Sultan Abdulghafor Hussain Langalen                Sultan Haji Usman Sangacala

Sultan sa Bagoinged                                                                               Sultan sa Botig

Bai Estrella A. Babano                                                                        Datu Esa K. Mlok

Bai Mompong sa Kutawato                                                        Marajalaila sa Kabuntalan

Haji Sulaiman Glang                                                               Rugaya G. Mluk

PRO Glang                                                                                                Kabuntalan

Datu Salem Sampillo Glang                                                    Haji Abdul Wahad Junsay

Sec. Gen. Rajah Muda Glang Desc. Org                                          Datu sa Makadar

Bai Farida Junsay                                                                         Datu Abubacar Maguing

Princesa Makadar                                                                           Marajadinda Maguindanao

Datu Montelo Kadeti                                                                   Datu Talib Dumamba

Umarmaya sa Magindanaw                                                             Dipatuan sa Buayan

Madato K. Ayao                                                                           Farouk Abubacar

Datu sa Dulangan                                                                          Baguinged

Datu Abdulsalem Camen                                                       Datu Guiamel Mocadi

Cotabato City                                                                                       SKDOP-Matanog

Datu Omar Cawi                                                                         Sultan Usop Pandapatan

Bandara sa Matanog                                                                       Buldon

Sultan Wakid Interino                                                            Datu Oskie Muhammad

Balabagan                                                                                               Talitay

Nylabai Mastura                                                                          Datu Zukarnain Mastura


Abo Namla Lomangco                                                                Datu Zackie D. Abdullatip

Datu Adam Samad Ansor                                                        Datu Malik Mala Lidasan

Sultan-a-Dimasangkay sa Subuan                                               Sultan Mastura, Maguindanao

Picong, Lanao del Sur

Omar Razul Abdulmalik Salik                                            Engr. Datu Jun S.B.D Baganday

Chairman SKDOP-Marawi City

Bai Anabele V. Esmael                                                                Datu Uko Mastura

SKDOP                                                                                                   SKDOP Cotabato City

Datu Candy Sangkad                                                                   Atty Suharto Ambolodto

Datu Manguda sa Kabuntalan                                                           Tumbao

Vice Pres. SKDOP

 Bai Princess Febraida Mastura Matalam                                 Datu Mama Mastura

Putri sa Magindanaw                                                                  Rajahmuda sa Magindanaw


25th Sultan sa Magindanaw

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Posted on 20 October 2016 by cbcs_mike

Sixty six (66) leaders of the major groupings of the Bangsamoro converged in a Regional Assembly held at El Bajada Hotel, Davao City on October 5 – 7, 2016. The activity was triggered by the new developments in the government and Moro Fronts peace process under the new administration.


The participants in particular belongs to the middle level leaders coming from MILF and MNLF communities, the traditional/political leaders (Sulnate/Datus), religious (Ulama/Asatidz), Moro civil society organization leaders, Professionals, academe women and youth sectors. These leaders are also covering the areas of Central, Southern and Eastern Mindanao where Bangsamoro population is substantial in number.

In his welcome message, CBCS Chairperson Guiamel Alim posed hard questions on the historical injustices against the Bangsamoro as long as they could remember and where are these important stakeholders in those equations? In a way he said: “Can we rise above our tribal differences and parochial interest in favour of the Bangsamoro interest as a whole?”. And added that: “now the Bangsamoro is being challenge by the new developments under the new administration in the peace process which warrants a unified response from the MNLF, MILF, Sultan/Datus, the religious, CSOs, the academe, professionals, women and youth ought to stand up all together.”

The background and importance of the Bangsamoro Leaders Assembly was briefly presented by Mike G. Kulat, CBCS Senior Program Officer, stressed the importance of consultations as one important teaching of Islam in every major decision-making. “The new Duterte administration poses new challenges brought about by its paradigm shift in the peace and development roadmap especially on the Bangsamoro quest for self-determination that needs deeper and levelled off understanding” he stressed. He ended by emphasizing that: “the main goal of the series of consultations and assemblies among the major group leaders of the Bangsamoro is to establish a platform or mechanism of convergence where all the major grouping of the Bangsamoro will be able to discuss freely towards forging common and unified political, economic, socio-cultural agenda.

To give real and updated political status to the participants especially on the current peace processes between the government and the Moro Fronts, important personalities were invited as resource persons.

On the part of the government, Usec Diosita Andot of OPPAP and also member of the GPH-MILF Implementing Panels updated the participants particularly on: “The Peace and Development Roadmap for the Bangsamoro under the New Administration”. Her topic deals on the Six Point Peace and Development Roadmap of Duterte administration and focused on the Two Tracks in pursuit of resolving the Bangsamoro problem. Three specific agenda was stressed by Usec Andot in pursuit of the Bangsamoro peace process which are: (1) Meaningful implementation of the FAB/CAB towards healing in the Bangsamoro (2) Complete implementation of the MNLF agreement of 1996 Final Peace Agreement through the Tripartite Review and (3) Inclusion of the IPRA LAW (RA8371) in crafting the new Bangsamoro enabling Law. This is to be able to make more inclusive law for all constituencies of the envisioned Bangsamoro entity. Usec Andot further revealed that aside from the “inclusive” memberships in the new Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), there will be created a “Peace/Consultative Table” outside of the BTC with members coming from the MILF, MNLF, Sultanates, Indigenous Peoples and Settlers to reinforced the inclusivity of the process.

The MILF is represented by its Implementing Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal and the MNLF on the other hand was presented by Atty. Randolph Parcasio. Both leaders stressed respectively the salient points and status of the negotiation between them and the government.

From the MILF, Chairman Iqbal stressed that their assertion in the re-start of the negotiation starts with “as is where is” principle. This is to mean the most urgent matter is early establishment of a newly reconstituted and expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC). Also emphasized the importance of understanding new paradigm in the peace process from “negotiation to implementation” phase since this is a new development that manifest moving forward of the process.

Atty. Randolph Parcasio for the MNLF Peace Process gave emphasis on the “successes and miseries” of the peace journey with the MNLF. However, he presented the significant developments in the “Tripartite Review” that started in 2007 that concluded in 42 consensus points that would be implemented to conclude the 1996 Final Peace Agreement signed in 1996.

The assembly concluded with the signing of the Regional Assembly Statement that would be brought to the higher summit in the near future in order to establish a platform of convergence for the Bangsamoro at all walks of life.

By Fards Indin

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Atty Macapanton RY Abbas Jr


Posted on 29 June 2016 by cbcs_mike

[Posted on June 19, 2016 at The Bangsa Moro blog: All you wanted to know about the Bangsa Moro but were afraid to ask]

(NOTE: Just before he passed away, Macapanton Rashid Yahya Abbas, Jr, wrote a rambling essay on the Bangsa Moro Conflict and was published in the Ateneo Law Journal Vol. 48 Sept 2003. Officially, he was designated as Secretary-General of several Moro groups like the Bangsa Moro Liberation Organization (BMLO), the National Coordinating Council for Islamic Affairs (NACCIA), Islamic Directorate of the Philippines (IDP, which included Misuari and Salamat), etc. He was the President of the Moro Youth National Assembly (MYNA, which included Misuari and Salamat). He was the International Spokesman and Chair for International Affairs of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF-Reformist Group). Unofficially, he was the de facto leader of the MNLF-RG and later, was adviser to the MILF and MNLF (all factions). For many people, Abbas, Jr. was the “brain of the Bangsa Moro revolution.”)

Below are excerpts of his article “Is Bangsa Moro State Within a Federation the Solution?”:


Atty Macapanton RY Abbas Jr

(N.B.: He was Full Professor at the King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in the mid to late 1970s. Thus, he can legitimately use the title of Professor.)


The topic of “Federalism and the Peace Process” which has been chosen as the topic of discussion by the Ateneo Law Journal for its second issue for Vol. 48 on September 2003 under the theme “Emerging Trends in Philippine Constitutional Law and Constitutional Reforms” is timely in view of the advocacy of the “Federalists” like Rey Teves, Senator Aquilino Pimentel, Jr., Dr. Jose Abueva and a host of leaders who believe that the “Federalization of the Philippine State” is the Constitutional solution that answers many problems of state and governance including the “Peace Process” in Mindanao between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The issue of “Federalism” is not limited to the “Peace Process” because the two are completely separate issues. The Federal system can be adopted independent of the “Peace Process” in Mindanao. The MILF as well as the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) may enter into “comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the Mindanao conflict” under an International Agreement or Constitutional Arrangement even if the Federal system is not adopted. This will be discussed later in this paper.

However, the question may be – Can a Federal State for the Bangsa Moro People be the best option for a peaceful political solution and lead to a lasting peace in Mindanao? Hence, Federalism is the best way for the peace process to aim for the final status agreement with the Bangsa Moro People. In this context, it is imperative to understand Islam and the Muslim faithful. The concept of the Muslim Ummah (Community) in the universal sense as well as national and ethnic perspective which is the basis of the Muslim Law of Nations and relations of Muslim states and nations and peoples on the international level must be studied and appreciated. The terminologies of Islam, the Muslims, and the Bangsa Moro; the history of the Bangsa Moro People as states; as anti-imperialist and anti-colonial fighters, as movements for national liberation and as citizens of the Philippines which spans a millennium is important to study and evaluated. These will be discussed and this author shall present the different political options including a federal system for the Philippines.

In June 1980, a two-day conference, “The World of Islam from Morocco to Indonesia”, was held in Washington, D.C. to commemorate the 14th Centennial of Islam. Over 400 scholars from around the world were brought together to explore Islam and the Modern World. This author was one of the discussants in the said Conference and it was sponsored by the Asia Society, Department of State and John Hopkins University to celebrate the Fourteenth (14th) Century of ISLAM.

The Conference concluded that at present, the impact of industrial development, technology, urbanization and secular values has had far-reaching consequences. All over the world, rapid change has disrupted social patterns and cultural traditions which served as reference points for centuries. Muslims, no less than others, are reacting to the flood of Western individualism, materialism, sexuality, family and politics. To many, these ideas threaten basic Islamic values. Furthermore, the outlook of most Muslims is strongly colored by a very recent emergence from a long period of foreign domination. There is also an awareness of the clearly visible economic disposition between industrialized and developing nations, and within societies, between classes.

Also, concerned Muslims across Asia and Africa are actively exploring many routes to find the balance between modernization and tradition. This reflects a sense among Muslims that Islamic principles may provide them more appropriate solutions to their national problems than those offered by either capitalism or communism. Therefore, they call for a re-injection of basic Islamic values into the lives of the individual and society.

The clamor for the revival of these Islamic values is gaining credence even in the Philippines with the adoption of the Madrasah Education Program and the adoption of Muslim personal laws under P.D. 1083. The very concept of secularism is being modified in Europe and North America to promote the correct understanding of Islam and Muslims especially with world events such as the events in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Chechenya, Bosnia, Kosovo, Khasmir and Mindanao, Philippines…

… The beliefs and values of Muslim in Islam are important to understand, if one is to gain a deeper insight in the nature and essence of the Bangsa Moro struggle. It is imperative to understand the terminology of Islam and Moro languages within the peculiar context of their history…


Let us define the terms that we are using particularly Moro or Bangsa Moro and Filipino because the “Hermeneutic Interpretation” of the Bangsa Moro issue is as important as the substantial issues regarding the conflict and how to solve it. The author’s younger brother Engr. Jamal Ashley Y. Abbas, the first citizen of this country to become a Petroleum Engineer and who is now completing his master’s degree in Communications at University of the Philippines wrote in an award winning article:(18)

“But according to philosophical hermeneutics, History is not separated from the present. We are always simultaneously part of the past, in the present, and anticipating the future. In other words, the past operates on us now in the present, and affects our conception of what is yet to come. At the same time, our present notions of reality affect how we view the past.“Moro leaders and intellectuals maintain that if the Philippine government truly wants to solve the so-called Moro Problem, it must exert an honest-to-goodness effort to understand the feelings, sentiments, biases, ideals, prejudices, customs, traditions and historical experience of the Bangsa Moro as enunciated or articulated by the Moros themselves.
* * *
“Hermeneutics must necessarily come into play if one were serious in solving the “communication gap” between the Muslim and Christian Filipino communities. There must be a real effort in cultural interpretation.
“The Moro problem is even exacerbated by the textual interpretation of both groups to important documents like the Philippine Constitution and the Tripoli Agreement.

“Many people in the government and the academe try to view the Moro Problem within the framework of social constructionist communication theories or Marxist critical theories. Some Moro intellectuals believe that postcolonial discourse theories cannot be used because the Moros are still under colonial rule; i.e., Filipino colonial rule. It is absolutely useless to blame the Americans or multinationals or globalization for the plight of the Moros, as what the leftists are won’t to do. If there’s anyone to blame, it is the colonial power, i.e. the Filipino government.

“The MNLF, MILF, BMLO and other Moro groups have petitioned the United Nations to resolve that the Bangsa Moro nation be de-colonized. Today’s Filipino historians, writers, or intellectual do not mention the fact that the great Filipino nationalist himself, Claro M. Recto, authored the bill called “Colonization of Mindanao Act.”

“Hermeneutics phenomenology or philosophical hermeneutics could be the framework needed to help solve this socio-political problem. Using critical theories, which focus on ideology and power, might simply aggravate the problem. As Paul Ricoeur wrote:

“what is at stake can be expressed in terms of an alternative: either a hermeneutical or a critical consciousness… In contrast with the positive assessment of hermeneutics, the theory of ideology adopts a suspicious approach, seeing tradition as merely the systematically distorted expression of communication under unacknowledged conditions of violence.”

It is important that we should have the proper understanding of the recognition given by Philippine Law and Jurisprudence, as well as, by the Philippine government in its agreements with the MNLF and the MILF and the Resolutions of the Organization of the Islamic Conference that the Indigenous Muslim Communities of Mindanao, Basilan, Tawi-tawi and Palawan are to be known as the “Bangsa Moro People” and that their culture, religion, history and civilization are distinct from the Filipinos who were colonized and christianized by Spain and later by America. Such distinct ethnic nationality does not make them separate or enemies of the Filipinos or the Philippine state but “equal historic communities” that must co-exist and work together to strengthen a common state or even separate states within a federal or confederal system of government. In the United Kingdom, the Scots, the Welsh or the Irish of North Ireland are not called British or English but they remain a strong state as a United Kingdom and was once an empire. The Corsicans of France as well as the Britons are not called French or the Basques of Spain are not called Spaniards or the Wallons and Flemings of Belgium are two separate peoples in one state or the Montenegrens and the Serbs in the Federation of the former Yugoslavia or the Chechens or the Cossacks or Dagastanis and many nationalities in the Russian Federation or the Tibetans or Uighurs of China are not called Chinese or Han for they are separate nations or the Ainos of Japan and so many other cases in the world were you have many nationalities in a single Federal or Con-Federal state like the United States of America.

When the Bangsa Moro asserts its historic right as a national ethnic community, it is not being separatist or secessionist but rather asserting a historical truth that must be acknowledged otherwise there will be no solution to the conflict in Mindanao. In this connection Father Eliseo Mercado, PhD and former President of Notre Dame University of Cotabato City, in an interview in the United States last May 2, 2003 with the EIR, were he is presently undergoing scholarship at the Georgetown University stated categorically that:

“I believe the Philippine government and for that matter, the Filipino nation, must open up to the reality that we are not a mono-nation-state and that we are poly-ethnic groups and we are a poly-nation-state. It is possible to have many ethnic groups, and many nations, and still form one country, one republic that is the first thing. The second thing is to see the root causes of insurgency and rebellions over the problem of separatism.” (19)

The Bangsa Moro Question can have a genuine, just and comprehensive political solution if its distinct historical claim as states before U.S. illegally annexed them into the Philippines by virtue of the Treaty of Paris of 1898, as the basis of the solution.


In order to reconstruct the Islamic theory of international relations, we should bear in mind that Islam offers a social system based on divine revelations and immutable and inalienable rights as part of a political community endowed with a system of laws designed to protect the collective interest of Muslims as well as to regulate their relations with the outside world. The basic principle of Islamic governance in external relations with other nations is that only the Muslim Nation is the subject of the Islamic legal system, while all other systems are the object of these systems, although the non-Muslim nations are not denied certain advantages of the Muslim Law of nations. The ultimate goal of Muslim Law of Nations was to establish peace within the territory brought under the pale of its public order and, theoretically, to include the whole world in obedience to Allah’s commandment to govern in accordance with Islam.

“Before Islam could achieve that ultimate objective, it had to enter into relations with communities that had not yet submitted to its control in accordance with a set of rules and practices. Conformity to Islam’s legal and ethical standards was required not only of the believers whose territory had not yet expanded beyond the frontiers of the state but also of believers who owed their legal – though not necessarily their political – allegiance to Islam. An illustration of this principle can be found in Muslim minorities in China, Russia, Yugoslavia, Thailand, Philippines, etc.

“However, the non-Muslims who resided within the Islamic community, although they were regarded as the subjects or citizens of the state (though not members of the religious community), were not bound by all the Islamic, ethical; and legal rules. Islamic authority however, had to deal with the problems arising from their inter-relationships with Muslims.“In the ancient near East, Greece and Rome, Islamdom and Western Christendom, a distinct civilization flourished in each of these “worlds”. Within each civilization a body of rules and practices developed for the purposes of regulating the conduct of each entity with the others in peace and war.

“Former systems of the law of nations, in contrast to the modern International Law of nations, were not universal in character since each system was primarily concerned with regulating the relations of entities and nations within a limited area and within one (though often more than one) civilization. Furthermore, each past system of the law of nations, in contrast to the modern law, was entirely exclusive, since it did not recognize the principle of legal equality of nations which is the basis of the modern law of nations. (20)

Prof. Masjid Khadduri clearly expressed this legal theory that, the Muslim Law of Nations was based on the theory of a universal state. The binding force of the said law was not based on consent of reciprocity, but on their own interpretation of their political, moral and religious interests, as they regarded their principles of morality and religion derived mainly from the commandments of ALLAH. With the entry of the Muslim states in the United Nations (UN), it is a safe assumption that this principle has been relaxed and the legal equality of all nations is gaining acceptance in the Islamic world.
“The Muslim law was ordinarily binding upon individuals rather than territorial groups. It was only in modern times, especially under the material and cultural pressure of modern civilizations that the observance of law has been attached to people in relation to the territory they live in, rather than in relations to the group they belong to.“The Muslim law of nations is not a separate body of Muslim laws; it is merely an extension of the laws designed to govern the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims, whether inside or outside the world of Islam. Strictly speaking, there is no Muslim Municipal (National) Law and International Law based on different sources and maintained by different sanctions because the Shari’ah makes no distinction.” (21)


The early Muslim jurist either dealt with the conduct of foreign relations in the general law corpora under such headings as “Jihad”, “Spoils of War” and the “Aman” or “Al-Kharaj”. Later on, all of these were discussed under a technical term “Al-Sijar”.

“In practice the Muslim Law of Nations (Al-Sijar) is taken to mean the sum total of the rules and practices of Islam’s intercourse with other peoples. The sources are the treaties, utterances and instructions of the Caliph to the commanders in the field, opinions and interpretations of publicist and jurists. Analyzed in terms of the modern law of nations, the sources are of the same categories defined by modern jurists and the statutes of the International Court of Justice, namely, agreement, custom, reason and authority.” (22)

In Islamic legal theory, the world was therefore divided in two divisions: Dar Assalam (The Abode of Peace) comprising of Islamic and non-Islamic territories held under Islamic sovereignty, and the rest of the world, called Dar Al-Harb or the Territory of War. The first included the community of believers as well as those who entered into an alliance with Islam. The inhabitants of those territories were either Muslims, who formed the community of believers, or non-Muslims, those who belonged to tolerated religions who paid the Protection Tax (Jiizah) to Muslim authority.

The world surrounding the Islamic political community was known as Dar Al-Harb, because it remained beyond the pale of Dar Al-Islam. It lacked the legal competence to enter into intercourse with Islam on the basis of equality and reciprocity. Such territory may be regarded as “state of nature”, because it ruled to conform to Islamic legal and ethical standards. Some Muslim publicists, especially Shaffi Jurists, devised a third temporary division of the world, called Dar Al-Sulh (Territory of Peaceful Arrangement) or Dar Al-Ahd (Territory of Covenant), giving qualified recognition to non-Islamic communities if they entered into treaty relations with Islam, on conditions agreed upon between the two parties. The Hanafi Jurists, however, never recognized the existence of a third division of the world, arguing that the inhabitants of a territory concluded a peace treaty and paid a tribute, it became part of Dar Al-Islam and its people were entitled to the protection of Islam, because otherwise it would be part of the Dar al-Harb and object of Islam. (23)


The word JIHAD is derived from JAHD or JUDH meaning “ability and exertion”. Jihad means the exertions of one’s power in repelling evil. Jihad also means the using or exertion of one’s utmost power, efforts, endeavors or ability in contending with an object of disapprobation and this is of three kinds: the visible enemy, evil and one’s self. Jihad is therefore far from synonymous from war. However, Jihad is also mistakenly used to mean holy war or defensive war by western or even westernized Muslims as the only bellum justum in Islam. This was shown as a misconception by Abdullah Yusuf Ali:
Those who believe, and suffer exile and strive (Jihad) with might and main, in God’s cause with their goods and their persons, have the highest rank, in the sight of God.

They are the people who will achieve salvation.” (9:20) (24)

Sir Abdullah Yusuf Ali in his commentary observed:

“Here is a good description of Jihad. It may require fighting in God’s cause, as a form of self sacrifice. But its essence consists in (1) true and sincere faith, which so fixes its gaze on God, that all selfish or worldly motives seem paltry and fade away, and (2) an earnest and ceaseless activity, involving the sacrifice (if need be) of life, person or property, in the service of God. Mere brutal fighting is opposed to the whole spirit of Jihad, while the sincere scholar’s pen or preacher’s voice or wealthy man’s contributions may be the most valuable forms of Jihad.” (25)
Fight (Jihad) in the cause of God
Those who Fight (Jihad) you
But do not transgress limits
For God loveth not transgressors
And slay them wherever ye catch them
From where they have turned you out;
For tumult and oppression
Are worse than slaughter
And fight them on
Until there is no more tumult or oppression
And there prevail Justice and Faith in God;
But if they cease, Let there be no hostility
Except to those who practice oppression. (11:190-193) (26)

Sir Yusuf Ali again commented on this verse that:
“War is only permissible in self-defense, under well-defined limits. When undertaken, it must be pushed with vigor, but not relentlessly, but only to restore peace and freedom for the worship of God. In any case strict limits must not be transgressed; women, children, old and infirm men should not be molested, no trees and crops cut down, nor place withheld when the enemy comes to terms”. (27)

He explained the universal practice of Muslims and their governments on the matter of war and peace.

“In general, it may be said that Islam is the religion of peace, goodwill, mutual understanding and good faith. But it will not acquiesce in wrong doing of its men will hold their lives cheap in defense of honor, justice and religion which they hold sacred. Their ideal is that of heroic virtue combined with unselfish gentleness and tenderness, such as is exemplified by the life of the Prophet. They believe in courage, obedience, discipline, duty and a consonant striving by all means in their power, physical, moral, intellectual, spiritual, for the establishment of truth and righteousness.“They know that war is an evil, but they will not flourish from it if their honor demands it and a righteous Imam command it, for then they know they are not serving carnal end. In other cases, war has nothing to do with their faith, except that it will always be regulated by its humane precepts.” (28)

The verses of the Holy Quran on Jihad aside from the two cited above which numbers more than thirty (30) verses never used the word “Harb” or war but only “fighting.”

In my paper, I observed, that the whole breadth of Islamic history will prove that Jihad was never used as an instrument of conversion for truly, mankind has never witnessed religious tolerance as displayed by Islamic rulers.
The Holy Quran enjoins religious tolerance when, it commanded “There is no compulsion in religion, truth stands manifest from error.”

Historians and writers like J.M. Haydman, Joseph Schart, Nathaniel Shcmidt, Lamartine, Lipson, Dozy, Renan, Sir Allan Burns to name a few, credits Islam and its reign with the flourishing of intellectual and religious freedom for all. No less than Arnold Tynbee, the greatest historian of our times said:
“Today the modern world stands in need of Islamic tolerance and universal brotherhood and the Muslim world has to play its role in the shaping of a harmonious and peaceful and happy destiny for the war-weary, tension tossed and ideology-torn world.” (29)


The first and most revolutionary change was the adoption of peaceful relationships among nations of different religions, modifying the classical principle of Jihad or a permanent state of war between Islamic and non-Islamic nations. Muslims rulers started making treaties establishing peace with non-Muslim states extending beyond the ten year period provided under the sacred law.

The most notable instrument that formalized the peaceful relationship between Islam and non-Muslim states was the Treaty of 1535. It not only laid down the principle of peace and mutual respect between Sultan Sulayman the Magnificent and the King of France but also offered it to other Christian princes who were willing to adhere to the treaty (Articles 1 and 15). (30)

The second fundamental change was the acceptance of the principle of the separation of religious doctrine from the conduct of external relations. In Islam there was a separation of doctrinal differences from the conduct of external relations and to regulate external relations on a secular basis. This was later adopted in Christendom thereby giving rise to the principle of cuious regio, eius religo, first adopted at the Peace of Augsburg in 1555, which became the basis of the Peace of Westphalia of 1648 and which governed the relationship of the Christian states in Europe and later among the different faiths of the world. (31)

The third principle was the adoption by Islam of the principles of territorial sovereignty and territorial law necessitated by territorial segregation. When the universal monocracy of Islam suffered a split in its body politic under changing conditions of modern life, the constituent entities emerged as fully sovereign and each sovereign tended to divert the mode of loyalty of men from universal to territorial concepts. As a result, territorial segregation constituted an underlying factor for the gradual transformation of the nature of sovereignty from universal to territorial as well of the law from personal to territorial. (32)


In my thesis for the Bachelor of Laws Degree at the College of Law of the University of the Philippines in 1967 I stated that:

“Neither the League of Nations charter nor the Kellog-Briand Pact which renounced war as instrument of national policy or a defensive war substantially altered the classic doctrine of war that the states had an inherent right to go to war.“The charter of the United Nations has introduced a new doctrine on the use of force. The preamble proclaim “that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest.” And one of its purposes is “To maintain international peace and security, and to that end, take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of peace” – Article I (1). These statements imply the abolition of war in a legal sense. The only entity possessed of a legitimate power to use force is the Security Council which is authorized under the charter to “take such action by air, sea or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore peace and security. Art. 42.

“The inherent right of individual or collective self-defense in case of an armed attack is preserved in the charter. However, the exercise of the right of self-defense is merely in preliminary measure pending the exercise by the security council of its authority and responsibility to maintain or restore international peace and security. Article 51.” (33)

“The Muslim States having entered membership in the UN are bound legally by the charter. From the point of view of Islam, there is no substantial conflict with the Islamic doctrine of Jihad because the purpose of Jihad is the establishment of peace and if peace is established by the UN then the purpose of Jihad is served. Secondly, if aggression is committed on the Muslim state or states then the UN must enforce collective action or the Muslim states may declare Jihad on the aggressor. Thirdly, the requisites for justum bellum under Islamic doctrines are satisfied by its Charter.

“Another modern illustration of Jihad was in 1947 when the UN created the state of Israel and partitioned Palestine. The Mufti of Palestine declared Jihad and the Arab states supported Palestine in the Palestine War. The intervention of the UN resulted in a truce and the rights of the Palestinians are still to be settled in the UN. There is shooting war as of the moment and there is a state of war between the Arab states and Israel and tensions results in a continuing cycle of violence. As of the moment no Muslim state has extended recognition to Israel except Egypt.

“Again, the India-Pakistan war resulted to the declaration of Jihad by Pakistan against India. During the war between these two states, the Muslim states either financially, morally or actively supported Pakistan in her war efforts against India.

“The secularization of Muslim states have led to the secularization of Jihad and the acceptance of the UN concept of war as justum bellum under “modern” Islamic legal and ethical standards. Muslim States submit disputes with other states to the UN for arbitration and mediation in accordance with its Charter for peace being the ultimate objective, Muslim states are bound to honor the covenant. The invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq by US aided by the UK without Security Council approval is changing international law which effectively prohibits war under the UN charter except as a collective measure with the approval of the Security Council. The US military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan will change international law on war.

However, the modern concept of total war which disregards distinctions between civilians and combatants and rendered the Hague Convention of 1907 irrelevant, is still not acceptable to Islamic legal theory. This modern theory of war saw its application in Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

Under Islamic legal theory, the conduct of war is based on that noble principle forbidding the extension of warfare to harming non-combatants. The rules decree against the killing of the aged, the young women, the handicapped, those who have withdrawn from life to worship and meditate, and those who have refrained from participating in battle. The mass of workers, farmers, and tradesman-in other words, the civilians. It is not lawful to kill civilians. There should be cessation of hostilities should those whose death is not permitted be exposed to death between the ranks of the fighting forces. However, this limitation on war action has been violated repeatedly by US and UK and justified under the pretext of collateral damage. The use of massive bombings beyond enemy lines using guided missiles and bombs as the basic US strategy to maximize damage to enemy forces, utilities, transport facilities, radar and satellite systems, with the minimum loss of lives has changed the rules o warfare and caused more injuries and death civilian populations than the soldiers as seen in the Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.” (34)


The establishment of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in 1971 operationalized the unification of the Muslim World initially constituting the Muslim States but with declared intention to support the Muslim Communities or Minorities who constitute over 400 million of the 1.2 billion Muslim World populations. Some of these Muslim Minority Communities are ancient nations and Kingdoms like those in the U.S.S.R., China, Eritrea, Thailand, Cyprus and the Philippines and their respective populations and territory are much bigger than many Muslim states.

In 1972, this author attended the 2nd OIC Foreign Ministers Conference in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, submitted the petition of the Bangsa Moro against the genocide by the Marcos regime. He also had long discussions with H.E. Tenghu Abdulrahman Putra, First Secretary General of the OIC and the late Libyan Foreign Minister Saleh Bouyaser, one of the drafters of the OIC charter.

In these talks, the said leaders revealed that the late King Faisal Bin Abdulazziz of Saudi Arabia worked for the establishment of the OIC to promote the unity of the Muslims to act as a world force and the Islamization of the Muslim States in order to safeguard the purity of Islam and its institutions and to encourage Muslim societies to modernize within the framework of Islam. The struggle of Islam against Zionism, Fascism, Colonialism and Anti-Islamic ideologies can only be won through the unity of the Ummah based on Islam. Further, the Muslim States collectively can protect and support the rights of Muslim Minorities. This has been consistently confirmed by the Islamic Summit of Heads of States. However, it has been short on implementation because of disunity among Muslim States caused by superpowers domination of some Muslim States.

It established the Islamic Solidarity Fund, the Islamic Development Bank, Red Crescent, the Islamic New Agency, and the Institute for Technical Cooperation, the Federation of Muslim Chambers of Commerce and Industries, etc. It has also formulated a common stand in world issues before the United Nations, the non-aligned movement, the Organization of African Unity, ASEAN and the Arab League. The Muslim States have emerged as one of the most powerful bloc in the UN and the world as shown by their unity on the oil embargo of 1973; the support for PLO and Palestine; the support for the Afghan Mujahiddin; the boycott on South Africa; North South Dialogue, the New World Economic Order and other major issues.

The OIC has also declared strong support for the Muslims in Eritrea, Cyprus, Bulgaria, and particularly the Bangsa Moro in the Philippines. They have given humanitarian assistance to all Muslim Communities and made representation to USSR, Europe, U.S.A., Canada, China on the rights of Muslim minorities. Its position is that, “violation of the rights of Muslims anywhere in the world is a legitimate concern of the Muslim States”, representing the collective will of the Muslim World through the OIC.

In the Iran-Iraq war, the OIC heads of states and governments created a committee of head of states to mediate between the parties and they continued these efforts in all forms up to the UN Security Council until finally, the cessation of hostilities was achieved.

In the present crisis in the Gulf States when Iraq invaded Kuwait and annexed it, the OIC condemned Iraq’s action and conforms to UN Security Council resolutions. However, it did not support US actions in sending forces to Saudi Arabia. It supported an Arab multi-national force and mediation by Muslim States between Iraq and Kuwait – Saudi-Arabia. The OIC also did not support the war against Afghanistan and Iraq. The acts of US are beyond the Security Council’s resolutions.

The OIC became marginalized in the US led invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the war in Palestine. The Acts of US are beyond the RP-US Security Council Resolutions. This situation led to militancy and birth of the Muslim Jihadist movements in the Muslim world as a reaction to the failure of OIC and Muslim states to be defenders of the Ummah and the Muslims.

Dr. Julkipli Wadi in a paper on the Islamic Ummah in the 21st Century commented on the new emergence of US as the sole Superpower on the Muslim Concept of the Law of Nations as well as the Doctrine of Jihad.

“The politicization and subsequent trans-nationalization of Islam is a product of long-standing rivalry between Arab nationalism and pan-Islamic source of political system and framework of development in the Arab world provided opportunity for pan-Islamic groups to claim support and legitimacy from marginal sectors of Muslim society. It is reinforced by the failure of Arab nationalism to get rid neocolonial vestiges in the Middle East and other parts of the Islamic world. The sway of Islamic movements is brought about with the eclipse of reform movements in Muslim dominated areas and secessionist groups in non-Muslim dominated areas. Since the Afghan war in the 80’s these two strands of struggles had forged strong linkages with each other. It thus appears that the neo-Islamic struggle is global making their target not only their immediate enemies, e.g., Arab/Muslim and Christian dominated governments, but the very source of global hegemony (e.g. America) and all the symbolism it represents (e.g. capitalism, power). Taking cue from the fact that it is useless to engage in petty acts of violence in their respective locales, they thus catapulted their struggle by making a big signature in the heartland of American power as shown on September 11. What they simply needed was their will. Their capability came second. And, ironically, it was the knowledge and technology of the United States that they used to destroy the symbol of economic and political power of the United States. If there was a lesson learned by Islamic movements is that, if you want to be heard, you’ve got to elbow a major power. Yet, one has to be ready of being branded as a terrorist, fundamentalist, and all those sort of labels even by their fellow Muslim brothers unfortunately. And finally one has to contend the wrath of the Superpower and the international coalition against terror.


The rule of the game of international politics has indeed changed. The event last September 11 shows the fragility of the world today. If a big power like the United States can become a subject of intimidation by what it considers as an “enemy that hides in the shadow” what more Third world countries including the Muslim world? Surely, the Muslim world, its dynamics and politics will be the subject of international controversy in the years ahead. The sense of historicity by a wide array of many Muslim struggles is now supplanted by over rhetoric on terrorism. The line thus between legitimate political struggle and terrorism has turned blurred. (35)
18 Abbas, Datu Jamal Ashely Hermeneutic Interpretation for the Bangsa Moro Issue
Bangsa Moro Review Internet Magazine, December 2002
19 Mercado, Eliseo, Interview by Economic Intelligence Review, MindaNews Website, May 4, 2003
20 Abbas, Macapanton, Jr. International Relations in Islam, Institute of Islamic Studies, UP, Diliman, Roundtable Discussions on Islamic Studies, UP, August 19, 1990
21 Khadduri, Masjid, War and Peace in Law of Islam, 1962
22 Ibid. Khadduri
23 Ibid. Khaduri
24 The Holy Qur’an, Chap.9 verse 20
25 Ali, Abdulah Yusuf Translation and Commentary of the Holy Qu’ran, Parachi Press,
Pakistan, 1949
26 Op-cit. Chapter 11, Verse 190-193
27 Op-cit. Comments of Yusuf Ali English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran,
28 Op-cit. Yusuf Ali
29 Op cit Abbas, Macapanton Jr.
30 Proctor, Harris, Islam and International Relations, London: Pall Mall Press, 1965
31 Ibid. Proctor
32 Ibud.. Proctor
33 Abad Santos, Cases in International Law, 1966
34 Abbas, Macapanton, Jr., “Jihad and International Law”; Thesis, College of Law, University of
the Philippines, 1967
35 Wad, Julkipli A paper presented during the Muslim Youth congress sponsored by the
National Youth Commission at the Executive Plaza Hotel, Malate, Manila, 27 October 2001

Comments (43)

Plan B: Post-BBL Non-Passage

Posted on 04 May 2016 by cbcs_mike

By Soliman M. Santos, Jr.
Naga City, 30 April 2016

In the wake (pun intended as funeral vigil, as there was understandable mourning or “deep disappointment and grave dismay” by those who worked and prayed hard for its passage) of the non-passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in the outgoing 16th Congress under the outgoing Aquino administration, the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) through their Peace Panels in a Joint Statement on 11 February 2016 in Kuala Lumpur “reaffirmed their commitment to stay the course of peace.” The words “to stay the course” comes from the opening statement of GPH Panel Chair Prof. Miriam Coronel Ferrer on 10 February 2016 at the two-day Special Meeting shortly after the said BBL non-passage had come to pass by early February 2016. MILF Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal’s own opening statement spoke similarly in the terms of being guided by the principle of “As is, where is,” which was the very title of his statement.

To “stay the course, as is, where is” as the way forward into the next administration does not appear to us to be fully correct. It is correct with regards to upholding the primacy of the peace process and preserving its gains, including its existing elaborate infrastructure, painstakingly achieved over a good number of years of difficult peace negotiations, notwithstanding several major armed hostilities since the general ceasefire of 1997. The Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT) of this peace process which has a continuing strong enough third party role, has done well in its Third Public Report of 26 February 2016 in summing up the gains since 2015 which can be built on, despite the setbacks from the Mamasapano Incident of January 2015 and the BBL non-passage. Among these gains are at least the following ten:

  • the continued proven efficacy of the ceasefire mechanisms despite the Mamasapano Incident, including in dealing with terrorist groups   and elements;
  • the ventilation by a wide range of stakeholders and concerned sectors of their issues vis-à-vis the BBL that cover discursive ground and can guide future deliberations;
  • the first, ceremonial, stage of decommissioning of MILF weapons and forces;
  • other aspects of normalization like preparing support for former combatants and their communities;
  • disposition of previously acknowledged MILF camps;
  • socio-economic and other confidence-building measures notably through the Sajahatra Bangsamoro program;
  • the MILF’s formation of a political party, the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP);
  • the activation of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)-facilitated Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF) and other “unification and reconciliation” initiatives between the MILF and rival factions of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF);
  • the determined galvanizing of both domestic and international support for the peace process and the BBL itself notably through the Citizens’ Peace Council and a number of civil society peace initiatives; and
  • the submission of the report of the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) with its insights and recommendations on important aspects of the peace process not adequately covered by the CAB and the BBL, such as particularly on historical memory, land dispossession, human rights violations, and healing and reconciliation.

Still, for the GPH/the Aquino administration/the Liberal Party (LP) and the MILF, the “means forward” to “stay the course, as is, where is” mainly means “the early passage of this legislation (the BBL) in the next Administration and Congress… for implementation of significant aspects of the [2014] CAB (Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro)… believing that it continues to provide a viable roadmap and comprehensive approach towards resolving armed conflict in Mindanao.” In other words, this is still the Plan A of the GPH/Aquino administration/LP and the MILF as regards the all-important political-governance component of a comprehensive peace settlement/solution of what has been called the Bangsamoro problem. For the MILF/Iqbal, it must be “passage of [a] CAB-compliant BBL whoever will be the next President… which is a unilateral obligation of government.” This sounds almost like business as usual, that it’s only a matter of a few more months wait for the next Congress to go with the BBL again. This is not really a Plan B – which incidentally the TPMT had recommended but without the specifics “to build a path forward… so that the next administration can hit the ground running, and the unavoidable hiatus while the new administration takes stock can be minimized.”

Only a Roxas/LP administration appears likely to “hit the ground running” with what the MILF/Iqbal refers to as “the most immediate step is either the BBL will be refiled or a new basic law, faithful to the letter and spirit of the CAB, will be crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), which will most likely have new faces as members. This is the only way forward.” We beg to disagree on this, even if it comes to a Roxas administration. That “the new (Roxas or non-Roxas) administration takes stock” of the overall situation of the Mindanao peace process is more important than for it to “hit the ground running” on the BBL. For us, a real Plan B entails taking stock of the reasons, factors and lessons for the BBL non-passage and then going back to the drawing board, as it were, for a re-drafting or re-designing that ideally still makes use of the CAB and the proposed BBL, among other references, without entirely junking or adopting the same, and that is most importantly the product of a broader consensus and multi-stakeholder ownership. Otherwise, whatever re-filed BBL will likely encounter in the new administration and the 17th Congress the same kind of problems that led to its non-passage under the Aquino administration and the 16th Congress, as if the lessons were not learned.

Undoubtedly, it was the strong anti-Moro public sentiment fallout from the Mamasapano Incident that derailed the BBL in the 16th Congress, despite the best efforts of the Aquino administration. Politically reflecting that majoritarian sentiment and at a time when the 2016 national elections were on the horizon, Congressional deliberations on the BBL were suspended and delayed by the various investigations on the Mamasapano Incident and, when they resumed, the BBL was subjected to the most intense Congressional scrutiny, especially all the more on its constitutionality, until Congress just run out of time, but almost deliberately, to pass even the watered-down Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR). As for the latter, according to the TPMT, “there would appear to be a significant number of departures from what had been agreed in the CAB” – something that the MILF had said would be unacceptable.

In this and several other senses (like notably departures from the Lumad-invoked Indigenous Peoples Right Act of 1997), it may be said, as a Mindanao pundit Antonio J. Montalvan II has said, that the “BBL’s non-enactment [is] a blessing in disguise.” Stated otherwise by many, including peace and Moro advocates, no BBL is better than a bad BBL. Better to go for it or whatever new organic measure at another, less politically-charged, more issue-enlightened, time – in current parlance, sa tamang panahon (at the right time). Bangsamoro justice delayed is Bangsamoro justice denied. But the point is to get it right about Bangsamoro justice at our current conjuncture. For the TPMT, it should “be sufficient to give the autonomous region a real and substantial autonomy, to be an improvement on the existing ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), to fulfil the ambitions set out in the 1987 Constitution, and to meet the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people.”

But before going to the substance of the autonomy, the problem with the CAB, and the proposed BBL based on or compliant with it, is that these instruments, and in fact also with the peace process itself from which these instruments arose, is the significant perception (even in some MILF circles, more so outside), especially post-Mamasapano, that these instruments and process are “merely for the benefit of the MILF as the favored group,” including the Maguindanaon ethnic group which is its main leadership and membership base, “creating the impression that other non-MILF groups are ignored.” In other words, the CAB and the proposed CAB-compliant BBL clearly do not have the necessary multi-stakeholdership and ownership for political viability and sustainability, even among the Bangsamoro people, notably the Tausug ethnic group of the Sulu archipelago of Southwestern Mindanao, and more so among the non-Bangsamoro sectors in the rest of Mindanao and for that matter the Philippines.

Thus, the time has already come for a more inclusive multi-stakeholdership process that supersedes as well as builds on the bilateral GPH-MILF peace process, and for a resulting instrument that does justice to the valid self-governance aspirations of the Bangsamoro people in the context of a tri-people Mindanao. Stated otherwise, the existing conventional, separate and successive bilateral negotiations and processes between the Philippine government and the two major Moro liberation fronts no longer suffice to deal with the fragmented nature of the conflict, which instead now calls for a negotiating roundtable at which all key stakeholders, armed and unarmed, represent themselves.

The future course of Bangsamoro self-governance can no longer be “a matter for [just] the two Parties [GPH and MILF] to discuss once the new Administration is in place.” The MILF has done its part as the Bangsamoro vanguard that has in recent years, in close peace partnership with the GPH, delivered the hard-earned CAB and the proposed BBL which can both be built on. The MILF can further show its linchpin and shepherding role in the peace process by an act of statesmanship that sacrifices its privileged position in bilateral negotiations in favor of a yet to be agreed, more inclusive, negotiating roundtable that brings in other key stakeholders with their own inputs. In this way, it can prove its Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim’s official statement that “it did not and does not claim to be the sole owner of the basic law” by not waiting, as it wants, for “the [preeminent] role of the MILF [to] end [only] after the transition period,” with it at the helm of the transition.

The difficult and potentially time-consuming but necessary and ultimately getting-it-right process towards a negotiating roundtable has to start with the fragmented Bangsamoro people itself, including the MILF and its fraternal (or maternal) Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) which already has its earlier peace agreements with the Philippine government. These include the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and the 1996 Final Peace Agreement that respectively have their 40th and 20th anniversaries this year – and are thus bound to be called attention to by the MNLF, not to mention the influential OIC. It is clear that Bangsamoro unity, with MILF-MNLF unity as the litmus test, should already be treated as a goal itself of the peace process and no less than part of solving the Bangsamoro problem. To quote sociology professor and newspaper columnist Randolf S. David on this again: “It is difficult to imagine an experiment in Islamic self-determination succeeding against a background of Moro disunity… Self-determination requires that the Bangsamoro people imagine themselves as one nation.”

One Australia-based Filipino scholar Atty. Michael Henry Ll. Yusingco, in his Ateneo de Davao University-published work Rethinking the Bangsamoro Perspective (2013), has more recently strongly questioned on historical grounds the nation-ness of the Bangsamoro (and for that matter of the Cordillera people) and consequently this very basis for regional autonomy. And that due to “the insurmountable and intense tribal rivalry among the Muslims,” he argues that the “appropriate structure that would address their demands for self-determination” is the decentralization under the Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991 but he overlooks or ignores its structural context which is the overarching and countervailing highly-centralized unitary system of government under the 1987 Constitution. In addition, the latter, particularly its secularist provisions on the “inviolable” separation of Church and State and on the free exercise of religious worship, according to him actually already covers or makes up for what he correctly notes as “the relegation of Islam (as a religious institution) in official discourse,” such as even in the CAB and the proposed BBL.

These are serious questions of Bangsamoro nation-ness and of Islamic self-determination that are best addressed by the coming together or not of a credible and viable assembly of representatives of all-Moro stakeholders that would show whether or not there is a Moro nation or at least the requisite community solidarity that overcomes their “innate tribal divisions and rivalries;” that would show whether or not they can govern themselves or their region, or how they would structure their self-governance, given historical, cultural and ethnic realities; and that would show to what extent is Islam, if at all, an integral part of the self-determination aspirations of the Bangsamoro people.

At least there is already, for one, the proposal of Muslim Filipino intellectual and legal luminary Firdausi I.Y. Abbas, Ph.D. for a “Bangsa Moro Constitutional Convention… which Congress shall convoke wherein all the Moro sectors – 1. Revolutionary, 2. Political, 3. Traditional, 4. Professional, 5. Educational, 6. Women, 7. Labor/Industrial, 8. Youth, 9. Agricultural, 10. Economic/Business, 11. Indigenous Non-Muslim/Non-Christian Tribes, and 12. Religious which has two sub-sectors, (a). Muslim Moros and (b). Christian Moros, shall be guaranteed appointed representatives and together with freely elected delegates duly constitute the congregation” to draft a new constitution/fundamental law/organic act/basic law for the Bangsa Moro regional entity. For such an all-Moro convention, should be added and ensured the proper representation of the 13 ethno-linguistic Islamized tribes based in Mindanao who are imagined to collectively constitute the Bangsamoro people.

In terms of the substantive agenda of such an all-Moro convention, perhaps the best policy is the suspension of disbelief or conventional wisdom on Bangsamoro self-determination. And so, as regards the autonomous region design set out in the 1987 Constitution, the matter should be thrown open to 3 R’s: [1] reaffirmation; [2] rejection/removal from the Article X on Local Government; or [3] revision of the self-determination design such as along the lines of federalism. Stated otherwise, the suspension of disbelief or conventional wisdom on Bangsamoro self-determination can range from going back down to the pre-status quo “low level” of mere decentralization for the local government units under the LGC (as Yusingco strongly advocates) to going back up to the “high level” of independence from the Philippines (as the MNLF and its breakaway MILF both once strongly advocated as the “original position,” and as the MILF-breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters now currently advocates).

The point of the process is to get to a clear Moro multi-stakeholder and multi-ethnic consensus, if this is possible, on the self-determination aspirations of the Bangsamoro people, starting perhaps with a common understanding on the term Bangsamoro or Bangsa Moro. Not only federalism but also even independence should be tossed to the all-Moro convention to self-determine which political option or final political status to aspire for, or even the form of a new political movement that could be the best vehicle for the chosen option. The extent of Islamic substance of Bangsamoro self-determination should also be tossed up at the convention. And so with the question on whether and how the historical facts of the two co-existing independent sultanates (or “sulta-nation-states”) of Sulu and Maguindanao should inform the territorial structure of Bangsamoro self-governance such as into something like a confederation of two sub-regions. Whatever all-Moro consensus of self-determination option/s to go for in the short, medium and long terms, the Bangsamoro side would have gotten its act together on this as a prerequisite for dealing with the rest of the other (equally) multi-stakeholders in Mindanao and with the Philippine polity.

At this point, something has to be said about the “the relegation of Islam (as a religious institution) in official discourse,” as Yusingco correctly notes, but for which he leaves the redressing to the relevant “inviolable” secularist provisions of the 1987 Constitution. But is this not part of the problem for the Bangsamoro, the Philippine imposition of secularist separation of Church and state contrary to Islam as a comprehensive system or way of life where “religion is not separate but rather integral to every aspect of life: prayer, fasting, politics, law, and society”? Does Islam not go to the very core of Bangsamoro identity, commonality and unity? Is there or is there no constitutional space for an Islamic, or more precisely a Moro Islamic, way of life and governance inside the Republic of the Philippines?

Unless this legitimate Islamic aspiration is addressed or at least recognized as part of the solution of the Bangsamoro problem, there will likely continue to emerge new Bangsamoro Islamic rebel groups like already shown by the BIFF. Let us be clear that the primordial purpose of the Mindanao peace process is to solve the Bangsamoro problem, not to arrest the spread of “violent extremism.” In fact, the latter is also engendered by peace agreements that are too moderate or not radical enough in terms of accommodating legitimate Islamic aspirations of the Bangsamoro people, and so they seek fulfillment of that from other Islamic liberators. Without meaning to sound holier than thou, the MILF seems to have unfortunately turned its back on its own Islamic raison d’etre by sacrificing or diluting the Islamic agenda so as to purposively project a moderate and even anti-radical image because of the current global Islamophobia or Islamic scare (just like the once more predominant global Red scare). The Islamic agenda (just like the ancestral domain agenda) of the peace process should be addressed head on and no longer evaded.

But what really is/are the Islamic agenda or aspirations of the Bangsamoro people? This is part of what has to be ascertained by a well-represented all-Moro convention as truly “suitable and acceptable to the Bangsamoro people.” Speaking of which, the ascertainment of the wishes, if not will, of the Bangsamoro people on the substance of their autonomy (or whatever structure of self-determination) can also be done through a credible consultative referendum on their political options, which may be better if non-binding initially so as to include options outside the present constitutional box like federalism and independence. Or such a referendum can provide the basis for a consensus or a unified position, or can validate whatever political option chosen, at the proposed all-Moro convention. Interestingly, no less than former MILF senior peace negotiator and ideologue Datu Michael O. Mastura has made his own recent call for a non-binding referendum “to assert a Mindanao agenda for the Bangsamoro in the administration of a President elected in May 2016.” But more interestingly, he relatedly and colorfully says “Forget about the BBL, because it is passé; it’s water under the bridge; it’s been archived and is literally (no worthier than a paper) flushed into the toilet.”

A non-binding referendum on Bangsamoro political options is not exactly “wishful thinking” as one longtime Mindanao peace advocate friend has said. The late MILF founding chairman and ideologue Salamat Hashim once described the referendum mechanism as a preferred “peaceful, civilized, diplomatic and democratic means of solving the Mindanao conflict.” But it will likely take some more years (decades?) for the Filipino body politic to develop the political culture and maturity to be able to peacefully and civilly allow the Bangsamoro people to undertake the kind of credible democratic exercise like the Scotland, Quebec and Darfur (in western Sudan) binding referendums of recent years – none of which resulted in independence (yet) though that was on the table. As it is, however, the current ARMM Organic Act, R.A. No. 9054, in its Art. III, Sec. 14 on “Rights to Initiatives, Consultations, Referenda and Plebiscite,” provides for “the rights of the people of the autonomous region… to call for a referendum on important issues affecting their lives…” It may be better to rely on the ARMM regional government and its Regional Legislative Assembly (RLA) rather than the national government and Congress for the necessary legislation for a non-binding referendum on Bangsamoro political options.

While understandably, within peace process circles, there is much hope (if not also political alignment or action) for a peace-friendly next President, the same hope should also be held for the next ARMM regional governor and RLA to be simultaneously elected in the May 9, 2016 national elections — to which the ARMM elections are now synchronized, as a result of the 2011 Supreme Court (SC) decision in Kida vs. Senate (659 SCRA 270), with very significant pronouncements (for better or for worse) on the powers of the ARMM. A peace-friendly ARMM regional government can also play a key role as a logical or natural convenor of the proposed all-Moro convention, especially if this is to be brought about by ARMM legislation. For all intents and purposes, the three-year term of the newly-elected 2016 ARMM regional government, especially under a peace-friendly regional governor, till 2019 would likely mark a new kind of transition till we get to the more solidly self-determined Bangsamoro political option through a process that we envision to include the proposed all-Moro convention and non-binding referendum within that transition period. In the meantime, the most should be made of the existing ARMM regional government, particularly for a transitional tactical engagement in the already ongoing reform of the ARMM, even if already pronounced to be a “failed experiment.” The MILF for its part should rethink its dogmatic aversion to such a tactical engagement if only because this can still bring some transitional benefits, such as valuable hands-on autonomous governance experience and capacity-building, that would be useful for the eventual more solidly self-determined Bangsamoro political option that finally should replace the ARMM.

As for the best legislative tack in the next Congress, GPH Panel Chair Ferrer, for her part and to her credit, has expressed a more open position than that of MILF Panel Chair Iqbal’s “as is, where is” immediate refiling and early passage of a CAB-compliant BBL as “a unilateral obligation of government.” Ferrer more critically asks: “Would it simply entail a refiling of a BBB (Bangsamoro Basic Bill)? Which version? Are the prospects rife for constitutional change? What to expect? Who would be the champions for peace and the Bangsamoro?” The thing is that both the CAB and the GPH-MILF (after the BTC) proposed BBL were crafted consciously “within the flexibilities of the Constitution,” especially on the part, as expected, of the GPH. At least two things might be said about this. Firstly, it shows the “inside the box” limitations in the peace negotiations for the CAB and the proposed BBL, contrary to the notion of “keeping all our options open” on Bangsamoro self-determination, especially on the part of the Bangsamoro side.

This conservative “inside the box” approach is unfortunate because even the SC decision in the case of Province of North Cotabato vs. GRP Peace Panel (568 SCRA 402) declaring the aborted 2008 Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) as unconstitutional nevertheless indicated that “… If the President is to be expected to find means for bringing this conflict to an end and to achieve lasting peace in Mindanao, then she must be given the leeway to explore, in the course of peace negotiations, solutions that may require changes to the Constitution for their implementation….” Stated otherwise, to solve the Bangsamoro problem, which historically pre-dated the Constitution, which mandated an autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao that however turned out to be “failed experiment,” we need, and should be allowed, to think “outside the box” of that Constitution – which “outside” solution can be lower or higher than the status quo of the present constitutional solution in the form of an autonomous region.

Secondly, whether the consummated CAB (which is the basis for the still unconsummated BBL) is indeed “within the flexibilities of the Constitution,” as it was consciously so negotiated by the parties, is not for them, even the GPH side (actually the Executive Department), and for that matter Congress, to say definitively, even as it has the presumption of constitutionality. Only the SC can say that it is indeed so with finality. Thus, the SC would be doing a service to the peace process by soon enough ruling on the constitutionality or otherwise of the CAB or certain key provisions thereof based on several pending petitions including notably that of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), so that all concerned are guided accordingly on needed measures. With due respect, there is no reason to delay this ruling by waiting for the passage of the BBL or whatever implementing law. The point is precisely to be already guided on the constitutionality or otherwise of key provisions of the CAB, so that the effort of its legislative implementation is not wasted. In practical terms, the CAB provisions that are ruled constitutional can be the subject of legislation, while those that are ruled unconstitutional but still considered desirable to implement can be the subject of proposals for constitutional amendment.

As it is, the BTC has neglected this secondary mandate of it to recommend proposed constitutional amendments “whenever necessary.” The latter partly depends on a SC ruling that certain key provisions of the CAB are unconstitutional, if at all. All these could in turn feed into whatever constitutional convention/commission or constituent assembly that is bound to emerge to address various needed constitutional reforms, not just those for better Bangsamoro self-governance. Furthermore, there is no reason for the SC not to rule already on the constitutionality or otherwise of the consummated and partially implemented CAB, if we go by the precedent of its ruling on the unconstitutionality of the merely initialed but unsigned and aborted MOA-AD in its entirety. At any rate, it seems that the one major continuing unlearned lesson from the MOA-AD case in the SC is the ultimate necessity of charter change, among others, to solve the Bangsamoro problem.

We have seen how constitutionality questions post-Mamasapano had bogged down the proposed BBL during the Congressional deliberations, despite the GPH Panel’s hard protestations that it is constitutional because it was consciously negotiated “within the flexibilities of the Constitution.” Nat-dem activist Dr. Carol Pagaduan-Araullo captured that dynamic well: “What has come to pass is that the objections based on constitutionality have been the leverage used to water down an already watered-down BBL.” To water down or deny concessions to the Bangsamoro is the anti-Muslim bias naturaleza of the Filipino Christian majority elite and general public. And they know that their majoritarian Constitution, which has been fashioned in their likeness, is their reliable fallback legal instrument and basis to justify their pre-inclined denial of substantial power-sharing and wealth-sharing concessions to the Bangsamoro.

Speaking of “sharing,” if the MILF says that it would settle for “shared sovereignty” as the neo-approach to sovereignty-based conflict, then one ramification of this should be “sharing” with the government the sovereign-type act of constitution-making, in this case formulating the text for amendments or new provisions to guarantee and implement their peace agreement. This idea of constitution-making involving both the government and the MILF was already articulated some years back by Reynaldo M. Deang, Secretary General of the Citizens’ Movement for a Federal Philippines (CMFP). We however again call attention to — for building on — Dr. Abbas’ proposal for a more inclusive multi-stakeholder Bangsa Moro (or all-Moro) constitutional convention or assembly to first build the aspirational consensus among and consolidate the Bangsamoro people.

The MILF/Iqbal’s position that passing necessary peace process-based legislation (and for that matter constitutional amendments) “is a unilateral obligation of government” or Murad’s position that such constitutional processes are “entirely internal to the GPH” and that “the process and responsibility of delivering the legislative measure had already shifted to the Philippine Government after the BTC submitted it to both Houses of Congress” is not only contrary to the MILF’s own advocacy of “shared sovereignty” but also borders on negligence in the sense of leaving these important matters concerning Bangsamoro interest to the mercy of the Philippine government, even if no less than the incumbent President is a closely trusted peace partner. On hindsight, this is not enough and the MILF should learn its lesson on this, including from its over-reliance on President Aquino. The MILF’s frustrating and bitter experience with the invalidated MOA-AD and then now with the unpassed BBL shows the difficulty and perils of negotiating with the Philippine government represented by its Executive Department but which is not necessarily on the same page with its two other co-equal Judicial Department and Legislative Department under the constitutional system of separation of powers and checks and balances.

There has to be a better way to conduct peace negotiations than in effect negotiating successively with the Executive, then the Legislative (with two Houses) and finally the Judicial departments of government. In the same way, that we demand or expect that the Bangsamoro side get its act together, we should also demand or expect the same of the Philippine government. If the fragmented nature of the conflict now calls for something like a tri-people negotiating roundtable of all key stakeholders, armed and unarmed, representing themselves, then perhaps a corresponding revival or reinvention of something like the Judicial Executive Legislative Advisory and Consultative Council (JELACC) under the previous Arroyo administration is also called for. But considering the ingrained dynamics of the constitutional tri-department system, one wonders whether there ought to be a constitutional amendment to rationalize or consolidate government engagement in peace processes (with the same kind of government unified direction required for waging war) as distinguished and aside from constitutional amendments for Bangsamoro self-determination.

After the Bangsamoro side gets its act together such as through an all-Moro convention and non-binding referendum, then it can deal better with the rest of the other (equally) multi-stakeholders in Mindanao and with the Philippine polity, say through an all-Tri-People consultative convention that is mainly Mindanao-based but also with appropriate national government representation (through the tri-department JELACC?). This is a decidedly longer road to peace but one paved on firmer ground. At the same time, while the necessary Bangsamoro unity process and the multi-stakeholder consensus-building on a “suitable and acceptable” system of Bangsamoro self-governance takes its due course, there would also be more time to more effectively address the latent deep-seated anti-Muslim or anti-Moro bias among the Filipino Christian majority public and in Congress, resurfaced with a vengeance by the Mamasapano Incident, that ultimately derailed the BBL.

Despite that setback, we mentioned early on that among the recent gains of the peace process post-Mamasapano was the TJRC Report with its insights and recommendations on important aspects of the peace process not adequately covered by the CAB and the BBL, such as particularly on historical memory, land dispossession, human rights violations, and healing and reconciliation. The TJRC Report digs out the root cause of the Bangsamoro problem to be the forging of a monolithic Filipino identity and Philippine state. This has both its structural and cultural dimensions. The structural dimension like the highly-centralized unitary system of government under the Philippine Constitution was/is supposed to be addressed in the vertical peace negotiations between the GPH and the two Moro liberation fronts. But the cultural dimension of the clash between Filipino nationalism and Moro nationalism needs a more horizontal peace-to-people peace process, especially among the tri-people communities in Mindanao.

This entails the raising of a new consciousness based on a more-informed rewriting and relearning of the inter-related but distinct Philippine and Bangsamoro histories (note: the need for new K-12 textbooks is an excellent opportunity for this which must be seized). This would bring out clearly enough the historical injustice of the marginalization and minoritization of the Bangsamoro and Lumad peoples in their own original homeland of Mindanao due to systematic land dispossession under the resettlement policy first of the U.S. colonial government and then of the successor independent Philippine republic. Yusingco rightly considers the colonial and national mismanagement of this resettlement policy as the direct cause of the continuing Mindanao armed conflict. He consequently suggests that the Philippine state’s acknowledgement of responsibility for this “must be the foundational act for the peace and development plan for Mindanao.”

It bears noting that, as early as 2000, a MILF negotiating position paper for the peace talks recommended a political solution that included, among others, “the pronouncement of a public apology by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines to the Bangsamoro people for the crimes and harm caused by their subjugation, oppression and exploitation.” Such an apology and taking of responsibility, even if initially only symbolic and without yet the implementing measures of specific redress, would already go a long way in paving the road for transitional justice, and in dealing well with the past, towards healing and reconciliation. It would be cathartic for the Bangsamoro people as well as an eye-opening educational opportunity for the Filipino people, and thus help more effectively address their anti-Moro bias.

It is good that the Executive Secretary has instructed the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) to endorse the TJRC Report to the relevant agencies for their review, assessment and implementation. Many of its good recommendations can actually be acted on already, including by concerned civil society actors, without waiting for the uncertain creation of its recommended National Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission on the Bangsamoro (NTJRCB). MILF Peace Panel member Prof. Abhoud Syed Lingga said “the report does not replace the BBL.” That may be so, but the TJRC Report can contribute better to a real Plan B post-BBL non-passage. The CAB and a CAB-compliant BBL cannot be, as it seems to be with the MILF, the end-all and be-all of Bangsamoro self-determination. The BBL can and should be replaced by better legislative and constitutional measures after a more inclusive and more solid process of consensus-building on Bangsamoro political options. But there is no substitute for the people-to-people peace processes of healing and reconciliation based on a recognition of the historical injustices and legitimate grievances that are at the heart of this conflict. Longer road, yes, but stronger peace.

SOLIMAN M. SANTOS, JR. has been a long-time Bicolano human rights and IHL lawyer; legislative consultant and legal scholar; peace advocate, researcher and writer esp. for and on the Mindanao peace process, with several books on this, inc. The Moro Islamic Challenge: Constitutional Rethinking for the Mindanao Peace Process (UP Press, 2001; with 2nd printing, 2009), where he has long made the first full argument for charter change for that peace process. He is presently Judge of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 61 of Naga City, Camarines Sur.

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