August 21, 2011
Dear Mr. Amado Doronila,
This is in reaction to your article entitled “Substate, what’s this beast?” dated August 16, 2011.
I have been reading your Analysis on PDI for decades now and more often than not, your articles had always been a source of enlightenment for me. Of late however, I can’t help my big disappointment as you exposed your raging bias against the Moro people and your glaring ignorance about Mindanao. How I wish you take time to read the writings of multi-awarded and highly respected journalist Patricio Diaz so that you can at least catch a glimpse of the Mindanao discourse.
From the title itself, you have already called the proposed Bangsamoro sub-state as a beast. You described it as a nebulous creature precisely because you refuse to comprehend its merits and wisdom. The problem with your argument is that you simply resort to labelling and demonizing a proposed peace formula just like how war-hungry national media devoured the MOA-AD until the Supreme Court nailed its coffin in 2008.
Why so quick to kill an idea? What is so beastly about a sub-state? And why describe it as a Muslim sub-state as if such a “beast” as you call it has a religion?
Let me just state for the record that it is not the MILF who requested that highly celebrated meeting in Japan. It was President Aquino himself in a very unique show of statesmanship who proposed that meeting. MILF merely reciprocated such grand gesture of sincerity on the part of PNOY by accepting the invitation. So why use it now against MILF?
The government is yet to submit its counterproposal to MILF’s proposal. Time and again, it has already been announced that MILF’s proposal will not bring about dismemberment as it is a formula of living together. Dean Marvic Leonen, had already announced that MILF had already dropped its bid for independence and instead has proposed for the establishment of a sub-state for the Bangsamoro people.
So why keep harping and recycling all those hysteria and insecurities of dismemberment? Why not discuss the proposal in an intelligent and dispassionate manner instead of hurling accusations, speculations and second-guessing the MILF.
I also find your comment that there are “rarely functioning models of a substate all over the world”, inaccurate to say the least. With due respect to your experience, such comment is not only sweeping but also dismissive.
Datu Michael Mastura, historian, constitution expert, and one of the best legal minds in the country, has already offered models that we can look upon such as Northern Ireland, Scotland and Hongkong. How can you say these are not functioning models? Hongkong is a very progressive region which is still part of China but operates in a totally different system. Why not look at their experience in order to buy peace in Mindanao? What about Quebec? How about Vatican? Puerte Rico? Sabah? Aceh? These are models that we can possibly look into if we are only open to new ideas and experiences.
Why force this unitary, Manila-centered form of governance upon the Moros when history has already shown that it can no longer work?
I take exception to your accusation that “The government appears to have been unhinged by the new demands of the MILF and now seems to be playing to the tune of the secessionist movement, with very little original proposals to counter those of the MILF”. As of this writing, the Government Peace Panel is already in Kuala Lumpur and is yet to submit its counterproposal to MILF’s proposed sub-state. It is so unfair to judge the peace panel by sweeping accusations that they are already playing to the tune of the secessionist movement even before they could even submit their own counterproposal.
As a matter of fact, your kind of statements is actually the one playing the tune of the secessionist movement because you actually make the Moros feel that they have no room and future within the Philippine state. You make them feel like you are most eager to kick them out and yet you are so afraid of dismemberment. How can you be so afraid of dismemberment and yet you cannot even give way to reasonable and decent concessions to make the Moros feel like they are part of this Republic?
I agree with you that this proposal of a Bangsamoro sub-state will definitely lead to a charter change. Even former Chief Justice Reynato Puno is doing the rounds of public forum all over the country on the need for constitutional change. Again, what is wrong with that? How can it “reignite a fiercer war in Mindanao” as you hysterically suggests?
For us Mindanaoans, we are tired of the war. We are not afraid of ideas. We are precisely trying to bring the protagonists of the conflict to the negotiating table in order to put a final closure to the armed conflict. In the recent SWS survey, 4 out of 5 Filipinos are hopeful about the GRP-MILF peace talks. Let us not robbed our people of this hope but marring their perception with hysteria, accusations, threats and baseless fears which are only figments of your biased imagination.
Atty. Fatimah Bin Guerra
Davao City, Philippines