The MILF’s formula to solve the Moro Question in Mindanao is very simple; it is far from complex. Let the Moros run their affairs; let them decide their own destiny. Let them succeed or self-destruct. Gone were the days when the government in Manila designed everything for them.
The most important element here is self-determination. Let them exercise this right to self-determination (RSD), which is enshrined and guaranteed by the Charter of the United Nations. This is a right that cannot be foreclosed by any agreement or the subject of negotiation.
The MILF’s formula calls for the creation of a substate for the Moros. This entity is not an independent state. The powers over national defense, foreign relations, coinage and currency, and postal services are still the sole jurisdiction of the central government. The substate has jurisdiction only over other matters, except those jointly exercised by the substate and the central government.
There is nothing to fear in this proposal, because the substate, as the name connotes, is still part of the Philippines. It has no army, except police and internal security forces, tasked to do policing within the substate.
For those who do not grasp the concept of substate, let their mind swing to those countries which have federal system of government. A federation is characterized by a union of partially self-governing states or regions united by a central (federal) government. In a federation, the self-governing status of the component states is typically constitutionally entrenched and may not be altered by a unilateral decision of the central government.
A federal system of government is the opposite of another system, the unitary state, which the Philippines is a typical example. This is the reason why the MILF is not openly advocating for a federal system of government in this country, because all the other areas or administrative divisions here do not want a federal system of government. The MILF respects that desire, but it also wants them not to stand against the desire of the Moros to live and run their lives under the aegis of a substate.
The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is a far cry from what the MILF envisions as a substate. The ARMM, contrary to its name, is not autonomous. A province or city is more power powerful than the ARMM. The recent postponement of the ARMM elections speaks loudly why this entity is not autonomous; it is controlled, nay dictated, by Manila.
For those who said the Moros cannot run themselves, including Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, we say to them: Let them show it by giving them what they want. If they go to hell by their own making, so be it. They deserve no sympathy. After all, they have always been described as a “problem” not only to the Americans during colonial days but all succeeding Filipino administrations.