The same old view

During colonial times, colonizers arrogated to themselves the alleged bounden duty to care for non-white colonized peoples, who were treated as inferior race. This was the so-called white man’s burden, which originated and made popular after a poem of the same title by Rudyard Kipling in 1899. In this poem, he urged the U.S. to take up the “burden” of empire, as had Britain and other European nations.

Until today, there are lot of so-called leaders in “Imperial Manila” who would like to predetermine what is good for the Moros and the indigenous peoples in Mindanao. Such is not only reminiscent of this old colonial policy but it is still very much a part of policies of changing administrations in this country.

This view is not only a violation of the right of self-determination (RSD) of people but more seriously, any policy of such nature is sure to fail. Like an illness, the doctor prescribes the wrong medicine. This is the primordial reason why the so-called Moro Question of Problem remains unsolved to this day, which contributed in no small way to the radicalization of youths in Mindanao.

The current example of this old colonial policy is the bill authored by former President and now Congresswoman of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo called Basic Act for Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BABAR). The acronym itself already means “foolish” or “crazy” in Maguindanao language, which is spoken by over a million people. The last letter “r” is sometimes changed to “l” if it is uttered by people farther from the Iranon areas between Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur.

The filing of this kind of law is disgusting in all aspects. It clearly runs counter to the letter and spirit of the FAB and CAB. As former president, who was supposed to be the “mother” of all peoples, she should not have filed such a bill that clearly favours special groups of people, and more seriously, rescinds a moral obligation contained in agreement that it entered into with, including those with MILF and MNLF.

But if we recall the ghost of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) in 2008, then we can understand who is this Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. It was during her presidency that the MOA-AD was initialled on July 27, 2008 but when it came to its formal signing, she backtracked and reneged on her obligation.  This led to bloody fighting in North Cotabato, Lanao del Norte, and many other areas in Mindanao.

Be this as it may, we still want to assure Congresswoman GMA that we still have the highest respect for her as former president and as daughter of one of the most beloved presidents of this country, the late Diosdado Macapagal, especially among Moros. He was the first president to have appointed a Moro, the late Datu Duma Sinsuat, to his cabinet in the sixties.

By the way, the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is not only an exercise of RSD by the Bangsamoro people, but it is also based on the letter and spirit of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). By signing these agreements, it is an obligation of government to enact the BBL as a way to comply with its obligation contained in these agreements.

The problem is that the BBL is not yet submitted to Congress, as of this writing. We do not know why GMA is faster than the administration. We sought explanation from the government but we got an unclear answer. Frankly, we do not know what is happening.