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Aquino’s negotiators lying on MILF’s ‘disarming’

First of Two Parts

Timed as if to throw cold water on the national outrage over the January 25 massacre of the Fallen 44 Special Action Force troopers, President Benigno Aquino’s negotiators and those of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed two days later—where else, in Malaysia—what they claim is the process, technically called the “Decommissioning Protocol,” for the insurgents purportedly to surrender their arms.

Chief Peace Adviser Teresita Deles swooned over the pact’s signing, claiming that it would result in the MILF’s disarmament by 2016, when her boss steps down. The Islamic group’s negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said the decommissioning is “a sacrifice” on the part of the MILF.

The propaganda line these people are trying hard to make us swallow: Forget the massacre, the MILF are already turning over their arms. If the Congress doesn’t pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the MILF won’t disarm and will aim their arms at you.

They are lying, or fooling themselves, and are even striving to make their lies appear to be truth. Or maybe they have become so gullible as indicated by their delusion that the MILF “peace” pact will win for them the Nobel Peace Prize. After all, haven’t Deles and chief negotiator Miriam Ferrer already boasted in their curricula vitae that they’ve been nominated for the peace prize?

Not a single person who has lived in Mindanao, especially close to the Muslim communities, believes that a Moro will ever voluntarily surrender his arms.

Contrary to the idea that the Moros simply spontaneously rose up in arms against Marcos when he declared martial law in 1972, it was his order for all Filipinos, regardless of whether they were Ilocos warlords or Muslims, to surrender their arms or be imprisoned that sparked the rebellion, first in Jolo City by Muslim policemen, which the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) would later feed on.

Veteran columnist Emil Jurado – who has “seen it all” in this era – in a recent column wrote: “Those who know the culture and history of the Muslims can only raise their eyebrows since totally disarmed Muslim clans will be at the mercy of others with firearms. Remember the joke which goes that a Muslim would rather sleep with his gun than with his wife?”

An MILF insurgent with a 50-caliber Barrett sniper rifle, reportedly costing P500,000 each. Would he really give it up?
An MILF insurgent with a 50-caliber Barrett sniper rifle, reportedly costing P500,000 each. Would he really give it up?

“But it’s a miracle, and because P-Noy is a saint,” I can imagine Deles arguing, her voice breaking and her eyes misty.

From her recent statements at the Senate hearing and in her very revealing conversation with Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. claiming that the MILF was faultless in the massacre of the police commandos, Deles may have contracted a variation of the “Stockholm syndrome.”

This is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages identify with the worldviews of their captors. In Deles’ case, having spent nearly a decade talking with the MILF, she has identified with the worldview of the MILF, and is now unable to see through the insurgents’ subterfuge.

Nowhere in the latest pact signed, and in all past agreements, are there provisions that the MILF’s arms must be surrendered to the government, but only to an “International Decommissioning Body,” to be stored in “Secure Arms Storage Areas.” These are located not in the Republic’s military camps, but could even be in some part of Mamasapano or near the MILF’s main Camp Darapanan.

Under the agreements, the MILF’s mujahideens will simply change the patches on their uniform from “Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces” to “Bangsamoro Police,” which is under the command of the substate’s Chief Minister, who I would bet would be MILF chairman Murad. And just in case that doesn’t work out, there is even nowhere in the pacts signed with the MILF that its military, the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, will be disbanded and dissolved.

The Free Aceh Movement was a Muslim insurgency that struck a peace pact with the Indonesian government in 2005. It had at most 5,000 arms and there were estimates that the December 2004 tsunami actually decimated their ranks to 3,000.

How many arms did the GAM (the Free Aceh Movement’s acronym in Indonesian) surrender to kick off its decommissioning in 2005? 850.

How many arms will the MILF —estimated by various sources to have 30,000 to as many as 50,000 rifles—have to surrender, according to the “Decommissioning Protocol”? 75.

Did our negotiators put in any pact even the most conservative estimate of the number of MILF arms, so there would be at least some benchmark, that in the future we can argue that they haven’t even surrendered a tenth of their rifles?

No. In President Fidel Ramos’ final peace settlement with the MNLF, there was an implicit number of firearms that the insurgent group admitted it had: 7,250. This was the number of MNLF fighters that was written in the agreement itself who would be integrated into the Republic’s police and armed forces.

The MILF could later even claim that the 75 arms they surrendered made up 10 percent of their arsenal, which would be 750 rifles, and we wouldn’t have anything in the written agreements to contest that.

Supposedly scheduled this month, that “surrender” of arms will be a show, a charade, but will certainly hog headlines with huge photos in Aquino’s favorite newspaper.

On Friday: Other details on how the MILF fooled Aquino and Deles on its disarming.