Drop this ‘Bangsamoro’ nonsense now

Whatever law Congress would pass as its version of the BBL, it must drop the term “Bangsamoro.”

Senator Ferdinand Marcos is absolutely correct: Just amend, to incorporate the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s legitimate demands, the law on the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

That’s what President Ramos did in the case of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which was largely successful. Some 6,000 MNLF fighters were gradually integrated into the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces. Many of them even fought and were killed in fighting the Abu Sayyaf and other Islamic jihadist groups.

There is, after all, no such “Bangsamoro” (“BM”) in our Constitution, only “autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras.” That is, in fact, the sole mention of “Muslim” in the entire Constitution. For very good reasons: There are really no Christians, Muslims, pagans, atheists as a sub-classification of Filipinos in this Republic: There are only Filipinos.

Who the hell gave President Aquino and Congress the right to create a new nation BM and for a people in Mindanao to be called BM?

I have written about it before, and I will write about it again and again to the equivalent of my voice getting hoarse in shouting about it:

“Bangsamoro” is essentially hogwash.

It is an artificial term invented by MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari in the 1970s, of the same invented genre as the Philippine Communist Party’s “National Democracy,” and later adopted by the breakaway group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

For this Administration to have accepted the MILF’s idea of it without question, to enact a law with the term, and then call a region BM is utter stupidity, and utter capitulation to the insurgent’s ideology. To even use the term in a watered-down version of the BBL is to help the MILF create in the future its own insurgent nation.

Using girls for the sales pitch: Who’s paying for these expensive newspaper ads endorsing BBL passage? Right inset: Same ad genre of a pretty girl asking you to buy something.
Using girls for the sales pitch: Who’s paying for these expensive newspaper ads endorsing BBL passage? Right inset: Same ad genre of a pretty girl asking you to buy something.

Why not, for chrissakes, ask the National Historical Commission or our academic communities to tell Congress first whether BM is a word that represents a real entity, or if the term is legitimate and not some made-up slogan.

Yet, even without this clarification, Congress is in a rush to adopt a law that says that the BM are “those who at the time of conquest and colonization were considered natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago and its adjacent islands, including Palawan and their descendants…”

How crazy, or lazy in ascertaining facts have our legislators become?

Or perhaps they are just smart, if allegations are true that they have been promised hundreds of millions of their pork-barrel funds (renamed now as “Bottom Up Budgeting” projects), and even in cold cash raised through funds of a Chinese drug lord Wang Bo, who was suddenly deported to whatever country he wanted last week?

“Moro” had been a pejorative term for Muslims in Mindanao since Spanish times, just as “nigger” is for Black Americans. In our school decades ago, the bullies would get someone to yell to a Muslim politician’s son “Hoy, Moro!” to enrage him to a fistfight for their entertainment. Call your DVD peddler “Moro” and you might not get out of the market alive.

Misuari adopted it as his form of protest, even as Muslim leaders were aghast at it and even demanded that it be dropped.

“Bangsa” is a Malaysian term which Misuari and his comrades, who were in that country in the late 1960s for military training by Malaysians, copied in an utterly juvenile fashion. This was because of the popularity of proposals in Malaysia at that time to use the term “Bangsa Malaysia” to emphasize the unity of the more than 20 ethno linguistic groups forming the Federation.

From National to Islamic
The MNLF’s prestige, though, rose – and, therefore, the term “Moro” – when Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi backed the insurgent organization and threatened Marcos with an oil embargo if he didn’t agree to a peace settlement with the insurgents. When then MNLF vice-chairman Hashim Salamat broke away with half of the organization in 1976, he continued to use the term “Moro,” but replaced “National” with “Islamic” to emphasize that his force seeks to establish an Islamic state.

The term had never gained acceptance though in mainstream Muslim society, and much much less – even abhorred – by the 19 non-Muslim indigenous communities in Mindanao.

A Tausug calls himself “Tausug;” a Maranao, “Maranao;” a Maguindanaon, “Maguindanaon”, and so on, with the rest of the ethno-linguistic groups in Mindanao. Never “Moro.”

Despite the strong bargaining position in 1976 of the MNLF, because of Libya’s backing, they didn’t dare push for the term “BM” in the Tripoli Agreement. The 1996 final agreement that was implemented didn’t contain any term “BM.” The first agreement with the MILF in 1997 didn’t contain any word “BM.” None of the less significant pacts contained “BM.”

“BM” first appeared in an agreement signed by government officials and MILF negotiators in the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain of 2008. But as government lawyers had argued in the Supreme Court, President Macapagal-Arroyo later actually rejected it – an episode of that era which requires much research to be clarified.

At any rate, the Supreme Court ruled the agreement unconstitutional. Combine that ruling with Arroyo’s categorical statement that she rejected it, and it means that BM had never been adopted by any administration.

Except this one, which has even embraced and hugged it.

The website of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao claims ARMM is the “home of the BM, while the National Commission on Arts and Culture contains a lengthy essay on the BM.

Why did this Administration suddenly – without even doing research on it – embrace the artificial term BM, which is at the core of the MILF’s ideology? Could it be sheer stupidity?

Maybe so.

But a more believable explanation is that Aquino thought he would win the Nobel Peace Prize – so he could have something he could claim exceeds his mother’s achievements – by having a peace settlement with the MILF within his term. But the MILF demanded that the term be adopted, and its dozens of other demands – such as having its own parliament and armed forces, accepted even if these violate our Constitution.

That’s how depraved, or deluded this President is.

A P300 million ad campaign?
Most journalists and PR practitioners would have no doubt — as I don’t, having been in this industry for so long — that there has been a tremendous amount of money released for the media campaign to support the BBL.

Very professional press releases are being churned out almost daily from the Office of the Peace Adviser, media forums from Zamboanga to Quezon City had been undertaken, some two dozen organizations and associations have been coming out in support of the BBL.

Professionally made color-ads in newspapers — which cost P200,000 each — for the BBL have been coming out regularly. (An example, in the accompanying photo uses the same old trick of having pretty girls endorsing a product.)

Such media campaign blitz is expensive, and one veteran estimated it would cost some P300 million. Who’s paying for this?