..MANILA, Philippines - There was an item in this weeks's media that the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are about to complete the talks on peace within this year. I believe every Filipino of whatever religion would welcome such a comprehensive agreement. In the first place, the insurgency in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, ARMM is not about religion. Although for some Filipino fanatics, this is a fight between Christian Filipinos and Muslim bandits. For those who have a working knowledge of the situation in Mindanao, there is no Christian- Muslim feud. However, the Muslim Shiites and Sunnis are fighting because of their hatred of each other. Our Constitution respects the religious beliefs of all citizens and guarantees them freedom of religion. It includes the separation of Church and State in law and in actual practice. In many Muslim states, the government has an official religion which is Islam.
The billion-peso question is what are the points that have been agreed? If there is indeed such an agreement, who will review it, before our government representatives are authorized to sign it, so that it can come into force? Will such an agreement need a constitutional amendment? Ideally, the document could be put into effect under our present constitution, by a mere legislative act of our Congress. What happens to our agreement that the Philippine government signed with the Moro National Liberation Front, MNLF? As it is, there are many questions to be asked before we will know what are the provisions of the agreement as well as its meaning and effect. Will those areas that have rejected membership in the ARMM be again compelled to go through another plebiscite? What about the present provinces and cities in the ARMM, will they be allowed to get out of the ARMM and regain their status as a normal province, town, or city under the DILG? How about Muslim barangays that are in Christian-dominated provinces or cities? And how about Christian-dominated barangays inside the ARMM, can they secede?
Now for the most important aspect of the proposed Philippine government-MILF agreement. Before even an initial is made on the pages thereof, why not publish the provisions of the proposals so that the public would be able to participate in a national debate? In this way, we can gauge whether such proposed agreement needs amendments, revisions, or outright rejection. After all, ''Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.''
What if, by some horrendous mistake like the previous MILF agreement which fortunately was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, the proposed Bangsa Moro Juridical Entity (BJME) which purports to be a substate will be approved by our present officials. Then can anyone reject a movement that will also create a Cebuano, Visayan, Tagalog, Ilocano, etc., Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, Christian Juridical Entity? Political Scientists know what I am driving at... It means the Balkanization of the Philippines,which like Yugoslavia broke up into Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Serbia, and Slovenia. In order to give local autonomy to the Muslim region, do we have to introduce the cancer that destroyed Yugoslavia?
For the nth time, there is only one Philippine territory, people, government, Armed Forces, police, etc., under one sovereign Philippine Republic. firstname.lastname@example.org