Posts Tagged With: Mindanao

Writing for Righting Historical Wrong


“But, where is the book?!” “Is it not time to finally publish it?” “Can I still tell… that this is coming out?” “Perhaps the editing can be fast-tracked?” “I am excited that March is quickly turning into April…!”

(I can see my co-editors/co-compilers smiling as they read these lines.)

These were typical lines we would receive from the main patron of the book, while rightfully demanding for the output.

Naturally, each of these lines was a horrible nightmare for our Team of Seven for the guilt of non-delivery.

Now, as the book was finally launched last night, these lines are sweet mementos worth reminiscing and relishing.

“Congratulations to all of you!” was the sweetest ‘iftar’ I ever savored last night, while always remembering the beloved Marawi besieged by both ‘terror’ and ‘the war on terror’ – and unfortunately paying the heavy price for both.

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A Prison Called PVE


Mansoor L. Limba on March 20, 2017

MAKATI CITY (20 March) – In August last year, I flew to Davao City – not primarily to witness and join the week-long celebration of Kadayawan Festival – but to attend two events related to history as an academic field of discipline.

Last week I flew there again – not primarily to join the Dabawenyos in their four-day Araw ng Dabaw (Davao City Founding Day) holidays – but to sit as a panel to a dissertation defense on halal practices in Region 11, to witness the launching of a book on human rights, and finally, to attend, as a representative of the academic sector, a three-day workshop on PVE.

PVE. Yes, it’s Preventing Violent Extremism.

While the topic was already more than enough to send shivers down one’s spine, the insignia “PVE. Reimagine. Redefine. Rethink.” of the UNDP-funded workshop dubbed “Redefining Radicalization: Streamlining PVE/CVE Efforts of Institutions” was even quite intriguing, to say the least.

It naturally elicits such questions as “What is the dominant ‘imagination’ about PVE? What is the conventional definition of violent extremism? What is the common thinking about radicalization? What is the problem with such an imagination, definition and thinking so much so that it demands re-imagination, redefinition and rethinking?”

Dissecting dichotomies   

As early as the first workshop on the definitions and conceptual assumptions of radicalization and violent extremism, three words could easily be identified as implicit culprits, viz. radicalization, violence, and extremism. Are they supposed to be culprits all the time? Guided by this question, the first open forum would border on intellectual jousting coupled with occasional jokes on Moro piracy vis-à-vis foreign intrusion.

If understood to mean “the process of instituting a fundamental and comprehensive change,” is radicalization always bad? Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, and Einstein were certified radicals who have brought scientific revolutions.

Is violence or the use of physical force always condemnable? Wars of national liberation – prior to, during and after the two world wars – were all violent in nature. George Washington was undoubtedly violent. So was Andres Bonifacio.

Is extremism always blameworthy? In the business world in which mediocrity – or to be average – is a heinous crime punishable by death, extreme ideas and innovative minds are natural recipes for survival and eventual success.

Even in the second workshop that attempted to identify the ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ instances of radicalization, there was no sufficient time to appreciate the many grays in between these opposing poles (positive and negative). A knife in motion can either be ‘moral’ or ‘immoral’ while a knife in inertia is ‘amoral’. In other words, a knife used to commit a crime is ‘bad’ while a knife used in the kitchen to prepare foods for hungry stomachs is ‘good’ whereas a sleeping knife is neither good nor bad, in absolute sense.

In short, whenever there are artificial constructs, which are arranged hierarchically such that in the case of opposites in language one term is always privileged over the other, the anomaly of such dichotomies must be dissected.

How about PVE via ‘TVE’?

Meanwhile, from the first session down to the presentations of the three foreign experts on the second day, what can be observed was that the issue of PVE has been mostly treated and discussed through social science lenses – economic, sociological, psychological, anthropological.

On the other hand, what is given less attention is the fact that the main identity and meta-signifier of many violent extremist groups is religious in nature with very strong theological underpinnings.

In the case of ISIS, its main identity is rooted in the notion of ‘Islamic State’ and the revival of the caliphate (khilafah) which is an important theme in Islamic political thought and political jurisprudence.

There is no denying that social injustices, poverty, and psychological factors are significant drivers of violent extremism, but the fact is that these elements are dealt with by these groups within the framework of Islamic metaphors and symbols.

Is it enough to issue a religious edict against terrorism ( in Arabic language ( without translating it into any of the languages understandable to the local youth – such as English and Filipino?

Is it enough to argue that there is nothing Islamic in those groups (, by citing a few Qur’anic verses here and there?

If you do so, they could instantly throw you with tens of Qur’anic verses, a double or triple number of narrations from the corpus of hadith (Prophetic traditions), and everything including the kitchen sink from the works of such Muslim figures as Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn al-Jawzi, and Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab.

As such, in order for any PVE program to be considered comprehensive, there is a logical need to understand the ‘theology of violent extremism’ (TVE) – the same language these groups astutely use to convey their message and gain recruits.

On hindsight, unless these two points, among others, are addressed, PVE will remain a conceptual prison that necessitates Derridean ‘deconstruction’ and ‘double reading’ – and thereafter, re-imagination, redefinition and rethinking.


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Islamic, Un-Islamic, or Islamist?


Mansoor L. Limba on January 19, 2017

MAKATI CITY (MindaNews /19 January) – At the sideline of a peace-building symposium-workshop at the height of the national electoral campaign period last year, the casual conversation between two long-time friends, a Muslim NGO worker and a Mindanao-based non-Muslim journalist, turned into a heated argument over an ‘accurate’ descriptive word for such groups as the Abu Sayyaf Group and others.

The NGO worker protested against the journalist’s use of the term ‘Islamic extremism’ to describe such groups or their activities. “They cannot be ‘Islamic’ because what they are doing are clearly against the teachings of Islam!” he would complain.

“But they are using Islamic symbols, metaphors and justifications!” the journalist would reason out.

As I was attentively listening to both arguments, I can’t help but call to mind postmodernism’s recurring themes, particularly Jacques Derrida’s ‘grammatology’ or semiotic analysis given in his various writings.

Derrida’s Grammatology

According to Derrida, who was a preeminent postmodernist figure, textual is the way in which the social world is constructed. For him the world is constituted like a text such that interpreting the world reflects what he calls “the textual interplay at work,” or the concepts and structures of language.

In order to expose these textual interplays, Derrida advances two ways, viz. deconstruction and double reading (Derrida, Of Grammatology, 1976). Anchored in the idea that seemingly stable and natural concepts and relations within language are in fact artificial constructs, arranged hierarchically such that in the case of opposites in language one term is always privileged over the other, deconstruction is a means of showing how all theories and discourses rely on artificial stabilities produced by the use of seemingly objective and natural oppositions in language; for example, light/darkness, knowledge/ignorance, white/black, friend/enemy.

In a bid to demonstrate how these stabilizations operate, Derrida subjects the text to double reading, the first being a repetition of the dominant reading to show how it achieves its outward coherence and the second being the demonstration of the internal tensions within a text that result from the use of ostensibly natural stabilizations. His aim is not to come to a ‘correct’ or even ‘one’ reading of a text, but to show how there is always more than one reading of any text.

Applying both deconstruction and double reading, one would venture to ask, “If used to modify something praiseworthy, which term is privileged over the other – ‘Islamic’ or ‘un-Islamic’? How about if it is used to describe something blameworthy?” “In between ‘Islamic’ and ‘un-Islamic’ at both ends of a spectrum, is there any possibility of a third modifier? In other words, is there a possible gray in between white and black?”


The argument goes, “They are ‘Islamic’ groups in the sense that their members are Muslims, or at least, they claim to be such; they use Islamic symbols and metaphors such as the black flag with religious inscription in Arabic, and the utterance of ‘Allahu akbar’ (‘Allah is the greatest’) in their propaganda materials; they justify their acts as part of ‘jihad’.”

Backed up by this kind of reasoning, the label ‘Islamic’ inevitably gives the impression that the term being described is ideally representative of, or in line with, Islam and that there is a unanimous view of Muslims or the majority of them in this regard. But the truth of the matter is that it is not so. In fact, many Muslims, if not most of them, take offense with the media hype ‘Islamic terrorism’ or ‘Islamic extremism’.

As an expected drawback, such a label provides such groups an axe to grind about the allegation that “there is indeed a foreign (Western) conspiracy to demonize Islam and the Muslims,” thereby aptly dragging the ‘victimized’ typical Muslims into the warm embrace of those groups.

‘Maute Group’

The appellation ‘Maute Group’ also works the same way. What is the origin of the appellation? Do the leadership and members of the group explicitly identify themselves as such?

A background study of the group shows that since 2013 it has been identifying itself as ‘Dawlah Islamiyah’ (‘Islamic State’) [in Lanao] while its precursor was Khilafah Islamiyah Mindanao-Black Flag Movement (KIM-BFM).

Then, who originates the ‘Maute Group’ appellation? If Google search were the basis, the media that oftentimes erroneously describes ‘Khilafah Islamiyah Mindanao’ as ‘Khalifah’ (Caliph) (instead of ‘Khilafah’ (Caliphate)) is also the one that cogently coins the appellation, obviously for convenience’s sake.

What’s the justification? “Well, the founders of the group are two Maute brothers, Abdullah and Omar, and a good number of its members are the founders’ relatives,” one might put forth.

Granted that tens, say fifty, members of the group bear the family name ‘Maute’, is this hasty generalization justifiable? Is it reasonable to implicitly implicate in the popular court of public opinion the hundreds, if not thousands, of members of the clan to the group and its notoriety?

Is this not playing the very game of the players one refuses to play with?

No wonder, for individuals for whom drowning in the deep blue sea of stereotyping and guilt by association is imminent, befriending the ‘devil’ of violent extremism is by far ‘a lesser evil’.


The binary opposite of this ‘Islamic’ appellation is the simplistic dismissal and dissociation of such groups with Islam:

“The ISIS is un-Islamic. The activities of such-and-such groups are against the teachings and principles of Islam. Those who commit such acts are not Muslims, even if they call themselves ‘Muslims’. Terrorism is ‘haram’. No Muslim is a terrorist!”

The fact is that with all their doctrinal sophistication and communication astuteness, these groups use Islamic symbols and theological bases in such a way that awfully appeal to the innate idealism and heroism of young Muslims.

As you condemn terrorism, they would instantly present you with a plethora of Qur’anic passages, citations from the Prophetic tradition (hadith), and/or selective historical accounts in order to doctrinally justify their violent acts. Worse still, they might even declare that it is you who actually went outside the pale of Islam and is condemned to death for being a ‘murtad’ (apostate)!

No doubt, a regional Muslim authority’s issuance of a religious edict (fatwa) against terrorism in 2015 can be considered a laudable bold step ( Yet, the fact that the said fatwa is written in Arabic ( and that no official English and Filipino translations of it have been so far posted in the same website two years since its issuance is something regrettable, as it dismally fails to reach a wider audience – the overwhelming majority of local Muslims, the youth in particular, who are not Arabic literate.

In this age of information overload and unprecedented speed wherein religious sermons delivered on top of the wooden ‘mimbar’ (pulpit) of the mosque are replaced (or supplemented) by Facebook posts and Tweets in the cyberspace, the ‘khatib’ (preacher) needs more than a loud speaker.

The Middle Ground

After doing Derridian ‘deconstruction’ and ‘double reading’ of the terms ‘Islamic’ and ‘un-Islamic’ to describe certain groups, is ‘a third reading’ possible? Can we come up with a middle ground? Can we find a neutral platform?

As I was passively listening to the arguments of the journalist (who uses the appellation ‘Islamic’ to those groups) and the NGO worker (who, in contrast, prefers the label ‘un-Islamic’ to describe the same), I was imagining myself telling them both, “In my personal opinion, both of you have valid points in your arguments. Apart from ‘Islamic’ and ‘un-Islamic’, ‘Islamist’ is a due candidate to describe those groups – more accurately. The modifier ‘Islamist’ suggests that those groups adopt Islam – implicitly or explicitly – as their overarching ideology (‘ism’) but whether this adoption is religiously correct or not on the basis of the textual sources of Islam is a different story.”

In other words, the universe is not a monopoly of binary equations. The world is not always a case of “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” Zero-sum is not always the game in town.

In the Derridian jargon, there is always a multiple reading of a text.


[MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Mansoor L. Limba, PhD in International Relations, is a writer, educator, blogger, chess trainer, and translator (from Persian into English and Filipino) with tens of written and translation works to his credit on such subjects as international politics, history, political philosophy, intra-faith and interfaith relations, cultural heritage, Islamic finance, jurisprudence (fiqh), theology (‘ilm al-kalam), Qur’anic sciences and exegesis (tafsir), hadith, ethics, and mysticism. He can be reached at, or and]

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Jawi Manuscripts and Muslim Chivalry

Jawi Manuscipts

MAKATI CITY (5 September) – In the wake of the deadly blast in Davao City, I had attended – though mentally disturbed and almost reluctantly – the UNESCO-Memory of the World (MOW) Documentary Heritage Awareness and Nomination Seminar which was organized by the Philippine National Commission for UNESCO, in partnership with the University of the Philippines Mindanao and the Center for New Cinema (CNC), on September 3, 2016 at the Lorenzo Hall, University of the Philippines Mindanao.

As part of the nationwide awareness campaign as well as in response to UNESCO-MOW’s mandate to “increase awareness worldwide of the existence and significance of the documentary heritage and assist in its universal access and preservation,” similar seminars were also recently held in Quezon City and Baguio City.

Pertaining to records and documents that help preserve memories of our culture and society, “The documentary heritage,” as Prof. Nick Deocampo would explain us, “includes printed documents, recorded sound and music, motion pictures and photographs, ancient syllabary and cartography, and other forms of physical recordings.”

Reflecting on the significance of preserving documents, particularly those coming from Mindanao, Dr. Bernardita Churchill, President of the Philippine National Historical Society, chaired a panel that gave special focus on “Jawi Documents” in a bid to know their historical, cultural and scholarly significance.

“Jawi” is an Arabic relative noun which literally means “that which pertains to Java (Indonesia).” As part of Islamic legacy to the region, Jawi script is an Arabic-based one adapted by Southeast Asian Muslims, including the Muslims in the Philippines.

In Mindanao and Sulu, the script had been used predominantly by Muslim ethno-linguistic groups such as the Tausug, Maguindanaon, Maranao, Iranun, Sama’, Yakan, and Sangil for putting into writing their languages.

Linguistically, Jawi manuscripts are of two types: Batang-a Arab (literally, ‘Arabic letter’) and Kirim. Batang-a Arab is the kind of Jawi that refers to the Arabic script used in any type of document, while Kirim refers to a written text of local dialect literature that uses the Arabic-based script.

The Jawi was used to record both non-religious and religious literary materials. Non-religious literature includes epic, stories, short love poems, love fest, sayings, drama, puzzles and riddles, rhymes, and literature for children. Religious literature includes dekir/dhikr (incantations), khutbah (sermons), Qur’anic exegesis (tafsir), explicatory statements about Islam, du‘a (supplications), religious songs, and kisa (Islamic stories), among others.

Among the most famous Islamic stories is Beraparangan Muhammad ‘Ali Hanafiyyah, which is a local rendition of a popular kisa known as Hikayat Muhammad al-Hanafiyyah to Muslims in many parts of Southeast Asia. Found in different versions in the region, it is a narration of martyrdom of Amir Husayn, the second grandson of Prophet Muhammad, thereby depicting it as an epitome of Muslim chivalry.

Since the Philippine independence after the Second World War, there had been a decrease in the use of Jawi script due to the upsurge in the nationwide promotion and use of the English language in the formal educational system. This has been exacerbated further since the 1970s due to increase in the influence of strict interpretation of Islam that denounces many local Muslim beliefs and practices, and brought by local Muslim graduates from Middle Eastern universities. No doubt, the coming of this new set of Muslim scholars has created tension between their tendency to homogenize the interpretation and practice of Islam, and the local Muslim populace’s inclination to cling to the indigenous practices of Islam.

No doubt, the preservation and promotion of Jawi script and documents can contribute to shaping national Muslim narrative in three fundamental ways: (1) a culturally integrative understanding of Islamic principles, (2) tolerance of diverse Muslim practices, and (3) emulation of chivalry in dealing with perceived enemies – something which is quite remote from terrorist acts associated with current radical groups in the country.


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Presidentiables’ Peace Policy in Mindanao


MAKATI CITY (26 April) – Attended by all the five presidential candidates, the third and last leg of the presidential debate series was held last Sunday at the Phinma University of Pangasinan in Dagupan City.

Following a town hall meeting format, the five presidential bets were asked questions from sectoral representatives whom the Commission on Elections (Comelec) media partner, ABS-CBN, flew in from different provinces. The issues raised by the selected sectoral representatives were Metro traffic and public transport, job security, health, foreign policy, basic public education, oversees Filipino workers (OFWs), and peace in Mindanao.

When asked by the concerned sectoral representative, Amina, who is an evacuee and divorcee with five children from Datu Piang, Maguindanao, on how they could put an end to conflicts in Mindanao, the presidentiables identified different causes of the conflicts, and offered corresponding solutions.


It was Sen. Miriam Defenso-Santiago’s turn to give the first answer, thus:

Una, we will dismantle the private armies. Merong private army na kaiba pa sa Armed Forces of the Philippines. Yan nanggagaling sa isang pulitiko diyan na maraming perang ninakaw sa gobyerno kaya, kaya niya magbuo ng isang army. At tapos itong army na ito, hindi na madisiplina dahil sinasabi nila nagtutulong naman daw sila sa gobyerno. Kaya yun ang unang-unang tutukan diyan sa iba na yan. Pangalawa, to stop the internecine conflict in Mindanao, we have to adapt their customary or traditional law into our Western style model of justice – of the justice system. For example, maganda naman yung mga ugali ng Tausog kaya ginawa namay municipal ordinance ng isang – ng isang bayan. Pagkatapos, meron silang sharia court, so maganda rin ang mga base. Kaya sa dalawang paraan na ito, maaaring magkamagkaka – magkatagumpay na tayo sa wakas at mahinto na ang giyera or terrorism sa Mindanao.”

Santiago identified (1) militarism of private armies and (2) conflict of laws (between the Philippine (Western) law and the Muslim customary or traditional law) as the cause of “the internecine conflict in Mindanao,” and in order to stop it, she is determined “to dismantle private armies” and “to adapt their customary and traditional laws into our Western style model of the justice system”.

By pinning her hope in these two solutions to put an end to “giyera (war) and terrorism,” the lady doctor of laws regrettably lumps together under the rubric of ‘terrorism’ all the diverse types of conflicts in Mindanao, whereas the main issue here is sovereignty-based; it is an issue of decolonization recognized in public international law; it is an issue of the inalienable right to self-determination of once a free nation or nations. This is apart from the other conflicts which are ideological in nature (such as with the armed leftists in the Philippines), terrorism in nature, or police cases of criminality and family feud. Moreover, the conflict of laws is just secondary in nature in comparison to the universal right to self-determination.


The administration and Liberal Party candidate Manuel Roxas II replied in this way:

Para kay Aling Amina, alam ko po ang inyong sitwasyon. Nakwento din po sa akin ni Ina Ambolodto, isang tulad mo, laki sa pagiging bakwit doon sa Maguindanao ang kanyang istorya kung saan talagang nawalan ng pag-asa. Kaya natin isinulong yung Comprehinsive Agreement on Bangsamuro, para magkaroon na nga ng kapayapaan. Alam natin, kung walang development, walang kapayapaan. Pero kung wala namang kapayapaan, wala ding progreso at development. Kaya’t dalawang – dalawang kilos po ito. Sa isang bahin, yung ating gobyerno, sinusulong ang usapin para sa kapayapaan sa lahat ng mga sektor lalung-lalo na sa MILF doon sa Mindanao. At sa kabilang sektor naman, sa kabilang bahin, yung development, yung imprastraktura. Yung imprastraktura na naparating natin sa Mindanao ngayon ay doble sa nakaraang limang taon kumpara sa lahat ng imprastraktura na naparating doon noong nakaraang labing-dalawang taon noong nakaraang dalawang pangulo. Ganun ang pagtingin natin sa Mindanao. Ito, may konkreto tayong ginawa. Ginawa natin yung Comprehensive Agreement, isinulong natin ang BBL. Sa kasawiang palad, hindi ito naipasa sa Senado at sa Kongreso. Pag ako po ay naging pangulo, isusulong ko po yan. Dahil peace without progress hindi mangyayari, pero progress without peace ay hindi rin mangyayari. Dapat panahon na na maisakatuparan ang pangako ng Mindanao.”

As can be gleaned from Roxas’ formula, “Alam natin, kung walang development, walang kapayapaan,” the cause of the conflict is simply underdevelopment, and the solution to this, accordingly, is two-pronged: advancement of peace to attain development, and pushing for development in order to achieve peace.


Incumbent Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte offered the following reaction:

“The war in Mindanao runs deep. You know, this may sound funny to you but when Magellan landed in Leyte, Islam was already planted firmly in Mindanao because they belong to a different (sultanate). Ang makakaintindi lang yong Sabah papuntang Malaysia. But you know, the conquerors and the Americans and the Spaniards, kinuha nila ang Mindanao which was already Islam. Kaya yong pumunta yong mga sundalo ng Espanyol pati Amerikano, giyera talaga. We have to talk and we have to correct the historical injustice. I tell you as a Mayor of the City of Davao… there will be no peace. There can never be a federal government until we talk to the NPAs which has been fighting us, I know, ‘70s estudyante na ako. Ngayon, 70 years old na ako. You know, it has to be a development but you have to make the peace there bago ka makagalaw. Pag hindi mo nakausap ‘to in peace talks, everything will fail. I would like to tell you and I’m telling now to the Republic of the Philippines, nothing will appease the Muslims, the Moro people, if you do not give them the BBL…”

From this reaction, Duterte identified the root of the conflict in Mindanao deep down in history, and for him, the solution is to correct the historical injustices by enacting into law the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which is the latest agreed upon legal instrument for expressing and exercising the right to self-determination of the concerned people.


Vice President Jejomar Binay addressed the question in this manner:

Alam po ninyo, Aling Amina, ako ho ay sanay na sanay makipag-usap. Bago ho ako napunta sa gobyerno, nakikipag-usap ako dun sa mga manggagawa at saka sa kanilang pinagta-trabahuan. Nung naging mayor po ako, yung mga hostage problems, nagkakaroon po ako ng resultang maganda. Ipagpapatuloy ko po, Aling Amina, katulad ng bawat Pilipino na tayo ho ay magkaroon ng talagang katahimikang, ah, na matagalan. Lasting peace, yun nga po ang sabi. Sa akin, sa aking palagay, yan hong lasting peace na yan eh makakamit kung mahaharap po natin ang problema ng kahirapan na naglipana po don sa inyong lugar. Yan po ang pinagmulan kung bakit ho meron hong gustong umalis, ito ho ay gumagamit ng dahas para ibagsak ang pamahalaan. Pero, ang puno’t dulo po nyan ay yung kahirapan. Sa aking pamumuno, aangat at aangat ang buhay po dun sa inyong lugar sa Mindanao, at yan ho ang magiging pangunahing dahilan kung paano ho tayo magkakaroon ng lasting peace sa inyong lugar. Oh, yun po ang aking pangako ho sa inyo. At nakatitiyak kayo, kasi ako ho aksyon agad, ginagawa ko, ha. I make decisions. As a leader, I am decisive. Mangyayari po yan.

From his answer above, it can be inferred that the Vice President simplistically pinpointed poverty as the problem, and accordingly, the sought-after lasting peace can be attained by addressing the problem of poverty.


Sen. Grace Poe responded to the query in this fashion:

“Amina, bilang isang babae, naiintindihan kita. Ang mga lalake, pasan siguro nila ang armas, pero pasan natin ang mundo sa ating balikat pag may gyera. Sapagkat tayo ang naiiwan para bantayan ang ating pamilya. Sa Mindanao, kapayapaan ay napakahalaga. Pero… doon sa mga terorista na nananakit o pumapatay, hindi natin dapat sila pagbigyan kung ayaw nilang makipagbalikan, makipag-usapan sa gobyerno. All-out war sa mga nagbabanta sa atin, pero dapat all-out development rin. Sa Maguindanao, wala pa yata kayong provincial hospital. Isa yan sa pangangailangan natin. Importante rin na pangalagaan natin ang imprastraktura sapagkat kung konektado kayo sa isa’t isa, mas madaling mababantayan ang mga teritoryo natin sa Mindanao. Ngayon, may problema, hindi lamang sa Pilipinas kundi sa Malaysia. Kung hindi ako nagkakamali, binara na nila yung border na hindi makakapunta doon ang ating mga kapatid sa Tawi-Tawi para mag-trade or barter. Kailangan magkaroon tayo ng bilateral talks para talagang sugpuin ang terorista sapagkat nawawala ng trabaho ang ating mga kababayan. Kung ako maging pangulo, ipagpapatuloy ko ang usapin kapaya – pang kapayapaan pero dapat kasama ang lahat. At hindi tayo dapat namimili ng iilang grupo lamang.”

As can be deduced from her offered solution of “all-out war” for those who refuse to negotiate with the government, as well as “all-out development” in the form of health services, infrastructure and trading opportunities, the cause of the conflict could be categorized as lack of social services.


In sum, the presidentiables’ peace policy in Mindanao can be given as follows:

Santiago: to dismantle private armies and adapt Muslim customary and traditional laws into the Philippine western style model of the justice system.

Roxas: to advance peace for development, as well as development for peace.

Duterte: to correct historical injustices.

Binay: to address the problem of poverty.

Poe: to provide social services.

The decision is yours, dear readers, which of these policies to buy comes the reckoning day.


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Dwindling Power, or Lack of Political Will?


MAKATI CITY (MindaNews/22 April) – Attending “Titayan: Bridging for Peace” Symposium-Workshop which formally kicked off yesterday in Ateneo de Davao University, Davao City, is yet another good opportunity to extensively discuss inclusive political transitions in the Bangsamoro at this critical moment of national leadership transition.

Culled from the Maguindanaon, Maranao and Iranun word for ‘bridge’ (titayan), the symposium-workshop is jointly organized by Friends of Peace and Ateneo de Davao University’s Al Qalam Institute for Islamic Identities and Dialogue in Southeast Asia and University Community Engagement and Advocacy Council (UCEAC), and it was formally opened by Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ, president of the host university.

In his 25-minute keynote address, Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, OMI, the Archbishop of Cotabato and Lead Convenor of Friends of Peace, passionately shared his personal understanding of the ‘apparent failure’ of the BBL, gains of the peace process, doable steps in the future, and most importantly, his personal vision of peace.

In the Panel Session 1 about the protection and implementation of peace agreements during political transitions even without legislation, Dr. Chetan Kumar of India and currently the Advisor on Peacebuilding for the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in the country, gave his 20-minute presentation on global experiences of conserving peace agreements during political transitions, and it was followed by another presentation on good practices and lessons learned in ‘grounding’ peacebuilding in Mindanao by Prof. Rufa Cagoco-Guiam of Mindanao State University – Gen. Santos City Campus.

One thing worthy of reaction was the point raised after the first panel session by a political negotiations advisor and former chief negotiator of the GRP that one of the challenges facing the current peace process is the dwindling of the chief executive’s power in the existing more open democratic space and in the information age wherein every domestic issue has international repercussions due to the social media.

Accordingly, one of the theses of the peace process in the Philippines is its reliance on the power of the chief executive – the power of the President – to deliver and implement a peace agreement, and his thesis is that compared to the governments of Marcos and Cory, there is the gradual decay or the gradual lessening of the power of the chief executive if gleaned from the government-sponsored legislation.

In reaction to this, first of all, the government advisor preferred not to mention that the same chief executive was the chief agent – real or perceived – in unprecedentedly pressuring an ombudsman to resign, impeaching a chief justice, and putting the then incumbent senate president and other senators behind bars.

Second, as astutely pointed out by the first panelist, Dr. Kumar, the very same forces and elements that have allegedly been weakening the chief executive’s power could also be utilized by him or his government to wield more power and leverage, and demonstrate his sincerity and political will to push forward the peace process.

Third, has the power of the chief executive really dwindled to such a point that he could no longer certify the BBL draft submitted to the Congress as ‘urgent’ as he is supposed to do?

Given these three points, we cannot help but ask, “Is it indeed dwindling of the chief executive’s power, or sheer lack of political will and sincerity?”

[MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Mansoor L. Limba, PhD in International Relations, is a writer, educator, blogger, and translator (from Persian into English and Filipino) with tens of written and translation works to his credit on such subjects as international politics, history, political philosophy, Islamic finance, jurisprudence (fiqh), theology (‘ilm al-kalam), Qur’anic sciences and exegesis (tafsir), hadith, ethics, and mysticism. He can be reached at, or and]


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