Is the BBL Intent Made Clear
by the MNLF “story” of a Bangsamoro Republik?
By Apolinario Villalobos
Ever since MILF came out with its BBL proposal that shall pave the ground for the establishment of the Bangsamoro, some Filipinos did not believe its sincerity as for them, the MNLF and BIFF are not really excluded from the picture. For the suspicious, even the death of the bomb maker, Basit Usman was caused only by a petty misunderstanding between the low-ranking members of the MILF and his (Usman) party that led to provocation and later, the deadly altercation. As for the MNLF, some parties believe that it has a mutual understanding with MILF that stands until the passing of the unrevised BBL. Fortunately, lawmakers discovered that some of BBL’s provisions are leading towards the establishment of a separate state.
When the delay for the passing of the BBL was delayed, there was an immediate reaction from the MNLF. Even Malaysia was alarmed, a questionable reaction as it was just expected to be an observer…and the only one that reacted. The delay is in view of the government’s intention to ensure that the BBL will maintain the status of Bangsamoro as an integral part of the country. Malaysia even warned of trouble, an uncalled for remark….but why? What is its interest in the ongoing process?
Now, the MNLF is saying that its plan is to establish a Bangsamoro Republik that would include the whole of Mindanao, Sulu and Tawi-tawi islands, Palawan, Sarawak and Sabah, with Malaysia, supposedly behind this effort. Is this the reason why the Sulu sultanate is not supportive of BBL? Why did MNLF come out with such statement only now when there is a problem with the passing of the BBL? Is this not a ploy to force the lawmakers to double time the passing of the BBL, so that they can proceed to the next stage which is the compromise between the MILF, MNLF, and BIFF for the eventual establishment of the republic, a feat which will not require much sweat as the Bangsamoro of MILF, based on the unrevised BBL is a virtual separate state, so leaders can do as they wish? Meanwhile, the BIFF may come in as the republic’s military arm.
If the Bangsamoro Republik will push through, it can easily join Malaysia’s federation as a federal state.
Ethnically, the light-skinned Filipinos without trace of white people’s blood, can trace their ancestry to the Malays. Though disputed, the story of the Ten Bornean Datus who came to the shores of the Philippines to escape the tyranny of their sultan, Makatunaw, tells some. The ten Bornean datus purportedly first landed in the Visayas, particularly Panay, and negotiated with Marikudo, the chieftain of the black-skinned pygmies locally called “ati”, for the purchase of land which they successfully did using a “sadok” (hat) made of gold for the chieftain and a long necklace of gold for his wife, Maniwantiwan or Maniwangtiwang. In another legend, the payment included a basin of gold. From Panay island, some datus sailed down to Mindanao, and some to Luzon where they settled. That is why when the Spaniards came, they found settlements of Mohammedans in Manila and some islands ruled by the “lakans” and “datus”.
As regards Mindanao, briefly, this is how its Islamization and peopling by those from Malaysia, came about: In 1380, Islam was introduced in Sulu via Malacca, by Mudum (Makdum?); followed by Rajah Baginda of Menangkabaw, Sumatra in 1390; and further, followed by Abu Bakr (Bakar) who left Palembang for Sulu in 1450 and married Rajah Baginda’s daughter, Paramisuli. On mainland Mindanao, Serif (Sharif) Kabungsuan, arrived from Johore and also laid down the foundation of Islam. He eventually became the first Sultan of Mindanao, from where, it rapidly spread to Visayas and Luzon. The arrival of the Spaniards made the Muslims retreat to the hinterlands. Their presence in Luzon was confirmed by the Spaniards who called them “Moros” which was intentionally used for its bad repute, but later cleansed by Filipino Muslims with much effort and success.
Another group of settlers, known as Orang Dampuans, came to Mindanao from the south of Annam with the sole purpose of establishing a trading post. The Sulu people when they came were then, called Buranun. The Orang Dampuans were followed by the traders from Banjarmasin and Brunei, important states of the Sri Vijaya Empire. The people of Banjarmasin were called Banjar who brought their beautiful princess to Sulu, and was offered for marriage to the Buranun ruler. With the marriage, Sulu came under the influence of Banjarmasin and from the union, came the rulers of Sulu.
As gleaned from the pages of history, there was a two-pronged movement of people from the Malaysian archipelago, with one that settled first in Panay, in the central Philippines, from where they spread to other islands, and with the massive one that also introduced Islam, that settled first in Sulu and mainland Mindanao, and eventually spread to Visayas and Luzon, until the arrival of the colonizing Spaniards.
The conversion of the majority of Filipinos into Christianity by the colonizing Spaniards made the archipelago “the only Christian-dominated” country in Asia. Unfortunately, despite such spiritual status, many if not most of its officials, do not live up to it, as they proved to be corrupt which is very un-Christian.
On the other hand, Malaysia has a lot to explain if indeed, what the MNLF claims is true. It will come out that they betrayed the trust of the Philippine government when it was asked to sit as observer in its negotiation with MILF. The betrayal is in their cuddling of Nur Misuari and his Bangsamoro Republik advocacy, all the while, that the peace process is going on. Malaysia should vehemently deny it publicly if only to prove that it can still be trusted by the Philippine government. Its silence could mean something which may have a negative implication.
If the people of the whole of Mindanao and Palawan will be made to understand the whole situation that leans heavily on ethnic history of the country, a lot of patience is needed as Christianity has been deeply imbedded in their heart and mind. If the Bangsamoro Republik will materialiaze, definitely, those who live within the territory will no longer be called“Filipino” but “Moro”, as the state will be called “Bangsamoro” or “land of the Moro”.
On solid lands where states or countries are situated, thin demarcation lines that indicate territorial boundary separate them from each other, guarded by foot patrols. If the Bangsamoro Republic materializes, Mindanao and Palawan will be separated from Luzon and Visayas by significantly wide body of water and channels.
The Philippines as an archipelago is “united” by the commercial airlines and roll on-roll off ferries, but not well secured because of the inadequate navy and military facilities. These security contingents use second hand equipment, which are either purchased at bargain prices using measly budget provided by the government or donated by sympathizing countries. And, even the purchases were not spared by evil minded officials as they reeked of corruption. The negligence and corruption in the Philippine government in this regard have caused the immense suffering of the Filipinos in general.
Finally, I do not think the zealous Muslim Filipinos would have thought of the separation, if only the Philippine government has been fair to all the citizens. Corrupt Muslim government officials, on the other hand, should not be blamed solely for their neglect of Mindanao, as the same neglect is also prevalent in the Visayas and Luzon regions, committed by Christian officials. In other words, corruption is prevalent in the whole system of the Philippine republic. And there are even more of these corrupt Christian officials in the central government, so these hypocrite better stop their finger pointing while the innocent ordinary Filipinos, both Muslims and Chrisitians, are left desperately apprehensive, confused, and helpless, as their beloved country is at the verge of being dissected!