Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Are Zamboanguenos Being Set Up for a No-El Scenario?

The controversial Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) deal is pregnant with unimaginable consequences, but right now, the biggest casualty is the abortion of peace, justice and fair play for Zamboanguenos and Filipinos in general.
Having covered the President for the Inquirer, I can very well surmise Malacanang’s possible end-game – the extension of the President’s term either through charter change or emergency rule to be declared should war erupts in Mindanao.
Nothing is really what it seems for the Arroyo Government. Time and time again it has proven itself not averse to using everything – that includes playing with our feelings and fooling with our territorial boundaries – to get what it wants.
This time, the Palace seems to be out to provoke us and our Muslim brothers into fighting each other over key barangays, rich mining sites and coveted forest reserve areas. President Arroyo’s peace adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and company apparently did a very good job in Zamboanga by curving out places so sacred to Zamboanguenos – City Hall, Fort Pilar, Immaculate Conception Cathedral etc.
They are aware that the move is enough get true-blue, hot-blooded Zamboanguenos like Councilor Jimmy Cabato into reviving militia groups to protect the city’s sacred grounds and territorial integrity.
Was the bombing of what is now called Metropolitan Cathedral intended to arouse Chavacano anger towards Muslims? Could it be a prelude to what is happening now? Was the military not too quick to blame the Abu Sayyaf then even while the smoke from the bombing barely cleared?
On the other side of the fence, the issue has also given the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and many Muslims in general a false hope that finally the realization of their dream to establish a Mindanao Muslim republic is at hand.
As I write this, MILF leaders have already declared the BJE as a ``done deal’’ and that they no longer need to have it formally signed in Kuala Lumpur. This comes even as the Supreme Court has issued a temporary restraining order on the BJE’s memorandum of agreement.
I can’t blame the MILF, for one they don’t recognize our laws and secondly, they might have been also fooled by our peace negotiators into believing that everything is a ``done deal.’’ Even if it were not so, once the idea of an achievable autonomy has been planted in their minds, there is no stopping them from looking forward to it or fighting for it!
As it is, the genie of delusion has been set free and there is no turning back. We have uncorked the genie of war and there is no way we can return it back. The dogs of war are out for blood.
But then is it not possible that this is really what the government wants? Would skirmishes or pockets of wars between Christians and Muslims not be convenient excuse to declare a state of emergency or even martial law?
And would a state of emergency not be a convenient excuse to postpone the 2010 elections? Certainly with many plunder and grant cases filed against her – with many more coming – would President Macapagal not be scared stiff about the prospects of losing her Presidential Immunity?
The experience of convicted and ousted President Estrada is surely not lost in the mind of the present occupant of the Palace and her family. If the even more popular Erap landed in jail after losing his immunity, what could prevent GMA from suffering the same fate?
A paranoid mind knows no logic.
Then again there is the Cha-Cha scenario with Palace Spokesman Jesus Dureza yesterday admitting that there is need to change or amend the Constitution to fully implement the BJE. This too could result in a no-election (No-El) scenario. Former President Marcos did this, former President Fidel-Ramos tried to do this; so why should not President Arroyo do it too?
But what should we Zamboanguenos do? What can we do?
The best way to fight those out to make us puppets of their evil designs is not to play into the hands of the puppet masters.
Muslims and non-Muslims alike should exercise restrained, caution and sobriety to look at the BJE issue with open mind and realize that this is not yet the end of the world. Constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas is right, the BJE deal signed by the MILF is just a mere scrap of paper and still long way off from implementation, if ever it gets implemented, which I doubt.
For now, it’s best to keep faith in the wisdom of the Supreme Court where a unanimous vote for TRO already speaks volumes about the thinking of the justices relative to the unconstitutionality of the BJE.
Gracias y hasta manana.


Nocumment feels great to be back in the saddle, thanks to tenacity of my friend and Spree Magazine goddess and mentor Frenci Carreon who had been egging me to bring back the column for years now. Nocumment used to see print at the defaunct The Morning Times under the venerable Rene Fernandez. A Zamboanga City on fire is just the best time for all concerned Zamboanguenos to rise up and be counted!

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