Buencamino writes political commentary for Action for Economic Reforms. This article was published in Business Mirror January 17,2008 edition, p. A10.

On board the BRP Charter Change, a crewman admitted the seas were looking choppy.

“Definitely, it will not be a smooth sailing but a rough sailing,” said Gunners Mate 3rd class Sergio Apostol.

Crewmen who sailed the ship a year ago were concerned not only about their own safety but, more importantly, over the wisdom of embarking on a similar voyage at this time.

Deckhand Ed Zialcita, still recovering from last year’s shipwreck, said, “Even if we had pure intentions, we were portrayed as devils.”

Former navigator Prospero Nograles warned, “If we push it now, we will again be accused of hidden agenda.”

Captain Jose de Venecia refused to pilot the ship again. “[T]here are more important measures pending in Congress and there are those who will criticize me… Let others take the lead,” he said.
However, one can never underestimate the persuasive powers of a wealthy ship owner.
The BRP Charter Change will have more deckhands than it needs when sailing time comes. Everyone will be on board. Everyone, that is, except the MILF.  They have their own ship, MV Bangsa Moro, and they’re sailing towards a different port.

“The government can undertake all the constitutional processes it wants, provided that they do not derogate what the Parties have jointly ‘crafted, agreed and signed’ in the negotiations with third party (Malaysia) facilitations,” said Muhammad Ameen, chair of the MILF Central Committee Secretariat.

He explains:

“1. All negotiations to resolve sovereignty-based conflicts all over the world such as those in Kosovo, Ireland, Bougainville, Aceh, Sudan, Western Sahara, and many others are extra-constitutional in character. The one with the MILF is not an exception;

2. The MILF is a revolutionary organization, or in plain words, a rebel, which necessarily does not recognize the Philippine Constitution; otherwise, to do so would be tantamount to agreeing to become and considered “criminals”;

3.  The Philippine Constitution represents the interests of the majority, who are Christians, short-changing or undermining that of the Moros and other indigenous tribes. The Constitution always favors the greatest majority, because they were the framers, interpreters, and implementers;

4.  To allow itself to be bound by constitutional process, aside from the foregoing reasons, the MILF virtually allows itself to be under the tyranny of the Philippine Government in matter of interpretation and implementation of any peace deal;

5. The MILF will not and will never repeat the blunders committed by the MNLF and Chairman Nur Misuari of negotiating within the framework of the Philippine Constitution. After more than 10 years since the signing of the GRP-MNLF Final Agreement in 1996, the MNLF and Nur Misuari are back to square one as far as the genuine resolution of the Moro Problem is concerned. Instead of giving genuine self-governance to the Bangsamoro People, they are being integrated into the national body politic, reminiscent of the government approach in the 1950s and 1960s; and

6. Today, there are enough models of resolving sovereignty-based conflicts which the government and the MILF can study and possibly adopt the appropriate model to the satisfaction of the Parties and other stake-holders. The international community must play an active role in this undertaking.”

In case there’s any doubt about where the MV Bangso Moro plans to dock, here’s Muhammad Ameen’s navigation chart:

“[T]he days of integration and “autonomy” as in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) are over and it (MILF) will only sign an agreement with the government if it establishes genuine governance for them either in the form of ‘state’ or ‘sub-state.’”

Gloria Arroyo is smart enough to tell the difference between peace and appeasement. She will not indulge in self-mutilation; cutting away the juiciest parts of a country she plans to dominate for as long as she can. That’s why I’m certain she has something else in mind when she talks about amending the charter.

Senator Joker Arroyo, who knows Gloria better than I would ever want to, puts it this way,

“It’s a palusot… We have been in this game for so long that the deception is so easily transparent… They will use the Muslim problem and related issues as the excuse, the opening gambit, for the need to change the Constitution. Just to open the door a little bit so debates follow, and before you know it the door is thrown wide open and a whole slew of amendments will follow.”

Joker is on the mark. But “palusot” is the wrong word. The correct term is “pasulot”, a middle finger salute from someone who does not give a rat’s ass whether her deception is so easily transparent or not.