First there was that secret negotiation between the government and the MILF where the rebels are generously accorded their own territory, political power, and mineral rights. Unfortunately before the formal signing of the MOA-AD in Malaysia took place, the “secret agreement” was leaked out… Politicians and interested groups created much of noise of opposition. And then a TRO from the Supreme Court halted what could have been a historic signing of the MOA-AD agreement. Within months or a year perhaps, the SC is expected to rule whether such agreement was unconstitutional. On the other hand, analysts believe that the President lacks the political will to transfer real power to the Muslims in Mindanao.
It has been reported that MILF commanders on the ground were outraged at the setback. MILF guerrillas started occupying villages and burning houses, residents had to leave their homes and farms for safety. But civilian volunteers started to arm themselves and some even fought back to defend their villages. The military after having been criticized for limited action to defend residents of siege villages, immediate gave and ultimatum and started to operate to secure villages occupied by the MILF rebels in North Cotabato.
But the MILFrebels only “repositioned” themselves and refused to leave occupied villages. The Military went on offensive and two-day volley of bombs and mortars rained down on farms and villages in North Cotabato. The MILF fighters started pulling out of farms and villages..
“Our forces on the ground are withdrawing from the conflict areas so we expect fighting to end by tomorrow (Wednesday),” Eid Kabalu said.
Likewise the military insisted that clashes would not spread as it was only confined to North Cotabato. However members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) attacked a town on the island of Basilan, and disrupted voting for the ARMM the elections there.
Some 160,000 people fled their homes and villages to avoid being caught in the crossfire. The United Nations began airlifting food to avert humanitarian crisis.
Lola’s federalism to the tune of cha-cha
Fears of a possible extension of the term of the president resurfaced after the aborted Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) between the government (Malacanang?) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. While Malacanang keep on saying that the president does not intend to stay in Malacanang beyond 2010, suspicion only grew yesterday when the president admitted in a state luncheon with Swiss President Pascal Couchepin that she wants to push for federalism.
“I advocate federalism as a way to gain lasting peace in Mindanao,” said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Some argued that the MOA-AD requires changing the constitution to accommodate federalism that would empower provinces and give them more autonomy, a move feared by the president’s critics that would extend her term by tweaking the Constitution.
But Dureza, the lola’s press secretary allays all fears by saying that talks do not exceed changing of the MILF’s Bangsamoro Juridical Entity into a federal state.
Meanwhile, sabi ng Malacanang, manahimik muna tayo (to avoid further complications) at hintayin na lang kung ano ang magiging disisyon ng Supreme Court – if it is a deal or no deal at all?
Tama kaya ang sabi ni tito Utoy, beyond 2010 your Lola is still in her throne?