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America’s Stake in the BBL

America’s Stake
in the BBL
Ronald Roy — May 28, 2015

During the time of strongman Ferdinand E. Marcos, America did not want Asean, then made up of Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, to become a robust and independent bloc in the region. Reason: A synergistically united Asean would have reduced America’s grip on each of the five nations — a situation anathema to the ancient imperialist policy of “divide and rule”.
Understandably, America became worried when the leaders of Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia started to look up to Marcos for regional leadership. Then, after he announced his plan to reduce the U.S. Military Bases Treaty Agreement to 25 years, that was it! With most of the help coming from the Communist Party of the Philippines led by Ninoy Aquino, Marcos was ousted.
Although Cory Aquino, the succeeding president, granted amnesty to numerous Filipino Maoists who now occupy high positions in government, the Communist insurgency in the country remains very much alive. Neither has the Muslim separatist movement in the south decelerated; in fact, its strength appears to be reaching peak form, if events surrounding the pending Bangsamoro Basic Law are any indication.
It is of historical interest to remember that Marcos made substantial headway in neutralizing the separatist movement after he had driven the rebellious Moro National Liberation Front chieftain, Nur Misuari, out of the country, and after he had started to give livelihood projects to Moro groups who laid down their arms in response to his call for peace and justice.
The trouble is that Marcos’ peace process ended when Misuari returned after Ninoy’s brother, Butch, on orders of the revolutionary lady-president, had assured him of a grant of amnesty if he came back to “breathe the fresh air of a newfound freedom”.
The rest is regrettable history. As of last week, the required number of Judas Iscariots in the lower house had reportedly committed “yes” votes for the BBL’s passage. It is generally expected that the senate will eventually follow suit, and when it does, on the Supreme Court will rest the unenviable task of how to appease the majority of indignant Filipinos by striking down the BBL as unconstitutional.
However, It’s feared that the high court may rule in favor of the BBL’s constitutionality after it considers the American assessment that it would be best for our national security if our armed forces were concentrated on the potential external aggression from China, rather than on the internal problems posed by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front — the obvious American exhortation here being the BBL’s immediate passage.
I disagree with this American position because our military muscle, even if complemented by a fully armed citizenry, would still be ridiculously puny against China. Besides, I believe that every possible effort must be made to avoid armed conflicts because our nuclear age has started to fidget. There are no winners, only losers, in any nuclear confrontation.
To avert war, a summit, for instance, should always be considered for the thawing of strained relations between two countries in disagreement. There are also other non-violent alternatives that should take precedence, like the retaliatory remedy called boycott.
A boycott is a “withdrawal from commercial or social relations with (a country, organization, or person) as a punishment or protest.” (Oxford English Dictionary) It implies a virtual severance of diplomatic relations. However, a review of troubled ties can always be made to allow for conciliatory adjustments. Infinitely superior, of course, although highly improbable, would be a global isolation of China.
Anyway, there’s no cogent reason to agree with America’s position, despite her constant cajoling that we view China, not the MILF, as our real problem. For America, only with a fully operational BBL can her military presence in Mindanao effectively check a misbehaving China.
That’s what America’s “pivot to Asia” seeks to accomplish. And America knows that what she needs least is for the Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), since the agreement is needed to operationalize the dormant mutual defense treaty between the U.S. and the Philippines. America has figured that without EDCA, there won’t be any peace in Mindanao, and without that peace, her military presence becomes ineffective as a counterbalance to China’s taunting activities in these parts.
It could thus be America’s view that a new Islamic confederation composed of Malaysia, the emerging Bangsamoro territory, Sabah, Sulu and Sarawak — all grouped in a wealthy and fairly well-armed alliance — would create the needed bargaining clout against China, but only if peace in Mindanao were attained under the BBL.
In the light of the foregoing, President Aquino should defer to the collective wisdom of the National Security Council by convening it as soon as possible.

09186449517 ronald8roy@yahoo.com

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