Who Will Be Their Cory?

By Adel A. Tamano
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:05:00 08/16/2009

TWO WEDNESDAYS ago, in alternately pouring rain and humid heat for two and a half hours, I waited in line with students of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) to pay my last respects to former president Cory Aquino.

Being the president of PLM and one of the department heads in Manila, I could have cheated and skipped the queue, but it would have been contrary to the things that Cory stood for – equality, fairness and democracy.

In fact, the little inconveniences of waiting in line and the erratic weather made perfect sense to me: I wanted to suffer a little, as a thanksgiving gesture to a woman who had lived a life of sacrifice for my country and so, logically, suffered for me as well.

But it was not logic – at least not the cold, impersonal kind that we associate with the term – that brought thousands of people to line up to pay honor to their Tita Cory. Logic would have dictated that these people stay in the comfort and safety of their homes and watch TV to get their last glimpse. Certainly, rationality was not what brought us there. It was emotion and compulsion. For me specifically, a sense of duty and gratitude.

Deep sadness

Days after, I was still in an emotional funk. I was deeply sad but afraid to articulate it, not even to my family and friends. I feared I would be scoffed at: There goes Adel being overly dramatic and self-indulgent about the demise of Cory.

The problem was, the sadness was there, palpable and real. It was a feeling that the country had become a less noble place because of her passing.

In fact, having stood in line with PLM students, I could not help but wonder: Who would be their Cory?

These young men and women were born after the Edsa Revolution, and what they knew of Cory, particularly the years when she had to make the courageous and painful transition from homemaker to national leader, was secondhand at best.

They knew Kris – Cory’s daughter who is a popular media personality but not a political or social leader in the classic sense – but were only vaguely familiar with Cory. They knew Cory was at one time the country’s President. They knew she was the wife of assassinated opposition leader Ninoy Aquino but they had not been made aware of the struggles she had had to face and overcome.

In contrast, Cory was a touchstone and a benchmark for my generation – an icon of inner strength, spirituality and, most of all, decency.

I started to worry for the students. Who would be their Cory?

Days after that rainy Tuesday, I realized that perhaps the answer to that question consisted of two seemingly incongruent ideas: One, there will never be another Cory and, two, the next generation will have to create their own Cory.

Cory was, in the truest sense, sui generic – a unique person made for a specific time and context. Some have suggested that she was a blessing from the Creator sent to the Philippines to guide us through the dictatorship. Consequently, there can never be another one like her. The mould, which was cast for that specific and unique purpose, would not only be broken but could not be remade because the times – and the needs of our nation – have changed.

Need to inspire

Time and context will change but the need for genuine leadership, for role models, and for people to inspire our country to move forward, will not. Our PLM students and their generation will need their own version of Cory, one who will fit the needs and the challenges of the times. Or, even better, they will take the braver step and be their own Cory.

The idea of stepping up to the challenge was for me the greatest lesson from Cory Aquino – that even the most seemingly ordinary Filipino, one whom many called a mere housewife and a know-nothing (“walang alam”) – could rise to the challenge and lead an entire nation back to democracy.

So who will be their Cory? Students, please raise your hands!

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Real change, real people

By Karla Angelica Pastores
http://www.inq7.net blog

THE first time I met Jesse Robredo, Grace Padaca, and Among Ed Panlilio, I wasn’t star struck. They did not have an air of superiority around them, and they certainly did not walk around waving to everyone and shaking hands with people whose arms are not even extended. To me, they did not look like politicians, let alone award-winning ones.

No, I wasn’t star struck when I met them. I was awestruck.

Over dinner at Club Filipino one June evening last year, I was listening to these three government officials talk about their problems in their provinces and offer solutions and support to each other. They were seated across from each other, engaging themselves in a lively conversation. As I sat there, a young, somewhat inexperienced fresh graduate, I felt very privileged to have met these leaders and be privy to their thoughts and ideas.

Several months and two more exceptional public servants later, my respect and admiration for Mayor Jesse of Naga City, Gov. Grace of Isabela, Among Ed of Pampanga, Gov. Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao and Mayor Sonia Lorenzo of San Isidro, Nueva Ecija have only grown. In my work for Kaya Natin!, I interact with these five people on a regular basis, and like that evening in Club Filipino when they first met, I have the chance to know them as people, not as politicians.

As people, these leaders are as real as they get. They have more right to say that they’re just regular people than television and movie stars have –just regular people who have problems and issues albeit scrutinized by the public eye. At least with celebrities, they’re compensated with more than enough; with government officials like Mayor Jesse and Gov. Grace, it’s only their heart for the people and the country that keeps them in public service despite the difficulties.

In today’s political arena where corruption seems to be the norm, government officials like the Kaya Natin! champions are a refreshing twist to the story. Here we have leaders who, while far from being perfect, have put it upon themselves to serve the public with integrity. Not only are they challenging the rules of the game of traditional politics, going against big names, but they do so with a genuine commitment to changing how politics works in the Philippines. They are the faces of effective and ethical leadership in government.

The reality is that these champions of good governance are not that much different from the rest of us. Before taking on the challenge of public service, they were ordinary citizens who only wanted to do something and be someone for others. It was a sacrifice they were ready and willing to make, and it was a sacrifice that was worth every pain and disappointment if only to see their fellow Filipinos leading better lives. They are still ordinary citizens; only now they hold jobs aimed at serving the public.

Ordinary people? Quite probably. Extraordinary characters? Most definitely. The best part is, they’re all real people.

Adel Answers Equalizers Questions

investiture-pic-family2

I’d like to answer some questions sent by the “Equalizer” – great handle, reminds me of one of my favorite 80’s tv series –

1)Can you possibly be the bridge between Muslim and Christian Filipinos?

– Having deep Muslim and moro roots and at the same time being married to a Christian and living in a predominantly Catholic community, I can appreciate both perspectives, which is a prerequisite to resolving a lot of tensions and conflicts between Muslim and Christian Filipinos. Also, unlike some in the moro community, I’m not stuck in a 70’s time-warp, holding on to the belief that armed struggle is an appropriate method for resolving muslim-christian differences and I don’t approach problems of discrimination from a mentality of anger and hatred towards the majority. I hate the discrimination but I choose not to hate the persons and groups causing the discrimination and marginalization. I don’t vilify christian settlers in mindanao as “land-grabbers”. Lastly, I believe lasting solutions to the Mindanao conflict can only come from a perspective that sees all sides to the issues affecting Muslim-Christian relations in the Philippines.

2)Aren’t you concerned about antagonizing the hotheads in the MNLF with your more moderate views?

Honestly, I don’t care about the hotheads in the MNLF and MILF or the civil society groups that have called me, among other things, a “former Moro”. Unfortunately for them, and I really pity them, they are stuck in two things – (1) the past; and (2) an orientation towards hate with an openness to violence. History has left them behind.

3)Why do you associate with the the tradpols in Genuine Opposition?

You have to look beyond the personalities and remember that a sizable segment of the population – the masa – supports them. The masa deserve a place at the table and deserve to have their views understood and articulated so that is why I associate with what some may call ‘tradpols”. Just remember that what may be a tradpol to you is a hero to the masa.

Adel Answers Phoenix’ Ten Questions

Now, this is what I’ve been looking for – interaction with our fellow bloggers. Hi Phoenix, Adel here. I will answer the questions that you sent as honestly and candidly as I can while simultaneously resisting the urge to be “profound” or “safe” with my answers. I’ve copied your post and I will answer the questions directly –

Q1. The genie tells you, “Master, you have 3 wishes.” What are they?
A1. Three wishes:
1. That my eldest son Santi who has PDD-NOS (Pervasive Development Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified) be able to live a full and healthy life.
2. Health and safety for my family.
3. A decent job, home, and education for every Pinoy.

Q2. You’re Young Turk by day, secret superhero by night. Which one are you and why?
A2. Superman. Because as an ethnic Filipino Muslim and Maranaw, I feel sometimes as alien as the Kryptonian.

Q3. It’s the rapid fire segment of the show. Boy Abunda looks you straight in the eye and asks, “If you were a song, which one would you be and why?”
A3. “Hush” by LL Cool J. It’s old school but still hip and the lyrics discuss things that I value – love, family, and taking success and failure in equal stride.

Q4. There’s been quite a lot written about you guys. What do very few intimates, if at all, know about you that would shock/surprise people?
A4. That I have a vampire fetish.

Q5. What for you is heavenly or sublime? No answers involving wives, children or public service.
A5. Kobe Bryant scoring 81 points.

Q6. Favorite restaurant, movie, play.
A6. Restaurant – Cyma
Movie – toss-up between “Return of the King” or “Jerry Maguire”
Play – toss-up between “Merchant of Venice” and “Macbeth”

Q7. You’ve been chosen as a contestant in the new season of Amazing Race Asia. You’ll need a teammate you can work well with, and bathing happens only once every few days ’till you get to the pit stop. Who’s your partner?
A7. My wife, of course!

Q8. Whose body would you want to have?
A8. Piolo Pascual’s

Q9. Your greatest vice.
A9. Vanity

Q10. Your campaign is in full swing. It’s 100 degrees in the shade, and you’ve smiled, sang and danced ’till your weary body can take it no more. You’re standing onstage making your very last speech before you call it a day. What is your message to the Filipino people?

A10. Just bear in mind that it has been almost two decades since our country has had a Muslim Senator.

My Apologies to Phoenix

Phoenix wrote this recently –

Dear Adel and Opposite of Apathy staff,

I am very surprised that you have chosen to delete my comment yesterday. I was such a fan of Adel and the site, and read your blog daily. Just because I wrote that the appointment was a political thank you? That’s too much already? Is that so bad? I expected much more from you.

Allow me to apologize for the deletion of your comment. I did not get a chance to read your post and I don’t want to second guess the reasons for removing the comment. I just hope that you will accept my apology and believe me when I say that my view is that as long as the comments posted on this site are not simple name-calling, abusive, or outright fabrications, then we should not remove the posts. I’d rather get some negative comments and keep up the discourse with our readers, then to sanitize the comments and kill the very nature of this public blog. However, if the comments, for example, use foul language, racial epithets, or are written as a plain attack and not as a means for dialogue, then we should have the right to decide not to allow the posting of such comments.

Ultimately though, as one of the bloggers here, I take responsibility for what happens on this site. Sorry again, Phoenix.

– Adel Tamano

Tabula Rasa

That’s my wife and kids – the reason why I bother to immerse myself in the insane world of politics.

I have not written in a while – the business of life sometimes leaves little room for blogging. Anyway, I’m still contemplating whether or not I will push through with a project I’ve been thinking about, which is to write an autobiography. Well, whether or not I push through with it, let my share the first page of what i’ve started so far. I think this short prologue has some insights that might be useful anyway –

TABULA RASA

One of my core beliefs, which is a source of strength as well as perhaps my greatest weakness, is that a person’s life is essentially a blank slate. According to Nelson Mandela, “nurture, rather than nature, is the primary molder of personality.” I think that Mandela’s stand, though sound, is incomplete because while environmental factors play a very important role in shaping who we become, there is something that plays an even more critical role in human development than our genes or even our environment. What shapes one’s personality, more than genetics or environment, is the power of choice. It is this freedom of choice – the divine gift of free will – that ultimately makes us who we are. Our character and our destiny – whether we become presidents, paupers, professional basketball players, prostitutes, or policemen – are determined by the choices that we make and each day we are confronted by that freedom to become something of our choosing.

This core belief constitutes a painful and uncompromising vision of what each person is responsible for. It takes out the very human need to blame everything and everyone but ourselves for our lot in life. Particularly for those of us living in the Philippines, where our society is challenged perpetually by wide-scale corruption, enduring poverty, and social inequity, it is very easy to blame others for the status quo. However, until Filipinos gather the courage to say that I too am responsible for this situation, then we will never have the ability to make the hard choices necessary to solve our nation’s socio-political and economic problems.

On the negative column, my emphasis on free will might be a worldview that will doom some to tragedy and failure. For those without the gift for honest self-assessment it can deceive some to believe that they can do things beyond their own limitations and capabilities. But I prefer this belief to any other that claims to explain human destiny because if it were not for those brave few who dared to believe beyond their limitations, then humankind would still be living in caves, only birds could fly, and Neil Armstrong would never have set foot on the moon. Give this central belief the name it deserves: audacity. Man was created by God to be audacious. That is why he created us in his own image and with it gifted us with the creative spark. A fragment of his – and now ours – own divine nature.

This audacity, though some might call it foolishness, has become a hallmark of my life – reaching for things, seeking achievement, believing in myself well beyond what many said I could do. I was the first ethnic Filipino-Muslim (the word used in the Philippines, which was formerly a pejorative to describe the main Muslim tribes in the Philippines, the Maranaw, Tausug, and Maguindanao, is “Moro”) to graduate from Harvard Law School and the youngest University President of the University of the City of Manila, the Philippines’ premier local university, at 36.

But I’m getting ahead of myself and their would be no point in your reading this autobiography if I told you at the onset every major event in my life. Consider the Harvard and University of the City of Manila references as a teaser – a theatrical trailer highlighting the explosions and the main scenes of my movie. My point in starting with my basic core belief is to provide the predicate for the things that have happened in my life and the choices that I have made.

My life is – and has been – a life of choices. Many unconventional, lots of them invariably wrong, but for the greater part, when viewed in the long-term, I believe my choices were the right ones. But this book is not about making the right or wrong choices because often life is too unpredictable and the range of human knowledge too finite to be able to say, with full certainty, that a choice is the correct one. What this book is about is the power to MAKE a choice and having the courage to choose.

Simply stated, the goal of this book is not historical. I don’t believe that my life has impacted our society in such a scale that historical documentation is necessary. Anyway, they say the best fiction is autobiography so that in itself would negate the historical justification for this book. The goal is more audacious than that: it is inspirational. Specifically, I hope to inspire ethnic Filipino-Muslims, Moros, to realize that they can choose to achieve whatever they want to achieve in Philippine society – despite the discrimination and bias against Muslims – and to encourage young Filipinos to believe that they can, despite their youth, make significant contributions to our nation.

I want to share with you an excellent article by Conrado de Quiros on the MOA on Ancestral Domain and the Peace Process. I like the article so much that I intend to borrow his phrase “embark(ing) on a peace process remembering only the peace and not the process.” It so perfectly encapsulates why the MOA has self-destructed and why many are opposed to what may seem as a workable peace agreement. What the MOA proponents forget is that a peace settlement is by nature political and thus needs broad political and social support to work. Also, the article shows how erroneous it is for the MOA proponents to argue that those opposed to the memorandum are – ipso facto by their opposition – against the peace process. We must remember that both peace and process are inextricably linked and failure to give due importance to one will, ultimately, undermine the other.

Theres The Rub
Way to peace
By Conrado de Quiros
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:57:00 09/15/2008
Most Read
Last Friday, a group of Muslim, Christian and indigenous-folk leaders gathered in Quezon City to pay tribute to the “Magic 5,” the members of the peace panel who made the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) possible. The five are retired Lt. Gen. Rodolfo Garcia, assistant prosecutor Leah Armamento, Prof. Rudy Rodil, Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman, and Sylvia Paraguya.

“We’d like to affirm that you did a great job,” said Mary Ann Arnado, secretary general of the Mindanao’s People Caucus. “We’re very proud that you’ve brought the negotiation to this point. There’s a fruit in the negotiation, and it’s just unfortunate that some people and some sectors are not yet ready for this fruit.”

The tribute-givers agreed that the panel’s biggest accomplishment was getting the MILF to agree to jaw-jaw rather than war-war. “It’s almost impossible to convince a liberation movement to put their struggles through a democratic process,” said Sitti Hadja Hataman, secretary general of the Moro Human Rights Center. “In a way, you restored people’s trust in the role government plays in talking peace with groups,” said Karen Tañada of the Mindanao Solidarity Network.

These lavish words do sound sublimely ironic and discordant in light of the swath of death and destruction government’s MOA with the MILF has cut. Outside looking in, the group seems to be living in another planet, completely oblivious to what has been happening in the country over the last several weeks. “Heroes” is the last thing most Filipinos today would call them. Restoring trust in anything is the last thing most Filipinos would credit them with, appearing as they do to have done the exact opposite, almost overnight single-handedly resurrecting the active distrust and hostility with which Filipino Christians and Muslims have traditionally held against each other.

Yet, strangely enough, despite the flames leaping high in Mindanao, I personally do not mind giving the panel some slack, though I would stop short at sending words of commendation their way. I know some of the people who have been involved in the peace process. I know they have been hard at work trying to forge an agreement they believed would finally put the hostilities in Mindanao to rest. They’re decent and high-minded. Their hearts do burn for the cause of peace—the kind of peace that goes with justice and not the one that goes with the dead.

There’s nothing wrong with the initiative they took. What is wrong—deeply and awesomely so—is the way they went about it. They embarked on a peace process remembering only the peace and not the process.

How you seek peace determines what peace you get. The disastrous consequences of the (aborted) MOA underline very clearly the two non-negotiable requisites of any peace process: transparency and consensus. This one had neither, and so produced those consequences.

This one in fact was bathed in secrecy. Most Filipinos knew nothing of a Bangsamoro homeland to be given to the MILF until the eve of the MOA signing. Which they had every right to know. The MOA did not just have to do with Muslim Mindanao, it had to do with the entire country. It needed to apprise not just every Moro of its existence and intent, it needed to apprise every Filipino of it.

What especially made transparency vital in this case was this: The MILF could always be expected to negotiate outside the ambit of the Philippine Constitution. Why shouldn’t it, since it had never recognized that Constitution? But the Philippine panel was bound by the most sacred of oaths to negotiate only within the framework of that Constitution. Certainly it could not offer an arrangement that could be possible only under a new Constitution. To do that was to commit treason. This one did.

Had the negotiations been done openly, publicly, transparently, in the spirit of trust and goodwill, none of that would have happened. From the start the objections would have flown thick and fast. At most, what could have happened was for this proposal to have been offered the MILF: Maybe a Bangsamoro is politically viable, but that depends on the Filipino people ratifying it in a plebiscite. That cannot happen until a new Constitution is made, which itself can happen only two years from now to make sure it does not serve selfish interests. The Moros have waited for a long time for an ultimate solution, they can wait a little longer. Meanwhile there is this openness and dialogue to keep the peace.

MILF panel member apologizes after calling Tamano ‘ex-Moro’

This is a month-old news item but I’m posting it here to show how the MOA on Ancestral Domain has caused such deep divisions, not only between Christians and Moros but also within the Moro community. It also demonstrates that with respect and dialogue, conflicts – no matter how acrimonious – can be resolved:

MILF panel member apologizes after calling Tamano ‘ex-Moro’
BY JOHANNA CAMILLE SISANTE, GMANews.TV
08/20/2008 | 10:15 PM

MANILA, Philippines – A member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) negotiating panel apologized Wednesday for calling United Opposition spokesperson Adel Tamano an “ex-Moro.”

The apology came during a public forum at the University of the Philippines College of Law where lawyer Musib Buat of the MILF peace panel had called Tamano a former Moro and “yellow” for opposing the ancestral domain pact.

“Former Moro, ex-Moro Adel Tamano…he has changed his color from green to yellow. Green is the Islamic symbol, and yellow is the symbol of the traitors,” Buat said.

“I understand that the Ulama in Lanao has renounced Mr. Adel Tamano,” he added.

Tamano, along with former Senate President Franklin Drilon, and Liberal Party President Sen. Mar Roxas openly supported the opposition raised by Mindanao local officials against the proposed MOA.

They were able to secure a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court to stop its scheduled signing last Aug. 5 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Tamano had expressed his disappointment in Buat, whom he called “Papa Musib,” saying the MILF leader has resorted to personal attacks such as name-calling.

“It is most unfortunate that instead of a dialogue, Atty. Buat has chosen to insult me personally. Atty. Musib Buat has called me a former moro, essentially a traitor and that my color is yellow. yellow of course being the color of cowardice. not it were not for my respect for law, and my respect for my elders, I would show Atty. Buat how incorrect he is in his assessment,” said Tamano.

“I am a Moro. That is my birthright, no one, not even the MILF can take that away from me. But I am also proud to be a Filipino, and I will fight through all legal and constitutional means to keep this nation whole. You know what, I like the color yellow. It is on the Philippine flag,” added Tamano, who had on a yellow neck tie.

Tamano, the son of former Sen. Mamintal Tamano, was the first Filipino Muslim who studied under a Harvard Law Scholarship.

He is a Maranao, the eighth out of nine children of the late senator Mamintal Tamano and Haja Putri Zorayda Abbas Tamano.

Tamano had earlier said that he has also received threats over text and email because of his opposition to the MOA.

“The MOA and the stand of the MILF intensely focuses on our differences, our differences in culture, in religions, our differences as Muslims, as Christians, and fails to seriously consider what unites us: our common hsitory, our common race. Why is it that in so many other countries people with different faiths, creeds, and even races can come together and unite under a concept of one nation?” he said.

The flap was ironed out later after passions cooled.

Tamano and Buat shook hands hours after they exchanged heated comments on each other’s stances on the memorandum of agreement (MOA) on ancestral domain.

“Sorry…I was carried away by my emotions,” Buat told Tamano, whom he referred to as “son” and “nephew” several times throughout the forum.

He added that he had known Tamano even when the latter was still a child.

“Mamaya suntukin mo ako,” he added jovially as the crowd applauded when Tamano stood up to shake his hand.

Also during the day, Tamano appealed to the public not to stereotype Filipino Muslims as “terrorists” as a result of the unprovoked killing of unarmed civilians allegedly by renegade members of the MILF in Central Mindanao last Monday.

He said such unfair characterization would be “a serious threat to the peace-process in Mindanao.”

“While all-peace-loving Filipinos must condemn the attacks on civilians by MILF, we must strongly resist the temptation to stereotype all Moros as violent or terrorists,” Tamano said in a statement.

“The vast majority of Filipino Muslims are law-abiding citizens who want nothing more than to find decent jobs and education for their children, just like all other Filipinos,” he added. –

Stop the War and Stop the Hatred

I received this comment on our website from Tomawis Sobair, from the name I presume to be a member of my tribe, a Maranao and a Muslim, which I will share in order to get a sense of the deep emotion that is generated by the MOA on Ancestral Domain issue-

MAKIISA KA NA LANG SA PAKIKIBAKA NG BANGSAMORO DAHIL ANG MGA “KAFIR” LALO NA JAN SA MANILA EH NATUTUWA SILA I’M SURE DAHIL IKAW AT ANG ILANG MUSLIM AY DI NAGKAKASUNDO SA PANANAW. WAG MONG HAHAYAANG MATULAD KA SA ILANG NON-MUSLIM NA ANG ALAM LANG AY MAGING HYPOCRITE TOWARDS MUSLIMS. ANG MGA YAN AY SOBRA PA SA HAYOP NA MAKAMUNDO

The term “kafir” generally means non-muslims but is often used as a derogatory term. If you check Sobair’s other posts, the anger and even hatred is so evident: anger towards me for not supporting the MOA and anger against the media and majority Christian population.

Even without addressing Sobair’s claims, it would be impossible to have a true dialogue when the person that we wish to speak too is too full of hate and anger to see the other persons points calmly and intelligently. And that is what we need – dialogue and not war. I have been against all out war from the beginning even if this clashed with the political views of my principals in the United Opposition. However, how can we dialogue when those like Sobair resort to name-calling and insults? Are name-calling and insults an Islamic way of discussing serious issues?

Sobair, you have to cool down and realize that it is possible that people like me – yes I am a Muslim an as far as I know God did not appoint you or anyone to be able to decide with certainty who is a Muslim and who is not – to disagree with the MOA and have the interests of the Moro people at heart.

My track record speaks for itself that I have consistently advocated for respect for Moros in the media and through my writings. In fact, when I was achieving things like being the first Moro to graduate from Harvard Law School and the first Filipino Muslim to be a University President of a major University in Manila, many Moros embraced me as their own and said that my accomplishments were theirs as well. But now that I have taken a principled stand against the MOA, some Moros treat me like rubbish insulting me and threatening me without even taking the time to scrutinize my position on the matter.

Sobair, you might think that your insults affect me and you would be right but not in the way that you think. Personally, in terms of my own self-esteem and self-worth, insults and threats mean nothing to me – I know who I am and, frankly, I like who I am. But I am affected because I am disappointed in you and others like you who are so quick to judge and so fast to hate.

This for me is the ultimate question – How do you – and Moros like you – hope to build a just and fair society, whether you term it BJE or whatever, when you will not give people like me the democratic space to disagree with you?

Tamano Reacts to Speakers at Ateneo MOA Forum

Allow me to share the points that I raised as a reactor to the forum in the Ateneo de Manila University, College of Law, last Friday, which will help to clarify the issues regarding the MOA on ancestral Domain between the GRP and the MILF

REACTIONS

Speaker: Olayer – human rights advocate who informed us that there were nearly 130,000 IDPs or internally displaced persons as a result of the recent conflict in Mindanao

– My Reaction → It breaks your heart to see the real face of war, specifically the suffering of IDPs and civilians, which must remind everyone that war and violence are always a non-option

Speaker: Atty. Candelaria – GRP Panel Member. He said that the sad situation “could have been prevented”

– My Reaction → I agree had the GMA Administration been transparent and sought consensus of all stakeholders not just the MILF but also, among others, the MNLF, the local leaders, the lumads, and the Christian-dominated communities that would be affected by the creation of the BJE– and yes even the members of Congress to whom the Constitution has allocated the power, save for a People’s Initiative, of suggesting amendments to the Charter. As a fellow Constitutional Law professor Atty. Candelaria knows that due process – a sense of basic and fundamental fairness to all stakeholders, and that includes you and me – demands a broad consultation.

Speaker: Atty. Zen Malang – Peace Process Analyst who said (1) Why can’t we change the Constitution to resolve the Mindanao Conflict? We have changed the Constitution many times in our history, (2) that there were Moro Nation-States before the coming of the Spaniards, and (3) that those opposing MOA pandering to prejudice and xenophobia

– My Reaction to No. (1) → Sure that is an option but aren’t there other intra-constitutional solutions to the Mindanao Conflict. The MOA, simply, is a false idol. It is not the only solution to the Mindanao conflict and not a panacea or a magic-bullet to solve the problems of peace between Muslim and Christians.

– My Reaction to No. (2) → I won’t even assail the correctness of the historical claims of Atty. Malang but the simple historical fact – painful as it is – is that these so-called “Moro nation-states” were later subjugated as was the rest of what would later become the Philippine Republic. While there is a need to address the historical injustices done to Moros, similar to the situation of Indians and Aborigines in the Americas and Australia. But America and Australia did not create a separate State just for them. Again, very simply the MOA is a false idol and there are alternatives to it.

– My Reaction to No. (3) →Finally, not all those who oppose the MOA are pandering to prejudice and xenophobia, there are some who oppose the MOA for valid, reasonable, and even patriotic, reasons. Also, the proponents of the MOA do not have a monopoly of altruism, commitment to peace, and love for the Moros. Perhaps the MOA oppositors have some of this too.

Speaker: Father Bernas

– Out of respect for my Professor in Constitutional Law, I will not react to the points that he has raised

Speaker: Senator Frank Drilon

– Since we are co-petitioners questioning the MOA-AD, I affirm all the points raised by Senator Drilon

My Last Point → How ironic it is that – as some of you may know – today we celebrate the 45th Anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream Speech” where a commitment to non-violence and a commitment – not to separation by oppressed communities – but to integration with justice was expounded. How sad it is that throughout modern history, in the vast majority of nation-states, people of different creeds, faiths, and even races can come together as one nation and here we are in the Philippines, the claim is made, through the MOA, that the only solution to peace is for Muslims and Christians to live apart, Muslims in BJE and Christians elsewhere.

We all want peace but the price that the MOA asks of us is too high and the MOA is, ultimately, on the wrong side of history.

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