Monday, January 26, 2015

Is peace elusive in restive South? A look into the Bangsamoro Question

It is not entirely irregular to see members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) with those of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). For one, they're Muslim brothers and two, most members of these two armed groups are related by blood.

So, in the event that the MILF turns itself into a political party, what happens to the BIFF? Well, they will continue fighting. The beliefs held by this group is not in harmony with the MILF who entered into a peace agreement with the government. Fact is, it adheres to the principles held once by Hashim Salamat, an MILF chairman who died several years ago.

Salamat is a scholar, a product of the University of Cairo. His beliefs is clearly that of independence and not of assimilation.

As I wrote about this in this space, the next thing that the MILF will do in the event that the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) passes in the Senate, is to exercise its political dominion over all other interest groups in territories claimed by them. Being the biggest Muslim organisation, it would actually be easier for the MILF to win in elections against other groups. However, since this armed group will eventually turn political, the possibility of it breaking into tiny parts is entirely possible, leaving the BIFF as the only revolutionary organisation.

So, the MILF enters its so-called "retirement" in revolutionary work, while the BIFF ascends leadership in the Bangsamoro struggle. Is this a good thing?

The only way for the BIFF to attain a status of irrelevancy is if the Bangsamoro Republic succeeds in attaining prosperity and development in their assigned territories. People are going to keenly observe the conduct of this political setup and if it works and jibes with the Islamic practice in governance.

What is potentially bad is when efforts at improving the economic status of the Bangsamoro fail. That would surely create strong ripples in the political pond and eventually impact on peace efforts. The already limited powers granted to the Bangsamoro Republic would have impact on the economy since they are not entirely in control of every lever of their sub-state.

IN sum, this is what will happen in the event that the Bangsamoro sub-state pushes thru:

1. Internal infighting due to conversion of revolutionary organisation into a political party
2. Bangsamoro republic encounters stiff and stronger challenges against it by several forces including non-Muslim groups
3. Bangsamoro splits as it asserts dominion over MILF factions
4. Political intramurals affect Republic operations causing delays of projects meant to improve economy
5. Economic performance of the region lags leading to frustration and is used as cause for civil unrest.
6. Civil unrest creates other groups who now will demand for independence, and cycle of violence continues.