MINDANAO War: Malacanang & the US

The growing conflagrations in Mindanao bare Malacañang’s sinister ploy at appropriating its peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as springboard for its vested interest.

Initially, Malacañang kept the contents of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) from public in order not to expose early on its hidden charter-change agenda. Now, it sugarcoats her bid for Charter amendments as a move to peacefully resolve the Moro conflict.  In the end, the Arroyo government’s overtures for peace are mere rhetoric. It is patently chauvinistic because its overarching policy is all-out war against the Bangsamoro people. In fact, It is maliciously stoking anti-Bangsamoro chauvinism, with the instigation of Arroyo’s allies and their paramilitary forces, to justify intensified military offensives against Moro communities.

The unfolding events in Mindanao are consciously being steered by the Arroyo government. She is mobilizing the country’s political and economic elite at the national and provincial levels to foment their deep-seated anti-Moro chauvinism to justify the current military offensives and enforced displacement of over 150,000 Moro and non-Moro people.

We warn against efforts by vested interest groups and clans who are fanning “Muslim-Christian enmity” to preserve their monopoly of landholdings and political clout in Mindanao. Religious conflict is being fanned to cover up the real nature of the Mindanao conflict–landgrabbing and land monopoly by elite families and clans, big business, and TNCs and MNCs, on one hand, and landlessness and agrarian unrest of Mindanao peasants, regardless of their religion, on the other.

We are also apprehensive of US meddling in the peace talks through the US Institute of Peace (USIP) and the presence of US troops in ARMM areas.  The USIP entered the peace talks as a facilitator since 2003 and, together with US Ambassador Kristie Kenney, has influenced much of its outcome. It has employed “coercive diplomacy” in the drafting of the GRP-MILF peace agreements that promise to pour in some $30-million in post-agreement funds, while US troops are on a standby attack mode in the pretext of counter-terrorism. Its maneuverings have ensured the big role for the US in the envisioned Bangsamoro Juridical Entity.

The US has been forthright in admitting that it is ‘involved’ in the peace process with the MILF to rid Mindanao of so-called “terrorists.” Its strategic motive is to establish US foothold in oil, natural gas, mineral ore, and agribusiness interests in the region.

The Bangsamoro and entire Filipino people should make the US-backed Arroyo government accountable for scurrying the peace process. A ‘people’s review’ of the MOA-AD should be undertaken. We demand for a grassroots-oriented and solidarity-based process that is complementary and parallel to genuine peace negotiations where the Moro people and their leaders can be given the opportunity to share their vision of autonomy and right to self-determination.#

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