The quest for peace in Mindanao may finally be at our doorstep with the creation of an extended, autonomous Bangsamoro state. This was supposed to be realized tomorrow with the signing of a memorandum of agreement between the MILF and the Philippine Government — until the Supreme Court came out with a temporary restraining order preventing it.
If there is really nothing illegal about the creation of the state, then this is something all should look forward to. Still, there is some degree of appropriateness in the order.
While real efforts to bring peace in Mindanao should be pushed for vigorously, it should not be carelessly rushed. This is, of course, for everyone’s sake. Just imagine if such state is established, but only to be nullified by the court later on for its constitutionality.
The creation of a Bangsamoro state or juridical entity needs full transparency, especially since there are many legal considerations. Not to mention that there are other stakeholders in the issue aside from the MILF. Can the executive branch just sign the MOA with the MILF, or will there be a need to amend the constitution and go to a plebiscite? The Supreme Court will have to decide, and fast.
The magistrates and all stakeholders must act fast for the sake of sobriety, and to prevent any violence from breaking out. Already, today’s protests in Zamboanga present a potential preview of what could later on be a full-blown conflict between Muslims and Christians. I hope I’m wrong. What I’m certain of is that this issue needs to be ironed out and resolved within the bounds of the constitution. Let this issue be a question of legality, and not be a numbers game of whose faith has more followers in Mindanao.
Violence is the last thing the country needs. Let’s not forget that the original objective of this exercise is to bring about peace.