Thursday, October 16, 2008

So What if the Americans Supported the MOA-AD?

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision on the petition filed regarding the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) between the Government of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), many comments and opinions have been forwarded reacting to and even dissecting the Supreme Court decision.

I have my own views on the MOA (which I hahve written in my blogs) and I would have settled for the Supreme Court decision. I was not even going to react to other people's comments, preferring to just say, "the Supreme Court has decided...your opinions will remain opinions."

But there is one reaction that I found incredlous, especially coming from the person who said it. He is the last person I would expect to say such comments.

I refer to a quote of Senator Joker Arroyo I read in an article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer where he was reported to have said that the MOA-AD was supported by the US:

On the phone from the United States, Sen. Joker Arroyo pointed out that the high court’s ruling practically rested on one vote, and that “a change of one vote changes the picture.”

Arroyo noted that the tribunal was “sharply divided” on the issue of an expanded Bangsamoro homeland.

“For a decision with such far-reaching consequences, the high court was sharply divided, 8-7, and it could pose more problems in the future,” he said.

“A change of one vote would make the minority opinion the majority decision, and conversely, the minority decision would become a dissenting opinion.”

“Rarely” has this happened, he added.

Arroyo also said the US government had implicitly supported the MOA-AD.

“It should be stated that the act that the Supreme Court has declared unconstitutional had the indirect encouragement and blessings of the US. This is attested to by the joint statement titled ‘Fixing Mindanao,’ released by the immediate seven former US ambassadors to the Philippines,” he said.

Arroyo was referring to the statement that appeared on the Sept. 30, 2008, issue of the Asian Wall Street Journal, which was in support of the MOA-AD.

The statement, which appeared as an opinion piece, was jointly written by former US Ambassadors Stephen Bosworth, Thomas Hubbard, Richard Murphy, Nicholas Platt, Francis Ricciardone, Richard Solomon and Frank Wisner, along with US officials Chester Crocker and Eugene Martin, and Astrid Tuminez, senior research associate of the US Institute of Peace Philippine Facilitation Project.

I don't exactly know what the good senator, who has the image of a staunch nationalist, said during the itnerview (because sometimes interviews have their way of being edited and coming out misconstrued), but the report as written gave me the impression that he was justifying the MOA-AD because after all, it was supported by the Americans, as jointly written by seven former US ambassadors. Of course, everybody knows that even the current US ambassador was supposed to have been a witness to the signing of the MOA if it had pushed through.

Senator Arroyo's quote even seemed to be meant to contrast the decision of the Supreme Court, implying that the SC was wrong in making that decision on a matter that is supported by the United States.

I do hope that the Senator, whom I respect, was misquoted. Because my opinion is SO WHAT IF THE AMERICANS SUPPORTED THE MOA?

While I look upon the United States as an important ally of the Philippines, it cannot be denied that they always act with their own interests as their primary concern. Meaning to say, if they supported the MOA, it is not out of the goodness of their heart or particular desire for the welfare of the Philippines. They support it because it is in their best interest.

The constitutionality of the agreement is a purely Filipino concern and no foreign opinion or position should matter. The Supreme Court is the final arbiter of legal questions in the Philippines, as provided for in the Constitution. Their supreme mandate is the defense of the Constitution so if there is any question of constitutinality, their final word is holy. It is ridiculous to even consider what foreigners think about matters brought to the Supreme Court.

What is their interest in Mindanao? There may be many, but one that would stand out is the American company Exxon's project to drill oil in the Sulu Sea. How would the MOA-AD play out in this project?

Well, under the proposed MOA-AD, the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity would have been empowered to enter into agreements with foreign governments or entities pertaining to their economy and use of natural resources. The MOA also provided the BJE with their own Exclusive Economic Zone with the determination of their territorial boundaries prescribed in the MOA.

So with the Americans supporting the MOA, one can be sure that the BJE will be a friendly entity to the United States, free from the restrictions presently being enforced by our Constitution.

Oil is a major motivation for the United States to get involved in a country's affairs. Iraq was and is not just about the atrocities of Saddam Hussein and the welfare of the Iraqi people. It is first and foremost about the control of oil in the Middle East.

What about other countries in the world where conflict, oppression and strife has caused human suffering? What involvement did the United States have? What about the genocide and war crimes in Darfur? While the US is funding a monitoring team there, the United States is not motivated to act against the government in Sudan in the same way as they did in the case of Iraq.

So in the case of the MOA-AD, so what if the Americans supported it? The Supreme Court has decided. Let that be the final word on the matter.

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