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A Case of Moro History Repeating PDF Print E-mail

By Benhur B. Dandan
Bangsamoro Research Centre

ImageEven as the Bangsamoro People renounced and/or waived their rights over their ancestral homeland, their misfortunes nonetheless continued to befall. Today a group of armed Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members has vowed to continue the struggle against the Philippine government. They are unhappy with the “appropriated peace” dispensed for their own people. Obviously, they have a point to grind, considering they have traded their right to a homeland for it.
In response to their rebelliousness, however, Manila is vilifying them as “common criminals and terrorists.”  No less than the temporary occupant of Malacanang (presidential palace) has acknowledged them to be so.

On the basis of their right to redeem their ceded homeland prior to the 1996 Final Peace Agreement, the judgment rendered by government to such action, is indeed harsh. To a people denied of their homeland, the vilification is equally unforgivable. For the Bangsamoro People are far from villains. The perception ostensibly, is typical of Spanish aversion for the Moros, especially when the latter began to fight back in defense of their homeland and freedom.
Nevertheless, on account of the 1996 Peace Pact, the right that took them to war for the redemption of their still ceded homeland has virtually been extinguished, no longer available for them to exercise. ImageUnder the Principle of “Estoppel By Deed” and “Estoppel By Acquiescence”, they cannot deny what they have already signed or acquiesced. 
Estoppel [from Norman French estouper, to stop up], is a rule of evidence or a rule of law that prevents a person from denying the truth of a statement he has made or from denying facts that he has alleged to exist. Estoppel by Deed prevents a person who executed a deed from saying that the facts stated in the deed are not true”
Steven Gifis similarly writes: “Estoppel by Deed is a bar which precludes a party denying the truth of his deed. It may be invoked only in a suit on the deed, or concerning a right arising out of it.” L.B. Curzon adds:  “In Estoppel by deed, a party to a deed is estopped in a court of law from saying that the facts stated in the deed are not truly stated.”
Meanwhile, “Estoppel by Acquiescence is closely related to estoppel by silence. In estoppel by acquiescence, a person is prevented from maintaining a position inconsistent with one which he has acquiesced” 
In the light of this reason, Manila appears correct for branding them terrorists.  Evidently, they have broken the law, and the Constitution to which they had already rendered recognition. Conversely, it can never be right to want peace and war at the same time. That would be insensible, idiotic in the strictest sense. Neither is it appropriate to use force as a means to blackmail the government. Nor is it a rational way of solving a problem. Negotiation is. No wonder, some people deserve the derision.
If that image is anything to go by, the Bangsamoro People are truly born losers. They have not only lost their right to a homeland, but are victims of their own follies as well.  Attacking a military garrison in Jolo in 2001 has played into government design of painting them as bad people. While they may have the right to protest against government inaction and negligence in implementing the 1996 Peace Agreement, but the manner by which they carried out their outcry was never commendable.  In fact, it cannot and should not be condoned.  They should have used the peaceful means, the force of reason in that regard. 

ImageBut for all their honest intentions, the Bangsamoro People have always wound up victims. Added to their sorrow, they are today being labeled as terrorists. So whatever they do that may hurt people and humanity would, in effect, make them more than ever terrorists - enemies of the free world.  And for being so, they shall have no place to run, no room to hide from the reaches of the now hi-tech arm of the law.
Again to restate the facts, the Bangsamoro People are not by any means terrorists. The accusation leveled against them is a paranoia and concoction of Malacanang and its anti-Muslim allies. Unless they regain their homeland, which was illegally taken from them in 1898, they will remain victims of injustice. So how could they be terrorists when they are just merely trying to retrieve what is theirs? The situation prevailing over the Bangsamoro People is as similar that plagued their forefathers. Rather, it is a case of history repeating itself.  (Benhur B. Dandan is the author of the soon-to-be-published book, MORO RIGHTS FOR PEACE, from which this article is taken)