The Deal Goes Sour for the Muslims of Mindanao

I reported on Saturday about a deal that was recently struck between the central government of the Philippines and the Muslim separatists of Mindanao, as represented by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Manila was ready to rid itself of this troublesome region, which has plagued the country for decades with murders, bombings, kidnapping, and all the other forms of traditional Islamic violence. The agreed-upon deal would have left the new political entity in Mindanao with virtual autonomy, and a free had to impose sharia on the population under its control, Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

But the protests from the Catholic minority in the region seem to have been strong enough to be effective. Thanks to the intervention of the Supreme Court, the deal is now on hold. According to Al Arabiya:

Philippine Supreme Court halts Muslim land deal

The Philippines Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order on Monday to halt a territorial deal between the government and Muslim separatists, the latest setback for peace in the nation’s volatile south.

The agreement between Manila and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, was to be signed in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday after more than 10 years of stop-start talks.

Catholic politicians in the south had asked the Supreme Court to halt the signing ceremony, arguing they had not been consulted on the deal. They fear it will carve up the southern island of Mindanao into Muslim enclaves.

Manila, whose commitment to a permanent political solution for the south has sometimes been questioned, said it welcomed the court’s move.

“I feel this is a relief,” said Jesus Dureza, spokesman for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. “It’s a good opportunity for some issues to be thrashed out.”

Malaysia, which has been brokering the talks between the two sides, expressed regret over the move.

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“It’s a big disappointment,” said a Malaysian government source familiar with the talks. “I pity the people in Mindanao.”


The deal was meant to formally re-open peace talks to end a near 40-year conflict that has killed more than 120,000 people, displaced 2 million, and kept the most resource-rich region of the country dirt poor.

Under the territorial agreement, an existing autonomous region for Muslims in the south of the largely Catholic country would be widened and they would get broad political and economic powers.

But the agreement’s hasty conclusion on the eve of President Arroyo’s annual state speech last month and its generous provisions to the MILF on mineral wealth prompted some analysts to dismiss it as political window dressing.

Hat tip: TB.

6 thoughts on “The Deal Goes Sour for the Muslims of Mindanao

  1. The real joke is the idea that any deal reached would lead to peace. The only thing it would lead to is more demands from the Muslims, who see any attempts at acomodation with them as weakness and a green light to demand more.

  2. What a thing to do to the mohamaden islamic political idiology just when they put forth their heart felt intentions for the region, by beheading a few catholic bus riders?!

  3. If they were to be effectively isolated (no drug trafficking etc. to fund them), the inherent inefficiency of Islamic rule would drive them to desperation and crime within a few years.

    Having sufficient police & military to contain them should show the world a lesson or two about the crappiness of Islamic rule.

  4. I wonder if the Christians will see the writing on the wall written in their blood and decide to do a rewrite in someone else’s blood. They have been warned and they can clearly see Manila will not help them.

  5. After an informative exchange with Wretchard, over at his outstanding Belmont Club, I’m inclined to speculate that this isn’t at all about religion. Both sides have their respective covers in this matter.

    The Moro Muslims pretend that this is a religious issue when it is merely about expansion of Islamic dominion. In a nearly identical fashion, the Philippine side of this coin is also about domain.

    One of the principal problems that continues to make the Philippines a total economic basket case is the issue of land ownership. As with almost every single Spanish colonial outpost, the vast majority of real estate is held either by government concerns or a minuscule percentage of the population. In this case, civilian ownership is in the hands of a very few colonial era families, usually in the form of large estancias that were originally granted by the Roman Catholic Church or viceroys of the Spanish government.

    To this day, redistribution of arable land remains a central sticking point in all reform. Lack of property rights drives a host of significant issues such as illegal timber harvesting, illicit mining operations and other environmentally damaging criminal enterprises. At the same time, without actual ownership, tenants are discouraged from making substantial improvements or maximizing any harvests or output of natural resources. This is a near-lethal soporific in economic terms.

    I would venture that whichever families who hold the major estates in Mindinao are raising Holy H-E-Double Toothpicks with Manila regarding any possible turnover of their ownership, or even the prospect of retaining such lands only to experience abusive Islamic taxation laws.

    We can all be confident that, unlike in Islamic countries where wealthy families have loopholes to avoid usurious taxation, Roman Catholic families in the Phillipines would enjoy no such respite. Neither would I be surprised if President Arroyo received some less-than-subtle coercion to stymie this whole dog’s breakfast of a “treaty”. Death threats are much easier to carry out in Manila than New York.

    Look for this whole affair either to be strangled in the cradle or subjected to inconclusive and interminable legal wrangling à la Charles Dickens’ Jarndyce v Jarndyce in “Bleak House”.

  6. Henrik R Clausen said… If they were to be effectively isolated (no drug trafficking etc. to fund them), the inherent inefficiency of Islamic rule would drive them to desperation and crime within a few years.

    The problem is isolating them totally.
    In any case, strict Islamic rule will soon bring about economic chaos. What then? Hundreds of thousands of destitute Muslim Mindanaons will leave for the Phillipines and Western countries. They will be assisted by our own NGOs, aid agencies, the UN, and all others asking or our compassion for these poor people, fleeing economic adversity.

    In the fullness of time, these very people will start the process of Islamisation of yet another part of Phillipines, or take part in the Balkanisation of Europe.

    Sometimes I get a feeling that sharia law is strategically designed to spread Islam by forcing Muslims to flee to Kaffir nations.

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