Zamboanga.com Editorials

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao
ARMM
Bangsamoro Juridical Entity
Office on Muslim Affairs
August 14, 2008

To: The Filipino People

Currently the media, government, NGO’s, educational institutions, and the people of the Philippines are giving a lot of lip service to the Bangsamoro Juridical Entitiy. You can see signs posted in front of barangay halls “Yes to peace, NO to BJE”. These signs are all over Mindanao.

The concerned political leaders are rallying the people to make protest marches against the government regarding their intention to sign the Memorandum of Agreement with the BJE. Even some non-muslim religious leaders are voicing out their opinions about the unification of the Filipino people, they do not want Mindanao torn apart. They are saying no to the BJE.

The topic about the BJE is national and even the Supreme Court of the Philippines is involved. Why is everybody talking about the BJE? I suppose, even you are caught up in this BJE cyclone.

Well, the first three paragraphs of this letter mentions the BJE, so I suppose, I am also sucked in to this topic too. But let us not put so much emphasis on the BJE anymore. Let us talk about the ARMM.

The ARMM is a legal entity in the Republic of the Philippines. The ARMM is recognized by the constitution of the Philippines even though its constitutionality is questionable. On the other hand, the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity is not recognized by the constitution of the Philippines. It is only recognized by the negotiating panel of President Arroyo. The BJE is not a legal entity in the Philippines. Hence, the negotiation was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

So, why is all the focus on the BJE and not on the ARMM? The focus in on the BJE because they (the conspirators) do not want us to target the source of the problem and that is the ARMM. They (the conspirators) want the Filipino people to chase and fight shadows. The BJE is simply the shadow of the ARMM. There is so much hoopla about the BJE but in the meantime the ARMM had a general election (8/11/08) monitored by the COMELEC and paid for by the Filipino people. Yes the Filipino people (you) are paying for the existence of a favored MUSLIM entity, the ARMM, within the Philippines.

The Philippine constitution was amended in 1987 and in article II section 6 it declares: “The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable”. However, it went on to Article X section 15 and declares that: “There shall be created autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao.......”. So in 1989 Republic Act No. 6734 was created: “AN ACT PROVIDING FOR AN ORGANIC ACT FOR THE AUTONOMOUS REGION IN MUSLIM MINDANAO” hence forward known as the ARMM or autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao. In article VIII section 22 of RA 6734 it states:

No public money or property shall be appropriated, applied, paid or employed, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, sectarian institution, or system of religion or of any priest, imam, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary as such, except when such priest, imam, preacher, minister or dignitary is assigned to the regional police force or to any penal institution, or government orphanage or leprosarium within the Region.”

I ask you; Was the idea behind the RA 6734 constitutional? Didn’t RA 6734 go against the 1987 constitution, separating church and state? This mandate of separation of church and state goes back to the 1899 constitution declaring: “Title III: RELIGION: Article 5. The State recognizes the freedom and equality of all religions, as well as the separation of the Church and the State.”

But here we are with the ARMM with a budget of billions of pesos every year. Billions of pesos per year designated for the MUSLIMS only. Hey, we the non-Muslims need help too!

Why didn’t anybody question the constitutionality of RA 6734? It is obviously contradictory to the declaration of Separation of the Church and the State. Why? Why are the majority if not all Non-Muslim Religious leaders in the Philippines who are supposed to be mentors and guardians of their flock not contesting this RA 6734 in public? How can Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, SJ who is Dean Emeritus of Ateneo Law School, Makati, Philippines close his eyes to this incongruity in the constitution? He was a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission which drafted the present Philippine Constitution. If Fr. Bernas, a renowned expert in the Philippine constitution, allowed this RA 6734 to go through, we have been sold out. Yes sold out at the highest level, by government and church. Yes Fr. Bernas S.J. supported the idea to have the Philippine constitution refer to the Island of Mindanao as "Muslim Mindanao".

Tremendous amount of money, energy, and resources have been invested into stopping the BJE. Stopping the BJE doesn’t mean that the Filipino people have won. It only means that we wasted our energy on the BJE because that’s what the conspirators wanted. The distraction worked. The ARMM now has their new set of Governance paid for by the Filipino people. Now fully armed with a new set of officials and fully funded by the Philippine government, the ARMM is well poised to take over the entire Mindanao just as what the name implied all along: Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

We need to go to the source of the problem. The problem is RA 6734!! Republic Act number 6734 is unconstitutional.

REMEMBER THIS:
“No public money or property shall be appropriated, applied, paid or employed, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, sectarian institution, or system of religion or of any priest, imam, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary as such,” THIS IS IN THE CONSTITUTION.

The Philippine government has the “Office on Muslim Affairs” directly under the Office of the President of the Philippines. Check it for yourself: http://www.oma.gov.ph/site This is the official website of OMA and it is financed by the Philippine government. The OMA was not instituted to help or take care of Non-Muslim filipinos. The OMA was instituted to cater only to the Muslim people.

THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT DOES NOT FINANCIALLY SUPPORT ANY NON-MUSLIM RELIGIONS.

BUT

THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT FINANCIALLY SUPPORTS THE MUSLIMS AND THIS IS CONTRARY TO THE PHILIPPINE CONSTITUTION.

We have the freedom of Religion, let no one take this away from us. Do not let the Executive Office tear the Philippines apart.

"All it takes for evil to triumph in the world is for good men to do nothing."
Edmond Burke