At first, there was some kind of confusion among the simple Filipinos on account of its rather impressive title: “Framework Agreement.” It was both awesome as well as enigmatic. What made it even more magical and soul stirring was the pomp and pageantry that accompanied its ceremonial signing. All those present were in their best and expensive attires. They were all beaming with obvious pride and self-satisfaction. Bright lights and big cameras were on. The ritual was flawless. All those present in the ceremonial singing of the “Agreement in the Framework,” the “Framework” in the agreement, or whatever, looked like the incarnations of immense success, of incredible achievement.
There was however one big flaw already noticed and lamented then in the supposedly summit of achievement for peace, order, and development in Mindanao. It is not a secret that there were then and there are still now definitely more than one rebel group in the place. They are all rebels though with different names and symbols. They are all claiming one kind of self-rule or another—with the common denominator of some form of independence from the central government. In other words, said rebel groupings are not exactly friends to one another although all of them want to be on their own for one reason or another—through some form of “independence” of self-rule.
Yet notwithstanding all such well-known and duly identified rebel divisions, groupings or clusters, the hallowed and sanctimonious “Framework Agreement” or something was meticulously done and gloriously signed with but one rebel aggregate—with all other groupings conspicuously absent from the grand occasion. In other words, the MILF had a stellar role in the glorious occasion. But the MNLF—and other rebel aggregations—were eerily absent. This was in effect saying that the ARMM was either irrelevant or something basically not worth taking into account. Such was the basic cause of the Zamboanga siege last September and the continuing packets of skirmishes by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao this January that has already wasted a good number of lives and displaced thousands of local residents.
What is really pitiful or even disgusting is that it is the people who eventually suffer from the blunders of the administration—an entity that is funded and thus paid by the people, that exists and acts at the expense of the people—yet proves to be the misfortune if not a downright scourge of the people.
Of course, there are more issues to resolve with the centuries-old conflicts surrounding Muslim Mindanao. But obviously, the Framework Agreement is not a panacea of peace for Mindanao, contrary to what the spin doctors of this administration is trying to make everybody believe.