PATERNO Islamic Diplomacy POS230.2

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Running Head: Islamic Diplomacy
PATERNO, LORIGEN M. (POS 230)

ISLAMIC DIPLOMACY AND
THE BANGSAMORO BASIC LAW

By: Lorigen M. Paterno

A Journal Article
Submitted to
Dr. Maria Elissa J. Lao

In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements in
POS 230 – Graduate Seminar in International Relations
Ateneo de Manila University

May 7, 2016

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Running Head: Islamic Diplomacy
PATERNO, LORIGEN M. (POS 230)

Abstract

The Mindanao peace process has long been the national government’s biggest challenge
in its quest for a sustainable national development. With the incorporation of all the peace
agreements between the Government of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation
Front (MILF) in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the peace talks
became optimistic. The CAB is considered as the most comprehensive peace agreement that was
ever written in the Southeast Asian Region and in its drafting as well as that of the Bangasamoro
Basic Law (BBL), foreign intervention played a significant role to their demise. This paper
aimed at answering the following questions: 1) What Islamic Diplomacy principles were injected
in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and in the Bangsamoro Basic Law
(BBL) that can be considered as an influence of Southeast Asian or Middle Eastern perspectives?
And 2) What interests were being looked into during the drafting of the CAB and BBL? The
paper intended to find out what interests are being looked into with the participation of the three
entities under the lens of Islamic diplomacy.

In conclusion, the MILF’s quest for self-

determination is constantly challenged due to the lack of a true Islamic diplomacy in the peace
process and the questionable motives of the parties involved.

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Running Head: Islamic Diplomacy
PATERNO, LORIGEN M. (POS 230)
Introduction

When Deputy Speaker for Mindanao Pangalian Balindong of Lanao del Sur gave his
“grieving heart” speech last January 27, 2016 on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the public
had mixed emotions about it (Arguillas, 2016). But majority in the Muslim communities were
deeply disheartened.

The Mindanao peace process has long been the national government’s biggest challenge
in its quest for a sustainable national development. Even if this concept of an ethnic divide was
initially shaped by a long history of foreign interventions, the problem persisted with the
inability of the government to pass a law that not only recognizes a diverse community but
ensures their involvement in the Philippine polity.

But is this really the end of BBL? Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) spokesperson
Iqbal already saw this as a scenario after the bill was introduced to Congress in October 2014
(Gallardo, 2015) and promised that the pursuit of the peace process will still push through
despite the non-passage of the BBL.

The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) is considered as the most
comprehensive peace agreement that was ever written in the Southeast Asian Region. However,
when this was drafted, foreign intervention still played a big role.

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Running Head: Islamic Diplomacy
PATERNO, LORIGEN M. (POS 230)
The Bangsamoro Basic Law was drafted by the Philippine government in congruence
with the Mindanao Peace Process. The approach used in drafting the Comprehensive Agreement
on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is believed to be a product of
Islamic diplomacy with a Southeast Asian supervision and a little of Middle Eastern influence.

With this in mind, this paper intends to answer the following questions:
1) What Islamic Diplomacy principles were injected in the Comprehensive Agreement on
the Bangsamoro (CAB) and in the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that can be considered
as an influence of Southeast Asian or Middle Eastern perspectives?
2) What interests were being looked into during the drafting of the CAB and BBL?

This paper is limited to a content analysis of primary sources such as CAB and the BBL,
as well as of secondary sources from news articles and previous research works. Further, this
paper focuses only on the involvement of the following Muslim third parties: Malaysia as the
chief peace broker, Indonesia and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as mere
observers in the drafting of the CAB and the BBL. The paper intends to find out what interests
are being looked into with the participation of the three entities under the lens of Islamic
diplomacy.

Theoretically, this paper follows a realist perspective wherein the interests of the third
parties’ involvements and the Philippine government’s own national interest do not coincide with
the ultimate goal of a sustained peace and development for Muslim Mindanao. And it is due to
this projection that any peace agreement with the MILF will just be in vain.
Discussion
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Running Head: Islamic Diplomacy
PATERNO, LORIGEN M. (POS 230)

Islamic Diplomacy
When diplomacy is injected in the management of a conflict, one would automatically
relate it as to how tactfully one settles and manages the brewing conflict. In political science,
diplomacy is the art and science of maintaining good relations between governments of countries
or between groups (Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2016). It is an art as it refers to the creativity
and the various methods used, while science refers to the organized and systematic practice of
the field.

Islam as a social and political concept, have also brought about a cultural value to
diplomacy. And despite Western and popular belief that diplomacy for the Muslims is a new
concept, Islamic diplomacy is actually as old as the establishment of the monotheistic religion
itself.

Islamic diplomacy is derived from the Islamic principle of siyar which is the Islamic
International Law that dictates the relations of Islamic states (Friedman, 2012). Although
Islamic diplomacy originated in the Arab world as a means for self-preservation (to protect their
properties), the said concept has now been retained as a means to establish peaceful ties among
Islamic states until an ummah or one Islamic state is established. Diplomacy in Islam was a
means to avoid war or any kind of conflict unless it is in defense of oneself or of the weak
(Bsoul, 2012).
When the Arabs adopted the monotheistic religion, Islam introduced another aspect to
Arab diplomacy and this is the concept of arbitration and mediation. Islamic disciples who

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Running Head: Islamic Diplomacy
PATERNO, LORIGEN M. (POS 230)
became messengers of God, also became emissaries for Islam. They enter conflict states as
peace advocates seeking truce between warring states, bringing with them the message of God
that Islam prohibits any form of conflict (Bsoul, 2012). Arbitration and mediation are key
approaches to Islamic diplomacy in the Middle East.

As Islam provides for pluralism and diversity, different interpretations have been given to
the concept of Islamic diplomacy. The previous definition is considered an adaptation of the
traditional Arab diplomacy.

Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia, with Islam as its dominant
religion, have adopted an Islamic diplomacy that is also culturally Southeast Asian.

President Fidel V. Ramos, as cited in Santos’ article (2013), emphasized the distinct
Indonesian type of Islamic diplomacy applied in the Mindanao Peace Process during his
administration. With this, the Philippine government continued to pursue the same approach
ever since.

Since Indonesia has been at the forefront of the Mindanao Peace Process for two decades,
an Indonesian Islamic diplomacy was adopted.
(musyawarah) and mufakat.

These principles are the musjawarah

Musyawarah is a process of deliberation where constant

consultation is important until the group arrives to a mufakat or a consensus (Kawamura, 2011).
The challenge to this approach though is the lengthy and grueling process of discussion and
debate.

This also disregards the reality of a minority that might have objections to the

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Running Head: Islamic Diplomacy
PATERNO, LORIGEN M. (POS 230)
deliberation process. With this in mind, one might assume and conclude that this is probably one
of the reasons why the Mindanao peace process took more than two decades to be finally
concluded. It should be noted here then that Indonesia is part of the International Monitoring
Team in the recent FAB and has significant influence over the Organization of Islamic
Cooperation (OIC) as well as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Islamic diplomacy in CAB & BBL
As a quick review, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) is actually
a compilation of all the agreements made between the Government of the Philippines and the
Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which started in 1997 to the 2014 Framework Agreement
on the Bangsamoro (FAB).

It has been established earlier in the paper that the distinct Islamic diplomacy adopted in
the peace process is that of the Indonesian concepts of musyawarah and mufakat. However, it
has been observed that the principles of conciliation and mediation are what has been
incorporated in the CAB, specifically in the FAB, and also in the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
It can then be deduced that neither a Southeast Asian or Middle Eastern Islamic diplomacy has
been adopted by both documents, except in the value of mediation which is part of the Islamic
diplomacy in the Middle East.

Reading the BBL, one would notice that 89% of its content are either adopted from the
Philippine constitution or from international laws and conventions. But certain provisions such
as Article 5, Section 3, on Exclusive powers, statements 27, 39, 47 & 48 have incorporated

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Running Head: Islamic Diplomacy
PATERNO, LORIGEN M. (POS 230)
Islamic values and principles such as awqaf and Hisbah. Awqaf is an Islamic institution that
built Islam’s socio-economic development through a form of endowments. This is a voluntary
act of charity that comes under the general terms of sadaqah and infaq or charitable spending
(Awqaf, 2013). Hisbah, on the other hand, is another Islamic value that “enjoins what is good
and forbidding what is evil' and the person given this position is provided with the practical
duties that is consistent with the general interests of the Muslims (Elsergany, 2010).

The Bangsamoro follows the same Islamic principles that majority of the Muslim world
has adopted. These are the Qu’ran, the Sunnah and the Shari’a law. The Qu’ran is believed to be
Islam’s religious documentation of the word of God as He presented it to Prophet Mohammed.
The Sunnah is a recording of Prophet Mohammed’s teacings, deeds and sayings, and silent
permissions from God . It is also the basis of the traditional practices of the Muslims
(Encyclopedia Brittanica, 2015). The Shari’a is the Islamic law that is derived from the Qu’ran
and the Sunnah wherein which the Muslims are required to follow.

The Islamic values incorporated in the CAB and in the BBL may not considered as
subsets of diplomacy, however, it is important to emphasize that Islam is not just a religion but it
is also considered as a way of life. With this, one can notice that a universal Islamic value is
observed by all Muslims in the world.

Third Party Involvement

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Running Head: Islamic Diplomacy
PATERNO, LORIGEN M. (POS 230)
Having established what Islamic diplomacy is and what type can be observed in the CAB
and BBL, this part of the paper would like to tackle how Islamic diplomacy brought about the
gathering of three influential entities in the drafting of the BBL and look into each entity’s
interest over the peace process.

The Philippine government under the Aquino administration had been enthusiastic with
the final draft of the BBL. In fact, when the Philippines signed to be part of the ASEAN
Integration of 2015, the BBL was at the forefront as the country’s major accomplishment on
peace and development. But the Mamasapano incident happened and despite the eagerness to
pass it, the President was not able to anticipate the Congress’ reluctance to pursue its passage.
The BBL was also Aquino’s strategy to finally be part of the OIC under an observer status.
Being part of OIC would mean an easier access to Islamic countries and ally with them. An
alliance with the Islamic countries would ensure the protection of our overseas workers as well
as economically wise to have bilateral agreements with them. Indonesia and Malaysia are two of
the members that supported the Philippines on this. However, other members, such as Turkey
denied the application due to two factors: first, MNLF is already a member of the OIC and
second, the Philippines has not yet implemented the provisions of the FAB in the CAB (Sevilla,
2013).

Indonesia having an observer status in the drafting of the FAB, can be seen as the
Philippines’ main cheerleader. This country has been Philippines’ peace broker in the previous
peace agreements with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) that brought about the
successful implementation of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

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Running Head: Islamic Diplomacy
PATERNO, LORIGEN M. (POS 230)
However, why is Indonesia constantly trying to be part of the Mindanao Peace Process?
Hoesterey (2016) has outlined the possibility of Indonesia as establishing a “soft power” over the
Muslim ummah through diplomacy. After the Arab Spring series of events, Indonesia assigned
itself as a global peace broker by convening various workshops for Libyans and Tunisians and
sharing its experiences on shifting to democracy. If this is the case, then Indonesia which is not
the chief peace broker for FAB would not be disappointed since it still has other opportunities to
establish itself, especially since BBL has not been passed into law and the term of the Aquino
administration draws to an end.

Malaysia’s involvement in the drafting of the BBL is the most crucial and significantly
memorable.

Yen Makabenta (2015) of the Manila Times has graphically summarized the

dangers of Malaysia’s role in the FAB. In the article, he argued that Malaysia has been suspected
of financing and supporting MILF ever since its defection from MNLF. In fact, he said that
Malaysia might just be the reason why MILF defected from the MNLF group. With Malaysia’s
hold over the rebel group, the state is assured of its control over Sabah. Sabah, if we can recall,
is a territory that the Philippines and the Malaysian government are having dispute over. At the
start of the peace process with the MILF, it was this group that insisted to have Malaysia as the
chief peace broker and this assured the state a strong influence over the rebel group and the
Aquino administration. Makabenta further pointed out that after the drafting of the agreements,
the Aquino administration kept its silence over the Sabah dispute.

This observation is strengthened by another news article in the ABS-CBN news written
by Ellen T. Tordesillas after an interview with a representative from the Magdalo group.

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Running Head: Islamic Diplomacy
PATERNO, LORIGEN M. (POS 230)
Magdalo representative Gary Alejano insisted on looking beyond Malaysia’s interest over BBL
and its role as chief mediator. It was from this interpellation in one of the sessions that the
Philippine government was not the one who chose the chief mediator. He further emphasized
that Malaysia was the one that provided for para-military training for the rebels in Sabah.

It is clear in both narratives that Malaysia’s motives are questionable and undoubtedly in
conflict with the ultimate goal of establishing sustainable peace in the Muslim region of the
Philippines.

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Running Head: Islamic Diplomacy
PATERNO, LORIGEN M. (POS 230)
Conclusion

The MILF’s quest for self-determination through the acknowledgement and finally the
establishment of a Bangsamoro in the Philippines is constantly challenged.

For one, an

identification of true Islamic values in the conduct of the peace process is not observed. Foreign
interventions continue to provide a mixed signal on what to pursue, as each entity that joins the
peace process bring with them their own interests. The true intensions of the parties involved
continue to bar the goal of a lasting peace.

The international scene behind the Mindanao peace process also seems to have an impact
on the peace agreements. The OIC, as an observer in the peace process, brings with it the power
to control the Philippine government and its economic interests with Islamic countries.
Indonesia have assigned itself as the Asian Islamic peace broker and later claiming hegemony
over the ummah. Malaysia, having a conflict of interest with our country over Sabah, has
maintained a proverbial stance over the peace process by ensuring its hold over MILF.

The Mindanao peace process will need a true version of Islamic diplomacy that not only
adopts the universal application of Islam but a diplomacy that caters to the historical
underpinnings of the Muslim people in the region.

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Running Head: Islamic Diplomacy
PATERNO, LORIGEN M. (POS 230)
References
Awqaf. (2013). Retrieved May 6, 2016, from https://www.amanahawqaf.org/:
https://www.amanahawqaf.org/what-is-awqaf/
Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (2016).
Arguillas, C. O. (2016, 27 January). Balindong: “This House of Representatives has collectively
failed the Bangsamoro people”. Retrieved February 14, 2016, from http://www.mindanews.com/:
http://www.mindanews.com/peace-process/2016/01/27/balindong-this-house-of-representativeshas-collectively-failed-the-bangsamoro-people/
Bsoul, L. A. (2012, October 23). Ilslamic Diplomacy: Views of the Classical Jurists. Abu Dhabi,
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: Khalifa University of Science, Technology and
Research.
Elsergany, R. (2010). Hisbah in the Islamic administration system. Retrieved May 6, 2016, from
http://islamstory.com/: http://islamstory.com/en/node/27466
Encyclopedia Brittanica. (2015). Sunnah. Retrieved May 6, 2016, from
http://www.britannica.com/: http://www.britannica.com/topic/Sunnah
Friedman, D. (2012). Islamic International Law. Retrieved May 5, 2016, from
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12/Papers_12/IslamicInternationalLaw_Nazzaro_12.htm
Gallardo, F. (2015, March 25). Iqbal: peace no matter what happens to BBL. Retrieved February
13, 2016, from http://www.mindanews.com: http://www.mindanews.com/peaceprocess/2015/03/25/iqbal-peace-no-matter-what-happens-to-bbl/
Hoesterey, J. B. (2016, April 20). Indonesia: Rebranding Islam : Public Diplomacy, Soft
Powerand the Making of "Moderate Islam". Retrieved May 5, 2016, from
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Jr., S. M. (2013, March 9). The Role of Islamic Diplomacy in the Mindanao Peace Process. Asia
Peacebuilding Initiatives.
Kawamura, K. (2011, September). Consensus and Democracy in Indonesia: MusyawarahMufakat Revisited. Retrieved May 6, 2016, from http://www.ide.go.jp/:
http://www.ide.go.jp/English/Publish/Download/Dp/pdf/308.pdf
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Running Head: Islamic Diplomacy
PATERNO, LORIGEN M. (POS 230)
Makabenta, Y. (2016, April 20). Malaysia's role should be Explained. Retrieved May 6, 2016,
from The Manila Times.
Sevilla, H. J. (2013, May 20). The Philippine's Elusive Quest for OIC Observer Status. Middle
East Institute.
Tordesillas, E. T. (2015, June 28). Magdalo Rep: Malaysia's role in the creation of Bangsamoro
still cause of concern. ABS-CBN. Metro Manila, Philippines: ABS-CBN News.

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