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Bangsamoro’s Potential for Regional Gains
Bangsamoro’s Potential for Regional Gains
Report 240 / Asia

菲律宾:棉兰老岛问题的突破性进展

执行摘要

2012年10月15日,摩洛伊斯兰解放阵线(Moro Islamic Liberation Front,MILF)与菲律宾政府签署了一项协议。就很多方面而言这项协议都是一个突破,但与实现最终和平仍相去甚远。双方在多年的谈判过程中签署了数份协议,最近签署的这项协议——“框架协议”——同以前的协议一样,把许多棘手的问题搁置一边,也没有阐明如果未来要解决这些问题应该如何着手。当务之急是要在以穆斯林人口为主的棉兰老岛成立一个真正的自治区,为被称为邦萨摩洛的几个少数族群服务。该自治区应享有更多权力、更多领土和更多资源控制权。这份框架协议设想在动乱的、以穆斯林人口为主的南部成立一个新政府,新政府负责自己的财政收入,拥有自主的警察和司法系统。协议制订了一个多步骤的进程,要在2016年总统阿基诺三世任期结束时成立这个新政体。协议前进的道路困难重重。棉兰老岛或者马尼拉的政治活动可能会对其进行阻拦,另外要在不违背宪法的情况下移交足够的权力给邦萨摩罗政府,这一点也不太可能。在整个进程结束之前,MILF是不太可能放弃其武装的。

拥有一万两千名兵力的MILF是菲律宾最大、武装实力最强的叛军组织,而同该组织的和平谈判始于1997年。谈判进展极为缓慢,2000年、2003年和2008年发生的严重冲突曾三度中断谈判进程。2008年谈判的破裂具有破坏性的政治影响,因为它使得各方在实现最终和平的关键因素上的立场变得强硬。这些关键因素包括新的自治区邦萨摩洛的领土以及它与马尼拉方面的权力对比。处于政治风暴中心的是一个总括性的文本,叫做《祖传领地协议备忘录》(Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain,MOA-AD),最高法院判决该备忘录的条款违反宪法。这份备忘录也从未正式签署过。此后,要使和平进程回到正轨上非常困难,因为MILF坚持谈判在哪里中断就要从哪里重新开始。

现任总统阿基诺2010年6月开始执政,他无意再重复先前的错误。阿基诺政府向可能破坏和平进程的人进行咨询并向他们进行了保证。任何协议都必须符合法律和宪法的规定,也不能激起政治风波。 政府之前的策略是找到一种把MILF的注意力从2008年失败的协定上移开的方式。阿基诺当选的施政纲领是反腐,如果和平协议有恶化南部治理问题的风险,那么这样一个协议也并非他所希望看到的。MILF对其自身在这场谈判的持久战中所表现出来的顽强和前后的一致性颇为自豪,因此最初MILF并没有意愿把注意力转到这个新的方式上来。

直到2012年年中,谈判才开始取得实质性进展。当时各方开始起草一份文件,文件中涵盖了所有能达成共识的方面,而把不能达成共识的方面搁置一旁。 在和谈促成者马来西亚以及国际上其他一些与和平进程相关的第三方的推动下,MILF和阿基诺政府关系日趋紧密,框架协议的文本也逐渐成形。当进行到比较艰难的部分——领土问题时,MILF准备好了冒险,接受了一些可能难以获得它在棉兰老岛支持者认可的条款,但是这些条款却能给整个邦萨摩洛一个机会来决定是否接受实现最终和平的条件。

对阿基诺政府而言,在经历了数年海外秘密谈判之后让和平进程重回菲律宾,并给予棉兰老岛的其他势力一个机会,让他们享有发言权,这两点是非常重要的。尽管邦萨摩洛的政治格局四分五裂,MILF的领导人还是声称MILF代表了整个邦萨摩洛。他们同意为邦萨摩洛的其他势力腾出位置,让他们也参与谈判,并帮助他们起草新法律来建立一个新的邦萨摩洛政府。如果一切进展顺利,这将会提高和平进程的大众合法性;如果进展不顺,并且邦萨摩洛内部本身都无法达成一致意见的话,将会严重破坏地区自治的概念。接下来将会遇到的阻碍是在国会通过这项新法律。总统的广泛支持率和雄厚的政治资本将会帮助赢得马尼拉的利益相关方的支持,他在履行棉兰老岛和平承诺的决心究竟有多大,会宪法问题不可避免地浮出水面时,显得明朗。如果和平进程在任何阶段停滞下来,MILF的领导层将会很难控制手下的将领们,也很难再取得广泛的支持。

对邦萨摩洛而言,框架协议为实现和平、建立一个积极应对的政府以及给后代们带来一个更好和更繁荣的未来提供了可能性。虽然一切尚未改变,但是人们怀揣着真正的希望,那就是这一次将不同于以往。MILF、政府和国际上的伙伴们需要携手一致,以确保不让希望遭受破灭。

雅加达/布鲁塞尔,2012年12月5日

Op-Ed / Asia

Bangsamoro’s Potential for Regional Gains

Originally published in Philippine Strategic Forum

The recently established Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) offers new hope for a peaceful future for its majority-Muslim population after decades of war. The success of BARMM, and more broadly, the peace process, could send positive ripple effects across the wider region.

The recently established Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) offers new hope for a peaceful future for its majority-Muslim population after decades of war. The new entity is the result of almost two dozen years of talks, and the peace agreements it was built on are inclusive pacts that aim to take into account the Bangsamoro’s complexity while focusing on giving its population a long-awaited peace dividend.

Yet from the start, the Bangsamoro was also rooted in a trans-regional reality, shaped by geography just as much as by the tides of war, peace, and everything in between. The various Muslim ethno-linguistic groups in Mindanao making up the Bangsamoro share several cultural, religious, and linguistic characteristics with the populations of neighboring Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei. Some historians even talk about an “integrated nature of the region”.

Civil strife in the Southern Philippines has been linked to the broader regional environment for years.

Civil strife in the Southern Philippines has been linked to the broader regional environment for years. Violence in Mindanao reached its peak during the Cold War period when Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, and Manila were dealing with the aftermath of their independence. The conflict in Mindanao, like many others during that time, stemmed from a mix of unresolved legacy issues from the colonial period and the appeal of self-determination, brought forward by nascent nationalist movements. The first Moro rebels were trained in Malaysian territory. Their successors are presently learning from Indonesia’s Aceh peace process and its pitfalls. At present, Indonesian and Malaysian militants still eye Mindanao as “land of promise” in an astounding corruption of the island’s hopeful moniker.

History is one piece of the puzzle, geography is another. Muslim Mindanao sits on top of a tilted triangle that extends south from Malaysia’s Sabah region to Sulawesi and the Celebes Sea in Indonesia before going northwards to the maritime domain of the Bangsamoro. The coastlines bordering all three countries historically formed a sprawling trade network, and even now the maritime borders are so porous they are prone to illicit flows of all kinds.

And here lies the conundrum. The Bangsamoro is a region in the making that has the potential to benefit from increased cooperation between the three countries and serve as a catalyst that strengthens the trilateral connection by becoming a peaceful zone for economic activity around the borderlands. Should the BARMM fail in curbing violence and bringing development to its people, however, the Bangsamoro maritime corridor would not only be a missed opportunity but could also turn into a regional tinderbox.

For years, the Sulu Archipelago has been at the crossroads of illegal trafficking in persons, smuggling, and militancy. The triboundary dilemma of policing the porous borders manifests itself in the continuing existence of a network of militant and criminal elements better known as the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). Responsible for multiple kidnappings, bombings, and hijackings from Malaysian waters to the jungles of Sulu and Basilan, the ASG presently seems weakened but not defeated. Increasingly under pressure from the Philippine military, the network remains fragmented, with various factions having divergent goals. While some ideologically inclined elements have escalated violence, including suicide bombings on Jolo island, others seem focused on preserving their diminishing gains rather than boosting operations.

The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have reduced kidnappings at least temporarily.

Signed in 2016 between Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, the Trilateral Cooperation Agreement (TCA), has contributed to reducing the number of kidnappings in the area. At the time, a large number of kidnap victims came from the region - mostly from Indonesia - as opposed to earlier years when ASG focused its efforts on kidnapping Western nationals. This may be what prompted the trilateral rapprochement, which strengthened after the 2017 Marawi siege, when Malaysian and Indonesian militants joined Moro militants in a months-long standoff with the Philippine military.

The TCA’s track record is not perfect, but it has produced some benefits. Coordinated patrols in the Sulu and Celebes seas and airspace, as well as coastguard collaboration, introduced new means of jointly tackling maritime insecurity. This has significantly contributed to the criminal-cum-militants becoming more risk-averse. Together with the TCA, the peace process in the Bangsamoro has also led to new initiatives in the BARMM that aim to bring peace dividends to its peripheries – areas that were often neglected because of insecurity. The COVID-19 pandemic also appears to have reduced kidnappings at least temporarily, perhaps because criminals and militants have been affected by or leery of the disease.

The threat of kidnapping remains, however. Building on the momentum created by the TCA through stronger law enforcement cooperation and intelligence-sharing is clearly in the wider region's interest. Likewise, a BARMM that develops its own maritime capabilities can play a role in supporting these measures by implementing such policies at the municipal level. The autonomous government in Cotabato City should also keep a close eye on the Sulu Archipelago, and could work with provincial elites to encourage law enforcement cooperation among those coastal municipalities.

The Bangsamoro also has untapped economic potential that lies in stark contrast to the present reality of poverty, which has driven militancy. The new region’s fragility still hinders both full-scale investments and the strengthening of regional economic linkages with neighbouring countries. Investments in the Bangsamoro, both national and international, will inevitably require time, and will be contingent on the quality of the BARMM’s governance and security environment. Innovative approaches such as facilitating more sub-regional trade through increased port connectivity in the triboundary area, and allowing a barter trade mechanism to operate freely could be beneficial for BARMM, the Philippines, and Malaysia’s Sabah region. Manila could also support the BARMM by working with its neighbours to develop joint projects on fisheries, environmental preservation, and Islamic microfinance to further stimulate the local economy and bolster food security, particularly in the maritime communities of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.

All three countries have something to gain in working together towards a peaceful and prosperous Bangsamoro.

Of course, the potential for such cooperation depends on the political relations between the three neighbors. The Philippines’ relations with Malaysia are complicated. The centuries-old North Borneo/Sabah dispute is the biggest, but not the only, irritant that keeps both countries at arm’s length. Recent high-level spats on social media have once again amplified Sabah as a bone of contention. But the last controversy on the issue quickly faded away – publicly, at least. While this pickle is not likely to disappear entirely, it could still be circumvented provided the political will to get things done in both countries outweighs the insistence on territorial claims. In addition, the Philippines maintains a good relationship with Indonesia. The recent resolution of the two countries’ longstanding and contentious maritime border issue could be a basis for stronger law enforcement ties – a welcome prospect given the involvement of Indonesian militants linked to the ASG networks in several attacks on Filipino soil in the recent past.

All three countries have something to gain in working together towards a peaceful and prosperous Bangsamoro. A certain level of cooperation was strong in the run-up to the BARMM’s creation through the International Monitoring Team (IMT) that saw Malaysian and Indonesian peacekeepers monitoring the ceasefire between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. With a peace process now underway, the scope for collaboration is even greater. Manila should continue fostering ties with Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur in the maritime domain and utilize the opportunities arising from the peace process momentum to create more regional confidence that would benefit BARMM and the national government alike.

The Bangsamoro will remain a litmus test of broader regional cooperation. The success of BARMM, and more broadly, the peace process, could send positive ripple effects across the wider region. The Philippines and its neighbors have a lot to gain with a Bangsamoro that could finally see a calming of its troubled waters.