Wednesday, May 22, 2013
BOOK | Internationalization of the Bangsamoro Struggle : Book Critique
The Internationalization of the Bangsamoro Struggle is important to the study of Philippine politics and government in a way that it shows the disparity between Philippine government and the Muslims in the South, especially those who are involved with the armed group (which I refuse to call rebels). These armed people esp. the MNLF has this ideology which Christians do not understand.
Furthermore, a deeper understanding of the current developments and considerations like ethnic compositions and relations, class divisions within Muslim groups, the emergence of a fundamental group and other factions, and the position of significant neighboring states among others- surely contributes to meaningfully forge creative strategies which will pave the way for peace and development in Mindanao.
In a sense, this awareness of the situation of the Moro people will help our policymakers create laws that shall help develop the South and minimize the conflict on going.
On Author's Coverage of the Subject
The author feels that the book is somewhat restrained due to certain limitations. The reliability and validity of the study, on the other hand, necessarily have to be achieved by corroborative and indirect sources who have access to otherwise unavailable materials and information. There is also some amount of subjectivity where empirical verification on basis is not possible.
Sr. Tan notes that while many have already written and published articles, theses, and commentaries on the secessionist movement, both foreign and local, there are still serious gaps in information partly attributable to the lack of primary sources.
A great deal of information whether fact or fiction come mostly from one side of the conflict: the government or the State. But even these sources are limited by the rule on classified and declassified information.
Therefore one gets only what the State wishes to give, while the rest of the puzzle languishes away in the States's unreachable files. Then the meager information one gets from the other side, the rebels, is also restricted access to the primary source of data on account of risks to life and highly suspicious attitudes of the rebels toward outsiders researching on their most sensitive struggle.
Thus, even though the coverage of the subject is thorough in discussing what Dr. Tan calls "preconditions" for the Moro struggle, citing secondary sources, the "precipitants" or the real conflicts lack depth because primary sources are limited.
Presentation of evidence for the author's points of discussion, the Moro people definitely had a voice on the subject matter. Interviews of Dr. Tan were proof of objectivity and fair treatment.
Analysis was also objective and empirical. Dr. Tan remained faithful in discussing the true nature of the Moro struggle and how it started. There were instances that the author sounded sympathetic towards the ideology of the Moro movement. Nonetheless, the analyses were credible. They were drawn in such a way that the author restated facts and derived at formulated conjectures. In simple terms, what you see is what you get. This was how Dr. Tan presented the analysis.
Strengths and Limitations
The methodology employed in the study involved multidisciplinary approach to written as well as oral historical data which by nature required this kind of approach if they are to be relevant to contemporary Muslim conflict.
The strength in this methodology is that although oral history was largely the basis of the study, published materials had been utilized for the evaluation of oral historical data or for getting insights from external perceptions of the struggle. In a nutshell, the methodological thrust to bring both oral and written sources to shed light on the issue is what was meant by the study's objectivity.
The limitations to the methodological approach are:
1) lack of access diplomatic and international sources, especially primary ones like documents, correspondences, classified reports, etc. on Bangsamoro activities abroad;
2) the technical limitations of oral historical research arising from the underdeveloped academic/professional facilities of the local research areas;
3) lack of audio-visual aids except for the limited use of tape recorders, thus investing a great deal of hope on field diaries and personal descriptions of data gathered by research assistants, especially the field associate.
The quality of the writing is absolutely clear. Dr. Tan had a mastery of the English grammar, however he had the tendency to confuse readers with his run-off sentences. A lot of times, one would have to read twice a single line to know exactly what was meant. But as a whole the work is a genuine scholarly piece of work rich with information on the Moro struggle.
There are are numerous sources that deal with the Moro struggle in the Philippines, but there is still a dearth of materials on the specific issue of Moro secessionism. Those that have been written, not necessarily published constitute only a part of the academic works on the Moro people. Historical sources from colonial to contemporary times include the English translations of Spanish sources in Emma H. Blaire and James A. Robertson's "The Philippine Island, 1493-1898; translations of Juan dela Concepcion's Historia de la Pirateria Mohametana en Mindanao, Jolo y Borneo (Madrid 1888) which takes the events up to the last quarter of Spanish rule; Francisco Combes' Historia de las Mindanao, Jolo y Sus Adyacentes (Madrid 1667) detailed the end of the third decade of the 17th century; and Vicente Barantes' Guerras Piracticas en Filipinas (Madrid 1878) recorded in detail the Moro raids.
Contribution to the Study of Philippine Politics and Government
The book was able to lay forward the idea that our policy makers are taking Muslims for granted. And by the help of this book, by presenting to our lawmakers that the problem in the South isn't just religious but something deeper, they can plan better moves for the development and negotiation to the region. Knowing that it is not easy to solve the probelm in the South, it is high time that leaders of the two opposing sides come up with an an agreement that will benefit the entire nation
Muslim academics and organizations that are fighting for Muslim rights will definitely enjoy this work. The book will also help students who are studying the roots of the armed conflict in the South. Development planners will also find this book helpful in attaining successful projects,
The book can be concluded by arriving at four major points:
1) The Muslim's perception of Filipinism is ambiguous; the awareness being merely territorial or geographic in nature;
2) We can reasonably conclude that whatever thrust was given to a national education, supposedly to build the foundation for Filipino consciousness, had been insufficient to neutralize or reverse the factional tendencies in different regions particularly the more extreme ethno-nationalistic tendency on separatist and secessionist goals;
3) Unity based on the dominant exercise of power by the central government or by the national majority cannot last;
4) Peace and development in the Muslim regions are inseparable. They are the basic tenets of human progress. Without peace, development cannot ensue. Without development, peace cannot flourish.
From my old files, Political Science 14, February 28, 2006
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