The EU and the Philippines

I read the other day that the European Union is willing to assist the Philippines in resolving its dispute with China about territorial rights in the West Philippine Sea. The European Union holds the same view as the Philippines, that international law should determine national borders, and development in international waters should be cooperative, not exclusive.
But that is not the subject of this blog.
It simply serves as a jumping off point to discuss federalism. And a new Muslim nation.
The European Union is a half-baked federalist model. The US is a fully cooked, centralized, federalist model. The Philippines is similar to the US, with capable and powerful provinces operating under a strong centralized national government. Most regions have little complaint, except Muslim Mindanao and adjacent islands, where extremists demand independence and moderate Muslims advocate greater autonomy than now exists.
The European Union consists of states that have not fully committed to a unified “national” or umbrella organization that might dictate how they run their civic business. Each “state” remains substantially independent, able to accept or reject EU dictates. Great Britain still deals its own currency rather than the Euro, but insists on being a party to the debt dialogue being carried out in by the European Union. Germany does not want to put its tax money behind the Union’s bailout of nearly-insolvent countries. And so the whole house of cards is tottering. Chaos is only a bad day in Italy away.
Autonomous Muslim Mindanao

The argument in Mindanao for an autonomous, nearly independent state within the greater Philippine Nation, is a striking echo of the reason the European Union is on the edge of failure.
You can’t serve two masters. Only one.
The large European nations are too proud of their independence. Or perhaps insecure with the notion that former blood enemies can now tell them what to do. They have a hard time conceding authority elsewhere. It is too unsettling to think that a French woman would dictate financial rules to Germans.
Just as in the Philippines it is too unsettling for fundamentalist Muslims to think that a Catholic educator would dictate curricula to Muslim schools. Or that legislators would tell women not to wear full facial coverings, as is done in France.
The Philippines has two choices, it seems to me. In or out. There is no half-way, no negotiated definition of state that allows a Muslim nation to serve two masters.
Choice 1: The Philippines remains whole. The center is dominant and the states/provinces concede to a greater authority when national stability and security so require. The existing conflict would continue forever.
Choice 2: Complete independence for southwest Mindanao and adjacent islands, as a separate country.
There is no such condition as half-wet. And half-baked is just that. Unpalatable.
My own readout is changing. You cannot negotiate or legislate in good faith when the faith you are negotiating with is beyond reason. And, frankly, it is not worth all the deaths and anguish to try to impose a government on extremists when moderate Muslims will not speak up for the Philippines . . . as a nation.  Indeed, when you think about it, it is not extremists who dictate separation. There are only a few hundred of them. It is moderate Muslims who do not have sufficient loyalty to the Philippines  . . . who don’t have sufficient allegiance or dedication to the nation’s well-being . . . to rein in their murderous brethren.
I’ve argued in the past to invest in building an economy to get rid of the wretched poverty that drives most of the animosity in Muslim regions. But that is a long term prospect. And It is difficult to expect those with no food on the table today to wait 20 years for jobs.
Finally, you can’t legislate matters of the soul.
If moderate Muslims really want an independent state, and believe that will get more food on the plate, give it to them. Define a clear, defensible border. And defend it.
Run the rest of the Philippines as a vibrant, unified, progressive nation.
14 Responses to “The EU and the Philippines”
  1. Pastor Ernie says:

    You misdiagnose the problem dear brother. The true problem with Muslim Mindanao is that they are worshiping the Wrong God. So the solution is not a political/structural but rather a spiritual one. We Christians must share the Truth to our deceived brothers. They must know that God loves us so much that he sacrificed his only son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to save us from our sins so that we may enter the kingdom of heaven. This is the only way to bring peace and love into our land. Following a false faith only leads to hate, suffering and an infinite afterlife burning in hell.

  2. Good Pastor, I think God is constant across all beliefs, and there is no such thing as a false faith. It is the persistence of our manly evil that we ought to work to expunge.

  3. Pastor Ernie says:

    Joe, my good man, I strongly disagree. The Bible is the Word of God. The New Testament tells the way of salvation. These muslims are reading the wrong book. They are following the wrong path. It is either you believe the Word of God as it is written in The Bible or you do not. If you DO NOT then I fear for your immortal soul dear brother. I shall pray for you.God Bless.

  4. AJ says:

    @Pastor Ernie:Sorry dude but you seem to have insulted all non-christians out there.I agree with Joe, God is known by many names and worshiped in many ways.Conceptually, faith teaches us good things but once we try implementing the teachings, we begin to argue among ourselvesThe problems come in when we start to feel a sense of exclusivity and our ego comes in, telling us that whoever believes differently from us is wrong.One belief I have is that the creator, whoever He or She or It is, has blessed us with the power of the mind and free will.With that power, we make choices and take responsibility for them. So here are my final four words my good sir.Burn and let burn.

  5. AJ, well said. I was grappling with how to respond but now I don't have to. You nailed it.

  6. Pastor Ernie says:

    AJ,So you are a Pantheist? Be so at you own risk. But I ask you: where do you get your beliefs from? Do you simply google it or hit wikipedia?My beliefs are from the Holy Bible, The Word of God. If you find this silly, consider that more than a billion people believe the Holy Bible to be true. Before you ridicule us also consider that many intelligent Historical Figures, Scientists, and every modern US President has declared himself to be a Christian.Joe,What exactly did AJ Nail? He just issued his own opinion. My Christian beliefs, on the other hand, are backed by a billion people. In fact, your beloved Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are "Christians" who were sworn in office with their hand placed on the Holy Bible.So its okay to dismiss my beliefs but why do these great US Presidents also follow the teachings of Christ? Are they silly as well?The truth is, you are engaging in "double-think". When it is okay to dismiss me as a Christian, but not a billion other people who also believe that our Lord JESUS CHRIST DIED ON THE CROSS TO SAVE US FROM OUR SINS so that we may enter the kingdom of heaven.I will pray for the two of you lost souls.God bless.

  7. bubi78 says:

    Sir, it would help if we backtrack to 9/11. While the rest of the world were aghast and in anguish over the horrific tragedy, while the rest of the world were one in their condemnation of the despicable acts perpetrated by even more despicable bigots, we cut in on scenes of jubilant crowds of Muslims from around the world cheering, dancing and chanting in the streets; ironically, the Muslim world was one in commemorating a victory over the most hated infidel nation, the US of A. Nary a squeak was raised to condemn the barbaric acts; not from a moderate Muslim anyway.Fast track to the present, here and now; no moderate Muslim will dare go against or, so much as, rein in his murderous brethren. That is anathema in their culture. Woe unto him who turns against his Muslim brethren, the most terrible fate, worse than that meted to an infidel, awaits him; moreover, his family will not be spared the scorn and the humiliation. Remember Salman Rushdie?You posited two choices. One is to maintain the status quo and the other is to create an independent Muslim state. The internecine conflict will still rear its ugly head, notwithstanding, whatever of your choices shall come to pass; I imagine it would be worse if an independent Muslim state were to be created. Reminiscent of what happened in the partitioning of the Indian sub-continent during the late 40’s, there will be a mad scramble, an exodus really, to evacuate to a safe haven, there will be mass hysteria as rumors will go unchecked, and, yes, there be ethnic cleansing. It would be a sad day indeed for all of us here in Mindanao. I fear for the future and await for the outcome of the latest peace negotiations with bated breath and with a prayer on my lips. Have a pleasant day to you sir.Oh, by the way, I am not going to wade in on your debate with the good pastor; suffice it to say that the God of Abraham is the God of Mohammad. Amen.

  8. Proud Pinoy says:

    bubi78,Mr. Joe Imperialist is on a mission do undermine the Philippines. He already blogged about his desire for multinational corporations to enter the Philippines which could essentially wipe out all local businesses and enslave us to foreign capitalists.Now he is using his ultra-liberal ideology to split the Philippines apart along religious lines. We will not fall for this nonsense. Mindanao will always be part of the Philippines and I find it quite insulting that, after all the blood spilled by our ancestors to build this great nation, some ignorant outsider would just come in and suggest to break it apart.Joe America Says: "You can't serve two masters. Only one."But ask yourself: Who does Joe America serve?Answer: The United States of America, of course.So why should the Philippines listen to someone who does not have its loyalty. He is simply fooling himself (but not us) into thinking that he can ever be "one of us". A Filipino can be an American BUT an American can never be a Pinoy. Just like a Chinese can be an American But an American can never be Chinese.

  9. I guess I have to be hard-hitting to stir up debate, with comments from a Christian, an uber-patriot, and a Muslim. Here is my response to each.Good Pastor. I don't think worshipping the God of your faith is silly. It is admirable if it leads you to do good deeds for all mankind, not just those of your faith. I suspect that if you asked Bill Clinton and Barak Obama how their God differs from the Muslim God, they would say "He doesn't; there is only one God". That is my belief. I think all the angst and anger stirred up by competing religions is unfortunate. A tragedy. And an insult to our human intellect. I believe that God, in his infinite mystery, is a lot more loving than most of us comprehend as we behave in less than loving ways.Proud Pinoy, I don't aspire to be one of "you" Pinoys in general and, for sure, not "you" in the specific. I merely seek to spend my time on earth well, without being crammed into any box that others, such as yourself, would try to jam me. I am American by citizenship, love for the ideals and essential goodness of the nation, and respect for the many caring, courageous and intelligent Americans I have met. I live in the Philippines and am fascinated by why Filipinos don't do a better job of caring for their own. I choose not to sit idle and waste my life away, so I take an interest in my surroundings, and blog.bubi78, I think it is the reluctance of one Muslim to restrain another Muslim that is the main argument for a separate nation, for those of us of a different (or broader) faith, are not inclined to see ourselves as the enemy of God. I am reminded of a trite old saying that "good fences make good neighbors". I frankly think separatism would be an economic disaster for Mindanao, and wish more Muslims would swear an oath to the Philippines that they would strive to uphold, maybe with even only 50% of their religious fervor.

  10. bubi78 says:

    Proud Pinoy I see nothing wrong with multi-national companies coming into our country, in fact it is foreign direct investments (FDI) that is fueling the economies of other ASEAN countries. India just recently opened its retail industry to foreign companies amid so much controversy and over the protest of the local retailers. The government of India has taken a bold and decisive step forward while we remain stuck in the rut that the NEPA QMart mentality has had created for us. It was in the mid 50's when our economy took the train into the long dark tunnel of protectionism and we have yet to emerge from it until now. You will have me eat pagpag when I can eat steak. Come off it man, the time of "capitalismo, imperialismo…ibagsak!" have long been relegated to the dustbin of history. And, I will not be swayed by the drivel that the mainstream media is foisting on us. No siree, I can think for myself, thank you.

  11. Proud Pinoy says:

    Yeah India that country which has more than 40% of its population below the poverty line. If you consider India's population, a third of the WORLD's poor actually comes from India.Have you ever been to India? Do you like their Caste System? How about their Hindu Polytheistic nonsense. But I digress, perhaps you DO want to worship an blue god with an elephant's head.But you entire argument is flawed. Aren't we all tired of people saying X country did this and it worked so the Philippines should do it also. Yeah the whole world needs American-style democracy too. Just see how Iraq and Afghanistan is doing right? So lets shove democracy down Libya, Yemen, Syria, and Iran.Each country is unique with a cultural complexity that took hundreds (if not thousands) of years to form. People who suggest a playbook that worked for a VERY DIFFERENT culture will work for another are just simply ignorant and retarded, like you.I know, I know. You are going to bring up Singapore, Vietnam, and all the other Asian Miracles. Yeah keep telling yourself that buddy but at the end of the day the Philippines will continue to be run THE PINOY WAY. Deal with it.

  12. AJ says:

    @Pastor Ernie:Thanks for introducing me to Pantheism. I wasn't aware that such an idea existed until you had mistaken me for one.Just to humor you, no, my belief system does not fall into that one if google's top 3 results were correct.My beliefs are my own, I've thought of them after observing several religious groups/people. I've observed that they're trying to teach me the same basic values except for 3 things; How to worship the main deity, how treat those of different faiths, and how to react when others think differently; the last one only observed, not actually taught.I don't think it's silly to believe that the bible is the word of God, I just don't think any of its current versions is correct. When humans begin interpreting it, some minor details will always be changed for various reasons, maybe personal, economic, political, or even political correctness. Another problem is that all these bibles have been translated over and over. Assuming that even if all the words are correctly translated, the meaning will still be lost because of the differences of the cultures of the readers.@Proud Pinoy:Foreigner owned companies are already in the country, some of them have locally owned subsidiaries, others have puppet owners.I know there is an anxiety related to land ownership but there are much better ways to prevent a shortage of Filipino owned land than outright making it illegal.Also, it's about time we urbanize some of our other regions. If our own government won't make more urban/industrial hubs away from NCR, maybe foreign companies can help. I believe our land and our people have a lot of untapped potential. Isn't about time we use it?[Sucks to not be able to find the edit button]

  13. bubi78 says:

    I mentioned India in passing and you go ballistic over it's level of poverty, the caste system and go so far as to have me worship Ganesh; even so, it's undeniable that their economy is growing in leaps and bounds while our very own puny economy is still groping its way out of its dark and clammy shell. One more thing, the Indus valley civilization was already in the world map at the time your ancestors were still living on treetops and eating geckoes. Nothing is more absurd than to be blinded, nay, deluded by your false Pinoy pride. You live with it, I won't.

  14. Attila says:

    Proud Pinoy: You were born at the wrong time. You could have ended up as a decorated comrade during the Bolshevik revolution: fighting against the imperialistic elements!

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