CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 29 Jan) – No one should be too quick to announce the end of the secessionist struggle in Mindanao with the signing of the proposed Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
It’s not even a formal agreement yet; it’s only a draft and it still has to be signed.
Once it is signed, it will state what direction to take and define what peace there may be upon reaching the destination. But it won’t automatically clear the way or guarantee its attainment.
It will merely provide the mandate for both sides—government and MILF—to proceed in accordance with the steps agreed. Then both sides must do their part.
For us who are (were) not in on the process, let’s pray that both the Government and the MILF will do their part diligently and with delicacy, even as we hope that Murphy’s Law won’t spoil things. “If anything can go wrong, it will!”
We know too well how Murphy’s Law can be a terrible spoiler—as in the Sabah assault and the Zamboanga siege: curved balls that almost spoiled the game.
Malacanang’s neglect or forgetfulness concerning the Sabah Issue drove the Sulu Sultanate to take matters into their own hands and invade it. The unilateral act of abrogating the “1996 Final Peace Agreement” entered into with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) drove its leadership to stage the Zamboanga City caper.
We Owe One Another
But I am an optimist and as a son of Mindanao in whose veins flow its three major ethnic streams (Lumad, Muslim, Christian), I urge every Filipino to welcome and savor what good news, good acts, and good intention may come in the wake of this historic agreement.
It won’t be easy for the MILF to realize its avowed intents by themselves. So we owe it to them, as well as to our government, to be helpful in every way with all our good intentions and our best efforts for success.
But let’s also remind them, including the international facilitators and experts, of the need to recognize the larger Mindanao polity’s role as stakeholder and partner. Their success owes much to the Mindanaons’ cooperation, including the tacit support of the region’s Christians.
Some attention ought to be given them now. There are societal issues to address, questions to clarify, perceptions to iron and smooth out, and walls of bigotry to tear down.
To tackle these, no less than a societal dialogue and fraternal collaboration all around can guarantee ultimate success.
Bring Down the Curtain
Thus it behooves us all to reflect upon and consider more pointedly how we shall deal with the age-old distrust that continues to dim our view of one another.
How do we still the fears that inhibit our relations? How do we rein-in passions that cause so much violence in our region and beyond?
It is time to bring down the curtain of cynicism, time to tame atavism and trigger-happy fingers, to silence gunfire that deafens people to the sounds of reason, harmony, and solidarity.
The way to a durable, lasting peace will be tough. There are too many blood stains to cleanse or erase, too many wounds to treat or to mend, too much trauma to assuage or to console, and too long in time have they festered.
But however much was shed, however deep the blows, however horrible were all of it, let us now focus our attention to our quest for peace, for justice, for dignity, and for the quality of life all Mindanaons deserve but have long been deprived.
(Manny was former UNESCO regional director for Asia-Pacific, secretary-general of the Southeast Asian Publishers Association, director at Development Academy of the Philippines, vice chair of the Local Government Academy, and PPI-UNICEF awardee for outstanding columnist. He heads Gising Barangay Movement as national convenor and president. firstname.lastname@example.org)