ADVOCACY MINDANOW: MILF Peace Pact can be formula for disaster

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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/30 March) — I was not able to watch live the TV coverage of the signing of the peace agreement  at Malacanang but from what I gathered from others who were present,  MILF chief Kagi  Murad Ibrahim’s  message  was  sober and simple — without the “bluster” and self-acclaim and breast thumping of  others who spoke.    

He stressed that the agreement was not only for the MILF but for the whole Bangsamoro, the MNLF included. The MILF, he said, is only a temporary gatekeeper and will eventually turn over the key to all  Bangsamoro. I think he  had sent  a strong message to   all of us. We  must take a cue from this. Especially those  who wrongly believe that dealing only with the MILF will already bring peace.

PEACE SPOILERS? Let’s stop calling those who are opposing or questioning the MILF peace agreement as “peace spoilers”. Take the case of Zamboanga City Congressman Celso Lobregat who had publicly shown reservations or criticisms on some portions of the deal. Having seen up close the violence and misery of his constituents in Zamboanga as an aftermath of the 1996 peace agreement with the MNLF, we cannot blame him if he raises questions to prevent a similar recurrence with this new pact.  There will be many others like him in Cotabato and Lanao and the island provinces  and elsewhere.  They are not “peace spoilers.” They are helping  somehow, in their own way, to safeguard sustainable peace by learning from lessons of the past.  Of course, there are also others  who just  want to see this fail as they stand to lose when it succeeds. We should separate the chaff from the grain.

NEEDS SUPPORT  — Truth to tell,   there is still a disconnect between the MILF supporters and   the majority of  masses in the areas covered by the agreement. So there is a lot of work yet to be done by all of us  to get everyone on board.  The more difficult work has just begun.

MANAGE EXPECTATIONS — It is said that the mathematical formula for “happiness” is: “expectations divided by delivery.” Hence, if expectations are high and the delivery low, people are less happy. Or are angry.  Conversely, even if the delivery is low but the expectations are also low, people will be happy or contented  – much happier of course  if the delivery exceeds the expectations. I remember this formula because the signing of the peace agreement has obviously heightened expectations, especially amongst the Bangsamoro who expect deliverance from their sorry lot today. We must all meet those high expectations or better still manage them this early.  Otherwise, we may be in for more trouble in the future. I don’t want to sound killjoy in this moment of glee. Honestly, I feel great relief and joy that what we have failed to achieve  during our own time in the past has now become a fulfilled dream. But  let’s  all be forewarned this early that this peace formula may become a formula for disaster if those high  expectations are not met. You all know what I mean. So, let’s all come together and give this our best shot.

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CONSISTENCY – By the way, I now hear more grumblings that we must be consistent in our global insistence to protect our territorial integrity and sovereignty.  If we are so loud and  determined to fight for our rights over the disputed territories with China, why are we so quiet and docile  with   our Sabah claims with Malaysia? Someone jokingly suggested that the Chinese should also do what Malaysians did. They should become a “facilitator” in the negotiations with the CPP/NPA/NDF and succeeding in that, then perhaps, we can extend gratitude  in the same way we are quietly conceding Sabah  to Malaysia today. Interesting thought!

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FLIGHT 370 — I have been following closely the search for the missing Malaysian Airlines plane. After three weeks, the mystery as to where the plane is with  its passengers , still remains. What strikes me most now is that  for once, the whole world, for all its technical advancement, appears helpless. Humanity had been bragging about its almost superhuman capability but in this case, the world is still scratching its head in puzzlement.   It is humbled by the vastness and enigma  of Mother Nature. That shakes us back to reality, for  once,   that we humans are finite and vulnerable beings and are not in  full control of all things.  Our superior air and our bloated egos that have made humans  feel like modern-day gods due to our advancements in science and technology  have all  gone pffffft!    It’s a good reality check for all. It brings our feet back on the ground.

MEDIA CIRCUS —The kind of public beating Malaysia is getting from this plane tragedy is decidedly unfortunate and clearly undeserved. This can happen to any country or to any company and the way things appear by  the nature and magnitude of the disaster,  the normal  human reactions of anguish, anger and looking for answers and those to blame are to be expected. The whole world is agonizing by the day still searching for answers. In the meantime, so-called experts in tandem with the  world media who boast of  their analysis and theories  are having a heyday! It’s becoming a media circus now, TV cameras intruding and  even  projecting to the world human anguish  better left behind closed doors in the privacy  of the suffering  loved ones.   These coverages worsen the human dimension of the tragedy. We have become vultures feeding on carcasses of the victims. How sad.

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JOYS OF PARENTS  — I have attended a few graduation or closing  ceremonies during a last few days.  When parents are called up to the stage to help pin a medal or confer a medallion on a  graduating son or daughter who garners honors or awards, one can’t escape notice the unending joy this brings. It is during childhood days of children that parents must  enjoy most.  So hold their hand always or hug them while you still can. When they grow up, they will seldom be around for us to enjoy them. And don’t be surprised because this is  just that inexonerable life cycle that we parents when we werechildren, had also gone through before. So, enjoy your children now while you can.

 (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews.  Lawyer Jesus G. Dureza was Presidential Adviser for Mindanao for former Presidents Fidel V. Ramos and Gloria M. Arroyo. He was also involved in the peace negotiations in the talks with the MILF and the CPP-NPA-NDF and initiated, while Presidential Peace Adviser, the Tripartite Review of the 1996 MNLF Peace Agreement. He was chair of the government panel in the talks with the MILF from 2001 to 2003. He is currently President/Chair of the Philippine Press Institute. This piece is from his syndicated column, Advocacy MindaNOW).

URL: http://www.mindanews.com/mindaviews/2014/03/31/advocacy-mindanow-milf-peace-pact-can-be-formula-for-disaster%e2%80%a8%e2%80%a8-if/

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