CONVERSATIONS with Randolph Parcasio: “It’s respect that makes this group strong and effective”

(Conversations with lawyer Randolph Parcasio, chair of the Peace Implementing Panel of the Moro National Liberation Front and member of the Consultative Committee appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte to study, conduct consultations, and review the provisions of the 1987 Constitution including, but not limited to, the provisions on the structure and powers of the government, local governance, and economic policies. The interview with Mr. Parcasio, an Insider Mediator, was on 8 November 2018 at the Panorama Summit Hotel in Davao City where the Insider Mediators met to discuss the Bangsamoro Vision)

Laywer Randolph Parcasio

Q. We know you as Atty. Randolph Parcasio, you’ve been ARMM Executive Secretary, handled so many positions, you’ve also been referred to as spokesperson of the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) Misuari etc.. You wear so many hats. Which hat are you wearing? Are you wearing all your hats in the Insider Mediators?

A. Well, you know out of those many hats is one universal hat which is me being a Moro who is a Muslim and you know Carol, we Muslims – I’ve been Islamized in this part of southern Philippines, my mother being a Tausug Maguindanao has this principle that we follow which is an injunction from the Koran and I would like to speak at this juncture in Arabic that Arabic principle goes like this (speaks in Arabic). It means we are enjoined to raise a bond among us to enjoy what is right and forbid what is wrong and the Koran promises there will be those who will be successful so if this is an obligation upon me and those who are involved in Insider Mediators because we belong to different persuasions, different organizations.

Some are of course with the MNLF, MILF some are coming from government sector. We have participants coming from the government sector, civil society but we have banded together because of this principle to enjoy what is right and forbid what is wrong. And what is right is unity and what is wrong is disunity. What is right is promoting justice and struggling further to realize the right of the Bangsamoro people to be able to fully exercise the right to self determination and what is wrong is injustice historical injustice imposed upon them

Q. You’ve been meeting in the last two years. Is that correct?
A. I guess so

Q. Have there been instances where voices were raised because you come from different persuasions?
A. No, because you know while we have common understanding, this does not go in contravention to where we are coming from. It’s really also, there’s also a common vision and the common vision is self rule for the Bangsamoro leader

Q. What makes the Insider Mediators different from all the other groups that have been meeting on the Moro issue in general?
A. I think none of us are really adept politicians

Q. None
A. None of us are really fanatic politicians promoting individual interests. Each one of us has common background. Most of us are coming from civil society, from cause oriented groups, from human rights groups and the like.

Q. So … mostly the background is from civil society human rights. But you also have soldier with you or soldiers with you
A. Yes, right.

Q. As well as the ARMM mujahideens
A. Yes. In all of these … again going back to our common vision which is to rectify historical injustice and you know (that’s) a quotation repeated even by the President. We have common understanding of how we would pursue that, with government, MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front), MNLF (not) clashing with each other but complementing one another to pursue that vision

Q. You said kanina not one of you is a fanatic politician concerned only with individual interests but generally for the common interest. This is also a group which also has a representation from as I said mujahideens… sa revolutionary fronts so hindi ba siya nado-dominate ng discourse naman ng whatever group may be the dominant sector here? Is there such a thing as dominant sector within the Insider Mediators?
A. The discussions actually expose each one of us to others’ priorities and concerns and another term is pray for .. unique strategic mode on how to pursue our vision … The discussions as far as I am concerned or I have experienced, have led us to synthesizing all these to .. be complementing each other without necessarily compromising.

Q. Your respective
A. Respective position. I set an example the MNLF is pursuing a Mindanao-Sulu archipelago-Palawan one federal state vision. This does not clash with the idea of Bangsamoro core territory. In fact they reinforce each other

Q. Was there even an instance …when you had a heated argument that somebody had to call for a break?
A. None so far. Everybody, I think this is the most civilized way of this forum, most civilized venue that I have attended. Each one is tolerant with each other. There is common vision and because of that we consider each view and respect each one’s position. It’s respect that makes this group strong and effective.

Q. This group was set up principally because diverse yung … various groups of the Moro were working for a certain goal, the peace processes that you want implemented whether you’re MNLF, MILF or whatever group … Napasa na ang Bangsamoro law, President Duterte will meet with Misuari, etc. Is there still a need for this kind of group when the Bangsamoro government is set up?

A. Well you know there’s actually no certainty. The future is not fixed. It’s fluid. We started it with ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) in 1989, basic agreements on one side is MNLF, on the other side MILF. While we have now the BOL (Bangsamoro Organic Law), the Supreme Court petition filed by Sakur Tan, this kind of uncertainty and we don’t know there might be some fortuitous event that might block or the hindrance or what is being expected at this point in time. I think we are … relevant not only now but in the future because the future is fluid. It is not fixed. When it comes to federalism, we are not certain whether the MNLF vision on federalism (will) really come about because there are different views on federalism particular in Mindanao.

In short, there is a need, a continuing conversation and dialogue, just like a family continuing dialogue over dinner, over breakfast because … life is a continuing process sf change and another thing is again I would like to quote another passage in the Quran (speaks in Arabic) which means in the conduct of the affairs of the people, there must be consultation. So this is one of the best forms of consultation, shura in Arabic.

Q. So you may have different positions here but you feel you belong to a family
A. Of course we belong to the one nation called Bangsamoro nation. So that’s one family.