PEACETALK. 10-point preliminary comment on the GPH-MILF “Decision Points.” By Judge Soliman Santos, Jr.
PEACETALK: Transforming the Facilitation in the Mindanao Peace Process. By Kamarulzaman 'Zam' Askandar
They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious.
‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace—Jeremiah 6:14
DATU PIANG, Maguindanao (MindaNews/15 April) -- Here at last is the ‘bakwit’ country. Just like the name of the first village entering this long stretch of depressed humanity called Barangay Salvo, where one would be greeted with a barrage of worn-out hopes from faces not keenly captured in airwaves and podcasts, either in recycled newspapers or in picture messages from high-end mobile phones. Here is the country that denies the scrapping of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain by the Supreme Court. Here the MOA-AD is alive and felt among the hearts and minds of the Bangsamoro. Here is the country that tells the very meaning of internal displacement even when government social welfare agencies have tried to obfuscate their existence.
The Peace Research Institute Frankfurt in a 2005 comparative study of conflicts in Sri Lanka, Philippines and Malaysia noted that the Filipino conflict perspective in the Mindanao (Moro) conflict:
I like this first topic in the Plenary Session of this Conference. What happened to the Peace Process? The question is very simple yet extremely difficult to satisfy given the situation when we seem to be in a state of quandary and denial. The irony here lies in the fact that in the midst and thick of the MOA-AD controversy, we were all there and yet we seem to miss the story. Indeed, just what had happened? If I may add, how did the peace advocates allow this to happen?
(This paper was read at the Consolidation for Peace-3 for Mindanao: Strategic Planning for Peace Post MOA-AD, jointly Organized by Research and Education for Peace, Universiti Sains Malaysia, the Southeast Asian Conflict Studies Network, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency at the Park Royal Hotel, Batu Ferringhi, Pulau Penang, Malaysia, on January 12 to 16. Mr. Rodil and other participants from the Lanao area were unable to make it to Penang as flights were cancelled from Cagayan de Oro to Manila on January 11 and 12-MindaNews ed).
ILIGAN CITY (MIndaNews/17 January) -- I wish I can be with you today but it seems that nature has it own plans. I have the tickets, to and from Penang, Malaysia, thanks to the organizers of this gathering, but I cannot cross the 96 kilometer stretch between my home in Iligan and the airport in Cagayan de Oro. Heavy rains, flood, and a cracked bridge had their way.
Let me begin by offering my profoundest congratulations to the Chairman and the members on their recent appointments to the government negotiating panel for talks with the MILF. I assure the panel this is going to be a great challenge and, as I may add, an exciting one! It is an enterprise worth embarking upon as it provides an opportunity to do a whole lot of good -- peace, development, justice not just in Mindanao but the whole Philippines as well. Alas! It is also an enterprise which, if not handled well, will bring this country to perdition. Peace or perdition? The future of peace negotiations is in your hands.
COTABATO CITY (Mindanews/22 May) -- To speak of a configuration of forces in potent politics is to rule out, as inconsequential, the Government peace talks with the MILF even if its primacy is supposedly to accent the "principled" use of diplomacy with greater impact as well as popularly answerable to stakeholders and their constituencies. Thus regarded, as essentially meaningless, the consequence of interactions could lead to any number of different outcomes or crises. So I have sought in this analysis to redirect understandings of "public consent" in regard to Muslim-Moro agenda, which is narrowly examined in the context of a secessionist crisis in constitutionalism. To ask why recurrent questions of public policy are not thought of as "constitutional questions" (in normal times) is to mistake the character of constitutional crisis in general. Simply digesting the configurative role that constitutional issues might play in the Government-MILF peace process is not the point of immediate importance, however.
Implications on the Mindanao Peace Process
by Mohd. Musib M. Buat and Hadji Abdulla U. Camlain
MILF Peace Panel Representatives
(Delivered at Corregidor Island on the 40th anniversary of the Jabidah Massacre, 18 March 2008)
CORREGIDOR ISLAND -- We greet you in peace and may the blessings of Almighty Allah bestowed on us my dear brothers and sisters, on this solemn day in commemoration of the infamy and tragedy on this hallowed rock, the Island of Corregidor - a symbol of freedom and the resting place of young Moro trainees who became martyrs (shahid), one day in March 1968 - forty years ago were murderously massacred by their military instructors on orders from higher-ups for their alleged 'mutiny' or refusal to infiltrate and sow terror on their fellow brother Muslims in the neighboring State of Sabah (North Borneo), Malaysia.
The world welcomes fighters seeking to lay aside the sword for a moment and take up the pen, such as the author of this book, which offers not a glimpse as denoted by its title, but a panorama of the peace negotiations between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Negotiation Front (MILF), plus sidelights that illuminate the main pathways.
The same warmth of welcome from people at the port you don’t even know by name and the impish smile from children as you pass them by. No rolling cannons to rock you up from being mesmerized and endlessly marveling the beautiful seascape that divides Zamboanga Hermosa and Basilan.
The guide question for this afternoon’s panel discussion, “Is the Philippines Ready for Peace in Mindanao?” sounds both simple and complex. It begs to be answered not just by people like me who are engaged in the peace process with the MILF. Others—businessmen, religious leaders, sociologists, social workers, even psychologists—deserve to be heard as well. And while different people may have varied opinions on the matter, so disparate too are the socio-economic, political, and cultural indicators of the nation’s readiness for genuine peace.
ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY (MindaNews/14 June) -- The recent kidnapping of an Italian priest, Fr. Giancarlo Bossi, PIME, in Payao town in Zamboanga Sibugay province on June 11, 2007 had a far-reaching implication on the relations of Muslims and Christians not only in Mindanao but throughout the world and can affect the ongoing peace process between the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) and MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front).