PEN POINTERS: Urging GRP and MILF to break the standoff in the peace talks

And there was forged a “gentlemen’s agreement” by the negotiating parties that the MILF would not bring out the issue of independence in the talks and the government the issue of constitution, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

While it has been a public knowledge that the avowed goal of the Bangsamoro struggle is to liberate the long suffering Moro people from the clutches of the oppressive and colonial Philippine regime and ultimately re-gain its full independence, the MILF never made it an agenda in its peace talks with the GRP. That is, to uphold the said “gentlemen’s agreement”.

Since the exploratory talks started in 1997, both parties have already signed a number of peace agreements, joint communiqués and aide-mémoire, among others. In all those documents, one can nowhere find such words and phrases as “independence,” “constitutional process” or “sovereignty and territorial integrity”.  There was, however, some reference on “international human rights laws” as well as “international humanitarian laws.”

Lately, and particularly in their 13th Exploratory Talks held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, last September 6-7, the GRP and the MILF peace panels did not come into agreement on the strand on territory for the proposed Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE).  Then, there was a breakdown of the peace talks.

The government offered a swath of territory for the proposed BJE, subject to its “constitutional process”. 

Learning from recent history, the MILF rejected said offer asserting “it does not want to repeat the failure of the GRP-MNLF Final Peace Agreement (FPA) of September 2, 1996”.  Until now the government is yet to deliver its commitment in the said FPA.

What the MILF is asking from government is a package offer that is not subject to conditions fearing the repeat of what happened to GRP-MNLF FPA of 1996.

Thus far, the government stands pat on its position that the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) cannot be expanded unless it goes through a “constitutional process”.

With this backdrop, we firmly believe that resolving the Bangsamoro problem through peaceful negotiations is much better than doing it through any other means, much more if it is through war.

And war means displacement and destruction of lives, properties and people’s otherwise harmonious relationships, among other harrowing impacts.

Our people have suffered long enough. They just cannot afford any other war anymore.

We should learn from history. War begets war, so to speak.

We, therefore, call on both the GRP and the MILF to obviate the impending impasse by being more creative and flexible in their respective positions in the present peace talks.  A deadlock in the peace talks inevitably leads to war.

To all the peace-loving people of Mindanao, we call upon you for us to unite and work together toward the attainment of a just and lasting peace here in Mindanao. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Taher G. Solaiman is with the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society).

 

           

 

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