COMMENTARY: What’s behind the delay of the signing and the IMT pullout? By Mahdie Amella

Disappointingly, the FPA was not fully delivered. Deceitful attitude has become a government tradition in dealing with the revolutionary groups who are legitimately fighting for their rights to self-determination, thus war continuously happens that brings the government down.

The Philippine constitution has always been used by the government to delay the signing of a peace agreement. Recently, it organized a legal group that has been tasked to carefully study the constitutionality of every thing that will be entered into as an agreement with the MILF.   Has the government made a critical study when it illegally annexed Mindanao to Philippine territory? The said legal group has apparently been made to derail the peace process so as to eschew the possibility of signing an agreement.

Using the constitution to hinder the attainment of peace is like saying that the people who are fighting for secession are right. There is no such “unconstitutional” thing. It depends on how people behind the constitution make something constitutional or unconstitutional as it is merely a man-made law.

Other countries that have already been able to address problems like what has been besetting us in the Philippines also have “constitutions”. Any government that sincerely enters into negotiation with the aim of bringing peace to the nation will not find this thing difficult. The constitution can be amended to accommodate any peace agreement but an agreement can not be shaped by the constitution, otherwise the other party is being deceived.  It fights the government as it does not recognize its existing laws. How could it be a basis for any talking point or agreement?

Looking at these points, it is not the constitution that hampers us toward attaining peace but the people who can not sacrifice their personal interests in favor of national interests. These people (in Malacanang) who are very influential in terms of decision-making all have possessions in Mindanao. They fear to lose these should there be an honorable agreement signed with the MILF.

Now, what is the government’s purpose in entering into peace negotiation with the MILF? It is manifest that the negotiation is only a diplomatic tool in putting the MILF down. It has never been initiated to once and for all address the never ending Mindanao conflict.

Apparently, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has never thought of resolving the Mindanao strife. If she is for its resolution, she could have done it already as the solution for it is very straightforward – just return everything that was usurped so easily. It is not demanding. In fact, the MILF has already practically reduced its territorial claim into only the areas where the Bangsamoro are dominant.

PGMA is somehow holding on to the negotiation in order to maintain the existence of the ceasefire agreement till her term ends but is cleverly shunning obligations toward interim agreements especially on ancestral domain. She is also avoiding an honorable comprehensive agreement. On the other hand, the prolonged stay here of the International Monitoring Team just to keep the ceasefire holding without the GRP cooperating toward the final resolution of the conflict is tantamount to only serving the interest of the GRP.

Another reason is only to maintain her peaceful and diplomatic image before the international community to avoid any political pressure.

As a result, however, the IMT will be pulled out by the Malaysian Government if this attitude toward the peace process continues. This only shows that the third party facilitator is already tired of dealing with a government that has no word of honor. If this happens, it will prove to the world that the government is really not worth dealing with for having no political will. Thus, we can not blame the IMT if it does so.  

The phased pullout of the IMT may bring a looming situation to the Mindanawans. If war erupts after the IMT pullout, the government is going to be blamed as solely responsible for it. It is supposed to use all available peaceful means to prevent violence from taking place as it will surely claim the lives of its people.

The MILF has already released an official statement saying, among others, that “if the peace process fails as a result of the GRP’s dilly-dallying and spoiling, we are left with no choice but to seek other means of achieving our goals.”

The gains in the peace process between the GRP and MILF may come to nothing if the government will not resort to a necessary political compromise that will lead to the signing of a comprehensive compact.

The possibility of another round of all-out war is coming near being pushed by GRP’s shilly-shallying and further reinforced by the irresponsible pronouncements of some government officials. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Mahdie Amella is the secretary-general of the United Youth for Peace and Development, Inc.)