ADVOCACY MINDANOW: Why peace talks stalled


DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/15 April) — I got several calls asking my views on the current peace talks with the MILF. It’s clear that nothing came out from the latest round in Kuala Lumpur. Even the MILF is raising eyebrows why the GPH asked for more time to review or re-study its positions.

If nothing came out of the latest round of peace talks in Kuala Lumpur last week, DO NOT be surprised. Things will have to wait until after elections.  I was expecting it. If I were in Malacanang today, I would have done the same.  With the coming May elections, it is a BIG GAMBLE for the Administration to wrap up, sign and seal a deal with the MILF at the height of a political campaign.   The political costs to TEAM PINOY are quite obvious.

Let’s face it. Signing a peace agreement (or its annexes) is giving concessions to rebels. This will have to be extensively and properly explained to all so there will be understanding and support. It is said that there is no such thing as a perfect peace agreement. So, it must have to be “marketed” to the stakeholders.  Remember, any deal is not only exclusively for the MILF. It is supposed to cover the whole Bangsamoro. Clearly, we do not have time for this before Election Day.

Media statements coming out from the MILF camp showing impatience and dismay in the wake of last week’s stalled round are clear indications that the “backroom” channel failed to relay the real predicament of the GPH. Knowing the goodwill that is existing, I can predict that the MILF would have perfectly understood why.

In the meantime, let’s all patiently wait for the next round after the elections, okay?

CATHOLIC VOTE — Finally, there’s now an attempt to mobilize the so-called “catholic vote”. El Shaddai and several catholic organizations will come up with a “WISH LIST ” of candidates for the elections. They will choose and IDENTIFY senatorial candidates whom they will vote for.

Another sector of the Catholic Church prefers a “SHIT LIST” only of those they will campaign AGAINST, specifically those who voted “Yes” to the RH law.   They will name only those whom they will REJECT but they will NOT ENDORSE candidates.

Whatever way this cuts, some Catholics have suddenly awakened from a peaceful slumber.  And will be made to practice what is preached.
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SURVEYS — Choose your candidates well. Never mind whether one is winnable or not. Do not be swayed by surveys. You are your own boss and choose based on your own preference. Be at peace with the thought that for once you have your own ” wish list”.

And also, don’t forget your ” shit list” of candidates you reject. That’s more important so you can share it with others.

SAMAL ISLAND–I was at Samal Island last weekend. I haven’t been there for sometime.  We crossed over via floating barge at Panacan and docked at Babak. It’s a short hop of about seven minutes to cross. The big “drive-in drive out” barge loaded in a single run about 25 vehicles, 50 motorcycles and more than 100 passengers. Transport fees: about P300 for regular vehicles, P60 for motorcycles, P10, for passengers.

BOOM — Upon docking in Babak, one gets the feeling it ‘s boom time everywhere. Thousands of weekend guests coming and going swarmed the wharf area. New roads were under construction. Resorts sprouted all over the place including real estate development and housing projects. Even raw lands were being cleared and subdivided for mushrooming tenements. Wow, boomtown! Thanks to FRANCIS PE BENITO of PUNTA DEL SOL RESORT who was our “tour guide” of sorts in our island trip.

SECDEA RESORT — Unknown to many, a new resort named SECDEA has quietly evolved at Sitio San Isidro on the other side of Babak facing the Davao Oriental skyline. Ms. CHRISTINE AFDAL, daughter of COL. SAMMY AFDAL has been working on it for months now and the resort is partially open. A runway for ultra light sports planes is taking shape on the upper deck of the facility. Another landmark in the making.


**** Congrats to new IBP President EGAY ILAGAN. And the new lawyers. Sorry, I missed the induction last Friday.

**** Ms. JOY NATIVIDAD who just returned from the US called to say she had some dollars and pesos donated by friends and relatives to support the “Roof-A-Classroom” project of typhoon ravaged Davao Oriental. Thanks.

****A Dinner for a Cause is being arranged by Ms. TESS VILLANUEVA LE NEINDRE (wife of CLAUDE) for Davao Oriental.

**** A media colleague FLOR COLINA, a veteran radio broadcaster passed. Condolences to the family. . (Lawyer Jesus G. Dureza was government peace panel chair in the negotiations with the MILF under the Arroyo administration from 2001 to 2003 and was later named Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (2005 to 2008). He heads Advocacy MindaNOW Foundation, Inc. and is currently the publisher of the Davao City-based Mindanao Times. This piece is from his syndicated column, Advocacy MindaNOW).