ADVOCACY MindaNOW: Indonesia needed in peace talks

ADVOCACY MindaNOW: Indonesia needed in peace talks
by Jess G. Dureza

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/4 November)—I recently read somewhere that Indonesia was being called upon to do more and help in the on-going peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Was this report a “transition ploy” to soften the ground? Or a ‘trial balloon” of sorts to replace Malaysia as peace facilitator? I am not so sure. But yes, Indonesia can be a viable mediator/assistor, if both GPH and the MILF agree. Since Indonesia, representing the Organization of Islamic Conference (now Cooperation, OIC) helped forge the 1996 peace agreement with NUR MISUARI’S Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), it can be instrumental in re-uniting or putting together the divided bangsamoro factions. Let’s face it: comprehensive peace cannot be achieved if the bangsamoro is split. Malaysia, with all its good intentions and hard work, unfortunately, is saddled with the issue about the Sabah claim and its dynamics with the MNLF. But it may be difficult to change horses at this late stage. I suggest the best move now is to get Indonesia to be more involved by managing the concerns of the MNLF and help out — not replace — Malaysia in getting to the end game. This will also give the influential OIC more traction in the on-going peace process. But Malaysia will have to give up its exclusive and monopolistic hold in the negotiations. Malaysia alone, with all the recent developments including the MNLF- Zambonga incident, will no longer fly.

BISHOP NANDING —Turning 79 years old a few days ago. Archbishop Emeritus NANDING CAPALLA looked so hale and healthy and still young looking. The “NANDING BOYS” (ANTHONY “TARAS” SASIN, JOEY MENPIN, NILO CLAUDIO, AL BARRETO, ART MILAN & BOBBY ORIG) were all there at his retirement house at Catalunan Grande with the other guests. The celebrant was gearing up to fly to Zamboanga City the following day to look at the situation there.

WRONG ADVICE —One favorable note we learned during that birthday gathering was that Malacanang, for the first time ever and through UNDERSECRETARY NABIL TAN of the Mindanao Monitoring Office , had recently officially reached out to the BISHOP ULAMA CONFERENCE to resume being an active player in the peace work in Mindanao. Perhaps unknown to many, the BUC was totally ignored (as in “deadma”) by Malacanang since the start of the Aquino administration. Don’t blame the President. It was upon the wrong advice ostensibly coming from presidential advisers. I am reminded of that disastrous assessment, also from advisers that MISUARI was a “spent force” and the miscalculation of terminating the tripartite review of the MNLF peace agreement. We’ve seen the consequent damage. Reaching out to the BUC, although late in the day, is still a welcome development. All the while, I was aware of how USEC NABIL under EXECUTIVE SECRETARY JOJO OCHOA had been trying to re-connect with Mindanao players. It’s not yet too late. Let’s all come together and give support.

ZAMBOANGA MESS — More than one month has passed since the Zamboanga seige was “cleared” but up to now thousands are still languishing and suffering. It is still a humanitarian disaster. After we clean up the mess, we have to reckon with accountabiity. But first things first: attend to the victims!

SPLIT-UPS — We are seeing marital or romantic break-ups of show biz stars lately. As of my latest count, (yes, I follow the latest “tsismis”) there had been about 13 sweetheart pairs publicly splitting up. I agree that these are all personal to them and ought to be none of our business, especially when they are romantic “love teams” that the movie industry promotes to market the latest movie or teleserye. Fascinating! But it is entirely different if the show biz couples are married with children and are making a big fuss of their break-ups in public. Can’t they not just quietly deal with their marital problems behind the scene? Role models? Nah! But the media is feasting on this! And we starry-eyed mortals continue to be entertained. An escape from present day harsh realities? Maybe.

KIDNAPPING — A Cotabato businessman, MIKE KHEMANI, owner of the Sugni stores in Cotabato was abducted by armed men in a busy commercial street just outside his store a few days ago.Kidnap for ransom is still a favorite “cottage industry” in that area. If the authorities cannot put a stop once and for all to this malady, do you think businessmen will keep investing in Cotabato? The bad guys must eventually be arrested and made to pay for their crimes. Otherwise, impunity will prevail. And Cotabato and its people will suffer. So far, I have not heard of a single kidnap-for-ransom hood taken in.

INTERNATIONAL SUMMIT — Calling on all Jaycee International senators. The first ever international summit will be held on November 18 at MANILA HOTEL. It hopes to be a start-up for a global organization of JCI senators world-wide. Be part of this historic event by being a charter member!

PASSING —Remembering the dead was at the center of things during the last few days. This brings me to the recent passing of several friends. FRANCIS SY GAISANO, a scion of the Gaisano family succumbed after a 5-year bout with cancer. Francis was the financial whiz of the Gaisano business empire. Soft spoken and gentle, he quietly left nary a friend knowing about his passing until after a few days later. Another Dabawenyo DING DIAZ, one of the pioneers who took the cudgels for the Davao consumers against DAVAO LIGHT & POWER CO. also died. I recall Ding took his campaign personally to the extent of even throwing stones at the power company premises at the height of his passion. He was ubiquitously always in white with his garterized suspenders. Then another friend since college days, PROSECUTOR LEO DE LOS SANTOS who originally hailed from Malita, Davao del Sur, also died. Veteran journalist Johnny Mercado, in his column, quoted Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore thus : “Death is not the extinguishing of life. It is putting out of the lamp because the dawn has come.” Amen?

GOLDEN SURVIVORS —We met over the weekend with our former classmates in high school of the boys’ department of the Holy Cross of Digos (now COR JESU COLLEGE). It’s been 50 years since we graduated in 1963. The SACRED HEART BROTHERS coming from Canada just arrived then in the south and ours was the first batch. We are calling ourselves the “Golden Survivors”. BOY REMONDE who retired in the US was back in town. BROTHER KARL GASPAR was busy in Bohol so he only sent word. The other “golden boys” who came were FORTUNATO “TOTING” ALEGADO, now doing his own healing ministry; ERNESTO “BOY’ LEGASPI, a political leader in Hagonoy; EDWARD BUENAFLOR, JOE TAPARAN, LEOPOLDO “POL” NER. Former DEPED SUPERINTENDENT ALFONSO “BOY” GOMEZ got bugged down somewhere along the way and said he would catch up next time. Former MAYOR MANUEL “WILLIE” CABARDO and VIRGILIO “BOY” CAVAN got caught up with family members who came for the “kalagkalag”. The late former GOVERNOR ROGER LLANOS was one of our “casualties”.The batch has some “homecoming” plans during the end of the school year. (The author is the incumbent vice president for Mindanao of the Philippine Jaycee Senate and national president of the Philippine Press Institute. He served in Malacanang in various capacities both former Presidents Fidel Ramos and Gloria Arroyo.)