PEACETALK: Know Thy Peace

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/13 Feb) – Know Thy self is said to be one of the wisest advice given by an ancient Greek thinker. The architects and pushers of the GPH-MILF’s peace-accord-in-progress could use a paraphrase of that saying: Know Thy Peace.

Both panels and their working staff are extremely obsessed or worried by the fact that once more with feeling, Zamboanga City Congressman Celso Lobregat is leading a full-tilt charge against the Framework/Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, even before it enters the halls of the House of Representatives to be debated there as the Bangsamoro Basic Bill for its enactment into an organic act. It is in the God-given nature of the Gentleman from Zamboanga City to vehemently oppose the accord, or any of similar kind, because leopards don’t change their spots no matter what kind of prey they are chasing for the next meal.

That leopard is in his instinctual rights to guard with his fearsome roar and bite over that portion of the jungle where he is the “The Lion King” (sorry for the mixed metaphors). But his kingdom is not even part of that sought empire called the Bangsamoro autonomous entity, as delineated in the Framework. The Leopard King raves and rants because the Lambs of Peace keep intruding practically and virtually into his hunting grounds even when they keep on insisting and assuring meekly that they don’t want to graze and shelter there at all. Humph! Zamboanga City is not our kind of greener pasture, the Lambs yoddle. And they are not wolves in sheep’s clothing either, are they?

So, if Zamboanga City will in no way be part and parcel of the planned Bangsamoro region, then why not render it irrelevant to the ongoing peace process? As MILF peace panel chief Mohager Iqbal has said in response to a media interview question, Zamboanga City was never discussed in the negotiations because no one wanted it to be part of the regional entity. So FAB folks, don’t even come to Zamboanga City for your crucial conferences and magnanimous courtesy calls. Basilan, part of the FAB core territory, is only 45 minutes by boat ride away from this “Valiente Y Leal Ciudad” – do your sacred duties there.

The communal and grassroot campaign for support to the Bangsamoro takes the form of many levels and tactics. For that, there is hardly any need for the use of mass media (if that is what makes the city important to the peace project), because in our region less than 10 percent of people read the newspapers and only a little more than that listen to radio. Use instead the government media, which have tentacles all over the provinces, to conduct up close and personal information drives in tandem with sympathetic local civil society groups and other peace champions. Touch base with the decisive community gatekeepers like school principals and barangay officials, too. As for the incumbent local political leaders whose loyalties are in doubt, work on their political Achilles heels, e.g. party discipline and patronage (brush up on Machiavelli’s The Prince).

Zamboanga City is living in rose-tinted dreams of its historical past as a glorious paradise of Spanish and American conquest (a fantasy into which even Misuari fell), that is why the misguided MNLF Siege happened while its folks slept, a case of an irresistible force colliding with an immovable object. It has no sense of the realities of its present and much less of its future. The city has rendered itself irrelevant to the cause of Mindanao’s peace – its virtual stony motto being Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not). So, hawk the FAB goodies elsewhere, and let the Leopard and his city ilk rest in (ever) lasting peace. Hakuna Matata/Don’t Worry, Be Happy.