WORM’S EYEVIEW: Times for hard questions

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/07 February) — It’s time to deal with delicate matters.

Even as I urge sympathetic consideration and support for the dream of a Bangsamoro and its place in Mindanao and Philippine society, I believe we should engage its advocates in a deeper examination of the necessary conditions for success in any negotiation or long-term compact.

By that I mean we should not indulge our all-too-human tendency to avoid embarrassment or awkwardness for the sake of civility and at the expense of truth or honesty. Rather than dodge questions some might prefer not to ask or entertain out of politeness or delicacy, we should not.

I am saying these as a brother to all in Mindanao, for as I have stated on various occasions I am a Mindanaon in whose veins flow the three great ethnic streams of Lumad, Muslim, and Christian. And let’s face it: The times call for transparency, candor, and reality checks.

Due Diligence

It is normal in business to undertake a due diligence check before closing a deal—more so in transactions of a delicate nature. It is done in the spirit of transparency, in recognition of the fact that people generally don’t trust anything over which they have no control. Unsecured inventory or an unaudited financial report, for example.

Due diligence is also done as a way of preparing for the unforeseen or, as some would term it, in case Murphy’s Law intervenes, namely: “If anything can go wrong, it will.” Like, if you don’t know what’s in the inventory, how do you secure or protect it from pilferage?

So my question is, what by way of due diligence have been done in the course of the peace negotiations, by either side?

On the part of the MILF, for example, one can cite the abandonment by Malacanang of the Sabah claim—as well as the so-called Final Peace Agreement of 1996 with the MNLF—as a blatant breach of trust. An assurance is warranted that the same won’t occur as regards today’s proposed Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

Another is the Jabidah Massacre of 1967 for which the government never proffered an apology to the offended families and their community.

On the part of our government, is an inventory of MILF armaments or munitions in order? I bring this up because of repeated occurrences such as the MNLF outbreak in Zamboanga City.

We all thought the MNLF had already disarmed, and in fact integrated into the government and civil society. How could they so readily arm and assault the government?

And now there’s the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) group, which we all thought was a branch of the MILF but now seems out to sabotage its triumph at the negotiating table!

Due diligence is precisely for when such bad stuff happens.

Manny was former UNESCO regional director for Asia-Pacific, secretary-general of Southeast Asian Publishers Association, director at development academy of Philippines, vice chair of Local Government Academy, member of the Cory Government’s Peace Panel, and PPI-UNICEF awardee for outstanding columnist. [email protected]