WORM’S EYEVIEW: Political will and the Bangsamoro

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 10 April) – To cynics and skeptics about the Bangsamoro peace deal: suppose we give peace a chance, what would we lose and what would we gain?

For one, we would lessen if not entirely lose the tension many of us and our communities suffered during the decades of warfare. Just wondering where or when the MILF would strike next was a constant cause of anxiety.

Because of them, we had wakeful vigils year round. Our hope now is for all that to be behind us, although there’s really no guarantee of real, total peace.

But along with the hopes that go with it on both sides, the signed agreement ought to stand for something.

For How Long?

Let’s not discount the possibility that the relief from tension and suspense will last for a long time if not for all time.

If we’re wise, we will take advantage of the interregnum to fix what can be mended, to build bridges of understanding that haven’t been tried or that no one thought of, and to strengthen the spirit of peace in our mindset and behavior.

We should also learn to be philosophical and accept that nothing much lasts very long anyway; that it’s really up to us to make things last.

We can choose optimism and build capacity to hope. We can back it up with a will to succeed. Hope is essential. That’s the important thing.

But hope works well only if you learn to set aside doubt or fear and let nothing get in the way of success. Peace will endure only if we make it so.


To smooth the way forward, let’s make room for goodwill. Let’s acknowledge what the two panels, Government and MILF, achieved by reaching a meeting of minds. And pray that in time there will be a meeting of hearts as well.

What this all means is to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt. There’s no such thing as a perfect negotiating panel anyway, or a perfect negotiation process.

What’s important is we now have something to work on in earnest, to make of the peace process a testament to mutual satisfaction, to understanding, and to fulfillment.

For the MILF, relentless struggle earned them the sweet taste of triumph amidst untold tribulation.

There’s something for the original MNLF too. Ever since the term “Bangsamoro” gained currency from the agony of Corregidor and the Jabidah Massacre decades ago, the term has grown from obscurity into a battle cry and soon will be a life-size polity that may even become a Substate. An impressive achievement by any standard.

Political Will

For all Moros, patronized, even marginalized in their homeland, they have a place in the sun now—though not beside the one on our national flag, or even as a ray in it. But their collective success dramatizes the importance and the power of political will.

Like a corporate mission statement, their political will evolved from a vision of the rank and file, a vision arising from their values, aspirations, and experience whose convergence added up to a common desire or cause.

The cause became a goal, an obsession that drew others and molded them more surely into a community built on consensus—an agreement among kindred souls, a de facto social contract.

The struggle to promote the cause solidified resolve and strengthened solidarity, hardening it, committing it to success.

Nur’s Place in History

Somewhere out on the lam today, Nur Misuari must be very pleased. Even as he gnashes his teeth at losing what was once in his grasp, he and his ragtag group of Moro activists started it all four decades ago in nondescript corners of Diliman, Loyola Heights, and other places in Metro Manila.

That the original group splintered several ways—and suffered what many thought were irremediable setbacks—is less important than that the vision endured and the struggle persisted until it matured on the negotiating table.

To be sure, the Agreement marks only the first in a thousand or more precarious steps still to be taken; but that is also less important than that a peaceable approach has taken hold and holds the promise of fulfillment. Such is the power of consensus and political.

[Manny among others is former UNESCO regional director for Asia-Pacific; secretary-general, Southeast Asian Publishers Association; director, Development Academy of Philippines; member Permanent Mission to the United Nations; vice chair, Local Government Academy; member, Cory Government’s Peace and Development Panel, and PPI-UNICEF outstanding columnist awardee. [email protected]]