PEACETALK: Give peace a chance. Or so we thought

MARAWI CITY (MindaNews / 07 July) — “Give peace a chance.” This is the oft repeated statement that we hear from all quarters. It almost sounds as if we were the cause of “unpeace” in our land. It almost sounds as if we were the “enemies of peace” that brought the scourge of war to our homeland and on our people. But has anyone ever thought of seriously considering that 17 years of peace negotiations were all about “giving peace a chance”?

Has anyone ever considered that though both deception and armed aggression were invariably used by our adversaries to force us to accept subservience, we nonetheless pursued the peace negotiations all for the reason of “giving peace a chance”? For 17 years and the previous decades before that?

In the name of peace, we were willing to set aside political independence. But in return, we exacted the promise from our adversaries that they will not ram down our throats their constitution as the framework for defining a just peace in our land.

Given the long, dark record of broken promises that our adversaries were notorious for, we took the risk in the name of peace and with the hope that perchance a modicum of sense of justice will this time move them to realize that a just peace is what is required to resolve the Bangsamoro Question.

The present regime showed signs of promise in this respect. Or so we thought. The regime was “different” from previous regimes. Or so we thought. The regime wanted to leave a lasting legacy that institutionalizes an enduring peace based on justice in Mindanao and Sulu. Or so we thought.

The regime had at last experienced an epiphany that made it realize that the Bangsamoro is unique and therefore a reconstruction of the totality of relationship is needed that accords parity of esteem and replaces the status quo with asymmetrical relationship with genuine self-rule at its cross-hair. Or so we thought.

The regime desired to forge a partnership for ending violence in the Bangsamoro by uprooting the cause of such violence. So we were no longer adversaries but partners. Or so we thought.

The regime went through the motion of allowing us to write our own Basic Law through the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, and we eagerly jumped into the bandwagon bearing the billboard sign “sincerity” for all to see and leap to the roof with joy. Or so we thought.

The menu of “or so we thought” is so long that to many it exceeded the measurement of common sense and patience. But we chose to ignore that because we wanted to “give peace a chance.” Or to be more precise, both our adversaries-turned-partners and we desired to “give peace a chance.” Or so we thought.

Now, with the recent development relevant to the emasculation of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, everything is but an illusion. The partnership is an illusion.

In one of our last meetings abroad, the MILF Panel was given a symbolic gift by the GPH Panel in the form of a disc of the song of John Lennon entitled “Imagine.” The disc was encased in a beautiful mounted case. The song is indeed symbolic as – come to think of it now – it foreboded the things to come in the Bangsamoro: That all we’ve agreed on at the negotiating table is just to be “imagined” and not intended to be implemented.

“Beware the Greeks bearing gifts,” so says the old adage. And, indeed, the last “gift” that they’ve given us tells it all: A mongrelized “Bangsamoro Basic Law” that’s an absurdity. It’s an absurdity that rubs all our faces on the ground. It’s an absurdity designed to insult and humiliate the Bangsamoro people, the MILF Panel, the BTC, the international community, and, over and above, the MILF leadership. As such, it’s an absurdity that I vehemently refuse to swallow because it is a deadly poison conveyed by a venom-carrying serpent.

A very good friend told me recently to “no longer dance to their music.” She is right. Perfectly right. That’s why I prefer to inhibit myself from the KL talks. I could no longer endure sitting opposite those people who want us to just “Imagine” living out a fantasy that actually brings back and perpetuates the nightmare in our homeland. I opted to stay in the homeland this Ramadhan and engage our people. They deserve to know the truth. So do the people of Mindanao and Sulu and the rest of the country – Muslims, indigenous peoples and Christians. We owe it to them.

The Truth shall set them free, to paraphrase a popular saying. No more of this “or so we thought”. May Allah swt have mercy on us all.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. PeaceTalk is open to anyone who wishes to share his/her views on peace. Robert Maulana Marohombsar Alonto is a member of the MILF peace panel and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission. This piece was posted on his Facebook wall on Sunday, July 6. The author gave MindaNews permission to reprint this).