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Mamasapano ‘striptease’ & catharsis

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(BY: JESS DUREZA) This kind of “striptease” does not tantalize nor excite. It angers. The way the Mamasapano actual facts had been exposed slowly piece-by-piece is not scintillating at all. If only all those involved immediately bared all and gave full disclosure at the outset, the nation would have been spared this agonizing and divisive disrobing. Sad, but it seems we have all forgotten the fact that it was indeed  “mission accomplished”. We got Marwan — although at terrible costs. We are doing “self flagellation”, whipping ourselves.  We have squandered the gains of years of seeking peace. Our focus to peace is now diverted. And worse, we are now a deeply divided and polarized people. In the meantime, I am hearing the rolls of the drums of war.

CATHARSIS — This excruciating process of truth seeking is the catharsis we all need. Over the days, we have witnessed steeled, uniformed gentlemen and officers, public officials and ordinary mortals unabashedly shedding or holding back tears in public. A nation in tears is one way of exorcising. We need a national catharsis— a purging of bad vibes and the relieving of pent-up negative emotions of distrust, grief or anger — to regain our lost bearings. We are all in this together, whether policemen or soldiers, pro administration or anti PNoy, MILF or MNLF, Muslims or non-Muslims alike.

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NEW BBL —With what is happening in Congress and the expressed sentiments and public statements I am hearing, I can foresee that the next best thing that can happen to BBL is that it will become a NEW BBL. Obviously, Congress will definitely not take the original draft of the BBL “as is” as painstakingly crafted by both the GPH and MILF peace panels.    But we cannot just let go. We need to recover from the distractions and re-focus. I say again with more clarity: we need a peaceful settlement to address the generational aspiration of the Bangsamoro. Given the shattered peace equilibrium and the ensuing distrust —deserved or undeserved — spawned by Mamasapano, there is much work to be done.

“INCLUSIVE” — Now, I think it’s not only just removing the so-called unconstitutional provisions from the BBL. We all have an opportunity to also   enhance and make the new BBL more “inclusive”. This is not easy to do I know but there is now a strategic opportunity to again try and unify the deeply divided Bangsamoro factions. The MILF’s Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) can be consolidated with MNLF’s 1996 Final Peace Agreement and the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA LAW). I can tell from my experience that this is difficult to do, given what had happened before. The feudal, ethnic and historical divides are there but I trust these can be breached in time. The best-case scenario is: a roadmap for all Bangsamoro. This was the original roadmap. We can return to that route.

ALTERNATIVE — Hence, instead of totally dismantling the ARMM and repealing its enabling law, Republic Act 9054, the better way forward, considering realities, is for the new BBL to build on the gains and foundations of the original and amended ARMM law.  We should cast out what did not work with ARMM. But let’s not totally dismantle it. Let’s not pretend the ARMM did not exist. Let’s not throw away what had been built over the years with the ARMM. For all its perceived and real faults, let’s preserve and build on its gains. Let’s not reinvent.   Instead let’s consolidate.      The bottom line in this alternative plan is to have one “Bangsamoro road map” for all.  In short, the BBL can metamorphosize into an enhanced revised or amended ARMM LAW.

DONORS — One final word. Our international partners must not sulk and close shop in the face of these challenges. In fact, they are most needed now more than ever. Improving the lives of the deprived and the miserable should not wait for peace agreements to be signed first, although no doubt they provide an enabling environment for development work in conflict affected areas and the poor communities.

SECRET FORMULA — I will not get tired repeating again and again the counsel of former President Ramos, whenever the going went rough in our negotiations with the CPP/NPA/NDF years ago when I served in the government panel. According to him, a peace negotiator must have three secret qualities: 1. Patience; 2. More patience; and 3. More, more patience. This can apply to all of us now as we still recover our true bearings for peace.

DREAMING — My dream is to exorcise ourselves of Mamasapano, convert this national calamity into an opportunity and, by seizing the moment, we all move on. Perhaps, Mamasapano was really meant to be.

Yes, easier said than done. But I can still dream, can’t I? -30-




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