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Disarmament should be a part of the peace talks

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Everything is systems go with the resumption of the peace negotiation between GRP and the MILF. At this point, we expect that both panels are prepared with their respective agenda. While some quarters are saying that they two panels will revive the failed Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain, we have misgivings over this as already the Supreme Court death knell told us that the MOA on AD was patently unconstitutional.

Moreover, we expect that the fresh talks will still revolve around an expanded autonomous region. This, we consider, is workable especially if they refer back to the results of the referendum that was part of the process of the creation of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. We refer to the fact that there were hundreds of barangays which are Muslim dominated that voted to join but were excluded from ARMM. This may be revisited.

The two panels may have other agenda for all we care. Moreover our prime concern is the presence of arms capable of mass destruction that are in the possession of the secessionist fronts to include the terrorist elements. We do not subscribe to the idea from the religious sector for the military to pull out from Mindanao . It is a childish folly to even thought of it given the predilection not only of secessionist elements but most especially of the terrorist band and other criminal syndicates to immediately proliferate and wreck havoc whenever the opportunity to execute the plots arise. What would be acceptable is to agree on the basic conditions which guarantees wider autonomy in governance and an expanded territory based on the ARMM referendum. From there they can proceed to another agenda which should define the pull out of the government military forces, the disarmament of civilian auxiliary elements and those of the MILF, the Philippine National Police will be the sole guardian of the law and order and members of the MILF combatants maybe conscripted to the PNP after retraining and reorientation and will be fielded in the autonomous region or elsewhere in the country. All arms that are turned in shall be automatically decommissioned their value regardless. To prevent the recycling of the arms and to avert the possibility that these will be sold or given to gun syndicates and criminal elements the destruction must be done in public.

Any agreement that will be forged by these two negotiating panels will only be ceremonial if disarmament is not part of its essential terms and condition. In the meantime we will closely monitor and await how the negotiation proceeds given the fact that members of the government panel for example are new and might be grappling in the dark.

By Menardo Wenceslao




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