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Disarmament, a way of establishing permanent peace in the Region

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Indeed we find it incredulous to have a truce without an item that should reduce firepower in the war arena. The government will find itself in the losing end having to grant all that the separatist groups demands and not getting anything substantial by way of establishing permanent peace in the region.

For as long as the weapons of mass destruction are in the hands of the rebels, the best that the peace negotiation can achieve is having a piece of paper signed for the accord, recognizing every claim of ancestral domain and therefore legitimizing and returning the territories and military camps had been ran over by governments forces. This looks very lopsided. For as long as the high powered firearms remain in the hands of the rebels the muzzles of those guns will always be aimed at the government forces and other perceived enemies of their cause.

While the Malaysian peace brokers are ecstatic about the conduct and the results of the negotiation so far, we, however, do not share the same enthusiasm. This peace pact is unique in the sense that the issue of disarmament had been skirted by both negotiating parties. We do not to be pessimistic but current and past history and for many, by actual experience, even the sound of the fire cracker elicits a knee-jerk machine gun fire which graduates to the rifle propelled grenades to bazookas and then shelling. How can we be assured of peace when these deadly weapons remain in the hands of the MNLF, MILF, civilian militias and the presence of so many military men with all those arms arsenal.

The success of the peace talks is not based on how big is the territory that the government will allow for the autonomous region for Muslim Mindanao to govern. That is concessional and an act of surrender. The success of the truce will only be significant if the separatist groups will lay down their arms, weed out their camps of terrorist elements, for the para-military units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines will be disbanded and for the AFP to drastically reduce their presence in Mindanao. If this can be achieved, then the peace pact that we all hope to achieve will have meaning to every Mindanawons, Muslims, and Christians alike. Who knows Muslims and Christians can even have joint ventures and camp cooperatives? The prospects are brighter in an atmosphere of peace, but this can only be achieved in the absence of weapons of mass destruction. Disarmament makes peace formidably stable and reassuring.

y Menardo Wenceslao




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