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Do a Mandela for this nation’s peace

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So how about President Aquino convening a peace summit between him and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief Ebrahim Murad and their respective peace and security advisers to give a final push to the overly protracted negotiation toward a much-needed conclusion soon?

The GPH-MILF peace negotiation has been dragging for over 10 years now, but core issues like system of government, security setup, area of coverage and sharing of resources appear far from a resolution.  It took the Aquino government eight months to re-start the talk last January after a more than two-year impasse, without itself putting forward any new initiatives but in stead wild protestations like the matter of Malaysian mediation, Umbra Kato specter and postponement of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao election. The government peace panel, which has been willy-nilly in conducting public consultations parallel to that of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), even inexplicably banned the media from covering its meeting with local sectors of Basilan Province in Isabela City just this Monday, May 16.  This track record of royal runarounds lends credence to the MILF’s expressed apprehension that the government is out to merely manage the conflict and not conclude a settlement anytime soon.

On the other hand, the MILF appears more sincere if not desperate, like having pleaded with ex-President Bush to intercede to re-start the then stalled talks by corollarily removing the Bangsamoro organization from Pentagon’s roster of terrorist groups.  Under the slightest of pressure, it recently acceded to abandon its secession option as a prerequisite to the continuation of the snail-paced talks in Kuala Lumpur.

An Aquino-Murad summit can achieve the following:  1)  mobilize a national political consensus behind the urgent need for a settlement; 2) set straight the remaining strategic issues for resolution through a stepped up negotiation; 3) set down a clearer and realistic timetable; and. 4) establish a justice and reconciliation mechanism to heal the wounds incurred during the 40-year war, without which aggrieved or marginalized individuals and groups will attempt to sabotage future peace-making.  And, if deemed necessary to revamp the whole negotiation system to make it more pragmatic.

In 1986, ex-President Cory came down to Zamboanga City to meet with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Chairman Nur Misuari to personally kickstart peace negotiation between her newborn revolutionary government and the Moro rebels.   She was mindful of her slain husband – Ninoy Aquino’s – personal commitment, made to Misuari shortly before his fatal return to the Manila, to end the Mindanao war once and for all if and when Ninoy would gain the means to do so.   So, PNoy in meeting with Murad need not worry about protocol or precedence.  He has more reason to worry about his parents’ legacy and unfulfilled commitment to Mindanao.

In 1991, or five years after the Philippine People Power, Nelson Mandela, newly released from 27 years imprisonment as a political detainee, met with South Africa Prime President F. W. de Klerk for them to agree to peacefully resolve their peoples’ bloody racial conflict.  The meeting resulted in a mere 3-year negotiation that produced a revolutionary shift in the politics of their nation.   The world applauded, the two later shared the Nobel Peace Prize for their supreme act of statesmanship. 

Let it not be said that Filipino politicians, especially an anointed like PNoy, are not equal to such patriotic and historic call of the moment, to include their Bangsamoro opposite.  PNoy can, if he chooses, do a Mandela, not exactly in reverse since he inherited his parents’ struggle against an oppressive and unjust system, which is an intrinsic theme in the Mindanao conflict.  He can show the world that while his revered parents can make a peaceful revolution, their humble son can make revolutionary peace.  Even, without the humiliating mediation of other nations like Malaysia.

Mandela said when he first met with De Klerk for their peace summit: “We went into these discussions in the spirit that there should be neither victors nor losers.  We are all victors, South Africa is a victor”.  Would that President shall be able to say the same about this hoped-for authentic Mindanao peace, which will be a lasting victory of the Filipino nation no less. (Peace Advocates Zamboanga)

By PAZ




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