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Weary of talks


A number of Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters have returned to the folds of the law not only because they have gone tired of fighting a futile war of secession they have also gone weary of endless negotiations.

It is apparent that in the minds of the returnees is merely a guarantee of equal opportunities, interfaith collaboration, equitable distribution of national wealth and government services, access to education and pragmatic resolution to the contentious issue of ancestral domain.

Indeed, these issues could be resolved not on the point of the gun. Neither can these be achieved by carving out a Bangsamoro Juridical Entity, which, if we have to reckon from the draft of the botched Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain braces all of Mindanao and Palawan. That draft was an invitation to a wide-scale conflict and no wonder the Supreme Court consigned it to the garbage bin.

While there are militant activists who attack the government for neglecting the indigenous tribes to include the Moro people for not looking after their ancestral domains, the fact remains that there is no other time and no other administration ever that had declared and titled hundreds of thousands of hectares of lands as ancestral domains than now. We should give credit where credit is due. The problem with the MILF is that they neither recognize nor respect the Indigenous Peoples Republic Act. The IPRA law could have sufficiently addressed their claim for territory but their insistence to declare half-the-country as their ancestral domain is untenable. The agenda unmistakably intrude to domains of the Lumads which are the true inheritors of the lands.

But as population grows, the lands and territories shrunk. While we talk of domains today, there will not be enough land for the next generation even. What remains as the most rational option is access to education to widen the arena for opportunities. We cannot achieve this via armed struggle but we have a better chance to win this if we are at peace with one another.  Free and quality education is a cheaper option to armed conflict where nobody wins yet everybody loses.

By Menardo Wenceslao

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