Editorial: The long trek toward peace

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

THE final annex to complete the framework for a Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, or the final peace agreement between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine government has been signed in Kuala Lumpur, Saturday.

The Annex on Normalization is the last of four annexes to the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), which was completed on 15 October 2012, presidential peace adviser Teresita Q. Deles said in a formal statement released late Saturday.

Those who have been working for peace in Mindanao are now sitting up in anticipation, knowing that reaching this stage alone was a long, tedious task, which can easily be scuttled by the hawks among us the people who have personal agenda in ensuring that peace does not reign in Mindanao.


Let’s pray that these few people who have no second thought about putting the lives of Mindanaoans on line will no longer be able to wreak havoc, no matter what.

"This is for our people. Normalization is the most sensitive. It entails a lot of sacrifices on the part of the MILF. We have to decommission our forces," MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said after signing of 4th and final annex.

We applaud the MILF for agreeing to demobilize their armed members.

The difficult work, however, will still have to start.

We know for a fact that many of the armed conflict that broke out in these areas are between armed clans, private armies, and the so-called rogue groups, the Moro National Liberation Front faction who battled it out in Zamboanga, the Abu Sayyaf bandits, and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters of Umbra Kato. Any unrest among these groups can easily push the peace efforts to the wall, making it enticing to fire guns again. Especially because these remaining armed groups operate close to each other and have long drawn-out conflict with each other.

Propping up the tendency of many to arm themselves among these areas is the feudal culture that continues to prevail. How do the government and the people intend to break this culture for the people to imbibe the culture of peace, within the near future, so that whatever gains and feeling of elation has been fanned by the historical signing of the annex will buoy a collective willingness to seek peace instead of picking up guns. What institutions are in place that can be maximized to work for this? While indeed, there have been endless initiatives for peace on the ground, the fact that gunbattles still break out means the trust and belief in peaceful means to settle conflict is still not solid enough.

Most crucial of all is the firm and undying commitment of all those in position not to pick on every bit of corruptible peso from the billions that need to be invested to perk up an economy left in the doldrums for long decades. This will make sure that what is now being created will not be the corruption pot that the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (Armm) has been made to become by past and present leader of both the Moro and the national government.

Let us rejoice because a major step toward peace has been achieved. But let us all work hand in hand so that what has destroyed the peace before even after a peace agreement has been signed will not destroy the peace again, a state of conflict that only benefits the greedy few.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 27, 2014.


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