The New Normal-A A +A
The Point Being
Saturday, February 1, 2014
A NEW buzz phrase gets used often enough and it enters popular consciousness. And so it is that the phrase "The New Normal" has come to be associated with climate change, suggesting that extreme weather events, rather than being isolated and few and far between, are now to be expected as part of the regular occurrences.
An American television series also had the same title, perhaps pointing to the unorthodox relationships featured in the show's storyline.
Now that last of the four annexes under the Framework Agreement of the Bangsamoro is finished, it is only a matter of a short period of time before the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) is also signed and the formulation of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) by the Transition Commission and the subsequent submission to the Philippine Congress will be fast tracked.
The Normalization Annex addresses the decommissioning of the estimated 12,000 MILF combatants, transitional justice for the Bangsamoro people, and the restoration to normalcy of the condition in armed conflict-affected communities.
As it is with the other big challenges of our times, it is not expected that things will be smooth sailing from here on. Even back in November 2012, then head of the government panel with the MILF and now Supreme Court Associate Justice Atty. Marvic Leonen said that the "normalization process poses as the biggest challenge at the current round of talks."
Although the security sector was careful not to link the armed skirmishes that recently broke out in Maguindanao to the recent developments in the peace process, the reality is that there are many who cannot abide by the vision of a Mindanao with a reduced level of armed capacity among the different actors.
The hope is that this time around and unlike the situation after the Final Peace Agreement (FPA) between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the decommissioning of non-state armed groups would be successful.
Historically, the country's record in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration has not been very good. But if we are to prevent the recurrence of violent acts, access to armed firepower has to be highly regulated. Simply put, guns should not be in the hands of those who do not have the mandate of having and using them.
The other area of concern is community level change as part of normalization. I think we should extend our vision for the communities that were affected by conflict beyond "returning them back to normal." The "normal" for many of these communities prior to the armed conflict that affected them invariably included economic poverty, political disenfranchisement, cultural marginalization and social fragmentation. We do not want to return the communities to that type of normal.
Part of what should be done then in the normalization process is to accompany and assist these communities when they redefine and pursue their new normal.
If asked how I envision the new normal for conflict-affected communities, my response would include stability, justice, abundance and social cohesion.
And unlike the television sitcom The New Normal, I hope that the above vision would not get axed after a very short season.
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Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 01, 2014.