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By Jun Ledesma


Monday, February 3, 2014

DON’T butcher the cow yet. While a number of documents had been signed as prerequisite for the final peace agreement and creation of a Bangsamoro land, there are still a number of processes which has to be undertaken. This involves some legal matters among them the law that would create a new autonomous region with all the highlights that had been agreed.

While this administration has pursued more vigorously the elusive peace, it is also stoically against the amendment of the constitution. What will happen to the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao for example that is ensconced in the Cory constitution? Of what good is the peace agreement if the region remains to be a virtual arsenal of high-powered arms and ammunitions? What will be done with rebel like Misuari and the MNLF?

Disarmament is the most vital part of peace negotiation. The fuzzy part of the declaration of the MILF is that they are prepared to surrender their arms but only in the care of the third party. What for? Who is this third party they are talking about?


Disarmament comprehends not only of the laying down and destruction of arms and ammunitions but also the dismantling of private armies including para military units. It also means returning to barracks of military forces and leaving only the Philippine National Police to maintain peace and order. It can also mean the integration of some members of the MILF after undergoing the required training and orientation under PNP.

There are internal conflicts between the MNLF and the MILF which have to be resolved not to mention the endemic clan wars. This is one sensitive issue that has to be dealt with tact and aplomb. The government, for example, blamed the MNLF for the Zamboanga armed conflict when it is precisely the lack of understanding in handling the dynamics of negotiating peace with the rebel MNLF that led to that pocket war. It cannot be the same Mar Roxas and the same Voltaire Gazmin handling such sensitive matter.

If it is of any significance at all, the Sultanate of Sulu has declared its support for the peace efforts of the government and the gains that it had achieved.

The other issue that should be addressed is what will become of the present Autonomous government headed by Mujib Hataman. What will happen to its tenure? Will Christians and Lumads be represented in the new government that will administer the Bangsamoro Land? What will be its tenure?

So many questions to ask and still remained unanswered but it is a consolation seeing a brighter light at the end of the tunnel. Hope springs eternal. On some personal note, having spent my teens in the hinterlands of the Cotabato where most of my and my late father’s friends are Muslims I want to see the day when Muslims, Christians and Lumads feast together, laugh together, help each other, live together for better or for worse and even inter-marry.

I want to see a new generation of well-educated youths. Let’s face it. What used to be a vast arable land is now too small. The population has quadrupled hardly can a farm provide the basic needs of a farmers family. If the economic and social condition stays, nothing can stop a potential social upheaval. Providing the right education for the coming generation will guarantee the stability of peace in the region. The youths in the conflict areas must be able to compete and the only way they can is to give them free education. The new autonomous government must give this their primordial concern. Many of displaced families of Muslims, Christians and Lumads alike have not had the opportunity of sending their children to school. They are in dire need of assistance to start anew.

Government, national and the new government of this promised Bangsamoro land must invest heavily on the youth. This is cheaper than spending money on armaments, of maintaining military forces. The prospects of peace are nothing if the youth will be denied the right to education. This should be part and the core of the peace process.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 04, 2014.


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