As of the moment it seems that any settlement between the GRP as represented by the Arroyo administration with the Moros as represented by the MILF is dead is the water. As the latter declared they would rather wait for 2010, the supposed end of the Arroyo government.
I have always understood that when an agreement is initialled it can no longer be changed. But government declarations indicate now that it wants fresh talks. And their newly-minted chief adviser on the peace process, the former AFP chief of staff Esperon is putting forward a new framework, one that is based on the dismantling of the MILF fighting forces and the surrender of its arms (which no self-respecting revolutionary army will ever agree to except when it is accompanied by a wide-ranging change in the ruling state).
Charges of negotiating in bad faith is in the air. The government even pulled the rug under the feet of their negotiators led by ex-general Rodolfo Garcia by saying they have no authority to sign the MOA-AD and that the President does not know that full details of the agreement. Does this mean they are setting up Garcia and company for a charge of treason? Probably not. It just means when the going gets hot Malacanang will rather leave their negotiators hanging in the air and taking the flak.
The Christian body politic is not ready for a settlement of the Mindanao problem. This is obvious when accusations flew thick and fast right after the scheduled signing was announced. And I don’t think most studied the MOA-AD, how it was crafted and its implications. With this attitude I don’t think an educated and levelheaded debate on its merits (or demerits) is possible.
Was the talks all an exercise in futility? Maybe not entirely. At least the Mindanao problem was again in the national consciousness and the reactions are worth studying. And it also exposed our failings as a people.
But I just hope that in the end knowledge, intelligence, maturity and good sense prevails. Without these, all talks or even signed agreements are bound to fail.
In the end it will not be the government who will resolve the problem but the peoples in general. Without understanding of the problem and maturity the peoples cannot expect to be part of the solution. They will be part of the problem. It is easy for any government to make peace when the peoples themselves are already ready for a give and take. Does anybody now expect a war between the major Western European powers like Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Italy? Do anybody remember now that in the first half of the last century and for centuries before that these powers were always at each other’s throat? I heard that some agreements now between these countries are sealed with a handshake between leaders and they just let their ministers draft the wordings later, as in meeting of the minds on commons interest is already enough to make an agreement.
Maybe peace in the South is not yet possible because the Christian body politic is not yet mature and knowledgeable enough for peace. I just jope that with the advent of the Net and the ease it provides for the search and dissemination of information it will raise the intelligence and maturity of our body politic.