Archive for the ‘GRP’ Category

The MILF Have Been Suckered Into War:The "Peace Agreement" As A Trojan Horse

November 19, 2008

During the previous year or so the MILF have been charging the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) that the latter is not interested in peace citing the lack of progress in the peace talks and the near-impasse in the substantive portions of the agenda. Earlier this year the Malaysian peacekeepers of the International Monitoring Team notified Manila that it will not be renewing its peace-keeping chores saying practically the same reason cited by the MILF. Mindanao-based peace advocates shared the same lament. It even led to the resignation of some personalities connected with the peace process. Even the very respected Fr. Eliseo Mercado of the Notre Dame University in Cotabato City broadly hinted of government’s insincerity in the peace talks.

Suddenly, nearing the end of Gen. Esperon’s tour of duty as AFP Chief of Staff the talks suddenly accelerated. Gen. Esperon was appointed as the presidential adviser on the peace process right after retirement and, lo and behold, suddenly a “breakthrough” in the peace talks was announced. Soon after a signing of the “peace agreement” in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was announced.

When it became clear that the substantive portion of the agreement was about the “ancestral domain” and the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE), Christian politicians in three key localities in Mindanao made angry noises. Suddenly, there was major fighting in Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte and full-scale assault by the AFP followed. It was supposedly “to bring to justice” the commander of the BIAF (Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces) 102nd Base Command Abdulrahman Macapaar or Commander Bravo based in Lanao del Norte and Commander Ameril Umbra Kato of the 105th Base Command in North Cotabato who supposedly occupied 15 barangays.

Commander Bravo denied the charged atrocities in Kauswagan and pointed instead to the group of Alvin Canto as the perpetrators. This group immediately surrendered to the military after fighting started. Is this the same case as the “Polish” attack against Hitler’s Germany that started WWII?

Is Kato’s “occupation” true? For several years now the military has been charging Ustadz Kato with conniving with the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). Is there more than a coincidence here?

After nearly four months of war all of the MILF-BIAF’s base command including those in western ARMM have been attacked by the AFP saying it would continue until the MILF surrenders the wanted commanders, a demand that was surely rejected by the MILF. Contrary to my expectations nearly all of the MILF areas have been overrun by the AFP. Feeling victorious, the current AFP chief of staff probably slipped when he boasted that:
1. “What we did in 2000 was to symbolically occupy areas and raise the flag. We have not accounted for much of their capabilities and even firearms”, thereby directly criticizing Erap’s “all-out war” against the MILF.
2. “Our objective now is not just to occupy lands…but to degrade the capabilities of the forces involved”.
3. “We have not only occupied some of their traditional areas which means we have constricted their area of capability, their space to maneuver…we have inflicted considerable damage not only to personnel but to equipment of the different groups we are pursuing”.

All in the disguise of “bringing to justice…” Looks like Gen. Yano mastered the Bush art of “truth-stretching”. What was really the objective was “to change the realities on the ground”, as preparation for “new peace talks”.

Looking at other quarters, there seems to be moves to rehabilitate Nur Misuari of the MNLF. Maybe as a substitute sparring partner if the MILF does not report to the peace talks?

Looking back, the GRP’s “concessions” in the peace talks looked too good and magnificent to be true. Maybe it knows that it won’t pass Supreme Court review anyway. “The right hand giveth, the left hand giveth”. A pretext (atrocities kuno) to a full-scale war was found. The “peace agreement” turned out to be just a Trojan horse.

The Failed MOA-AD Signing: A Perspective

September 3, 2008

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.