Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Peace negotiations: Who gets the upperhand?

Pres. Aquino with MILF officials.
The stalled peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) may breed contempt. Over the years, attempts by the government to put an end to the atrocities in Mindanao, especially in areas where the MILF groups are encamped, have failed. As time passes by, new demands are laid out on the table during negotiations until such time that the government negotiators are no longer able to decipher what to do.  If they did, they couldn't implement the proper strategies that are applicable and acceptable to the other party for a million reasons.

And it seems the ball is now in the hands of the MILF.  Try to go to Mindanao and you will see that MILF forces are still occupying territories that they claim are theirs. For many years now, the MILF occupied Al-Barka Camp and converted it as their headquarters. I think it is a stupid idea of the MILF to claim that Al-Barka belongs to them. Did the MILF buy the land for how much? Or was it awarded to them as part of the government's stewardship program? So that anybody who cross or get inside the area are considered trespassers who can be meted a death penalty? Under the Constitution, trespassers can still post bail and even are entitled to due process under established laws. In MILF-controlled territories, these laws are not applicable or recognized. Anybody who crosses their territories are immediately shot as what happened to the 19 soldiers who were massacred without a fight.

It is really hard to fathom the depth of the problem that surrounds the issue on whether the Philippine government is still in control of the peace and order situation in Mindanao or not? The issue on retrieving the Al-Barka camp, where many soldiers were slaughtered to death a few months back, remains an impossible dream. If the MILF, who invokes the issue on "ancestral domain", continues to gain control of that area as a primary base for their nefarious activities, how can the present government achieve a lasting peace that many Filipinos aspire for in Mindanao?

It seems the government is being held hostage by impractical demands being espoused for by the MILF peace negotiators, even if many Filipinos publicly knew that the MILF is not serious in achieving peace. Otherwise, the MILF will have no more valid reason to fight for whatever reason if total peace in Mindanao is achieved. For them, it is to their ideological or religious advantage if the peace and order problem remains.

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