The current clashes between Philippine government troops and members of a Muslim rebel group in Zamboanga City of Mindanao despite the 2012 Framework Agreement should be a lesson to all especially President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino that one should never negotiate with terrorists.
Obviously, the most recent peace agreement cooked up by the government with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was a waste of time because not only was it unsatisfactory to the original Muslim rebel group Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), it was also offensive to the latter because its leader, Nur Misuari, was left out of the conversation. He even calls members of the MILF traitors since he is still waiting for the resumption of talks to iron out some issues he has with the 1996 peace agreement he signed with former President Fidel Ramos.
It’s worth noting that the number of rebel groups, each sporting different acronyms, that have sprouted in the years after the peace agreement in 1996 is enough to do your head in. One can be forgiven for getting all mixed up sorting out which group Misuari is actually associated with. I mean, having not been involved in any of the “peace talks” in Mindanao, party people from Manila hardly care about what’s going on outside of their comfort zone let alone care about which rebel group is fighting for and fighting with.
Some Filipinos even claim that the recent gun battles that have resulted in rising civilian casualties and displacement of about 62,000 people is only a distraction created by BS Aquino’s government to divert people’s attention away from the priority development assistance funds (PDAF) or pork barrel funds scam. As far as conspiracy theories go, that one gets half a star out of five for being too irrational.
How does one fake a war anyway? Would it be funded by pork barrel funds? Would BS Aquino even jeopardize his own over-hyped Bangsamoro Framework Agreement by creating chaos in the Mindanao region just to escape the people’s calls to abolish the pork barrel funds? Only if he thinks that the pork barrel is more precious than attaining peace in Mindanao. But that is still a “lose-lose” situation for the President because the instability in Mindanao could spillover into other regions including the capital. But I guess the BS Aquino government’s lack of foresight has not escaped a lot of people.
Going back to Misuari, what the heck is wrong with that dude? He already shook the hands of the man, Ramos when he agreed to what was then the Final Peace Agreement with the MNLF during the latter’s term. However, Misuari blew his chance at creating a prosperous Mindanao for “his people”. Some say that when Misuari entered into an agreement with the Philippine government back then, it was less an achievement of peace and more of a “sellout”.
It seems his failed stint as governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is enough proof for some people to conclude that he cannot respect institutions or follow the system. He may have been effective as a rebel, but he wasn’t effective as a bureaucrat. In the end, he did not deliver for the Bangsamoro people what he was ready to shed blood for.
Perhaps the privileges of working in government distracted him from improving the livelihood of the people in his region. Unfortunately, some of his followers thought Misuari became too big for his boots and decided to abandon him for another rebel group. Apparently, while Misuari was dancing to the beat of the government’s drum during Ramos’s term, the MILF under Murad Ibrahim became more organized and became the biggest Muslim rebel group in Mindanao. This explains why the MILF managed to become the official “rebel group” to hold talks with BS Aquino.
I don’t really understand why the government is still trying to appease any rebel group. Rebels have a low track record of sharing the wealth they win with the people they “govern” once they are in power. We can say the same about the government. It seems government officials and rebels alike are incapable of putting the people’s needs before their own. They all claim to be fighting for the people and then forget about the people once they are in power.
What now? Misuari is back to where he once belonged – in the jungles of Mindanao, hiding and hatching the next terror attack just so BS Aquino will take him seriously. History repeats itself again. Yet another disgruntled Muslim rebel group is unhappy about the “peace agreement” served on a silver platter by the Philippine government. This time, the original rebel group, the one who managed to get a peace deal in 1996 is the one complaining of being left out and is now wreaking havoc in the region.
Frankly, by the way these rebel groups disagree with each other, there won’t be an end to the number of Muslim rebel groups who will be unhappy with any peace deal coming from the government particularly since history has shown that peace deals keep getting scrapped for a new one by the next elected President. Indeed, seeing the way Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay is throwing the government’s management of this crisis into disarray by bypassing reporting lines and opening his own negotiations channel with Misuari is enough to resign Filipinos to a foreseeable future of hopeless poverty and instability caused by grandstanding politicians. And that thought is enough for any rebel group to stop negotiating with the Philippine government.
[Photo courtesy Malaysian Digest.]
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