Government chief peace negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles are doing more harm than good in promoting the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) – the so-called “peace” deal between the Philippine government and the Muslim rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front. This is evident in the way Ferrer and Deles give dire warnings to Filipinos that a “very bloody war” could take place if Congress doesn’t pass the bill. They also insinuated that revising the bill is unacceptable to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.Both Ferrer and Deles would not do well in a sales job. They tend to use threats as their sales pitch in selling their product. No one in their right mind would buy a product from pushy sales personnel. They come across like they believe it would be justified for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to use violence if they don’t get their way. No wonder more and more Filipinos now consider Ferrer and Deles together with Philippine President Benigno Simeon (BS) Aquino as enemies of the state. They all seem to be suffering from tunnel vision in the way they try to convince the public that the only way to achieve peace in Mindanao is through the passing of the BBL.
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Ferrer and Deles are so focused on the passage of the BBL that they have lost sight of which side they are working for. They are supposed to be working for the Filipino people, not the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Where do they get the idea that there would be a “very bloody war” if the BBL is not passed? The Moro Islamic Liberation Front representatives more than likely told them that. The question is: how come their reaction to the threat is to give-in to their demands? If they are really smart, they should realize that giving in to the demands of a terrorist group would set a precedent for other rebel groups to use terrorism. The peace deal should have been junked as soon as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front showed signs of arrogance. Instead, they have become emboldened by BS Aquino’s unrelenting support.
BS Aquino’s irrational behavior is one thing, but it just doesn’t make any sense that Ferrer and Deles – so-called academics and peace advocates – are okay with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s threats to use violence against Filipinos. If they are really for peace, then they should condemn the atrocities committed by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front particularly the execution of the members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force during a legitimate police operation in Mamasapano to capture two terrorists hiding in Moro Islamic Liberation Front territory on the 25th of January 2015.
Ferrer and Deles are betraying the Filipino people when they suggest that those who are against the BBL are against peace. First of all, those who are against the BBL are not necessarily calling for war. A lot of Filipinos just see the futility of giving one rebel group a big chunk of Mindanao and monetary support in the billions of pesos when it is not even going to stop other rebel groups from wreaking havoc in the region. Second, it is the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and all the other rebel groups who promise to wage war if they don’t get their way and not those who are against the BBL.Ferrer and Deles are inadvertently pitting Muslim and non-Muslim Filipinos against each other whenever they imply that Muslims have been suffering from tyranny and that Filipinos would be responsible for that if the BBL is not passed. They are trying to make it look like majority of Filipinos do not want Muslims in Mindanao to prosper when in fact, a lot of Muslims in the Philippines including those in Manila get along fine with the rest of the Filipino community. Only Muslim rebel groups in Mindanao who want to grab power are creating issues where there is none. If only they can see that the violence caused by the Muslim rebel groups is part of the reason progress has eluded the region.
The existence of a number Muslim rebel groups in Mindanao is proof that the BBL will not bring peace in Mindanao. A recent World Bank-funded study also confirmed this according to Senator Chiz Escudero:
The government has to contend with other armed groups, including new threat groups, after achieving peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (Moro Islamic Liberation Front), Sen. Francis Escudero said on Friday, citing a World Bank-funded study of the conflict in Mindanao.
The World Bank study titled “Rebellion, Political Violence and Shadow Crimes in the Bangsamoro: The Bangsamoro Conflict Monitoring System (BCMS) 2011-2013” was undertaken to provide data that would help in understanding the conflict in Mindanao.
It said information was “critical in dealing with the potential recurrence of conflict after the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro” between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Ferrer, Deles, BS Aquino and all the other supporters of the BBL should open their eyes to the truth and stop ignoring all the other rebel groups who are unwilling to join the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. In fact, Ferrer should know that disgruntled members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front could form another group just like how she explained to the media that the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) was “born out of disappointment” with a deal between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the previous administrators of the Philippine government. Ferrer even went on to warn that disillusioned members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front could “go the path of the Islamic State (IS)”.
Ferrer’s own statement is testament to the fact that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front representative who goes by the alias Mohagher Iqbal cannot really speak on behalf of all the members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. He does not have control over them. That’s the reason why what he says during the hearings and to the media – that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is for peace – does not jibe well with the actions of the group’s members.Ferrer and Deles also did not anticipate the problem Iqbal’s fake name would pose on the BBL. Iqbal could even face jail time for using an alias in signing legal documents according to the regulation on the use of aliases. They were either ill advised or too eager to sign a deal without bothering to tick all the right boxes. Their overconfidence must have come from BS Aquino who got used to cutting corners when he still had power over the members of Congress when he could still bribe them with pork barrel funds.
In their own report on the Mamasapano Clash, Ferrer and Deles have bizarrely referred to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front casualties as martyrs – a sign that they too, have become somewhat delusional. If BS Aquino truly wants to achieve peace in Mindanao, he should replace Ferrer and Deles with people who can speak more on behalf of the Filipino people. The more they talk, the more damage they do to the peace deal and the relationship of the Filipino people with the Muslim community.
In life, things are not always what they seem.