Peace in Mindanao
NOTE: “Leadership Reflections” shares views of the different members of the University Leadership Council on matters related to campus life and the operations of the University. As well, it features opinions on issues of national and/or international relevance.
Peace in Mindanao, Peace in the Philippines: Miles to go and more to know
By Dr. Myraluz Vivares-Waddington, Coordinator, Master in Peace Studies
Now that the Framework Agreement between the Philippine government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has been signed, there is some hope for the end of the civil war Mindanao. But there is a big difference between hope and actually creating the reality of peace. We are still in the process of peacemaking and it entails a lot of work. This time around, the task of the peace process shifts from the peace panel of each party to all of us.
We now have the opportunity to move on the peace path that has been paved after 15 years of negotiation with the MILF (or 38 years if we go back to the start of the peace process in 1975) and break away from the destructive path that caused an estimated 120,000 deaths, millions of people displaced, billions pesos worth of damages to properties and infrastructure, and billions of pesos that could have gone to human development rather than human destruction.
I am actually happy that this treaty is called Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro unlike the Final Peace Agreement that was signed in 1996 with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). The title signals ‘work-in-progress’ as compared to a ‘done deal.’ And this is important because it is indeed a work in progress that involves everybody.
However we need to realize how narrow and treacherous the path to peace is. The Agreement can be violated and possibly destroyed by a single wrong move from a rogue general, breakaway group or lost command.
It is therefore crucial to the peace process that we, as Muslims, Christians, peoples of all colors and faiths who wish to live as brothers and sisters in the Philippines educate ourselves about the Framework Agreement to enable us to be active participant in this peacemaking effort and find a way to make it work. As Saunders (1999) put it, “only government can write peace treaties, but only human beings – citizens outside government – can transform conflictual relationships between people into peaceful relationships.”
The only other option is the continuation of death and destruction that we have had for the last 38 years and that is simply not acceptable.
Saunders, H. (1999). A Public Peace Process. NY: Palgrave