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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Post-Mamasapano unveils peace process is ‘alien’ to most Filipinos, says Prof. Ferrer

By Rene V. Carbayas

MANILA – The bloody Mamasapano incident has brought about public interest and public discussions on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, but this has also unveiled that many Filipinos are ‘alien’ to the peace process.

Government of the Philippines (GRP) Peace Panel Chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer was saddened that the January 25 Mamasapano incident had revealed that many Filipinos do not understand the peace process.

“What that single [Mamasapano] incident had revealed to us is basically how few people understand the complexities, the dynamics, and the mechanisms of the peace process,” Coronel-Ferrer said at the multi-stakeholders forum held last March 5 at Dusit Thani Manila on the “Implications of Mamasapano on the Peace Process: Moving Forward.”

The government peace negotiator said that it is easy for some sectors to say that the peace panel has not done consultations on the ground.

“This news has been in the newspapers all the time beginning in 1986. Since we overthrew the Marcos dictatorship the agenda of finding peace, seeking political settlement of the different armed conflicts has always been part of the national agenda,” Ferrer said.

For some observers, the public seems to have selective memories and occasionally talks about the peace process. But for the GPH panel this single Mamasapano incident has jarred people’s mind and reminded them once again that there is this peace process that has been going on for the longest time.

Ferrer said “there is this kind of difficulty for the public to appreciate the complexities of the very nature of the political negotiation. For instance, understanding the concept of transforming the MILF from an armed revolutionary group to a political group, in the hope of finding their legitimate space in the political construct of the body we call the Philippines.”

She noted that people seemed to forget that when government entered into formal talks with the MILF and the subsequent signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, there have been less and less or no armed confrontations between the government and the MILF forces, until the unfortunate Mamasapano incident.

Ferrer identified some implications of the Mamasapano incident like how parochial Filipinos are in terms of national issues and concerns and there is a need for the nation to “go back to the basics such as understanding the Mindanao’s history and the struggle of the Moro people and their right to self-determination towards understanding the nature of BBL.”

She said that since the incident, the government has also been engaging in “firefights” of the top two trending lies: the issue on the Bangsamoro police and the P75 Billion for the MILF. With the delay in the passing of the BBL, the peace panel hopes that Congress could pass the law by June this year.

Other speakers of the panel discussion include Congressman Rodolfo G. Biazon; Prof. Abhoud Syed Lingga of the Bangsamoro Islamic Studies; and Gen. Emmanuel Bautista (Ret), for AFP Chief of Staff, Executive Director, Cabinet Cluster on Security, Justice and Peace.

The forum was a multi-stakeholders initiative of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG), Local Government Development Foundation (LOGODEF), Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy (PCID), Zamboanga Basilan Integrated Development Alliance (ZABIDA), Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc. (PLCPD), Senate-Muslim Advocates for Peace and Progress and the Kennedy School of Government Alumni Association with support from the Australian Government, Konrad Adanauer Stiftung and UNICEF to help reinforce support to the peace process post the Mamasapano incident.