24 Oct 2009

Estrada’s solution to Mindanao war off-key

THE BRAGGART in the ex-convict and ousted President Joseph Estrada boasted of eradicating the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and communist insurgency in a manner the Armed Forces of the Philippines routed the Moro secessionist forces in Camp Abubakar during his presidency. In short, through an all-out war.

Estrada might have won that pocket war, but whether he won the hearts of millions of Filipino Muslims is not clear to him. Which is not a surprise given his myopic appreciation of the struggles of the Bangsamoro people. If at all he achieved something in the devastation of Camp Abubakar, it was to further heat up the climate of insurgency which we now have to bear. If Estrada had his way, it’s not farfetched that he would resort to genocide to quell the problem of rebellion. Peace talks are not part of his options in dealing with the conflict in Mindanao. His solution is simplistic and he takes pride in it as if it were the panacea for Mindanao’s problems; he even bought spreads of advertising space in the major national dailies to bare that it was to be the centerpiece of his governance if by the grace of the d---l he wins the presidency.

The truce forged by the Ramos administration with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) may have some loopholes, but it contained the bloody rebellion and allowed the rehabilitation of war-ravaged communities of Christians, lumads and Muslims. Foreign aid added to scarce government resources and opened windows of opportunities for small- and medium-scale entrepreneurs among the MNLF combatants and their families.

We are pointing out the insanity of Estrada’s plot and the gains of a peace pact to underscore the supremacy of peace over war in our search and endeavor to forge a lasting peace accord with the MILF. We believe winning a war by armed confrontation is transitory. The MILF and the government have spent time and deliberated on many contentious issues. Both have seen which of the issues are untenable and which are doable. So many lives have been lost and so many opportunities have been wasted. Thousands of families have been displaced, unable to resume normal activities.

MILF Chair Al Hadj Murad Ibrahim says he now wants to end the cycle of violence before it affects the younger generation of Muslims. The same can be said of the next generation of lumads and Christians. Murad has assured the world community that they are not building their military strength now, because they have come to realize and believe that the problem cannot be solved by military means but—“it will always boil down to peaceful solutions.”

The MILF has likewise agreed to widen the role of America in hammering out a peace deal that will bring a stable and lasting peace in Mindanao. We have to do this quick before Estrada makes a comeback by a diabolic quirk of political lunacy.

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