One who is familiar with the approach the government used against the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) can see so clearly that the 3-in-1 GPH’s proposal is made of the same mold. It is “killing me softly approach” that, like ants, most of our brothers in the MNLF have succumbed to, in which they have no way to disentangle themselves, or the time to do it. The revolutionary or rigorous way to change things comes only once in a lifetime.
This is not an insult, far from it. Our intention is clear and sincere. If the MILF is not equipped with strong faith, selflessness, and wisdom as a result of their vast experiences for almost four decades they would follow soon. Temptation does not recognize borders nor discriminates personalities. Like a voracious animal, none escapes its appetite.
What is this formula and how does it work? Simply put: the government would negotiate and sign a peace agreement with the rebel organization; create an ad hoc agency through an executive order, provide funding for operation, entice the rebel leaders to accept and run it --- and to enjoy it --- and finally make a grand promise that the necessary amendments to the constitution would come at some time in the future. Thereafter, after entering the government, they are at the mercy or tyranny of the state. Like a moth that strayed into a cobweb, death comes to it slowly and slowly.
In this GPH-MILF peace negotiation, three shades of options were booted out already. First, the option to secede is no longer in the MILF’s proposal. (But the right to self-determination is not a subject in this negotiation. It is assumed that no one has the right to foreclose this collective right of peoples). The other is that the MILF has made it very clear that integration is a thing of the past and would not be brought up for discussion in the negotiating table. If there is a third casualty, it is the so-called autonomy in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The MILF has repeatedly reminded the government that it will never accept the ARMM.
On this basis, the current negotiation would rightly delve into the domain between the ARMM and independence. Any of the parties can be guilty of dilly-dallying or insincerity if on the side of the MILF, it still brings forth an independent state template; and similarly, if the GPH packages its proposal with all its integrative features despite couching it with autonomous labels. If the people, especially those who reason out with their reason, would be privileged to peep into the drafts of the GPH and the MILF, they would see who is serious and who is not. Of course, the GPH described their draft, as a work in progress; meaning, it is still open to redrafting. But the silver lining there is still not there. We cannot count it yet.
We are not criticizing our counterparts in the GPH; we have all the respects on them all. Despite our differences, we have many things in agreement --- and we will remain friends forever. And to cap it all, Dean Marvic Leonen is the most articulate of all government chief negotiators arrayed against the MILF. However, Secretary Silvestre Afable Jr. is still the most trusted and reliable by the MILF, while retired Lt. General Rodolfo Garcia is dubbed as the most decisive. He also enjoyed strong credibility in the MILF.
However, we hurl this challenge to the Leonen-led peace panel! If we are serious in this negotiation, instead of the killing me softly approach, empower the Moros sincerely. Concentrate on the real autonomous formula, no blurring of terms, no mixing of ingredients of the layers of governance. Independence, autonomy (substate is a description that falls on the category of autonomy), and integration have their distinct features. Call spade a spade. And by this, we have the chance to sign the much coveted agreement before 2013.