Manuel “Mar” Roxas III was one of fiercest opponents of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD); in fact, he rallied hardcore anti-MOA-AD politicians like North Cotabato Vice Governor Emmanuel Piñol, Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat, and Iligan City Mayor Lawrence Lluch Cruz against this supposedly historic agreement. And plus the indecisiveness, nay, trickery, of the Arroyo administration, they succeeded.
Roxas is recently appointed Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government, filling up the post left by the late Secretary Jesse Robredo who died in a plane crash on the seas off Masbate last August 18. In hindsight, this development is not good omen for the peace process in Mindanao. Roxas is still the same person, body and soul, who spearheaded, as stated above, in shooting down the MOA-AD before the Supreme Court. This is for the record and cannot be changed anymore. It is history!
However, the future is not for us to determine. There are factors that can alter this equation. First, this time it is not any other president but President Benigno Aquino III, who vowed to finish the peace negotiation with the MILF during his term. Roxas is just one of his lieutenants; he is not the boss. The call is still Aquino’s. Second, man, including Roxas, has the capability to change views, especially now that he is part of the Aquino official family. Third, offending openly the Moros is not good for his political career. And fourth, settling the Moro Question and the armed conflict is national interest of this country, which we believe no sensible person would oppose. Is he so naïve that he cannot feel or know this need? We strongly believe he is not that person or leader now. In fairness to him, he is not a cheap leader or politician; he simply did not see the need for the MOA-AD’s signing, as others saw it.
Moreover, MILF’s policies are not based on emotional outbursts or tainted by hatred. We view or handle issues with utmost care and responsibility, and more importantly, on the basis of clear and established ideological and political lines. In short, the MILF does not have permanent enemy, except oppression and injustice. Man, any man, including every one of us, can make mistakes; that is human. It has to be appreciated that way. However, there is always second time; bridges can be rebuilt; or new ones can be constructed. There is an oft-repeated adage which is very much relevant to the situation at hand: “It takes wisdom to know one’s fault, but it takes greatness to admit them” -- and to act favorably and correct them.