There is a good deal of omen that the GPH-MILF peace negotiation is gaining momentum and the signing of at least the Framework Agreement cannot be ruled out now. Hard signs are leading us to that direction. This is rendered more affirmative when two heads of state, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and Malaysia’s Prime Minister Dato' Sri Haji Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak, meeting at the sidelines of the APEC meeting in Vladivostok, Russia, last September 9, made powerful statements supporting such a virtual reality.
Be this as it may, negotiation is one human activity that is so unpredictable. The MILF is replete with hard lessons that an agreement is about to be signed only to be canceled at the last hour. Sometimes, even an agreement already signed can be set aside for flimsy reason. We are not saying, however, that under the Aquino administration this will still happen. We still believe that President Aquino, once he commits, will fulfill it.
Granting, however, that the signing of the Framework Agreement, notwithstanding the ticklish issues still remaining unresolved such as territory, normalization, internal security and police, is in the offing, does this mean everything is sealed? The answer is a BIG NOs; it takes time for any dose of correct prescription of medicine to take effect and cures the illness.
One big factor that has to be considered very closely will be the one who will be elected as next President in 2016. At present, two names prominently crop us: Vice President Jejomar Binay and Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas III. The next president will most likely be either of one of them, because there are no other serious contenders to the post.
Of course, Binay has the reputation of being a populist and Roxas today is reportedly well on board the peace process. His anti-Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) stance in 2008 is already considered a thing of the past. Signs for this change are not unknown to the MILF leadership.
If Binay or Roxas is in the saddle of power, will they continue or uphold the commitment forged under the Aquino administration? We would like to believe they will honor and implement whatever is provided for in the GPH-MILF peace pact, because it is a commitment made in the name of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines. Besides, we see in both men as real leaders. We may disagree with either of them in any issue but that does not mean they are bad. It just happens that we are on the opposite sides of the argument.
However, Binay or Roxas today can be different when they become president. They will have to make hard decisions; sometimes, unpopular, because pressure groups, lobbyists, opportunists, especially coming from the elites of society, powerful business groups, dynasties, etc. will torment them with their selfish or vested interests agenda. Oftentimes, the interests of the marginalized and minorities are not classified as “national interest” and, therefore, sacrificed. If Binay or Roxas is not made of steel, then their true self will come to bare then and then.