There is an increasing chance now, more than ever, that the Moros in Mindanao will get a better deal with the Manila government. Signs are great that the Aquino administration --- and even those not in the party in power --- are more open to finally settle this conflict in Mindanao. There seems to be a common feeling that it is time to settle this whole mess in this region. So much of bloodshed, destruction, and enmity have been in our midst. Enough of these things!
What is this deal that is deemed better than any deal the Moros got in the past? In essence, this deal is about redefining the relationship between the Philippine state and the Bangsamoro in Mindanao through power-sharing and wealth-sharing. If in the past, the central government monopolizes decision-making including over disposition of resources, this time this one-sided affair will be remedied. There will be competences to be allocated or devolved to the new political entity, which it will exercise within its domain, but still part of the larger Philippine state.
The issue here, therefore, is not what one or groups get from the deal. It is not about who succeeds to get this deal; it is not about authorship; it is not about turf. The real issue is what our people get in this deal; one that is beneficial to all, not for a selected few.
This is the real reason why the MILF leaders do not want to talk about employment in government even after signing the deal. This is the real reason why the MILF is only asking for the driver’s seat up to the interim period; and after which, either it will transform itself into a political party or organizes a political party and engages in election. If it succeeds, then it will form and run the government of the new entity. If it loses, the growing democratization of the struggle will continue.
It is time for every Moro, irrespective of group affiliations, to show selflessness by supporting this negotiation. Even a mere endorsement is a great boost to this undertaking. This is the best time for the current Moro leaders, in and outside of government, to do a “Mandela” for our people. Nelson Mandela, a South African leader who spent 27 years of his life imprisoned on the desolate Robben Island, did not think of himself and his career but his people. In the end, without seeking for it, he went on to lead one of the most incredible political transitions in human history.