So sad and sudden!

Indeed, the resignation of Secretary Jesus Dureza Jr., as Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (PAPP), is so sad and sudden. Frankly, we received the news in almost total disbelief that such a thing would happen to a man whom we know for decades as champion of peace-making in the country. His mastery of negotiation, bargaining, and human relations can be equaled but it is hard to surpass.

Out of delicadeza, Secretary Dureza has had to resign, because two of the mainstays in the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), which he headed, were fired recently by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. And because of command responsibility, the only viable option for him is to resign.

In the Philippines, many view resignations as extraordinary happening, like an event or occurrence that deviates beyond what is normally expected and extremely difficult to predict. This is what we called the “black swan” phenomenon, because all other swans are white. But in countries where the “honor system” is honored, resignation is an ordinary practice. Anyway, resignation does not prove any guilt or admission --- and, on the flip side, also proves innocence. Let the wheel of justice proceeds without hindrance. If in the end, innocence is proved, he or she is not only vindicated but his or her moral ascendancy soars high on the highest heaven.

We are among those who praised the example set by Secretary Dureza in resigning and for the apology he issued immediately. Our big salute to you!

For years, we have received persistent reports about projects and programs being implemented mainly on papers only especially in provinces in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Corruption can be and is everywhere in this country, but it is worse in the ARMM. But if these corruption takes deep roots in this region, the government in Manila (not the current administration) is not taking a hard decision to stop them; in fact, during the time of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, it worsened. True or not, some said the late Maguindanao Governor Datu Andal Ampatuan, the primary suspect in the Ampatuan Massacre in 2009, was so emboldened in crossing the forbidden zone in human relationships, because of the “special treatment” he got from the government. It is reported that President Arroyo called Datu Andal as “ama” or father, which, in effect, went beyond the official protocols.

However, it must be admitted that Dureza’s resignation affects the peace processes and the conduct of the plebiscite to ratify the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) on January 21, 2019, because the OPAPP is the lead agency of government in these undertakings. This is where the urgency lies.

But to the MILF, this the least of our worries. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte knows best what should be done under the present circumstances. He is the president and he is the father of the BOL.

But hoping is a normal mental activity, and for this reason, we hope the next OPAPP secretary would be someone who understands the Mindanao problem and who is fully committed to solve this conflict without hesitation --- and without bias. The BOL is still facing hard challenges in Sulu, Cotabato City, Isabela City, in the six municipalities in Lanao del Norte, and the 39 barangays in North Cotabato. In addition, some politicians who expressed support to the BOL also filed their candidacies for regional positions in the ARMM. (Hard to fathom!)