Duterte-Misuari meeting

There is no better way to start the healing process with the best of intention, followed by concrete and positive steps. The crucial part, in fact the defining moment, is, however, in the fulfilment of obligations. This is where the government from Marcos to the Aquino administrations, nay Congress, is faulted.

The purported meeting between President-elect Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Chair Nurulaji Misuari is in the right direction. The MILF interposes no objection to it; after all, that was what the incumbent and soon outgoing President Benigno Aquino III did when he met MILF Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim in Tokyo on April 4, 2011. If there are serious matters to consider are the facts that Misuari has a pending warrant of arrest and the security of Duterte.

To recall, of the five presidential candidates during the last presidential elections, Duterte had the clear edge in terms of policy statements on the Moros, Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), and the peace process in Mindanao. His is not only the commitment to solve the Bangsamoro Question but the unequivocal conviction that "nothing will satisfy the Muslims, nay Moros, except to give them the BBL". This statement was made during the third and last presidential debate in Pangasinan last April 24. Earlier on February 27, during a meeting with MILF leaders led by First Vice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar in Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao he was categorical in stating his position that he would pass the BBL as a template to make the Philippines shift to federal system of government. Again, the same promise was re-echoed in Cotabato City during a campaign.

We believe in him and his commitment to proceed with the BBL. We asked people closed to him about the attitude of Duterte, they told us that once he commits he fulfils it, and once a friend, he is a friend forever. Except for a major or serious breach of friendship or trust, he stands by his friends or associates.

Frankly speaking, there is little problem that blocks the immediate healing with Misuari by government. It is only the cases filed against him and more than 200 followers that stand on the way. It is the moral responsibility of government is to give justice to the innocent victims.

Why we are saying the healing is not as difficult as one may imagine. The GRP-MNLF Final Peace Agreement of 1996 has already been practically implemented or fulfilled. The Tripartite Review involving the MNLF, Government of the Philippines (GPH), and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) had been terminated in February this year. All the remaining unimplemented aspects of the Agreement namely, provisional government, socio-economic intervention, and strategic minerals, were settled or are being addressed. For the first, the MNLF will take part in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) once the BBL is enacted and ratified; for the second, a development fund called Bangsamoro Development Assistance Fund (BDAF) with an initial P100 million start-up capital was created; and for the third, they agreed on the concept of co-management of strategic minerals.

The truth is that in both MNLF and MILF peace processes,  STRICTLY SPEAKING, there is no more negotiations. Both are in implementations modes.