Presidentiables’ Peace Policy in Mindanao

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MAKATI CITY (26 April) – Attended by all the five presidential candidates, the third and last leg of the presidential debate series was held last Sunday at the Phinma University of Pangasinan in Dagupan City.

Following a town hall meeting format, the five presidential bets were asked questions from sectoral representatives whom the Commission on Elections (Comelec) media partner, ABS-CBN, flew in from different provinces. The issues raised by the selected sectoral representatives were Metro traffic and public transport, job security, health, foreign policy, basic public education, oversees Filipino workers (OFWs), and peace in Mindanao.

When asked by the concerned sectoral representative, Amina, who is an evacuee and divorcee with five children from Datu Piang, Maguindanao, on how they could put an end to conflicts in Mindanao, the presidentiables identified different causes of the conflicts, and offered corresponding solutions.

Defensor-Santiago

It was Sen. Miriam Defenso-Santiago’s turn to give the first answer, thus:

Una, we will dismantle the private armies. Merong private army na kaiba pa sa Armed Forces of the Philippines. Yan nanggagaling sa isang pulitiko diyan na maraming perang ninakaw sa gobyerno kaya, kaya niya magbuo ng isang army. At tapos itong army na ito, hindi na madisiplina dahil sinasabi nila nagtutulong naman daw sila sa gobyerno. Kaya yun ang unang-unang tutukan diyan sa iba na yan. Pangalawa, to stop the internecine conflict in Mindanao, we have to adapt their customary or traditional law into our Western style model of justice – of the justice system. For example, maganda naman yung mga ugali ng Tausog kaya ginawa namay municipal ordinance ng isang – ng isang bayan. Pagkatapos, meron silang sharia court, so maganda rin ang mga base. Kaya sa dalawang paraan na ito, maaaring magkamagkaka – magkatagumpay na tayo sa wakas at mahinto na ang giyera or terrorism sa Mindanao.”

Santiago identified (1) militarism of private armies and (2) conflict of laws (between the Philippine (Western) law and the Muslim customary or traditional law) as the cause of “the internecine conflict in Mindanao,” and in order to stop it, she is determined “to dismantle private armies” and “to adapt their customary and traditional laws into our Western style model of the justice system”.

By pinning her hope in these two solutions to put an end to “giyera (war) and terrorism,” the lady doctor of laws regrettably lumps together under the rubric of ‘terrorism’ all the diverse types of conflicts in Mindanao, whereas the main issue here is sovereignty-based; it is an issue of decolonization recognized in public international law; it is an issue of the inalienable right to self-determination of once a free nation or nations. This is apart from the other conflicts which are ideological in nature (such as with the armed leftists in the Philippines), terrorism in nature, or police cases of criminality and family feud. Moreover, the conflict of laws is just secondary in nature in comparison to the universal right to self-determination.

Roxas

The administration and Liberal Party candidate Manuel Roxas II replied in this way:

Para kay Aling Amina, alam ko po ang inyong sitwasyon. Nakwento din po sa akin ni Ina Ambolodto, isang tulad mo, laki sa pagiging bakwit doon sa Maguindanao ang kanyang istorya kung saan talagang nawalan ng pag-asa. Kaya natin isinulong yung Comprehinsive Agreement on Bangsamuro, para magkaroon na nga ng kapayapaan. Alam natin, kung walang development, walang kapayapaan. Pero kung wala namang kapayapaan, wala ding progreso at development. Kaya’t dalawang – dalawang kilos po ito. Sa isang bahin, yung ating gobyerno, sinusulong ang usapin para sa kapayapaan sa lahat ng mga sektor lalung-lalo na sa MILF doon sa Mindanao. At sa kabilang sektor naman, sa kabilang bahin, yung development, yung imprastraktura. Yung imprastraktura na naparating natin sa Mindanao ngayon ay doble sa nakaraang limang taon kumpara sa lahat ng imprastraktura na naparating doon noong nakaraang labing-dalawang taon noong nakaraang dalawang pangulo. Ganun ang pagtingin natin sa Mindanao. Ito, may konkreto tayong ginawa. Ginawa natin yung Comprehensive Agreement, isinulong natin ang BBL. Sa kasawiang palad, hindi ito naipasa sa Senado at sa Kongreso. Pag ako po ay naging pangulo, isusulong ko po yan. Dahil peace without progress hindi mangyayari, pero progress without peace ay hindi rin mangyayari. Dapat panahon na na maisakatuparan ang pangako ng Mindanao.”

As can be gleaned from Roxas’ formula, “Alam natin, kung walang development, walang kapayapaan,” the cause of the conflict is simply underdevelopment, and the solution to this, accordingly, is two-pronged: advancement of peace to attain development, and pushing for development in order to achieve peace.

Duterte

Incumbent Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte offered the following reaction:

“The war in Mindanao runs deep. You know, this may sound funny to you but when Magellan landed in Leyte, Islam was already planted firmly in Mindanao because they belong to a different (sultanate). Ang makakaintindi lang yong Sabah papuntang Malaysia. But you know, the conquerors and the Americans and the Spaniards, kinuha nila ang Mindanao which was already Islam. Kaya yong pumunta yong mga sundalo ng Espanyol pati Amerikano, giyera talaga. We have to talk and we have to correct the historical injustice. I tell you as a Mayor of the City of Davao… there will be no peace. There can never be a federal government until we talk to the NPAs which has been fighting us, I know, ‘70s estudyante na ako. Ngayon, 70 years old na ako. You know, it has to be a development but you have to make the peace there bago ka makagalaw. Pag hindi mo nakausap ‘to in peace talks, everything will fail. I would like to tell you and I’m telling now to the Republic of the Philippines, nothing will appease the Muslims, the Moro people, if you do not give them the BBL…”

From this reaction, Duterte identified the root of the conflict in Mindanao deep down in history, and for him, the solution is to correct the historical injustices by enacting into law the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which is the latest agreed upon legal instrument for expressing and exercising the right to self-determination of the concerned people.

Binay

Vice President Jejomar Binay addressed the question in this manner:

Alam po ninyo, Aling Amina, ako ho ay sanay na sanay makipag-usap. Bago ho ako napunta sa gobyerno, nakikipag-usap ako dun sa mga manggagawa at saka sa kanilang pinagta-trabahuan. Nung naging mayor po ako, yung mga hostage problems, nagkakaroon po ako ng resultang maganda. Ipagpapatuloy ko po, Aling Amina, katulad ng bawat Pilipino na tayo ho ay magkaroon ng talagang katahimikang, ah, na matagalan. Lasting peace, yun nga po ang sabi. Sa akin, sa aking palagay, yan hong lasting peace na yan eh makakamit kung mahaharap po natin ang problema ng kahirapan na naglipana po don sa inyong lugar. Yan po ang pinagmulan kung bakit ho meron hong gustong umalis, ito ho ay gumagamit ng dahas para ibagsak ang pamahalaan. Pero, ang puno’t dulo po nyan ay yung kahirapan. Sa aking pamumuno, aangat at aangat ang buhay po dun sa inyong lugar sa Mindanao, at yan ho ang magiging pangunahing dahilan kung paano ho tayo magkakaroon ng lasting peace sa inyong lugar. Oh, yun po ang aking pangako ho sa inyo. At nakatitiyak kayo, kasi ako ho aksyon agad, ginagawa ko, ha. I make decisions. As a leader, I am decisive. Mangyayari po yan.

From his answer above, it can be inferred that the Vice President simplistically pinpointed poverty as the problem, and accordingly, the sought-after lasting peace can be attained by addressing the problem of poverty.

Poe

Sen. Grace Poe responded to the query in this fashion:

“Amina, bilang isang babae, naiintindihan kita. Ang mga lalake, pasan siguro nila ang armas, pero pasan natin ang mundo sa ating balikat pag may gyera. Sapagkat tayo ang naiiwan para bantayan ang ating pamilya. Sa Mindanao, kapayapaan ay napakahalaga. Pero… doon sa mga terorista na nananakit o pumapatay, hindi natin dapat sila pagbigyan kung ayaw nilang makipagbalikan, makipag-usapan sa gobyerno. All-out war sa mga nagbabanta sa atin, pero dapat all-out development rin. Sa Maguindanao, wala pa yata kayong provincial hospital. Isa yan sa pangangailangan natin. Importante rin na pangalagaan natin ang imprastraktura sapagkat kung konektado kayo sa isa’t isa, mas madaling mababantayan ang mga teritoryo natin sa Mindanao. Ngayon, may problema, hindi lamang sa Pilipinas kundi sa Malaysia. Kung hindi ako nagkakamali, binara na nila yung border na hindi makakapunta doon ang ating mga kapatid sa Tawi-Tawi para mag-trade or barter. Kailangan magkaroon tayo ng bilateral talks para talagang sugpuin ang terorista sapagkat nawawala ng trabaho ang ating mga kababayan. Kung ako maging pangulo, ipagpapatuloy ko ang usapin kapaya – pang kapayapaan pero dapat kasama ang lahat. At hindi tayo dapat namimili ng iilang grupo lamang.”

As can be deduced from her offered solution of “all-out war” for those who refuse to negotiate with the government, as well as “all-out development” in the form of health services, infrastructure and trading opportunities, the cause of the conflict could be categorized as lack of social services.

Summary

In sum, the presidentiables’ peace policy in Mindanao can be given as follows:

Santiago: to dismantle private armies and adapt Muslim customary and traditional laws into the Philippine western style model of the justice system.

Roxas: to advance peace for development, as well as development for peace.

Duterte: to correct historical injustices.

Binay: to address the problem of poverty.

Poe: to provide social services.

The decision is yours, dear readers, which of these policies to buy comes the reckoning day.

 

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