In President Cory Aquinoâ€™s time, Ambassador Emmanuel Pelaez reached a truce with the Moro National Liberation Front of Nur Misuari, who had long fought the Marcos dictatorship. Under the 1987 Constitution, Misuari led the new Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao starting in 1989. More peace-building culminated in the peace agreement under President Fidel V. Ramos in 1996.
But the Moro Islamic Liberation Front resumed the Moro rebellion. It took more years of bloodshed and displacement to reach a framework agreement for peace, and finally a comprehensive peace agreement and a proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law under President Benigno Aquino III.
As the House held hearings on the BBL, Mamasapano happened on JanuaryÂ 25. And the peace process, as well as the proposed law that would govern the promising autonomous region, was stalled. The new peace agreement leading to the establishment of the Bangsamoro entity was to be the great legacy that P-Noy had sought with much effort and political capital.
Mamasapano has now blocked the best prospect of peace and development in Mindanao based on historic justice for our Muslim brothers and sisters and on genuine autonomy and prosperity for Muslim Mindanao under the Bangsamoro as a progressive region.
Under P-Noyâ€™s overall leadership and responsibility, then suspended Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima and then Special Action Force Director Getulio NapeÃ±as commanded Oplan Exodus. There was no coordination with the MILF, the governmentâ€™s invaluable peace partner, nor with the military. Neither did P-Noy consult his peacemakers Teresita Quintos Deles and Miriam Coronel Ferrer for their invaluable advice.
The SAF raid directed at wanted terrorists provoked the shocked and besieged fighters of the MILF, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and private armed groups to repel the police commandos. The outcome was the killing of 44 SAF men, 17 Moro (including MILF) fighters, and three civilians. The killing of the Malaysian terrorist Marwan cost far too much for the fatal operation. And P-Noy has lost so much public trust and approval.
Nevertheless, so many more peace-loving Christians and Muslims nationwide are praying and working for enduring peace and development in Mindanao by establishing the Bangsamoro autonomous region. The revered Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo urges all of us to support the BBL, reject our biases, and show our deep trust in our Muslim brothers and sisters. For they have paid so dearly and so unjustly for many decades.
So many of our countrymen feel that P-Noyâ€™s forthright admission of overall responsibility for Oplan Exodus and its tragic outcome would greatly help bring justice to the fallen combatants beyond the material aid to their families. It would also help assuage the loss and grief of their loved ones.
Letâ€™s all seek Godâ€™s blessings, calm down and support the heroic effort for lasting peace, rehabilitation and development in Mindanao. Letâ€™s all rise above this tragedy and the fatal mistakes and go forward with the review and enactment of the BBL and the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.
May the success of the peace process and our quest for justice in Muslim Mindanao lead us in the near future to the greater promise of peace, justice and progress for our country by changing our long dysfunctional and obsolete unitary-presidential system in favor of a new and effective federal-parliamentary republic. Thus will we also be liberated from our political oligarchy and family dynasties.
Jose V. Abueva is the 16th president of the University of the Philippines, UP professor emeritus, founding president of Kalayaan College, and a cofounder of the Movement for a Nonkilling Philippines and the Centrist Democratic Party-Ang Partido ng Tunay na Demokrasya.
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