“No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press... (Sec. 4, 1987 Philippine Constitution)”
At long last, Malacañang is seemingly doing the right thing: holding closed-door executive sessions in discussing the Scarborough issue—and refusing to disclose strategic and tactical decisions. I did catch a portion of Spokesman Edwin Lacierda’s presscon yesterday on TV. I could understand his difficulty and discomfort in parrying media curiosity. I was in that same hot seat for a while some time ago. But that is the correct thing to do. And don’t take it against media for tweaking. And nitpicking. That’s also part of their job.
Remember, President Aquino himself just blurted out recently the use of “spy planes” from the US to monitor the disputed area — only to awkwardly backtrack when that folly became obvious. Spy planes and the like are sensitive matters usually discussed in hush hush tones behind closed doors. Enough of those macho talk! They do make good newspaper headlines but they unduly telegraph our punches. We should do better!
MEEK CHINESE — We are also missing an important point here. Chinese are known for being patient, meek and mild but will not allow it to be threatened. The same is true with us, macho and proud Filipinos. So why don’t we both play this cool and quiet in another way? The hot rhetoric ought to have been all behind us by now. Let us not feed the frenzy!
INDONESIANS IN IMT — The coming of the Indonesian military contingent to augment the foreign forces of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) is a clear signal that we are now starting to “dilute” the seeming monopoly of the Malaysians in the peace process with the MILF. I recall there were even moves in the past to replace the Malaysians as facilitator in the peace talks due to the unending speculation about the Sabah issue and the matter of whether Malaysians are truly neutral in its facilitation. I recall some Malaysians, as an apparent “quid pro quo” deal, were quietly prodding the Philippines, to set up a Philippine consulate in Sabah, an act implying our official dropping of the Sabah claim. Of course, the Philippines simply ignored it. In fairness to Malaysia, it spent resources and put its neck and integrity on the block in the peace efforts. Peace in our southern borders is also peace for them.
“DILUTING MALAYSIA” — The Indonesians brokered the 1996 Final Peace Agreement with Nur Misuari’s MNLF and it did so as front man of the OIC, the grouping of Islamic countries. Indonesia coming in strong in the IMT means the OIC, which also became observer of late, has both feet “in” already. And for good reasons since we know that there can be no sustainable peace in the Bangsamoro unless the MILF, MNLF, the political sectors and the rest of the stakeholders converge. There’s a good chance of achieving this if the OIC comes directly into the picture. Nur Misuari may be persuaded to join in.
I trust the Malaysians will not begrudge us for “diluting” its monopoly in the peace process. It may help bring peace not only to Mindanao but to the Malaysians who are just across the narrow sea lane from us in the south.
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