POST-SIEGE REFLECTION: What We Might Have Failed To Understand

Posted on Thursday, March 6th, 2014 and is filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

“..We need to be flexible in dealing with human lives, in dealing with humanity.” Thus said Col. Jose Johriel Cenabre, then commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu and 2nd Philippine Marine Brigade, after then Marine Battalion Landing Team 2 Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Romulo Qumado II handled a situation that could have triggered yet another armed conflict in a community in Talipao, Sulu.

The team of Quemado was able to negotiate with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in a non-violent way. And because of this, the peace in Talipao Sulu, especially that community where the two parties met, was kept intact.

Unfortunately, the peace in Zamboanga was a subject of a different fate.

First, it is important to understand that if we try to slice this issue open, at its core is the MNLF’s interest and that is to sign the Final Peace Agreement between them and the government (of the Philippines).

In hindsight, after years of keeping on track Nur Misuari, then President Fidel V. Ramos along with other personalities, Misuari included, signed a peace agreement that would form a framework of talks and negotiation to determine implementing rules and regulations for the formation of a political entity. The bottomline was that, the entity was formed so that the Bangsamoro people will have a voice in the government; so that they will be given the chance to be noticed by the government.

However, due to some external factors that came into play after the signing of the agreement, the talks and negotiations were given a modicum of attention until such time it faded into the background.

Second, we have to understand from what stand-point is the MNLF coming from. After the government seemed to have forgotten its responsibility over the Bangsamoro people and its agreement with them, the Bangsamoro tried to act on their own; usually trying to get the attention of the government. This is where they started attacking some cities in the region (e.g. Cabatangan siege in 2001 and the Zamboanga siege in 2013).

by Juseph Ulas

I think what the government failed to understand is that they have to be flexible in handling with the people’s concerns. We have to concede that at some point, the MNLF or the Bangsamoro people are just like any other group of Filipinos trying to petition the government for redress of grievances (e.g. Million People March).  Ustadz Habier Malik grounded his claim and the claim of the MNLF and the claim is very simple – for the government to hear their cries and for them to be noticed and be given opportunities for growth.

The MNLF deconstructed the peace of Zamboanga (and other parts of the region) but it was for a greater cause and , possibly, for a common good. (Juseph Elas)

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