UNLIKE the MILF chief negotiator's war name (Mohagher Iqbal), which exploded in the nation's face just this week, "peace process" as culprit in the Mamasapano tragedy has been raised every now and then as puzzle pieces in the massacre of 44 police commandos fell into place.
More precisely, it's not the pursuit of peace, the end to armed hostilities in Mindanao, that's the the problem's root. It's the obsession to it that must have fouled up the mission and instigated the cover-up.
Consider the holding back of artillery fire which could've saved lives of the Special Action troops pinned down by Moro rebels.
Add that to testimonies about a "stand-down" policy, ordered or encouraged "from way up," which tied the military's hands in saving the police.
That would also explain the secrecy in planning and preparations and the breach of chain of command.
It must be all about slavish devotion to the peace process, which underpinned behavior of state officials, from the president to ground commanders to negotiators.
Coals of fire
Lawmakers wondered how state panel could be so deferential to its counterpart negotiators ("whose side are you on?") and what made MILF cockily reject demands of legislative committees.
Government passion for peace is crucial. But when taken to extreme, the other party could exploit it as weakness, which MILF has done.
From crafting the treaty to drafting the Bangsamoro Basic Law, from bungled responses of Malacañang after the incident to spirited spins executive officials did to help the president and MILF, the word seemed to be: "Careful, guys. Let's not get MILF riled up."
"Peace process" has been making the government dance on coals of fire.