‘Peace is possible’- XU researcher-A A +A
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
AMID the ongoing clash between the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), a Xavier University (XU) researcher sheds light saying that "peace is possible."
According to a research by Nerissa R. Buot, Department of Psychology chair at XU, the Muslim integrees achieved higher levels of well-being in a predominantly Christian community which is the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
The integration was hailed as the most successful part of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the MNLF.
The peace agreement which is the implementation of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement has been one of significant peace settlements between the GRP and a major rebel group.
The Tripoli Agreement also provides autonomy for the Muslims while maintaining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Philippine Republic.
Buot's research titled "Perceived discrimination, collective self-esteem, social support, locus of control, and well-being of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)" integrees won a Commission on Higher Education Republica Awards.
Buot’s research says that it is of prime importance to recognize and respect the cultural and ethnic variation between the MNLF and AFP.
“It is important to remember that any form of threat to their collective identity destabilizes their (MNLF integrees) level of well-being,” the research notes.
It added that according to a study entitled Basic Behavioral Science Task Force of the National Advisory Mental Health Council, it should be underscored that when “one’s culture is often placed in a subordinate position, this increase the individual’s level of stress and mental discomfort.”
Buot said that respect toward Muslim culture is a significant part in the integration.
The research says that even if the MNLF integrees developed strong cultural and ethnic identification they have also developed a “higher level of resilience and adaptation” within the AFP and PNP.
Peace is possible
She said that if the basic psychological needs of the MNLF rebels will be met it is possible to eliminate the unrest.
She added that some of the integrees that started during their adolescent years told her that they joined the MNLF as advised by their parents or elders.
“Before the MNLF was indoctrinated, they first want to achieve their basic needs,” she said after explaining that the Moro rebels receive monetary reward when they become members of the group.
Buot said that if the psychological makeup of the MNLF rebels is understood fully, it is possible for the government to come up with solutions to achieve peace.
“It is also important to give them livelihood to meet their basic needs,” she added.
Her research cites that the cultural and economic conditions to achieve peace do not hinder the AFP personnel from creating programs that would encourage cooperation encompassing cultural differences.
War is not the answer
“Walay makuha sa gubat ... pildi silang duha ana (We cannot get anything from the war ... both (AFP and MNLF) are losers),” said Mohammad Ali Omar, a Maranao vendor from Barangay Puerto here.
He said the civilians are the ones who were greatly affected by the conflict in Zamboanga City.
“Kung mahurot nila ang MNLF, ang mga anak ana mohawid og armas magpadayon ra gihapon ang gubat (If the AFP would kill all MNLF armies, their sons and daughters will bear arms to continue the war),” he added after explaining that the MNLF-GRP conflict can be traced back to the regime of Marcos.
Omar added that if the GRP and MNLF handled the conflict through peace talks, the clash could have ended without much destruction in Zamboanga.
“The damage amounts to billions by now,” said Omar.
Abu Jhalal, a watch repairman said that the conflict will not be resolved through war.
He agreed with Omar that both parties should talk and discuss peace.
“War is a wrong approach, my relatives have evacuated from Zamboanga to Marawi,” Omar said. “I feel pity to the civilians who got caught in the war.”
For Sittie Asiah Gao, chairperson of Liga ng Kabataan Moro, the MNLF should continue to struggle for their right to self-determination.
“Pero dili dapat sa daghan tao gibuhat sa MNLF ang gubat (But the MNLF should not have done the war in places with civilians),” Gao said.
She said that the Aquino administration should not have militarily addressed the MNLF’s demands as to avoid putting the civilians in the crossfire.
Gao added that the GRP could have studied the root cause of the rebellion and reinvigorate the peace talks with the MNLF.
LKM believes that the GRP should stop launching their attacks and discuss the matter over the table with the rebel group to avoid further destruction in Zamboanga.
International Humanitarian law
Gao said that both parties should respect the International Humanitarian Law (IHL).
The IHL is a set of rules applied when armed conflict starts to limit its effects.
Posted in the International Committee of the Red Cross’s website, the core principles of IHL states that: “parties to a conflict must distinguish the civilian population and combatants in order to spare the civilians and their property.”
It further said, “Adequate precautions shall be taken in this regard before launching an attack.”
Funds for peace
At XU, Buklod Atenista has been taking pictures of students holding a “Peace in Zamboanga” card board.
Ron Balarias of Buklod Atenista said that this is an effort to generate funds to support the victims of Zamboanga siege, and to tell the victims that XU students care for them.
He added that each student would pay at least P10 to have a picture, and the photos will be posted on Facebook.
Gail P. De la Rita, assistant to the vice president for research and social outreach (XU-RSO), said some students are in the city’s malls and streets to seek any types of support for Zamboanga.
She said that if possible peaceful means should be applied to end the conflict.
“Our relief operation is on-going, and XU is the drop-off center,” said De la Rita.
She added that the students were able to collect P25,000 last Saturday when the world observed the International Day of Peace.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 25, 2013.