Give this pact a chance

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By Jun Ledesma

Sunbursts

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


AND so the signing ceremonies are over. The hoopla and the jitters will soon settle quietly along with optimism and apprehension. These we should expect as these are part of an untested process. But better these than when everything is left to speculation and anxiety. There is something to divine now than when we were all held hostage by the uncertainties of seemingly endless and aimless sequence of conflicts that resulted only in deaths, sufferings, dislocations of families who have nothing to do at all with the protracted war.

We give the administration of Pres. Noynoy Aquino our admiration for resolutely bringing the long and winding peace negotiation to a fruition. I have seen and personally observed the tedious conduct of negotiation when Jesus Dureza was still the chief peace negotiator for the government. One has to have a wellspring of patience and equanimity for every turn of unexpected issues and demands, outright rejection of well-studied and crafted drafts. I admire Jess for his composure but am actually not surprised because such is the nature of this man.

What comes close to peace negotiation is the card game called “Solitaire”. Like in the peace talk the challenge and objective of the game is to open all cards of various colors, numbers, ranks the highest being the Kings and lowest the Ace. The colors - red and black - are alternating and in sequence from King down to Ace. If this alternating sequence is not followed then the game fails. There are times when there are no more moves to make the sequence. But this does not mean that the game is lost. The player may pull down the higher card to provide a link and achieve the sequence. When no more moves are available and the objective is not reach, the player gathers and reshuffles the cards and play again. Or change the whole deck of cards if it’s worn out.

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In Solitaire as well as in peace negotiation one makes a wish. The peace talks involving the MILF and the government however is not a game. But either way the fulfillment of one’s wish is actually in doing what ought to be done to achieve the desired goals. It takes determination and sacrifice to do that. We have to tackle what seemed to be against human nature. We give up arms, authority and pride. We have to forgive those who hurt us. We have to yield some in order to make advances to reach our goal and partake of the fruits of peace. We have to communicate and find beauty in our diversities in creed, cultures and even political ideologies.

But wait, who am I to preach. Just making myself heard because during my formative years I grew up in Cotabato where some of my closest friends are Muslims and some Lumads. Today, I hear some quarters who would associate Muslims with crime and violence forgetting the fact that there are more Christians in Dapecol or Muntinglupa than there are Muslims. In my youth, we knew of “huramentados” and they are associated with Muslims. But in my youth there were murdering bandits among Christians who have no qualms of killing policemen and konstabularyos. So damn with our prejudices and biases.

Early in my journalistic trials I wrote about a complaint by Indonesian sailors whose Rolex wrist watches were taken by a Customs policeman. Without my knowledge this Custom’s cop was gathering support from various quarters to buttress his claim that I libeled him. Because he was a Muslim, he had the temerity to ask the Indonesian Consul based in Davao City to sign a prepared affidavit that states that what I wrote was untrue. I learned later of his sinister plot when the Consul invited me to his office. The Indonesian envoy who was a friend of the media told me that the Custom cop brazenly told him that since they are both Muslims they should help each other and pin me in a libel case which, the Consul bared, will be filed in Iligan City.

What he told the crooked cop really stunned me and I simply cannot forget his rebuke: “If there are Christian criminals in the Philippines there are Muslim criminals in Indonesia!” I don’t know whether it was because of what I wrote that the cop was suspended or the good Consul of Indonesia must have brought the matter up to higher authorities.

So there you are. It does not matter whether you are Christian, Muslim or Lumads; what matter most is that we are all Filipinos. In or out of Bangsamoro territory one is answerable to crime if he or she indulges in venalities.

Back to the signing of Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, it is a small step but a significant one considering what we went through for almost two decades. Give this a chance.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on April 02, 2014.

Opinion

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