Crossroads: Abandon the peace process or not

ariel-nepmucenoTHE passage of the congressional bill for the proposed Bangsa Moro Basic Law (BBL) is now at the verge of being delayed, at the least, or thrown out because of the extreme emotions provoked by the recent Mamasapano incident where 44 members of the Special Action Force were brutally killed.

Our country is now at a difficult juncture where we have to decide if we must still continue or refrain from the ongoing peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The perceived injustice and betrayal committed against our law enforcers must be squarely addressed first before we can proceed with the ongoing peace talks.

Expected from any peace process as experienced worldwide are the hindrances that such undertaking entail. Foremost of which is the issue of trust and confidence in the sincerity of the other party. Second is the capability of the said party to implement the agreement. Such are the main issues now. Is the MILF indeed trustworthy? And can they be relied upon to deliver their commitments as formally stipulated in the final agreement?

Constitutionality issues

ALSO confronting the BBL are alleged constitutional infirmities of some specific provisions in the proposed agreement. For example, some sectors question the legality of allowing the autonomous government that will be formed to legislate its own tax program while at the same time enjoy the lion’s share of all the revenues that will be generated from the region’s tax collections.

Many legal experts also don’t agree in the constitutionality of allowing the proposed autonomous government to directly enter into international agreements or treaties. This is supposed to be the domain of the Senate of the Republic with the assistance of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Also under question is the federal form of government which will be eventually organized as a result of the proposed basic law. To those opposed on this, our constitution has clearly defined that our form of government is presidential. And our government is divided among three co-equal branches which are the executive, legislative, and judiciary.

They argue that the constitution must first be amended before the said provisions be allowed to take effect. Meaning, a mere plebiscite asking our people to approve or reject the proposed law is not enough if only to establish its legality or constitutionality.

Difficult decision

NOW that our country still mourns the painful death of the police commandos, the proposed Bangsa Moro Basic Law and the entire peace process would be in the middle of a decision process that must balance the long term interest of our country. Shall we proceed or not?

Ironically, the hostilities that happened in the fields of Mamasapano is the best reason why we desperately need to end the decades of armed conflict among our citizens. The martyrdom of the fallen officers is the testimony that we must not abandon the road to peace in order to avoid the death of thousands more.

The constitutional concerns, however, must be addressed and resolved. The basic law of the land must never be compromised.

And urgent too is for the MILF to concretely prove their sincerity in order to help regain the trust of the general public who seems to prefer retribution over any peace discussions. The MILF must return the firearms and personal belongings of the fallen police officers. And those responsible for the killing must be held accountable.

When the dust has settled, and after the hindrances are hurdled, we must still proceed in achieving our elusive desire to establish a solid and long lasting peace in Mindanao. This is for the best interest of our entire nation.


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