MAGANES: Why is peace elusive?

February 12, 2017 at 10:31 pm Leave a comment

Mahatma Gandhi, a leader of the Indian independence movement and pioneer of the philosophy and strategy of non-violence, once said, “It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there’ll be no result.”
I was reflecting on these words of Gandhi while the government troops are waging a war with the New People’s Army (NPA) all over the country. This was after President Rodrigo Duterte  ended the peace talk process with the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF) after the latter  lifted its unilateral ceasefire against the government’s troops. In like manner, Duterte declared an all out war against the NPAs after five unarmed young soldiers were killed in Mindanao.
We have so many conflicts in our country. Aside from the NPAs, we have a war against illegal drugs, Abu Sayyaf, MILF, MNLF and the common criminals. For many years, the government is harping about peace and yet it was elusive until President Duterte  offered the “peace pipe” to MILF, MNLF and CPP-NDF to which the latter he said he belong because he’s a socialist and a leftist. Before his inauguration last June 30, 2016, President Duterte has already put on his agenda the “peace process” for the CPP-NDF. At first, it was palatable to the group as President Duterte to his promise has provided conduct pass to the representatives of the leftists’ peace panel. In fact, he even appointed members of the CPP-NDF to his cabinet.
Why is peace is so elusive ?
In Mindanao, the quest for a peaceful Muslim area has been there for a long time, spanning many generations.The government has for some time, been looking for possible solutions to end the conflict there by creating Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). However, this did not put an end to the atrocities of the armed groups against their fellow Filipinos.

The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Abu Sayyaf, a break away group known for its terroristic activities like kidnapping, arson and massacre, have continuously spawned fear among the people in Mindanao. Who could forget the atrocious event that took place in Tukanalipao village in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao province. On January 25, 2015, members of the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) who were ordered to serve the arrest of a Malaysian terrorist cum bomb expert, clashed with armed members of MILF.
After an exchange of gunfires, 44 SAF members were found lifeless and sprawled in a cornfield. According to the MILF leaders, the government troops did not coordinate with them, resulting in a bloody carnage that ended the lives of the policemen and wounded several others.
That horrendous event showed the MILF is not after all pursuing  real peace in Mindanao, and that the creation of an independent Bangsamoro area is a ploy for them to create its own government.
The government is now looking into the lapses of its operations zeroing in on who were behind the operations of the SAF and why it was not properly coordinated with the Philippine Army in Maguindanao province.There is pointing of fingers on who was responsible  for that senseless killings. The government is pursuing investigations of said incident, but for how long? The families of the slain policemen are crying for justice. The full force of law must be enforced and culprits put behind bars forever.
The government should now reexamine its policies on the peace process. While we indeed need a lasting peace in Mindanao, the sincerity of our Muslim brothers must be looked into. The government should take the staunchest stand to give justice to the 44 policemen who yielded their lives in the arms of our fellow Filipinos.
And how about the CPP-NDF-NPA?
The armed struggle of the group has been there since 1969 led by Professor Jose Ma. Sison who is now in Utretch, The Netherlands. It was a long struggle where lives wasted. The social equality they have been longing for many years have not been met so the struggle has to go on. The leftist groups live by principle. One cannot fight the idealism they are in. Idealism is in te hearts and minds that although many of them have yielded their lives , that idealism still burns within the hearts and minds of the new NPA generations. The problems on the armed struggle should be addressed by the government, and Duterte did it but collapsed.
When I was working in Mindanao notably in Agusan Del Sur, I mingled with the farmers groups who were NPA sympathizers. I also met some of the NPA leaders where we had lengthy discussions about social changes in the country. They are very articulate on the issues at hand and even their needs. They need social justice. They need government reforms. They need social equality that the gap between the rich and the poor should be narrowed down. In this country, it is a reality that the oligarchs who are around 10% of the population control our economy. While they are wallowing in their riches, the peasants, the laborers, the urban poor remain at the lowest strata of our society.
The government is now pursuing a war against the NPAs and who will win at the end? Many lives will be wasted again leaving us all in limbo? When will real peace come to our land? Not this generation said President Duterte. Maybe another 50 years of war against the CPP-NDF-NPA, he said. That elusive peace has to be worked on. The chance to have it is already there. Why don’t we give peace a chance?
As I am writing this, an exchange of gun fires before policemen and NPAs is taking place in Tuba, Benguet. Heavy equipment are also burned in Benguet and Bukidnon. I just shook my head, not in disbelief, but to my frustration that Filipinos are killing fellow Filipinos.
(For comments and suggestions, email me at Visit my blog “The Roving Pen”

Entry filed under: News.

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