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PEACETALK | A visionary Congress may still save the peace process, Part 2




THERE is an old adage which states: “If there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Of course, I pretty well understand that, with the advent of the prevailing election season, the options that we have detailed and advanced for the members of the Senate and the HoR are really easier said than done.

This is because politicians, during the election season, are trying to avoid embroidering themselves in controversial and divisive issues that may cause them to lose some votes, and, in effect, put into jeopardy their reelection or their other electoral plans, no matter how important and socially significant are these measures pending for their consideration.

As always, any issue related to the Moro question that may crop up in Mindanao is always divisive not only because of the prevailing prejudices amongst the Christian population in Mindanao and whole country, but also among the Moro population in the BARMM and in other parts of Mindanao.

Traditional reactionary forces amongst the Moro population, whose stranglehold to political power may be loosened arising from the transformative agenda attached to the political settlement between the Philippine Government and the MILF, remain very strong in the BARMM.

Also, the peace process is yet to concretely result in the building of complete trust between the Christian and Moro population in the BARMM and in other parts of Mindanao. Sadly, however, these prejudices are much more entrenched and stronger among the Christian population.

Former General Santos City Mayor and now City Councilor Rosalita T. Nunez, in her book “Roots of Conflict: Muslims, Christians and the Mindanao Struggle” published in 1997, presented empirical data that Christians nurture in them much greater prejudices against the Moros, than the Moros against the Christians.

These prevailing prejudices among the Christian population in Mindanao, coupled with the antagonism of the traditional Moro elite against the institution of any political reforms in the BARMM, make every issue pertaining to the Moro struggle in Mindanao a divisive one.

This and all are the things that every politician is trying hard to avoid during the electoral season, especially during this prevailing electoral season.

This we fully understand as a normal human tendency. But, I hope that our Honorable Senators and our Honorable Congressmen and Congresswomen will also understand that the bills on the extension of the term of the BTA now pending for their respective actions have their legal time-frame as embodied in the BOL.

Their legislative action on these pending bills for the extension of the term of the BTA cannot be postponed and set aside to some future time, or, specifically, after the May 9, 2022 elections, without flirting with chaos.

These bills must be acted upon before the 2022 national and local elections; otherwise, the BARMM will be plunged into a dangerous political interregnum which may, eventually, result to political chaos and disarray.

The nation, still reeling through the hard pounding of the Covid-19 pandemic, cannot afford this.

In our previous article, we have outlined the reasons why the regular elections for the members of the Bangsamoro Parliament cannot be simply held, in the absence of an electoral code governing such elections, considering the peculiarity of the governmental system that the political settlement intends to establish in the region.

In that same article, we also brought to the fore the chaotic consequences if this government would fail to extend the term of the BTA.

As it now appears, with the electoral season starting to heat up, a visionary Congress may still act, and act fast, to save the peace process in Mindanao by preventing it from going kaput, and from finally tearing it into pieces, putting to waste all the efforts and government resources invested to it while it is nearing its completion.

We believe that our politicians in the Senate and the HoR, despite the many bad characterizations labeled against them, are capable of becoming visionaries. Their being politicians do not disqualify them from rising beyond their political vested interests and convenience, and from acting for the best interest of Mindanao and the whole nation as honorable men and women of vision.

As politicians, they are capable of doing noble things not only for the elections, but for the future generations. Doing noble things for the elections are what makes politicians, but doing noble things for the welfare of the generation yet to come are what visionaries are made for.

History teaches us that leaders of this country and the world are remembered and revered not by their feat of winning every election, but by serving the welfare of the current generation and the next, even though they lost in the election.

We remain hopeful, however, that President Duterte, with all his displayed shenanigans, will also summon a visionary in him by losing no time in allowing the peace process to reach the finish line and in ushering the peace settlement to its completion.

But, finally, in any event, we bend our hope on the Senate and the HoR, acting as visionary institutions, for them to perform their inter-generational duty for the interest and welfare of the people in the BARMM, in Mindanao and the whole nation.

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