Tuesday, June 29, 2010
ARROYO LEAVING A LEGACY OF FAILED PEACE IN MINDANAO
As euphoria intensified at the inaugural of the 15th Philippine President Noynoy Aquino, thousands of well wishers throng to see gleefully the new dawn in Philippine politics while onlookers see the outgoing Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo come up to end her term of office not with flying colors to speak of but rather the widespread public dissatisfaction over her graft and scandal ridden government, rights abuses, question of illegitimacy as president after the exposé of Garci-Arroyo tapes revealing massive cheating in 2004 Polls involving top elections officials and military officers. All she earned from the “Filipino masses” was public scorn for disgracing the Presidency, the highest office in the land finally vacating the palace with the lowest ever popularity rating. As she step down, Many civil society groups and opposition groups wanted the new president to see Gloria Arroyo in jail.
Nonetheless, the Philippine Muslim community won’t let the pages of Philippine history come to pass without stating their case of how Pres. Arroyo treated the Mindanao Problem and reneged from her ‘all-out-peace policy” announced officially during her catapult to power in the 2001 EDSA II People Power. After nine long years in power, she will be leaving “a legacy of failed peace policy.” All high hopes of peace activists and peace loving Mindanaoans died in vain. Most critics blamed her government for insincerity and “double talk policy” reminiscent of Marcos Era. The MILF leaders accused the Arroyo regime had employed the peace negotiations not in the pursuit for genuine peace but as part of its instruments to further its national security strategic objective of containing all forces from national security threats of NPA’s insurgency, Moro secessionism leading to the dismemberment of the Republic, and expanding its role in the South East Asia as strategic partner in the US led War against Terror.
How could she fail? In fact, she had all the windows of opportunity to seize the moment of bringing to fold the Moro rebel group into an accord and embrace a just and meaningful peace. In my opinion, she could have taken strategic advantage of major contributory factors shaping up the new prospect and adequate opportunity for peace such as 1) the readiness of the MILF to talk peace, and the cooperative role of the Malaysian Government under Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad as Third Country Facilitator and under their auspices hosted several rounds of peace parlays for nine (9) long years in power.
Most well-wishers from the civil society sector were jubilant then that after her pronouncement of renewed “primacy of peace policy” in 2005, more civil and peaceful approach will reign in difference to the “iron fist policy” that former Pres. Estrada carried along from the very start of his presidency. But again, we were all proven wrong and the “no peace, no war situation” persisted.
From a vantage point, we already hinted and saw all these coming. From the very start, Pres. Arroyo had been beholden to the military and acceded to Military generals led by Gen. Angelo Reyes successfully insinuating her to reverse the “all-out-peace policy” if only to sustain the military gains from the previous 2000 All-out-war campaign under Mr. Estrada and avoid AFP turning their back on her administration. After all these years, that she’s really up to, not for peace or but her survival? From then on she treated all related issues for Mindanao and peace differently.
In 2008, she showed the apparent lack of political will in forging with MILF an ad interim agreement. the controversial Memorandum of Agreement for Ancestral Domain soon to be signed in Malaysia, She could have invoked an executive privilege, a prerogative Presidential power vested under the presidency to reasonably quell the uproar from local executives opposed to the deal but instead of honoring its commitment to MILF and the Malaysian government, she had chosen to accede to the High Tribunal. Later, it reached unfavorable ruling on a much emotionally charged political not judicial issue against the backdrop of lost lives caused by the ensuing firefights between MILF fighters and Philippine military troopers in North Cotabato. In November, 2008, the deadlock resulted in humanitarian crisis with record high internal displacement of 733,000 (UNOCHA) persons drawing concern from various sectors and international community.
What legacy is she is boasting about peace in Mindanao? After all these, she had just proven she really catered only to patronage politics and will be remembered as inept and the penchant to protect the interests of most landed politicians and warlords at the expense of the peace and the oppressed landless Muslims in Mindanao. Thus, peace advocates are giving her a “FAILED MARK” and a scorn for her failure in the genuine pursuit for peace, human security and national reconciliation.
Now, that P-Noy is in and Cong. Gloria Arroyo is out, she has left the new administration inheriting the peace effort “deadlocked” by the Supreme Court ruling declaring ‘unconstitutional’ the MOA AD. In my analysis, any renewed peace negotiations will have tough sailing with MILF keeping its hard line position and an antagonistic Supreme Court under Chief Justice Corona. For another six years, the Mindanaoans leave the fate of the troubled land of Mindanao on the stewardship of Pres. Noynoy Aquino.