A FIXATION on single-issue analysis contributed to the current state of “unpeace” that now prevails in several parts of Mindanao in the wake of the bungled signing of the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain (MOA-AD) between the Arroyo government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, associate professor of political science at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, identified three such distinct strands, which she said have a “narrow” view of the peace negotiations. The first fanned the idea that the agreement was an “evil plot” on the part of the government to extend Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s term beyond 2010. The second pointed to the involvement of foreign countries with “vested interests” like the U.S. and Malaysia. The third harped on constitutionality and sovereignty issues against the MOA-AD articulated by national politicians.

Ferrer, speaking during the second session of the PCIJ-Newsbreak seminar on “Reporting on Conflict and Peace: The Story of Mindanao,” lamented these single-factor analyses, saying those who advanced these did not take into account the dynamics of the issues involved in the peace process.

Listen to Ferrer’s talk, Serial Peace Talks in Mindanao: Post-Mortem and Prognosis, and the ensuing discussion:

  • Part 1
    Length: 00:28:36
    Language: English and Filipino
    File size: 26.1 MB
  • Part 2
    Length: 00:28:48
    Language: English and Filipino
    File size: 26.3 MB
  • Part 3
    Length: 00:19:48
    Language: English and Filipino
    File size: 18.1 MB

Even with the government completely abandoning the MOA, Ferrer is of the view that it will not be consigned to oblivion. She said it would be good to continue the discussions on the agreement, especially as the Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling on the issue of its constitutionality.

She said the SC decision will hopefully serve as a guide for future negotiations to come up with a modified MOA that is acceptable to all stakeholders.

Given the current impassé, however, Ferrer is hoping that cooler heads would prevail and that the impact of the war would serve as pressure for both sides to return to the negotiating table. A possible scenario, which to Ferrer is the “best scenario” at the moment, is for a halt in military offensives to de-escalate the conflict. This, she said, could re-affirm the ceasefire to lessen the damage, though it will not lead to a political solution.

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