• MILF peace pact can be formula for disaster

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    I was not able to watch live the TV coverage of the signing of the peace agreement at Malacañang but I gathered from others who were present that MILF chief Kagi Murad Ibrahim’s message was sober and simple—without the “bluster” and self-acclaim and breast thumping of others who spoke. He stressed that the agreement was not only for the MILF but for the whole Bangsamoro, the MNLF included. The MILF, he said, is only a temporary gatekeeper and will eventually turn over the key to all Bangsamoro. I think he sent a strong message to all of us. We must take a cue from this. Especially those who wrongly believe that dealing only with the MILF will already bring peace.

    Let’s stop calling those who are opposing or questioning the MILF peace agreement as “peace spoilers.”

    Take the case of Zamboanga City Congressman Celso Lobregat who had publicly shown reservations or criticisms on some portions of the deal. Having seen up close the violence and misery of his constituents in Zamboanga as an aftermath of the 1996 peace agreement with the MNLF, we cannot blame him if he raises questions to prevent a similar recurrence with this new pact. There will be many others like him in Cotabato and Lanao and the island provinces and elsewhere. They are not “peace spoilers.” They are helping somehow, in their own way, to safeguard sustainable peace by learning from lessons of the past. Of course, there are also others who just want to see this fail as they stand to lose when it succeeds. We should separate the chaff from the grain.

    Truth to tell, there is still a disconnect between the MILF supporters and the majority of masses in the areas covered by the agreement. So there is a lot of work yet to be done by all of us to get everyone on board. The more difficult work has just begun.

    It is said that the mathematical formula for “happiness” is: “expectations divided by delivery.” Hence, if expectations are high and the delivery low, people are less happy. Or are angry. Conversely, even if the delivery is low but the expectations are also low, people will be happy or contented—much happier of course if the delivery exceeds the expectations. I remember this formula because the signing of the peace agreement has obviously heightened expectations, especially among the Bangsamoro who expect deliverance from their sorry lot today. We must all meet those high expectations or better still manage them this early. Otherwise, we may be in for more trouble in the future. I don’t want to sound killjoy in this moment of glee. Honestly, I feel great relief and joy that what we have failed to achieve during our own time in the past has now become a fulfilled dream.

    But let’s all be forewarned this early that this peace formula may become a formula for disaster if those high expectations are not met. You all know what I mean. So, let’s all come together and give this our best shot.

    jessdureza@gmail.com

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