PALEMBANG: The peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is a welcome development in view of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) integration in 2015, Indonesia’s highest defense official said.
In an exclusive interview with The Manila Times, Air Chief Marshall Djoko Suyanto, who is also Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Legal, Political and Security Affairs, said peace in Mindanao will contribute greatly to the overall peace and order situation in the region.
This, he said, will spell success for the 2015 integration of all 10 Asean-member countries as a viable economic bloc.
“The national security of each country will contribute hugely to the regional security. The regional security will also have a direct impact to the other pillars [of the integration]such as the economic pillar and the social cultural pillars that we are trying to build,” Suyanto said.
“We welcome the initiative of the Philippine government to talk peace with [MILF]. We do not want that what happened in the Philippines although internal will have impacts to or affect other countries like Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia,” he added.
Indonesia has taken the role of observer in the peace process between the government and Muslim secessionists in Mindanao. Malaysia, on the other hand, acted as facilitator and peace broker, hosting most of the negotiations.
According to the top Indonesian defense official, all Asean members are encouraged to “manage domestic security” issues so that it will not dampen ties with other countries in the region.
“Regional security is actually the [offshoot]of each Asean country’s domestic security. From every regional security meetings, we are trying to elaborate to each member country to manage their domestic security,” Suyanto said.
“I totally support and [am]totally grateful also that these [peace]opportunities are leading toward a better [Asean community],” he pointed out.
Suyanto was the Commander-in-Chief of the National Armed Forces (TNI) of Indonesia from 2006 to 2007. He was appointed as the Air Force’s territorial commander for the whole of eastern Indonesia in 2001. Two years later he took up the post of Operational Assistant at Air Force Headquarters and in 2005 he was appointed Chief of the Air Staff.
In 2006, Suyanto became commander-in-chief of the Indonesian Armed Forces, the first Air Force officer to hold this post.
Speaking from personal experience during the conflict in Aceh, Suyanto said it is crucial for the Philippine government and the MILF to “give and take.”
“From my personal experience as chief of air force and then chief of armed forces, first we must make sure there will be no armed conflict. This must be the basic reference for the [Philippine government and MILF]. This is indeed a difficult starting point to begin with. However if we do want to achieve peace itself then we should lay down arms and [go for a]ceasefire then we can discuss and negotiate more comfortably,” he explained.
“We cannot reach any compromise with guns behind us,” Suyanto emphasized.
According to him, the final peace agreement, once perfected, will benefit not only the Philippines but the Asean region as well, noting that “peace initiative, in whatever form it may take thereon, actually shows good signals and [offer]good contributions toward [regional]peace and security.”
He said that Indonesia was “eager” to see the conclusion of the peace pact, adding that they have always welcomed being part of the solution to the Mindanao conflict.