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Philippine Peace Center
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Press Statement

28 March 2014
Reference: Rey Claro Casambre, 09238109428


Illusions of peace, delusions of success

The signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), coming close on the heels of the arrest of the alleged communist top leaders Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria-Tiamzon, has filled the air with great optimism and euphoria, especially in government circles. The end to armed conflict not only in Mindanao but in the entire country appears to be just around the corner.

It would seem that the government under President Benigno S. Aquino is about to achieve what five previous administrations have aimed for but failed to do: first, convince the MILF through peace negotiations to lay down their arms and accept autonomy within the political ambit of the Philippine republic; second, compel the CPP-NPA-NDFP through relentless military operations to capitulate with or without peace negotiations. These would spell the success of the Aquino government’s “peace and security” program Oplan Bayanihan, its counterinsurgency campaign,patterned on the “2009 US Counterinsurgency Guide”.

Coming on the eve of the visit next month by US President Obama, these claimed twin victories will no doubt be gifted by the Aquino regime to its patron with expectation of being rewarded with his fulsome praise, congratulations and continued backing.

Unfortunately, the images being conjured that the long quest for peace on two fronts is finally over remains more illusion than fact.

The failure of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) reminds us that peace agreements do not necessarily bring about a just and last peace. It remains to be seen whether the CAB will finally satisfy the aspiration and demand of the Bangsamoro to exercise their right to self-determination, the core issue in the struggles of both the MNLF and MILF. Will the CAB put to an end and rectify the historical injustice inflicted on the Moro people by what they call the “imperial central Philippine republic”?

MILF leaders speak with cautious and guarded optimism, subtly warning that the completion of the “normalization” process – the final demobilization of their Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces – is contingent on their enjoying in reality and not just on paper their right to self determination.

As for the armed struggle being waged by the CPP-NPA-NDFP, the past 45 years have clearly shown that no amount of arrests, detention and even assassination of their top leaders cannot decimate the revolutionary movement and bring about peace, not to mention a just and lasting one.

Despite avowals to the contrary, it has become more evident than ever that the GPH is no longer interested in resuming peace talks with the NDFP. It continues to disregard and blatantly violate prior bilateral agreements with the NDFP; the latest instance is the arrest and continued detention of the Tiamzons despite their declared and proven protection and immunity under the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

With the Bangsamoro armed threat out of the way and with increased US military presence and facilities, the GPH is preparing to redeploy AFP and other state security forces from Moro areas to deal with the CPP-NPA-NDF, all the better to contain, neutralize and eventually render them “inconsequential”. Not a few in the AFP are even now talking about totally “crushing the communist rebels”, with no less than the Chief of Staff, Gen. Bautista, openly calling for mass surrenders.

The real casualty in this scenario is not the armed revolutionary movement but the peace negotiations that have aimed to resolve the armed conflict by putting in place basic social, economic and political reforms that can eradicate the roots of the armed conflict.

Estimating that the arrest of the Tiamzons would greatily weaken the revolutionary forces, the AFP and GPH now feel closer to their goal of forcing the CPP-NPA-NDFP to capitulate over the negotiating table or outside. The GPH feels it can now set aside all prior bilateral agreements with the NDFP and force a “Final Peace Agreement” within the framework of the GPH Constitution and legal processes, minus fundamental social, economic and political reforms. This explains why the GPH continues to refuse peace talks resumption.

But no matter how strongly the GPH believes otherwise, the truth is that genuine peace in the country can only be achieved by addressing the roots of the armed conflict, by replacing the ruling socio-economic and political system with a genuinely free and democratic one. Reeling under the weight of the worsening global and domestic economic crisis aggravated by combined natural and man-made disasters, the people will certainly continue to fight for a better Philippine society in all arenas and through all possible means.

The Philippine Peace Center thus joins all advocates for genuine peace in the call for the GPH and the NDFP to immediately resume peace talks and resolve the impasse on the basis of The Hague Joint Declaration, the CARHRIHL (Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law) and the JASIG (Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees) so that the Filipino people may continue to avail of the peace negotiations as a venue for ending the armed conflict and achieving a just and lasting peace. #





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