Tired and confused yet? Many Filipinos are. The 20th round of peace talks began on February 7, and it barely even hit the local news … exacerbating not just rampant ignorance of the issues, but also many Filipino Muslims’ feelings of isolation and insignificance.
But Misuari, still the MNLF chairman, told Al Jazeera the fact that the government is even negotiating a peace with the splinter group is “an absurdity”. He acknowledged the failures of his own 30+-year-old peace deal – but says it seemed designed that way on purpose by the government.
To “confuse” the Bangsamoro (Muslim) nation, and make it impossible for autonomy to ever work.
Misuari tells the story of how on the day they finally agreed a deal, the government negotiator told him separate talks would be started with the off-shoot MILF. “It was tantamount to sabotage,” Misuari said.
Something to consider. When we look at other ‘war-torn’ countries we quickly forget that we are a country with zones of conflict and Filipinos are suffering for it. While from a national perspective, I truly wonder how much focus has been put on truly meeting and engaging the insurgents.
On the other hand, the fact that the insurgents can’t seem to unify behind a single opposition entity means that even if the government seriously comes to the table not much can be done.
I suspect it’s well past time for the government to step back and re-evaluate their approach. And for the insurgents to re-organize. Ego is only going to kill more Filipinos.