The government has taken a giant step towards achieving peace in Mindanao by signing a peace agreement on March 27 with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the largest rebel group in the region.
Clearly irked at being left out of the peace process, leaders of other secessionist groups, particularly Jose Ma. Sison of the National Democratic Front-NPA and Abu Misry of the Bangsa Moro Islamic Freedom Movement (BMIFM) have belittled the government-MILF deal as they spoke more about sustained war than forging peace agreement with the government.
In contrast, MILF vice chairman Ghazali Jaafar spoke about inclusive peace and growth among both Muslims and non-Muslims in the Bangsa Moro region, as well as reforms and livelihood that will uplift the lot of all under the umbrella of the government.
With the government-MILF partnership now in place, hopes are high that peace will reign in most parts of Muslim Mindanao.
However, disparate groups, driven by a mix of ideology and banditry, including the NDF-NPA, BMIFM, BIFF and Abu Sayyaf, appear unlikely to lay down their arms unless their demands are met – at their own terms. They’re not interested in peace and hardly care if innocent civilians are maimed or killed in the crossfire. They espouse violence as a means to achieve their selfish objectives.
Force by those who operate outside the law should therefore be met by greater force, accompanied by socio-economic reforms, for the sake of peace and prosperity for the majority.
The minority should never be allowed to keep the majority hostage to their self-centered agendas.