“Civilian participation in the peace process” has been a core mantra of the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) for more than fifteen (15) years already. And there have been inroads as regards the meaningful participation of communities and civil society in its engagement with the key actors and the peace process through its peacebuilding and peoples’ solidarity discourse.
Today January 25, we remember with grieving the tragic event that took the lives of 5 civilians, 44 members of the PNP Special Action Forces (SAF) and 18 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and other armed Moro combatants. Each life so suddenly ended and leaving families, communities, and our nation in lingering pain.
Despite investigations by both Houses of Congress and the Department of Justice, as well as by the PNP Board of Inquiry, the MILF, and the International Monitoring Team among others, the truth of the tragic event still has to be fully known. Unfortunately, the variations in the initial reports of these bodies indicate that the way to this truth will never be easy, and may not be helped by further investigation at this time when the electoral season has begun.
By now, many pundits, observers and even some supporters of the original draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) have given up on its passage.
They say it will be difficult, foolhardy and too late to pass a bill that will retain the novel provisions that have practically disappeared in the substitute bill now pending in the House of Representatives.
The de-commissioning of 145 mujahideen from the MILF and turnover of some of their high powered firearms yesterday at the old provincial capitol in Maguindanao is not only a symbolic ‘peace offering’ from the MILF, but an evidence of its sincerity in keeping faith with the implementation of the peace agreement despite the legal tussle over the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).