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No. 2007-01

PERCEIVED STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF GRP PEACE INITIATIVES Basis for an Alternative Program for Sustainable Peace in Mindanao

Zainal Dimaukom Kulidtod

Institute of Bangsamoro Studies

Institute of Bangsamoro Studies Occasional Paper No. 2007-01 February 2007

The views expressed in the Occasional Papers are those of the author(s) and not necessarily of the IBS.

PERCEIVED STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF GRP PEACE INITIATIVES Basis for an Alternative Program for Sustainable Peace in Mindanao

By Zainal Dimaukom Kulidtod

Dr. Zainal Dimaukom Kulidtod is a faculty member of the Department of Political Studies, Mindanao State University in Marawi City. He is a graduate of Bachelor of Arts major in Political Science (Cum Laude), 1996; Master in Public Administration, 2001; and Doctor of Philippine Studies, 2005.

The Institute of Bangsamoro Studies (IBS) is a non-profit and non-government institution the functions of which are to carry out research on Bangsamoro history, culture, politics, economy and contemporary affairs; conduct trainings to capacitate the youth, women and the poor; and render community services to poor and conflict affected communities.

Institute of Bangsamoro Studies Hadji Daud Bldg., Campo Muslim Cotabato City 9600, Philippines Telefax: +63-64 4213551 Email:


Institute of Bangsamoro Studies Occasional Paper No. 2007-01

PERCEIVED STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF GRP PEACE INITIATIVES Basis for an Alternative Program for Sustainable Peace in Mindanao

Zainal Dimaukom Kulidtod

Background and Rationale of the Study The cost of the ethnic conflict in Southern Philippines has already reached its alarming stage. This was revealed in a privilege speech delivered in July 1996 before the House of Representatives by the former Congressman of Batangas, Retired General Eduardo Ermita. In that session he said: Available data from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) indicate that over a period of 26 years since 1970, more than 100,000 persons were killed in Southern Philippines. The government suffered about 30 percent of casualties; the rebels more than 50 percent; while civilians caught in the crossfire came to about 20 percent of total casualties. About 55,000 persons were wounded, not counting those from the rebel side. From 1970 to 1976 alone, an average of 18 people were slain every day. All in all, the AFP has spent about 73 billion pesos in connection with the Mindanao conflict since 1970; or an average of 40 percent of its annual budget. If this figure could be multiplied by the inflation rate over the years, it is truly a gargantuan expense. Presently, about 30 percent of the budget of the Philippine Air Force is spent in Mindanao; so is 40 percent of our Naval Budget and 60 percent of our Army budget (Quoted in Rodil, 2000:8-9).

Speaking on the Muslim side about the staggering cost of the war was the Manifesto signed on 7 October 1983 by eleven distinguished Moro leaders supporting the call for national reconciliation and unity. In that document, it was stated that “more than 600,000 precious Muslim lives were lost in a decade of civil strife, more than one million have been rendered homeless and destitute, more than 200,000 Filipino Muslims are refugees in Sabah and elsewhere. . .” (Manifesto, 1983). These data were confirmed by Muslim (1994) who reported that from 1972 to mid-1970s there were estimated 60,000 to 80,000 persons killed; more than a million individuals were rendered homeless; and, the illtreated 200,000 to 300,000 refugees in Sabah who evacuated their places during the height of the war in the middle of 1970s. It was also noted that during that period about 80 percent of the entire strength of the AFP was deployed in Mindanao. The government mobilized 60 battalions taken from various units of the AFP and spending 4 million pesos a day. Because of the severity of war in Mindanao, the Philippine government, from Marcos regime up to the present Arroyo Administration, adopted multi-faceted policies and programs to contain the Muslims’ clamor for cessation. Before 3

martial law was conceived by Marcos, his broad-ranged policy towards the Muslim south was intelligently captured by Gowing (1979:6) in the following words: . . . the Government’s approach is to bring about conditions in the Muslim South for the achievement of national solidarity based on the historical, racial, cultural, geographical and political oneness of the Filipino nation . . . President Marcos himself has rejected the concepts of integration or assimilation for the country’s cultural communities insofar as these concepts imply the suppression of individual cultural traits and values in favor of one sect of mores.

This ‘reconciliation approach’ of Marcos through unity-in-diversity required him effortful programs which involved both the reconciliation and development of the Mindanao region. Along with these socio-cultural and economic policies of President Marcos towards the Muslim South was a strong military approach when he declared Martial law on September 21, 1972 by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 1081. This presidential issuance put the entire country under military rule in the guise of a civilian authority. As noted by other scholars, the consequential effect of this policy vis-à-vis the Muslim populace was, instead of producing a positive output, the deteriorating relationship between the Muslims and the Christians in the south even worsened. In effect, the vision of Marcos for national unity and reconciliation was totally rejected by the Moros and instead accusing him of authoring a genocidal war against them (Gowing, 1978:2). This military-might policy of Marcos had brought economic havoc and political turmoil to the country. Thus, in early 1973, the Armed Forces of the Philippines run out of ammunitions while we were experiencing a severe crisis in oil supply (Rodil, 2000:3). These were some of the major factors that put the Marcos Administration in a situation having no other alternative but to find a negotiated political settlement to the problem. The result of the twenty-three months of peace talks was the signing of the so-called Tripoli Agreement on 23 December 1976 between the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) delegates. This agreement was unilaterally implemented by Marcos when he signed the Presidential Proclamation No. 1628 which mandated the establishment of two Regional Autonomous Governments in Western and Central Mindanao, respectively. The MNLF did not honor such implementation and instead they accused President Marcos having failed to implement the agreement in letter, in spirit and in substance. Under the Aquino Administration, two important peace efforts were initiated, namely, the Jeddah Accord of 1987 and the enactment of the Republic 4

Act 6734. The latter political measure paved the way for the institution of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) covering only four (4) provinces without a single city. For the MNLF leadership, this act was a clear form of political deception since in the Tripoli Agreement the coverage-area of the proposed autonomy shall cover thirteen (13) provinces and nine (9) cities (The Tripoli Agreement, 23 December 1976). The MNLF Central Committee claimed that President Aquino implemented the covenant only in letter, but not in spirit nor in substance. As a result, they continued to demand the establishment of a provisional government that will cover the thirteen provinces and all the cities therein without conducting a plebiscite. However, this demand of the MNLF has never been granted since under the existing (1987) Constitution, a president has no power to establish, merge nor divide any local government unit without democratic processes. What he can create is only a local development council (Article X, Section 14, 1987 Philippine Constitution). This political momentum blocked the way in the search of a lasting peace in the South. When President Ramos assumed political power in July 1992, his primary vision to effect a genuine peace in the country was dramatized by his instruction to the government panels “to seek a principled and peaceful solution of armed conflict . . . with dignity for all� (Rodil: 2000:104). Bearing this guiding principle in mind, he initiated a political break through by creating the Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development (SPCPD), which accommodates both the government and the MNLF stands on the issue of autonomy. This initiative was conceived as a transitory administrative structure while the creation of the new and expanded autonomous government is being prepared in accordance with constitutional processes. With the creation of the SPCPD, being the first step towards the full implementation of the Tripoli Agreement, everybody believed that lasting peace is already in place in Mindanao. This assumption is in consonance with the observation since the Marcos regime that the only viable solution to the Mindanao problem is the full implementation of the Tripoli Agreement in letter, in spirit and in substance. However, contrary to what is perceived by many, until now lasting peace in the south still remains to be an illusion as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) challenge rises. Many claim that this political movement is the strongest among all Moro revolutionary movements against the Philippine government as exemplified, among other things, by the very nature of their demand, that is, to establish a separate Muslim state in Mindanao. With this, the Estrada Administration was facing a very serious problem in dealing with the decadesold Mindanao crisis being articulated at present by the MILF. One perceived factor that complicates the handling of this problem under his leadership was the absence of the reference talking point. It is a fact that the MILF question


differs from the MNLF where there was the Tripoli Agreement as the reference point for the peace talks. Since the problem becomes complicated the government likewise believes it requires a corresponding complex solution incorporating a triangular approach (development-peace-war). But instead of giving peace a chance, Estrada gave much emphasis to a stronger military approach to solve the Mindanao conflict by adopting an all-out-war policy. As a result, although it gained some positive outputs after capturing some camps of the MILF, this militarization scheme worsened further the already difficult road to peace in Mindanao (Kulidtod, 2003). In fact, former President Estrada was regarded by the Moro rebels as an All-Out-War President. Bound by the government commitment to expand the area of the ARMM as embodied in the 1996 Final Peace Agreement with the MNLF, the present Arroyo regime conducted a plebiscite on August 21, 2001 in order to determine other local government units which might opt to join the Expanded-ARMM which is now governed by the R.A. 9054. In that political exercise, it came out that only one province (i.e., Basilan) and one city (i.e., Marawi) opted to be included in the new political set-up. With these multifarious programs and policies exhibiting political, economic, social and cultural components, it is believed by many that the Moro problem has already been effectively addressed. However, our common observation indicates otherwise. These peace programs of the government have indeed proven that the Moro problem has not been totally solved for whenever peace is attained in Mindanao it lasted only for a short period. Why is this so? What could be the perceptions of the people in Mindanao regarding the factors that could explain the success or failure of the government peace efforts towards attaining a sustainable peace in the South? What could be the requisites of building sustainable peace in Mindanao? It is on these queries that this research had been based. Statement of the Problem In general, the focus of this study was on identifying some perceived strengths and weaknesses of the peacebuilding efforts of the Philippine government in Mindanao, and eventually to come up with an Alternative Sustainable Peacebuilding Program incorporating personal, relational, structural and cultural components. This was done not only to resolve the issues involved in the Mindanao conflict but also to transform the misunderstandings into peaceful relationships. In this regard, this research sought to find answers to the following questions:


1. What are the different peace initiatives of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) from Marcos to Aquino Administration designed to attain peace in Mindanao?, 2. What is the nature of the peace initiatives (i.e., peace programs and policies) of the national government aimed at solving the Moro conflict? 3. How can the present peace and order situation in Mindanao be described from the point of view of the respondents? 4. What are the perceived strengths of the GRP peace initiatives? Weaknesses? 5. Who should be (should have been) the right actors to be involved in the peacebuilding efforts of the government in Mindanao? 6. What are some specific processes and procedures involved in building sustainable peace in Mindanao? 7. What alternative peacebuilding programs and/or policies may be instituted to address the identified weaknesses of the GRP peace efforts in Southern Philippines? Theoretical Framework The framework of analysis used in this study was the concept of peacebuilding as an approach to sustainable reconciliation in divided societies advanced by John Paul Lederach (1997). In his attempt to theorize the processes of building peace, Lederach (1997) has postulated his concept of peacebuilding as a means of attaining sustainable reconciliation in divided societies. By peacebuilding, he meant “a comprehensive concept that encompasses, generates and sustains the full array of processes, procedures and stages needed to transform conflict toward a more sustainable and peaceful relationship.� He argued that broad peacebuilding paradigm embraces an overlapping two elements: the structural and the procedural lenses. The structural view considers the total situation by focusing on the types and levels of the actors in the affected population and the issue at hand. In this first set of lenses, the emphasis is placed on the conflict foci, that is, from the micro issues in the conflict to the broader and systematic concerns. In conflict situation, the first focus of a peace practitioner is to resolve the issues that sparked the fight. After resolving them, the next step is to restructure the damaged relationship of the warring parties from hostility and confrontation to harmony and friendship. However, many peace advocates do not end up to this mere building of relationship but they go beyond to the point of identifying and analyzing the environment of the antagonizing forces. This endeavor necessarily involves the identification and resolution of factors external to the conflicting parties that influence and encourage the fighting. In other words, this subsystem


of behavior is the connecting linkage between the conflicting parties and other participating factors in the system. The final focus in conflict resolution activities is the whole society which comprises the whole supra-system. In here, the concern of the peacemakers is how to impose disarmament measures and demobilization campaign. On the other hand, procedural aspect underscores the dynamics and the processes of conflict transformation by focusing on the programs designed to change and restructure the society. Moreover, in the procedural dimension of peacebuilding, the concern centered on the question of what to do and who should be the one to do it. In this regard, Lederach visualized the possible arrangement of participation from the target population. In the affected population, the type of actors is categorized into three levels: top level, middle-range and grassroots level. In the first category of participants, it involves very few actors, like those known military, political and religious leaders with high visibility and personalities. In this high-level approach, the emphasis is on cease fire to be led by high respected single mediator. The middle range level involves more people specially those respected leaders in various sectoral groupings, like religious, intellectual, and nongovernmental organizations. Further, peacemaking in this level embraces such programs as problem-solving workshops, training and seminars in conflict resolution, creation of regional peace commissions, among others. The most populous and well representative approach to peacebuilding is the grassroots level whose participants are the local leaders, such as the leaders of the indigenous non-governmental organizations, refugee camps, community developers and local health officials. The focus of participation here derives on grassroots training for prejudice reduction, psychological work in post-war trauma and establishment of local peace commissions. Combining both lenses would suggest the idea of working with the long term progression of conflict towards peacebuilding, which is termed as conflict transformation. This activity calls for time frames and their respective peacebuilding activities. In the couple of months, the immediate action needed is crisis intervention. This would be followed by short range planning through preparation and training which can be done within one to two years. The decade planning constitutes the design for social change. The last one is the generational plan designed to promote a shared vision of a more peaceful and harmonious relationships.


Integrating the structural and the procedural lenses into the time frame of activities yields an integrated framework for peacebuilding that is consisting of the vertical axis, representing the level of response, and the horizontal axis, underscoring the time frame of activities. Lederach (1997) pointed out that these two components intersect in five points, namely: root causes, crisis management, prevention, vision and transformation. For example, in any conflict the immediate intervention in the systemic level calls for the identification and the structural analysis of the root cause of the crisis. Moreover, this also suggests the resolution of the issues to give way to humanitarian helps and relief assistance. In the immediate issue level but considering a futuristic outlook, a group of peacemakers might concentrate on how to prevent the crisis from recurring by identifying the factors that sparked the conflict and educating the people to effectively handle such situations in the future. Also, in the generational perspectives but on the system level the efforts on peacebuilding put emphasis on finding out the social and political structures that would determine and sustain the restructuring of relationship. Finally, conflict transformation is one community of thought that is concerned on decades planning of the desired social change in the future. This involves the middle-range perspective that goes beyond the mere resolution of issues but a change that is both descriptive and prescriptive across personal, relational, structural and cultural dimensions. Descriptive transformation refers to the identification of changes brought about by the social conflict and their patterns of occurrence, while prescriptive transformation of conflict is meant the call for intervention to introduce positive changes. In the personal dimension, descriptive transformation assumes that individuals are affected both negatively and positively by the conflict in their emotions, perceptions and spiritual standards. Prescriptive transformation holds for deliberate intervention to minimize the negative effects and maximize those potentialities introduced by the conflict. For the relational dimension, descriptive level of conflict transformation subsumes the effects brought about by the conflict on the pattern of communication and interaction between the adversaries. Prescriptively, transformation represents such intervention programs designed to minimize the poor or negative communication and interaction, and instead maximizing understanding and cooperation. The descriptive aspect of structural dimension refers to the analysis of the decision-making structures and conditions that give rise to conflict. At the prescriptive view, transformation in the structural sense provides insight into


how these structural defects of the decision-making process can be abolished thereby allowing new structures or arrangements that meet human needs, and maximize the participation of the affected population in decision-making. As to the cultural dimension, descriptive level of transformation concerns on how conflict affects the cultural patterns of the conflicting parties, while the prescriptive mode is interested in identifying and promoting such cultural practices that would constructively respond to and handle conflict. Significance of the Study The data gathered in this study will be very useful to the Office of the Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process (OPAPP), being a government agency tasked to assist the President of the Philippines on matters related to the government peace process, in assessing and prescribing the government programs directed towards the attainment of lasting peace and sustainable reconciliation. By studying the results of this research work, the OPAPP, the National Security Council, and the President may arrive at appropriate measures in building sustainable peace not only in Mindanao but the whole country in general. Furthermore, output of this endeavor is helpful to the peace advocates from all walks of life, be they from the academe, non-governmental organizations, people’s organizations, civil societies or religious sectors, in their roles as educators, articulators, builders and protectors of peace. Finally, the result of this study is definitely beneficial to students, researchers, teachers, and advocates of peace and conflict resolution as substantial literature. This study will further enrich their knowledge on the dynamics of peacebuilding efforts especially in deeply divided societies, like the Philippines. Scope and Limitations The locales of this study were Region 9 (Western Mindanao), Region 12 (Central Mindanao) and the ARMM Region as represented by respondents coming from Western Mindanao State University (101), University of Southern Mindanao (144) and Mindanao State University Marawi City (171) and 96 from the youth, religious and NGO sectors. In terms of focus, the study tried to identify the perceived strengths and limitations of GRP peace policies designed to solve the Moro problem in Mindanao in order to “prescribe” a more “effective” alternative program to attain sustainable peace in Mindanao.


The main instruments used in data gathering (SY 2004-2005) were an interview guide and a structured questionnaire consisting of both close-ended mostly checklist and recognition type of questions and open-ended questions dealing with the nature, status, strengths and limitations of the GRP peacebuilding efforts in Mindanao as well as the descriptive and the prescriptive approaches in conflict transformation incorporating the personal, relational, structural and cultural components. While this research work used a mixed methodology approach, it was predominantly descriptive in nature. Statistics adopted in the presentation and analysis of the findings were frequency counts, percentage distribution, weighted means ranking and chi-square test of association. Due to time and financial constraints, research sample which consisted of 512 respondents represented only two groups [namely, academic sector =

n1 = 416;

non-academic sector (youth, religious, NGO) = n2 = 96]. The academic sector was purposely selected as one of the sample groups because it was assumed that considering their experience and exposure to public issues they have more knowledge, skills and information relative to the issue at hand. Two hundred fifteen (215) were males and 297 females with ages ranging from 16 to 65 years old. Locale of the Study This study was conducted in three regions in Mindanao having a considerable concentration of Muslim population, namely Regions IX (Western Mindanao), XII (Central Mindanao) and the ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao). Academic respondents (n = 416) came from three State Universities, namely: Mindanao State University (MSU) at Marawi City, the Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) at Zamboanga City, and the University of Southern Mindanao (USM) at Kabacan, Cotabato representing the ARMM, Western Mindanao and Central Mindanao regions, respectively. Nonacademic informants (n = 96) were taken from other sectors such as youth, religious, and NGOs. This was because of time and financial constraints. Research Methodology This research used a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods which utilized an interview guide and a questionnaire containing twenty seven (27) questions mostly checklist type and recognition items and one (1) general open-ended question. Descriptive and the prescriptive approaches to conflict transformation incorporating the personal, relational, structural and cultural components were also included in the questionnaire. One open-ended question


was included to elicit comments, reactions or suggestions on how to achieve sustainable peace in Mindanao. The interview guide was used to supplement findings derived from the questionnaires. Data were subjected to statistical analysis through the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) Computer Program, Version 11.5. Responses from the interviews and open-ended questions were content-analyzed. Statistical tools utilized in data analysis involved frequencies, percentages, mean scores ranking and chi-square-test of association. Summary of Findings 1. The different identified peacebuilding programs and policies of the national government designed to solve the Moro problem are (in rank order): (1) Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao under R.A. 6734, (2) Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development, (3) Respect and Recognition of Muslim holidays, (4) Zone of Peace and Development, (5) the 1976 Tripoli Agreement, (6) All-Out-War Policy, (7) Martial Law, (8) Creation of the Mindanao State University, (9) Establishment of the Shari’ah Court as part of the Philippine Judicial System, (10) Creation of Office on Muslim Affairs, (11) Southern Philippines Development Authority, (12) Amnesty programs, i.e., Balik Bayan Program, (13) Expanded-ARMM under the R.A. 9054, (14) Establishment of Philippine Amanah Bank, (15) Setting up of Islamic Institutes in UP and MSU, (16) Sponsorship of the National Integration Scholarship Grant Program, (17) Regional Autonomous Government or the Lupong Tagapagpaganap ng Pook, (18) Government sponsorship of pilgrimage to Mecca, (19) Presidential Decree 1083 or the Muslim Personal Law, (20) Development and Rehabilitation Projects, (21) Construction of the Golden Mosque and Blue Mosque in Manila, (22) Issuance of the Presidential Memorandum Order which Awarded Scholarships to rebel returnees, (23) Establishment of the Institute of Middle East & Asian Studies in USM, and (24) Setting up of the Institute of Arabic and Asian Studies at WMSU. Although these peace initiatives have economic, social and cultural components still they were perceived by the respondents as “dominantly political” in nature. 2. The peace programs of the government are generally perceived to be “ineffective” and “temporary,” because accordingly, the real root causes of the Moro problem are not properly addressed. They are also perceived as “unjust” since “only the government interests are the ones given importance while the rebel positions are manipulated and maneuvered in the implementation.” With this development, the present peace and order situation in Mindanao becomes unstable. It was only during the pre-martial law years that the respondents reported to have experienced a ‘genuine’ peace in Mindanao.


3. The perceived strengths of the government peace process in Mindanao which could be the responsible factors for its success are (in rank order): (a) wide participation by all sectors, (b) incorporation of political, economic, military, and socio-cultural components of the peace efforts, (c) manifested sincerity of the government, (d) presence of Muslim members in the government negotiating panel, (e) involvement of outside actors (i.e., US and Malaysian government), (f) the government chief negotiators are former military men, and (g) banning of media coverage during the negotiation proper. 4. The respondents also pointed out some perceived substantive as well as procedural defects or limitations of the government peacemaking activities (which could be the responsible factors for its failure). The substantive defects included the following (ranked according to frequency): (a) preoccupied positions and biased views of government negotiators, (b) lack of political will in the national leadership, (c) the government lacks sincerity to accommodate the rebel side, and (d) due to pre-conditioned position of the government by invoking constitutional provisions. On the other hand, the perceived procedural defects were identified as follows: (a) highly centralized decision-making of the government, (b) lack of involvement of the broad masses / common Filipino people in the activities, (c) lack of evaluation mechanisms and monitoring programs participated by all sectors, (d) lack of scientific inputs taken from academic researches as basis for priority actions and programs, and (e) lack of participation from the middle actors (i.e., business leaders, church officials and NGO workers). 5. In addition to the national actors, the respondents further recommended other categories of actors in the peacebuilding efforts which includes “outside,” “middle range” and “grassroots actors.” The highly recommended outside actors are (ranked according to frequency): (a) United Nations, (b) ASEAN member-countries, (c) Organization of Islamic Conference, and (d) United States. The corresponding peacebuilding roles or functions to be played by these outside actors are (in rank order): (a) mediator, (b) convenor, i.e., initiator or advocate, (c) monitor, i.e., verifier, (d) enforcer, i.e., implementor, and (e) arbiter. 6. The middle range actors must involve ethnic, intellectual and humanitarian leaders whose recommended functions in the peacebuilding efforts are: (a) educator and promoter of peace-related values, (b) creation of peace commissions, (c) training on conflict resolution, (d) workshops on problemsolving, (e) advisory panel of government peace agencies, (e) convenor of sectors, and (g) catalyzer of dialogues.


7. The identified grassroots actors should be the local leaders, community developers and local health officials. Their recommended functions in the peacebuilding efforts will be: (a) As participant in the decision-making, i.e., to sit as formal member of peace panel in both sides, (b) administer activities designed for tension and prejudice reduction, (c) Reconciliation programs such as community meetings, (d) rehabilitation works on war collateral damages, (e) conduct workshops on stress management, and (f) psychological work on postwar trauma. 8. The respondents identified the personal effects of the conflict as follows: (a) fear, (b) hatred, (c) trauma, (d) mistrust, (e) suspicion, (f) aggressiveness, (g) religious extremism or fundamentalism, (h) militancy, (i) radicalism, (j) ethnic consciousness or cohesiveness, and (k) community solidarity. In order to remedy them, they recommended these activities, to wit: (a) reeducation or inculcation to the local populace the culture of peace, cooperation and understanding, (b) counseling services, (c) psychological trauma management works, (d) holding of programs on stress management strategies, and (e) absorption of the Madaris (Islamic schools) into the Philippine educational system. 9. For the relational aspect, the perceived effects are: (a) negative views or attributions to other groups (e.g. terrorists, kidnappers, vigilantes, etc.), (b) antagonistic attitude against each other, (c) social discrimination, (d) misunderstanding of others’ behaviors, and (e) poor or distorted communication/massive lying, (f) reduction of, or suspicious interactions. The appropriate courses of action to be taken to solve them are: (a) Mindanao-wide formation of social and civic organizations to promote inter and intra-cultural integration/socialization, (b) promotion of inter-faith dialogues and conferences, (c) conduct of peace conferences participated by all tribes in the region, (d) enactment of policies on cross-regional migration, (e) constant sponsoring of cross-cultural gatherings and activities, (f) encouragement of inter-faith marriages, and (g) exchange of language studies. 10. The perceived structural effects of the war in Mindanao are (ranked according to frequency): (a) alarming incidence of poverty in the Muslim areas, (b) unequal income distribution between Muslims and Christians, (c) landlessness and marginalization suffered by Muslims, (d) perceived neocolonial policies of Manila government to Mindanao, (e) wide disparity in wealth between Muslims and Christians, (f) highly-centralized system of government, (g) non-recognition/disrespect of Moros cultural identity, and (h) underrepresentation of the Moros in government affairs. The recommended programs to solve them are: (a) launching of massive development and/or rehabilitation projects throughout Mindanao, (b) equality of representation in the governmental offices, (c) adoption of federal system of government, (d)


devolution of basic governmental powers to local government units, and (e) recognition, respect and preservation of Moros cultural practices. 11. The respondents identified the cultural effects of the conflict, namely: (a) mutual distrust or enmity, (b) people arming themselves (“culture of violence”), (c) constant invocation of maratabat to justify revenge, (d) indoctrination of antiChristian sentiments among Muslims, and (e) radical and extreme interpretation of Qur’anic injunctions. They also suggested courses of action to address them, viz: (1) inclusion of peace course in every curriculum from elementary to college, (2) promotion of cultural practices having a bearing on peace, (3) inclusion of Moro history and those of Indigenous Peoples in the curriculum of all schools in Mindanao, (4) conduct of more researches on Islamic concept of governance to resolve the issue of religion’s role on the state, and (5) reorienting the concept of maratabat(one’s pride). 12. The specific processes and procedures (pointed out by the respondents) in building sustainable peace in Mindanao should cover both the procedural as well as the substantive aspects of peacebuilding. On the procedural aspect, they strongly propose the democratization of the peace process by widening participation and expanding the roles played by the outside actors. And for the substantive dimension, they suggest a comprehensive peace strategy incorporating horizontal and vertical dimensions in peacebuilding that considers the micro and the macro conflict settings, in one hand, and the short, middle and long term programs on the other. 13. Except for religion, no significant differences existed between the sociodemographic profile of the respondents and their perceptions on the GRP peace initiatives with respect to: (1) effectiveness of GRP peace efforts, (2) nature of peace programs, (3) strengths of GRP peace efforts, (4) weaknesses in substantive aspects (contents of programs) , (5) weaknesses in procedural aspects (processes or procedures) , (6) personal effects, (7) relational effects, (8) structural effects, and (9) cultural effects. Suffice to say that the Christians view GRP peace initiatives from a different perspective than their Muslim counterparts. The former takes an optimistic note; the latter a pessimistic outlook. Although GRP has invested so much time, money and efforts in trying to solve the Moro problem, still so much remains to be done. The GRP peace efforts are perceived to be “weak”, “defective”, “lacking in substance and procedure” by a significant number of respondents. On the substantive level, the apparent weakness of the peace process is discerned from the highly centralized decisionmaking approach adopted by the Philippine government which deprives local actors from taking an active role in the process. On the procedural dimension, the perceived weaknesses of the different initiatives in Mindanao is the lack of complex program incorporating these three-fold thrusts: (1) prescriptive conflict 15

transformation (with personal, relational, structural and cultural aspects), (2) addressing cross-sectional settings (micro and macro environment), and (3) possessing longitudinal activities (short, middle and long term components). These identified weaknesses together with other related factors are complementary forces that continuously block the attainment of a self-sustaining peace in Mindanao. Implications Based on the findings and the conclusion drawn, the following implications are extracted. First, as a whole, the findings suggest that the final resolution of the ethnic conflict in Mindanao requires a thorough evaluation and modification of the peace programs of the Philippine government in Mindanao in both their procedural as well as substantive dimensions. This data would entail that there is an imperative need to institute an alternative sustainable peace program in Mindanao in order to effect a self-sustaining peace in the region. Second, in the procedural aspect of any proposed peace activity, a profound consideration should focus on the widening of the participation in the peace process to include not only the Filipino people but also the international community. In addition, the roles of the third party intervenors also need to be expanded to cover such authoritative roles as arbiter, peacekeeper, and enforcer of agreements. Third, for the substantive aspect, modification to be instituted must take into account immediate and long term concerns, on one hand, and the micro and macro settings of the conflict, on the other. They must also incorporate such activities aimed at addressing the personal, relational, structural and cultural effects of the conflict. This very challenging task at hand may even resort to the amendment of the constitution to satisfy the quest for self-determination for the Moros which may be dramatized in the guise of federal state or independence. Fourth, the effort to build a sustainable peace in Southern Philippines must transform the role of the local communities from passive to an active one. Their involvement in the peace process should be redirected from mere beneficiaries to participants, makers, and protectors of peace. Fifth, if the national government would not modify its traditional one-way approach in solving the Bangsamoro insurgency, this conflict has the possibility of getting worse which might create a situation where the only available alternative left to the Philippine republic is to grant independence to the Moros. This contention has been based on the


common observation that the Moro fighters are getting stronger in terms of their military equipment as well as area of influence. Further, their cause is also becoming more radical. Sixth, aside from the nature of the approaches they commonly employed, the failure of the previous administrations in the Philippines to put a final end to the Moro problem could be ascribed, to a larger extent, to the underlying principles they had in mind every time they conceive of negotiation. They all upheld the notion that Christians and Muslims in the country are one and the same people being all Filipinos. This is evidenced by the popular slogan “isang bansa, isang diwa” (one nation, one thought). However, they forgot to recognize the very truth that these two peoples have different customs, traditional practices, religious beliefs, historical hangovers and outlooks in life. Henceforth, all the solutions made had finally ended in failure because it appeared that they were unjust, biased and prejudicial to the interest of one sect of mores. Seventh, the attainment of lasting peace in Mindanao does not only concern the government leaders and the Moro fronts, but it also needs the commitment of all people from other walks of life. In short, peace is a shared effort of everyone. Eighth, as true to other third world countries, such as Rwanda, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan, the concept of conflict transformation underscores the crosssectional (all sectors) and the longitudinal (programmed time-frame of activities) dimensions of peacebuilding. This is especially true if the society in conflict is deeply divided, like the Philippines. Ninth, data gathered in the study manifested that almost all elements of state ethnic conflict mentioned by Muslim (1990) have contributed to the emergence of the Moro problem. These factors included resource competition, impact of modernization, and the differentiating role or discriminatory tendency of the state in the allocation of its governmental powers. For Magdalena’s (1990) theory of social conflict, it was evidenced that frustration-aggression, equilibrium, change, and diffusion models could partly explain the formation of the Mindanao conflict. Finally, the final resolution of the conflict in Southern Philippines requires not only a negotiated political settlement but also a negotiated constitutional settlement. This means that any consensus that may have been formed by both parties must also undermine some provisions of the constitution relative to national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Philippines. This is because for a sustainable peace to reign in Mindanao the national government must necessarily redirect its focus from national security to human security, from territorial integrity to people’s integrity.


Recommendations First, the peacebuilding activities of the government must systematically incorporate both the vertical and the horizontal perspectives in conflict transformation. The vertical aspect must bring into focus the micro and the macro environment of the conflict; while the horizontal dimensions must concentrate on the short, middle and long term program which address immediate issues and long term generational plan for social change. Second, the government should democratize the peace process in Mindanao. It must change the composition of the government peace panel from predominantly military men to sectoral representation to allow the maximum participation of the grassroots actors. Third, the outside actors to be involved in the peacebuilding shall not only be limited to the United States and Malaysia alone but other countries as well, like the United Kingdom, Japan and France, which are influential in the world community. Further, their roles shall be expanded from a mere mediator, monitor or presiding officer to include such other authoritative roles as arbiter, enforcer, peacekeeper and many more. Finally, since most of the respondents in this study came from the academic sector, it is recommended that more studies on peacebuilding in Mindanao be conducted involving other sectors in order to cross-check the validity and the reliability of the findings as well as to analyze comprehensively and understand exhaustively the challenge of the peacebuilding phenomenon in the entire country. In order to materialize the above-stated complex recommendations, the proposed alternative programs for sustainable peace in Mindanao are herein presented below. Proposed Alternative Program for Sustainable Peace in Mindanao Objectives The prime objective of the herein proposed Alternative Peace Program is not merely to achieve peace in Mindanao but to make peace a self-sustaining phenomenon by transforming the conflict towards a more sustainable, peaceful relationship. This desired end can be attained by: (1) democratizing the peace process in Mindanao to include in the peace negotiation such other actors, like grass roots participants, and to expand the roles of the outside intervenors from mere ceremonial to authoritative functions; (2) addressing the personal,


relational, structural and cultural effects of the conflict; (3) initiating peace programs incorporating the short, middle and long range components; (4) designing courses of action that would resolve issues involved in the conflict, restore and rebuild relationships, restructure the Mindanao societal subsystem, in particular, and the Philippine societal system, in general. Diagnosis The proposed Alternative Peace Program is based on, and supported by, the findings of the study. Important findings of the study were as follows: 1. The different peace programs of the Philippine government were perceived by the respondents to be “defective” in both their substance aspect and the procedures adopted in their formulation. 2. On the substantial aspect, the perceived weakness of the GRP peace initiatives is evidenced in the absence of a strong political will from the national leadership to incorporate in its peace efforts those programs having a bearing on the long term (i.e., generational plan for change) resolution of the conflict which would transform the antagonistic relationship between the GRP and the Moro insurgents into a more peaceful coexistence. 3. For the procedural dimension, its defect is seen in the non-involvement of “grassroots” and the “middle actors,” and the limited participation of “outside actors” in the peace process. Whenever these actors are involved in the process, they don’t actually have the authoritative decision binding to the group. Instead, they are just given such titular functions as presiding officer or as observerparticipant in the negotiation proper. 4. The respondents have however indicated some perceived procedural strengths that could warrant the success of the peace process. First, is the democratization of the peace process by allowing the wide and maximum participation of all sectors in the society as well as involving outside neutral party to act not merely as mediator but more importantly as arbiter and enforcer of whatever agreements the government and the Moro fronts may have signed in the future. Substance wise, the respondents have also pointed out the incorporation of political, economic, social and cultural components of the peace programs which could be directed to address immediate issues and generational concerns for change thereby enabling the conflictual interactions between Muslims and Christians towards a harmonious coexistence. 5. Regarding the descriptive aspect of the conflict transformation, the respondents have enumerated the personal, relational, structural and cultural


effects of this war on the residents in Mindanao. Moreover, they also have suggested more ‘effective’ appropriate solutions to minimize/control these effects. Alternative Programs As can be deduced from the facts presented, since the Marcos Regime up to the Arroyo Administration, the Government of the Republic of the Philippines has already notably initiated several peace programs in Mindanao designed to achieve a permanent peace in the area. Such programs embodied political, economic, social and cultural components, among others. With these multifaceted efforts, it seems unwise to think that peace in Mindanao still remains to be an illusive dream for everyone. Why is this so? What could be the other critical factors to consider towards the attainment of a lasting and selfsustaining peace in Mindanao. In view of the foregoing arguments, the following alternative peace programs are recommended which would hopefully resolve immediate issues and problems involved in the Mindanao conflict and/or transform the conflict towards more peaceful relationships between the GRP and rebel groups. 1. Widen the Actors/Participants As pointed out by the respondents, one very obvious weakness of the peace efforts of the government in Mindanao is the highly centralized decision making process which deprives the constitutional rights of the Filipino people to directly participate in governmental affairs being the ultimate source of sovereignty. If we trace the history of the peace process since the Marcos time, the grassroots actors (and not even their representatives) were never involved nor given significant roles towards an attainment of an enduring peace in the South. Or, if they were allowed to participate in the process, their role is limited only to such purely ceremonial and recommendatory functions as observer-participant or members of local monitoring teams for any ceasefire accord reached by both parties. Worse is that, once the members of the team conducted an investigation on reports of ceasefire violations, either of the party does not, and is continuously refusing to, entertain any finding which they believe detrimental to their interests. This observation is especially true to the government side. The local populace was conditioned to be passive because they were treated as mere beneficiaries of peace. Based on these contentions, it is recommended that the role of the local people in the Mindanao peacebuilding should be transformed from mere beneficiaries to participants, makers and protectors of peace. This may be done 20

by allowing representatives from all sectors of the society to sit as formal members of peace panels in both parties so that their genuine grievances shall be personally voiced out and heard. The government must also provide mechanisms and structures that would facilitate the networking of activities of the local actors, such as creation of local peace commissions in the local government units. These institutions would perform the following functions: educate and train the members of the community about their immediate roles when the conflict erupts; conduct workshops or seminars on problem-solving to promote understanding, trust, cooperation and accommodation between and among members of ethnic communities; convene sectors in times of local emergencies; and catalyze inter and intra-ethnic dialogues for life. Another perceived defect in the peace process is the limited roles played by the third outside party. As known to everyone, the assigned roles of the OIC member-countries every time they were called upon to participate in the peace talks is confined to acting as mere mediators or presiding officers during negotiations. In other instances, they were assigned to just monitor the implementation of peace agreements. So far, very minimal attempts have ever been made to elevate their roles from purely ceremonial to something authoritative, like arbiter and enforcer of decisions that they may have arrived at. Furthermore, there were limited attempts to expand the composition of the third parties to include other international institutions with a relative autonomy and independence from external pressures, such as the United Nations and the United States of America. In view of the foregoing, the author proposes that the roles of the third outside party should be expanded to include such authoritative functions as peacekeeper, arbiter and enforcer of agreements. In addition, the composition of the outside actors must include the UN and the US. This is to make the peace efforts in Mindanao legitimate to the world community thereby generating international supports. The last important factor that the researcher wants to stress as far as procedural dimension of the Mindanao peacebuilding program is concerned, is about the top level actors, that is, the national leaders themselves, As revealed in the findings, their personalities are highly “questionable� to the respondents due to their perceived insincerity, preoccupied positions, biases and lack of political will. That being the case, this writer presupposes that there is an urgent need for the peace adviser and consultants of the President to be reeducated, retrained and to undergo seminars and workshops related to peace and conflict resolution, if they are really sincere to effect peace in Mindanao. Moreover, in order to avoid their biased decisions, the members of the GRP Peace Panel must include


representatives from the grassroots and middle actors to be selected from the groups or organizations that participated in the party-list system.


















GRP-MILF Peace Talks




Figure 1. Categories of Actors in the Alternative Peace Programs

Figure 1 illustrates the categories of actors to be involved in the peace process in Mindanao, particularly during the peace talks. As shown, the participants are composed of three categories, such as: grass roots/local people (i.e., NGOs, academic religious, youth, and women sectors), national leaders (i.e., MILF and GRP peace panels) and outside parties (may be composed of OIC, US & UN).


2. Incorporate Personal, Relational, Structural and Cultural Components in Conflict Transformation Lederach (1997) once argued that “conflict transformation goes beyond the resolution of issues.” Rather, it embodies such programs that would transform conflictual behavior towards a more sustainable peaceful relationship. In the descriptive level, transformation assumes that conflict produces patterns of change to the people. At the prescriptive level, transformation suggests deliberate intervention programs to remedy such effects. As pointed out by the respondents of the study, one obvious factor that would warrant the attainment of a sustainable peace in Mindanao is the adoption of multi-dimensional peace programs. These programs must address the negative effects of the war in the personal, relational, structural and cultural aspects of people’s lives. A. PERSONAL As revealed in the data gathered, the respondents identified the following as the top personal effects of the Mindanao conflicts on individuals lives in the region, such as: fear, hatred, trauma, mistrust, suspicion, aggressiveness, religious extremism or fundamentalism, militancy, radicalism, and ethnic consciousness or cohesiveness. These could be effectively addressed through massive campaign of the government to inculcate to the local populace the culture of peace, cooperation understanding, respect and accommodation. This should be complemented by counseling services, works to address the psychological trauma and war stress. These activities should be particularly directed towards children, women, disabled and the elderly who usually suffer the traumatic effects of war. These peace works should be conducted in the evacuation centers while distributing relief assistance. Further, these activities must be continuously carried out even after the return of the evacuees to their respective places. To avoid suspicion from the members of the community regarding the personality of the persons to conduct the program, this twinfunction of inculcating peace-related values while counseling must be carried out by all the barangay leaders, such as the captains, their kagawads, and the barangay tanods. They should be trained by the Local Government Units (LGUs), especially those assigned in health work and social services. The humanitarian workers from the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can also be of great help to this activity. B. RELATIONAL In the relational dimension, descriptive transformation “refers to the effects of conflict on relational patterns of communication and interaction.” In this study,


these relational effects indicated by the respondents included negative views or attributions to the other groups, antagonistic attitudes against each other, social discrimination, misunderstanding of others’ behavior, poor / distorted communications as evidenced by massive lying, reduction of, or suspicious interaction. These negative effects could be remedied by promoting inter-ethnic and intra-ethnic integration and socialization. This can be realized by forming a Mindanao-wide social and civic networking organizations to be composed of representatives from all sectors in the region both governmental and nongovernmental organizations. These groups should be responsible to conduct inter and intra-faith/cultural dialogues and conferences to promote understanding and cooperation between and among the ethnic communities in the islands. These activities should be participated by all tribes in Mindanao. Furthermore, the author also sensed the need for enactment of laws that would promote a balanced and just cross-regional migration or resettlement to promote cultural understanding, respect and acculturation. Another sector to play a very vital role in addressing the afore-mentioned relational effects is the media, both printed and broadcast. This author believes if they would continuously uphold the principle of responsible reporting, they can be very instrumental and influential in the promotion of respect, understanding and cooperation among the residents of Mindanao by: first refraining from capitalizing or exaggerating even a very minor case of trouble between Muslims and Christians. Instead of fueling the fire, they should be the ones to bridge the communication gap prevailing among the tribes. Related to this first role, they should also avoid using terms with religious and negative connotations, like Muslims, Christians and the like. And secondly, the media must discuss to the public cases of peaceful and harmonious coexistence between Muslims and Christians in other countries. This is to correct the historical injustice built in by the colonizers in our mindset that Muslims and Christians are mortal enemies. They should portray instead in their publicity that Islam and Christianity are sister religions not only because they have some important similarities but also because their founders have descended from the same father, Prophet Abraham. The author is convinced beyond doubt that it could be of great help if these points are going to be constantly emphasized in media reporting. In highlighting the complementary roles of media and peace builders in the quest for peace, former Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Retired General Manuel T. Yan stresses: A free and independent-minded press is crucial to the quest for peace. On one hand, journalists are important allies of peace builders because they mirror, without bias or distortion, the public perceptions that are needed to guide peace policy. On the other hand, peace builders enrich journalism by offering transparency and principled partnerships. This defines the ideal


relationship between the Government, the public and the press in the pursuit of the comprehensive peace process.(Manuel T. Yan, Foreword, The Media and Peace Reporting, 2000).

C. STRUCTURAL Descriptively, the structural component of peacebuilding is concerned with the “underlying causes of conflict and the patterns and changes it brings about in social structures.� Regarding the Mindanao crisis, its identified causes and the patterns it brought about to the people are: (1) alarming incidence of poverty in the Muslim areas, (2) unequal income distribution between Muslims and Christians, (3) landlessness and marginalization suffered by Muslims, (4) perceived neo-colonial policies of Manila government to Mindanao, (5) wide disparity in wealth between Muslims and Christians, (6) highly-centralized system of government, (7) non-recognition/disrespect of Moros cultural identity, and (8) under-representation of the Moros in governmental affairs. Actually, there are a lot of initiatives which could effectively solve the above issues. On the political issues (i.e., Manila neo-colonial policies, highlycentralized system of government, and under-representations) these can be solved by increasing further the devolved governmental functions to the Muslim autonomous region. It should be transformed into a genuine autonomous government like that of component states in the US where everyone enjoys greater freedom and independence from Washington D.C.. They were allowed by the Union to fully control their internal affairs. In case these problems still exist under the autonomy formula, the federal type of government setup must be instituted in the Philippines. This initiative will not only resolve the issue of self-governance but it will also effectively address the cultural aspect of the conflict. For example, once we adopt the federal system, there should be created three component states in the Moro-dominated areas: one of these will cover the Maguindanao province and Cotabato City including the municipalities and barangays in their neighboring provinces whose residents are predominantly Maguindanaons. Another Moro state shall consolidate as its territories the Lanao del Sur province and Marawi City including the municipalities and barangays found in their surrounding provinces whose residents are predominantly Maranaos. And the third Muslim state shall comprise the provinces of Tawi-Tawi, Sulu and Basilan and Isabela City including the villages in the three different Zamboangas whose population is predominantly Tausogs, Samas or Yakans. Although they belong to three different tribes but I think they can live together under one system given the fact that their cultural practices and beliefs are very much related to each other. In fact, when this researcher visited some places in the Sulu archipelago he noticed that most, if not all, of the people can speak and understand the Tausog dialect.


This proposal, if successfully implemented, will surely accommodate the cultural component of the problem for it could allow the restoration of some, if not all of the elements of sultanate system of government in Maguindanao, Lanao and Sulu. Furthermore, this can also facilitate the full implementation of Shariah Law which the MILF and other Islamist groups have consistently and conscientiously struggled for. Moreover, this federal formula will also address other structural issues involved in the conflict, like poverty, economic inequality and marginalization. D. CULTURAL The cultural dimension of conflict transformation highlights “the changes produced by conflict in the cultural patterns of a group, and the ways that culture affects the development and handling of conflict.” Descriptively speaking, “transformation is interested in how conflict affects and changes the cultural pattern of a group and how those accumulated and shared patterns affect the way people in that setting understand and respond to conflict.” Relative to the insurgency problem in Mindanao, the negative cultural patterns resulted from the conflict were: (1) mutual distrust or enmity, (2) people arming themselves (“culture of violence”), (3) constant invocation of maratabat to justify revenge, (4) indoctrination of anti-Christian sentiments among Muslims, and (5) radical and extreme interpretation of Qur’anic injunctions. In the way of prescribing for their resolution, it is recommended that the Philippine government shall enact a law which would decree the inclusion of courses having a bearing on peace and conflict resolution, as well as the study of the Moro history and those of indigenous people in all curricula from elementary to college. This will compulsorily be adopted in all schools and universities in Mindanao, whether private or public. Paramount to this concern should be an establishment of institute, department or college throughout Mindanao specializing in the study of peace and Islam. In addition, there should also be a strong inculcation of peace-related values, like love, respect, caring, understanding, cooperation, sympathy, obedience, honesty, hardworking, justice, and others, to both pre-school and elementary levels as well as among the villagers. Also with equal importance to address the negative effects of war in culture is to conduct inter-ethnic dance, song, drama, and poem-reading competitions and other forms of cultural presentation in the entire islands. This is aimed to foster understanding, respect and closeness of the Mindanaoans. Furthermore, the concept of maratabat as practiced by the Moros should be reoriented or redirected towards a positive usage. Instead of using it for revenge 26

or counter-revenge in family feuds, this maratabat should be invoked to compete for development and progress in life. For example, in school when someone fails in an exam, his maratabat must be invoked so that he will toil and struggle not just to pass the next exam but to top it. This is what I mean by reorienting or redirecting the concept of maratabat.






Figure 2. Descriptive & Prescriptive Aspects of the Alternative Peace Programs

The diagram above depicts the different components of the proposed peacebuilding programs of the government in Mindanao containing both its descriptive and prescriptive dimensions. The quadrangles represent the personal, relational, structural and cultural components of the alternative peace program. 3. Formulation of Horizontal (Short, Middle and Long Term) Activities As revealed by the data on hand, one basic perceived limitation of the GRP peace efforts in Mindanao is the absence of a complex plan with short, middle and long term components that would enable the restoration of the antagonistic


interactions into a peaceful relationship. In response to this pressing need, the following plan is hereby proposed. A. SHORT RANGE (Crisis Intervention) Under the short term program of the Mindanao peacebuilding, this will include such efforts geared towards crisis intervention, such as distribution of relief goods, humanitarian aids and the like. This program shall be the responsibility of individuals working under the Department of Health, Social Welfare and Interior and Local Government to be jointly assisted by the local and international NGO groups. Other activities to be included here are counseling services and brief lectures to ease the traumatic effects of war and to prevent further tensions. Another form of intervention action subsumable to this short-range program is the public call for immediate ceasefire and immediate convening of peace panels of both parties. The media could play a very indispensable role here. B. MIDDLE RANGE (Preparation and Training and Experimentation) In a year or more, activities should be directed to conduct trainings of the community residents for crisis management. They must be taught how to prevent disputes from arising between parties; or if they already exist, techniques should be taught to them to prevent such from escalating into conflict; or if conflicts are already in place, local residents must know how to handle them to prevent from spreading out. Furthermore, the local populace should also be prepared on how to participate in rehabilitation and renovation works in their respective communities. This is in conjunction with the idea of the so-called ‘paradigm shifting’ method in conflict transformation which would transform the role of the local people from passive (i.e., mere beneficiaries of peace) into something active, like makers, keepers, preservers and protectors of peace. Subsumable under this middle range program is the experimentation period for any transitional politico-administrative structure to be created which may take place from five to ten years. For instance, if and when the GRP and the MILF shall finally agree to run effectively a Moro-controlled government, the experimentation phase can cover more or less ten years, like that of the American-sponsored Commonwealth Government of the Philippines, to give the Moros ample time to prepare themselves in controlling all internal affairs of their government. Also, to have enough time to train themselves on art and science of self-governance. And after a lapse of ten years, there should be conducted a UNsupervised referendum to ask the Moro inhabitants whether they opt to remain


under the status quo, be granted genuine autonomy or federal state, or be completely separated from the Republic of the Philippines. C. LONG RANGE (Generational Plan for Change) The long term solution must involve programs aimed at generational plan for change. This should necessarily resolve around the issues of conflict prevention, vision or transformation. In particular, activities to be conducted here must concentrate on the structural and the relational components of conflict transformation. In relation to our peace and order problem in Mindanao, the author is convinced that it is now very timely to adopt the words of former Israeli Prime Minister Simon Peres who said: ‘It is better to build two States and be friends, rather than building one and become enemies for the rest of our lives.’ Clearly, on the structural aspect the doors for separation, if it is the only viable alternative left, must not be totally closed, rather than being continuously imprisoned by the colonial view that Muslims and Christians in the Philippines are one and the same people being all Filipinos and, therefore, they can live peacefully and progressively under one-nation and one-system set up. For me, this is historical deception because our experience will prove to us that for the period of fifty eight years now since the granting of the Philippine independence in 1946, their relationships have been beset by antagonisms, atrocities, mistrusts and troubles. This being the case simply because Muslims and Christians are two distinct peoples having different culture, customs, beliefs, practices, preferences, historical hangovers and outlooks in life. With this premise, it appears that they can not be effectively governed under one system. Hence, they should be governed separately. However, in case full independence is not practically nor manageably possible this writer believes that adoption of a federal setup or any variant related thereto will do. If this arrangement will be successfully realized, the desired social relationship to become not only friends but partners in development will be finally achieved. The researcher is firmly convinced without any reservation that it is only through doing justice to everyone where our destroyed relationships can be transformed into a peaceful one. Hence, because the Moro territories were forcibly incorporated into the Philippine Republic, during the American granting of her independence, without the Moro consent they should be given back to them. The author believes this effort will foster trust and cooperation among both Muslims and Christians.



- Relief


- Humanitarian aids - Counseling services SHORT TERM SOLUTIONS


CRISIS PREVENTION - Trainings on rehabilitation works - Seminars on conflict prevention - Experimentation of politici-administrative strcutures

- Cultural presentations - Referendum - Constitutional amendments - Inter-faith dialogues - Restoration of broken relationships



Figure 3. Horizontal Dimensions of Alternative Peace Programs

The diagram above illustrates the horizontal dimensions of the proposed alternative peace programs. The horizontal arrow represents the different phases of plans in the transformation of the Mindanao conflict. It encompasses both the immediate needs as well the long term plans for designed social change, particularly the restoration of the broken relationship. 4. Instituting Vertical (Multi-Layered) Response to the Conflict Setting Closely related to the formulation of horizontal solutions are the institution of a vertical, multi-layered response which would consider the micro and the macro settings of the conflict. The former includes the issue and the relationship levels. It is termed “micro” because its focus is the individual party to the conflict. The latter, on the other hand, covers the larger subsystem and the larger system concerns. It is referred to as “macro” because it would consider the larger structure that is the conflict. Emphasis is not placed on who are parties to the conflict but who are affected by it. A. MICRO LEVEL At the first layer of the micro level, efforts to address the Mindanao crisis must be on identifying and resolving the issues that ignited the fight. This challenge at hand can be done by a peace practitioner, like the third party 30

intervenor (local or international). Issues such as land grabbing, massacres, discrimination, marginalization, massive exploitation of the Mindanao ecosystem, and other forms of social injustices should be resolved. Land laws of the Philippines have to be revisited, revised and upgraded in order to accommodate the traditional pattern of landownership still prevailing up to these days among the Muslims and the indigenous peoples of Mindanao. Public known perpetrators of the Ilaga-sponsored massacres of the Muslims, like the long-time detainee Norberto Manero, shall be punished accordingly the soonest possible time. On the other hand, the Moro alleged bandits, like the Abu Sayyaf and their associates, must be brought to justice the soonest time by all means and at all cost to answer the charges filed against them. In addition, the government must be firm and consistent in implementing the policy of “no amnesty for criminals” program instead of tolerating or supporting these criminals as alleged by the respondents. On the issue of discrimination, marginalization or under-representation in governmental affairs, these can be remedied by adopting proportional representation or power-sharing approach. The election of senators must be done on regional basis. From the sixteen regions in the country, each one should have two senators. The government must also increase the number of Muslims occupying higher positions in the national government. There must also be at least one Muslim to be member of the Supreme Court of the Philippines. On the issue of destruction of the Mindanao ecosystem, there has to be enactment of more laws that would give teeth to the protection of the natural resources, particularly the forest products. While focusing the attention to resolve the root causes of the conflict, there must also be another set of efforts geared towards the reconciliation of the broken relationships. Here belongs that activities designed for prejudicereduction, like cultural presentations during municipal and provincial founding anniversaries and also during national important days, such as the Independence Day. In addition, reconciliation attempts may also take in the form of an interfaith dialogues and conferences wherein individual views, beliefs and perspectives are fully and freely articulated, studied and understood. These efforts are intended to increase “understanding of one another and promote reconciliation in a deeper sense.” B. MACRO LEVEL On the first phase of the macro level shall be the subsystem concern. Here, the focus of peacebuilding activities is the immediate environment of the conflict, that is, Mindanao. In this regard, the Philippines must have a clear vision for


Mindanao whether to develop the area to become the gateway of the Philippines to Asia, instead of exploiting it and become breeding grounds for rebellion, terrorism and corruption. Part of this subsystem analysis is the recognition that the insurgency problem in Mindanao has the elements of religion and ethnicity. Hence, initiatives designed to address this problem must also give credence to religion and ethnicity factors. For example, by entertaining the idea of cultural differences prevailing between Muslims and Christians in the region the government could have a strong basis for instituting politico-administrative measures that could redress the question of self-rule for the Moro people. The final focus of response under the macro level is the larger system which is equated to the entire Philippines. In this context, courses of action designed for peacebuilding should focus on national issues that are perceived to be contributory to the sustainability of the Mindanao conflict, like the alarming incidence of poverty, graft and corruption, morality in the public service, lack of political will, and the like. On the issue of graft and corruption, new measures have to be enacted by the Philippine Congress to further strengthen the fight for corruption. Important provisions of these legislations must reconsider the possible increase of penalty for those individuals who may be found guilty of committing graft and corrupt practices. The veracity and truthfulness of the information written in the statement of assets and liabilities of every government employee should be verified and cross-checked by the personnel from the Ombudsman. In this connection, the field offices of this agency as well as the number of its employees must be increased so that they will become more accessible and closer to the people. The problem of morality in the public service can be eased out by adopting moral recovery programs, like occasional administration of morality checkup exams for those already working in the government, and morality entrance exam for those still applicants of job in the public sector. These exams must be administered by licensed psychiatrists to ensure that only those having high moral values would be retained or hired. Another good step to this moral recovery program is the creation of the Office of Religious Affairs (ORA) in the Office of the President, at least at the start. This agency should become the Arm of the Executive Department to fight immoralities in the government service, and to further uplift the moral standards of the public servants. Regarding the problem on lack of political will, maybe another legislative measure has to be decreed which would also increase the penalty to be given to


anybody to be convicted for committing an act which constitutes the negligence of duty offense.

Macro Setting Micro Setting





LARGER SYSTEM (Philippines) Graft and corruption Low morality in the government Lack of political will SUB-SYSTEM (Mindanao) Unity in diversity Ethnic issues Others

RESTORATION OF RELATIONSHIPS - Cultural presentation - Balanced/just cross migration - Inter-faith dialogues RESOLUTION OF ISSUES/ROOT CAUSES - Self-governance - Landlessness - Poverty/unemployment - Discrimination/marginalization CONFLICT ENVIRONMENT

Figure 4. Vertical Dimensions of Alternative Peace Programs

The Figure 4 above presents the vertical dimensions of the proposed alternative peace programs. The vertical arrow represents stages or levels of action foci. It considers the smaller and the larger settings or environments of the conflict.


References A. Books Lederach, John Paul. Building Peace: Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies. Washington, D.C.: United States Institute for Peace Press, 1997. Muslim, Macapado M. The Moro Armed Struggle in the Philippines: The Non-violent Autonomy Alternatives. Marawi City: University Press & Information Office, 1994. Rodil, B. Rudy. Kalinaw Mindanaw: The Story of the GRP-MNLF Peace Process, 1975-1996. Davao City: Alternative Forum for Research in Mindanao, 2000. B. Journals Kulidtod, Zainal D. “Perceived Motives, Objective, Effects and Impact of the All-OutWar Policy of the Estrada Administration Against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF),” Dansalan Quarterly, Vol. XXIII, Nos. 1-4, January-December 2003. Magdalena, Federico V. “Theories of Social Conflict: A Bibliographic Review,” Mindanao Journal, Vol. XVII, Nos. 1-2 (33-66) July-December 1990. Muslim, Macapado M. “Explaining State-Ethnic Conflict,” Mindanao Journal, Vol. XVII, Nos. 1-2 (21-32) July-December 1990. C. Unpublished Materials Gowing, Peter G. "Contrasting agendas for peace in the Muslim South." Mimeographed. Conference Paper No. 4, 12th Annual Seminar on Mindanao-Sulu Cultures, Mindanao State University, Marawi City, November 16-18, 1979. Gowing, Peter G. "The Moro rebellion: Why and wherefore?" Mimeographed. Prepared for use in various Manila universities, seminaries and other institutions under a study-reflection. Sponsored by the Program Aimed at Christian Education about Muslims and the Student Christian Movement, August 21-25, 1978. “Manifesto of the Muslims of the Philippines Supporting the Call for National Reconciliation and Unity” (Metro Manila, Philippines), October 7, 1983; mimeographed, 2 pages. D. Documents Republic Act (R.A.) 9054 Otherwise Known As “An Act Amending the R.A 6734,” 21 August 2001. The Tripoli Agreement Between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), 23 December 1976.