Thursday, September 4, 2008

Gloria's Mess and the Role of the United States Institute of Peace

isten to the comments of Astrid Tuminez, a Senior Consultant of the United States Institutes of Peace, who worked on the Philippine Peace Facilitation Project, recorded at a seminar on the Peace Process in the year 2005.

Now we know where Eid Kabalu and Gazali Jafaar got all their talking points and negotiating demands! I think it can be said without fear of contradiction that the United States Institute of Peace was integral too, if not the principal architect of the ill-fated MOA on Ancestral Domain that has been the cause of death and destruction in Mindanao in recent weeks. I've always been suspicious of this NGO, and now I know my instincts about them were right. Their ideas have been driving the peace process since 2001 and are made manifest in the very text of the MOA on Ancestral Domain.

The USIP peace project in the Philippines ended in June, 2007.

Saying she won't sign the MOA-AD at gunpoint (not even if the Supreme Court rules favorably upon it) President Arroyo has suddenly disbanded the ill-fated GRP Peace Panel. This follows a remarkable claim made under oath by Solicitor General Agne Devanadera before the Supreme Court last Friday that President Arroyo had not read the controverted MOA-AD before the scheduled signing in Malaysia on August 5.

Looks like a desperate bid for "moot and academic," but as Senate Majority Leader Kiko Pangilinan notes that would suggest the President did not know the details of an historic milestone in the Mindanao peace process which she herself had announced during her SONA last July 27 and involved the international community as witnesses, including the US Ambassador Kristie Kenney.

Maybe the Palace thinks this is less damaging than to admit the President did know the final MOA's details because that would expose her to charges of culpable violations of the Constitution if the Supreme Court rules on the merits of interventions from Senators Roxas and Drilon.

The signing event at Putrajaya was to have been a celebrated international milestone. Ging Deles, the President's resigned former Peace Adviser, finds it inconceivable that PGMA had not even read the MOA. Given the President's renowned micro-management style, Devanadera truly strains credulity. Or else she is accusing her boss of dereliction of duty.

There is something else. Over a year ago, on August 14, 2007, PDI reported on "security directives" issued by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. It was the first I heard the President mention an Ancestral Domain Regime, a Bangsamoro Juridical Entity:
"If it would not adversely affect the Philippine negotiating position and provoke alarm among Christians, a pilot implementation of the envisioned Muslim ancestral domain regime shall be undertaken, to demonstrate our sincerity to achieve peace,” Ms Arroyo said.

She said the government had declared many ancestral domains among indigenous peoples.

“I really don’t see why anybody should be scared if there is an ancestral domain declared for the Muslim people,” she added.

The issue of ancestral domain or territory is about the areas to be recognized as part of a Muslim homeland and which will be placed under a so-called Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE), the probable name of the governing body of the new Moro homeland.

It is not clear how much autonomy the BJE will have. But the proposal is for the MILF to have full fiscal, political and religious authority in the BJE.
Clearly, the President was already aware as early as August, 2007, of the most controversial details of the MOA-AD, details that only came fully to light recently. Then just last month, the President even bragged about it during her State of the Nation Address on July 27.

The sad irony of Mindanao as food basket is that it has some of the highest hunger in our nation. It has large fields of high productivity, yet also six of our ten poorest provinces.

The prime reason is the endless Mindanao conflict. A comprehensive peace has eluded us for half a century. But last night, differences on the tough issue of ancestral domain were resolved. Yes, there are political dynamics among the people of Mindanao. Let us sort them out with the utmost sobriety, patience and restraint. I ask Congress to act on the legislative and political reforms that will lead to a just and lasting peace during our term of office.

The demands of decency and compassion urge dialogue. Better talk than fight, if nothing of sovereign value is anyway lost. Dialogue has achieved more than confrontation in many parts of the world. This was the message of the recent World Conference in Madrid organized by the King of Saudi Arabia, and the universal message of the Pope in Sydney.

Today the headlines are that President Arroyo has disbanded the GRP Peace Panel.

Well, it's about time the President discovered the principle of refusing to negotiate with the MILF insurgent rebels at gunpoint.

But where do we go from here? Is the Peace Process dead?

Let us note that there are two peacemaking paradigms coming into view in the wake of the MOA-AD's apparent self-destruction. The first is the present "peace process" with three strands: (1) Ceasefire; (2) Economic Development and (3) Ancestral Domain

To answer this question we must ask WHERE that Peace Process came from, because there is a definite technology to its form, manner and method of execution.

From the United States Institute of Peace on their Philippine Facilitation Project:

USIP's Philippine Facilitation Project, created to help end a decades-long conflict between the government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a Muslim insurgent group operating in the southern island of Mindanao, ended on June 30, 2007. Acting on a mid-2003 request from the U.S. State Department, USIP worked with Philippine officials, MILF leaders and civil society to further efforts to create an “equitable and durable peace agreement” to foster reconciliation and stability in the Philippines and surrounding areas of Southeast Asia. The Philippine Facilitation Project was a part of the Center for Mediation and Conflict Resolution and was directed by Eugene Martin.

After all has been said and done, the spectacular failure of this entire "peace facilitation project" of the USIP is being writ large in the blood and suffering of the dead and displaced Muslims, Christians and lumads in today's Mindanao, numbering now in the hundreds of thousands and not abating but worsening. Indeed, the fingerprints of the USIP's architects and facilitators of "peace" are to be seen all over the recent events, including especially the manner, method and content of that ill-fated Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain between the GRP and the MILF. The legal and judicial troubles encountered by a patently unconstitutional, unjust and unfair agreement and the subsequent revelation that delivering the deal was beyond the powers and wishful thinking of the Arroyo administration have logically obliged the MILF to unleash their dogs of war, whose arms and ammo are gladly if surreptitiously supplied by the USIP's Malaysian counterpart promoters of peace.

Why did this happen? Why has an economically and socially debilitating conflict suddenly exploded like a malevolent djinn from what was billed as a successful peace process based on the templates and recommendations of the US Congress' surrogate here in the peace process?

In doing a post-mortem on the MOA-AD, one finds evidence that the key missteps and the most ineffective elements of the "peacemaking technology" may have come from the USIP. It appears now that the radical ambitiousness of the project--to achieve "restorative justice" on an ancient and complex history --made it inevitable that violent conflict would be the price of its almost certain failure.

For example, one of the most puzzling aspects of the approach taken by the Arroyo administration towards the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front on Ancestral Domain was the secrecy that cloaked its creation. There is in fact some reason to thank some yet unidentified leaker from within the administration for getting copies of it out to local government officials and the Press before that fateful August 5 signing date in Petrajaya, Malaysia would indeed have delivered a fait accompli. ("done deal" would be Eid Kabalu's translation), with even US Ambassador Kristie Kenney cluelessly looking on with bated breath and Datuk Othman bin Abd Razak grinning in satisfaction ("Oplan Mindanao accomplished" would be his translation).

Now look at this rather curious passage from Astrud Tuminez of the USIP, describing the situation in Sri Lanka and evidently finding something there to emulate:
Sinhalese Sri Lankans have been highly reluctant to accommodate Tamil demands. In their view, giving an inch to the Tamils in the form of autonomy would lead to the slippery slope of Tamil domination. When a cease-fire was signed in 2002, it was done in secret because the Sinhalese population would not have supported it. Instead, government leaders presented it as a fait accompli, hoping that the working of the cease-fire would dampen threat perceptions and cultivate public support for peace. Tamils and Sinhalese have inflicted grave violence on one another, and both sides need to modify deep-seated fears to allow reconciliation to occur.
It would seem this approach was recommended (and accepted) by the Philippine Government peace panel if recent rationalizations of Jess Dureza (the President's peace adviser throughout this whole fiasco) during an interview by Pia Hontivers (ANC) are any indication.

A second and perhaps even more substantial point comes from the breathtaking nature of the conceptual leap from autonomy and ancestral domains to that of a "Bansamoro homeland" that would eventually encompass Mindanao, Palawan and Sulu -- to which the MOA-AD committed the government. A careful examination of the document would reveal a fundamentalist Islamic theocracy only one declaration away from full independence would be created at government expense in the Southern Philippines by what Joaquin Bernas, S.J. called "just a piece of paper." There would surely also be more contracts and projects for the peacemakers.


Bren said...

Astrid Tuminez is from Mindanao.

Bren said...

Towards the tail-end of the audio-clip, she does say prospects dim: (i) will the ceasefire hold?; "...fragile...persistent violations. Malaysia IMT appears weak." (ii) "who is in charge? who will champion the cause, who will marshall public support for BJE? who will work to reduce anti-Moro sentiments among "; (iii) "who will show the money? who will compensate people for land that may have to be turned over to BJE?"

DJB Rizalist said...

It's just uncanny that this was recorded in 2005!

The Pelican Spectator said...

Indeed, weird.

Karl M. Garcia said...


I tried commenting on your entry in Filipino Voices:(Tabon Man),but somehow it was lost in the spam filter blackhole.

Anyways, it was addressed by the succeeding comments.

I read this somewhere,it was Rizal who first called us Filipino, per Ambeth Ocampo.

I would also want to share something I heard in some round table discussions concerning this crisis.Some retired general said that by the time of Jabidah massacre, the MNLF was already fully armed and well trained.That's new even to some older retired generals including my dad.
About The so called migration of the visayans, they talked about the Ilagas, since they were forced to surrender their arms and with the MNLF retaining their arms, they targetted the whole family they attacked while the family except the breadwinner is having dinner.

In short I agree in some of the points CVJ raised, but I also agree with what you said that we are all Indios.

As to the tabon man, since some say that the Java Man are Homo Sapien instead of Homo Erectus,should they be considered first inhabitants of Indonesia?

Karl M. Garcia said...

And about the influx of Christians in Mindanao,maybe CVJ was forgetting that Rizal was jailed in Dapitan in Zamboanga del Norte.
By early 1900 Mindanao was composed of 76% muslims. The rest is a mixture of Christians and Lumads.I would hazard a guess that majority of that remaining 24 percent were Christians.
(Got it from UNDP)
Although I am not disputing that there were migrants,many of my relatives from my mother's side migrated to Davao.Not all of them were from the Visayas,most were from Luzon.