It is very hard to arrive at consensus if people are talking from different perspectives and levels of understanding. This was clearly portrayed during the Senate hearing on the status of the ceasefire between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) last April 13. Except for Senators Bam Aquino and Teofisto Guingona III, most of the rest seemed to have shown their inadequate grasp of the GPH-MILF peace process. Indeed, gone are the days when the Senate is a source of knowledge, wisdom, and guidance!
Conflict resolution, which is a process, is divided into three stages namely, conflict situation, transition period after agreements are signed and laws that would implement these political documents are legislated, and when the conflict is settled, which is the period of normalcy. Right now the leaders and members of the MILF are still transitioning into normalcy; therefore, one cannot expect them to behave like in a normal situation. That cannot take place overnight; that is why there is the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) which crafted the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) which is an interim government before the regular government for the Bangsamoro would be in place during a regular election for the purpose after the BBL becomes a law.
More seriously, without sounding out alarmist, what will happen if a good BBL does not pass Congress or a diluted version is in the offing? Consistently, the MILF said they will not accept a watered down BBL. But in the same breadth, it also consistently asserted that no matter what happens to the BBL, it will continue to engage in the path of finding a peaceful resolution of the conflict in
Peace process or more appropriately, conflict resolution, is like life, which is actually a constant series of an immense number of transitions. There are some so tiny as to be imperceptible and whose impact kind of sneaks up on you. This can be gradual changes in a relationship, our experiences at work, or changes in our body. The use of aliases is such a tiny example of transitioning that can be appropriately addressed during the full normal period.
Anyone who does not accept that conflict resolution, like life, is full of transitions; then surely we are in trouble. Imagine that for the issue of nom de guerre (war name) it took almost two hours for the senators during that Senate hearing to grill Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the MILF peace panel, over his uses of aliases. Were the senators fully aware of the stages of conflict resolution, that issue could not be raised at all? Or that peace negotiation only happens between “enemies” and not among friends; then they would not question the use of aliases by revolutionaries.
One way to unearth why such a fuss over aliases happened at all is to look at one grandstanding senator. A reliable source said that he had commissioned a survey team to determine which stance he would take: to support the BBL or ride roughshod over the biases and prejudices blown out of proportion as a result of the Mamasapano incident on January 25. The result was clear, the report said: He will get more votes by being anti-peace and used the Mamasapano incident as his launching pad.
But take a close look at what happened after. It seems his anti-peace posture is bringing him down. Very few people including those in media praised him for what he has been doing. One columnist described him as “savvy opportunist”.