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The Official Publication of the Moro Human Rights Center Inc.


Volume 1 Issue 1

Cover Story:
More of the Same
by Erwin Francis Gaerlan

The Many Facets of Conflict Resolution
by Sophia Dimalog

by Erwin M. Gaerlan

The Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights

A Human Rights Framework For the Moro Struggle
by Cris M.Gaerlan, Jr.

Signs of Peace
by Sahara (Samira Gutoc)

by Faith Joan C. Mesa

News Bits
IMAN binuo ng mga estudyante
Moro Civilians Abducted by Military
- Jamal Matanog


Economics of War

Signs of Peace
by Sahara (Samira Gutoc)

There’s light at the end of the tunnel in resolving the Bangsamoro problem. Though recent agreements between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) beg a deeper understanding of the issue of the right to self-determination, the peace process is in motion.

Indeed, militarist policies are sloppy measures to confront rebels. Militarization, including the Balikatan, has not substantially helped address peace and order. In fact, this may rekindle displacements and open artillery exchange in civilian areas similar to the 2000 all-out war policy of the Estrada administration. However, some developments can be gleaned as positive signs for attaining peace in Mindanao.

What are such signs?

- The Government (GRP) acknowledges it made a mistake in the 2000 all out war by providing for reparations and rehabilitation as contained in recent agreements with the MILF.

- The GRP has trusted the MILF to lead in such mentioned "confidence-building measures" albeit the intervention of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao as the implementing and accounting body.

- The GRP realizes that tagging "revolutionary movements" as terrorists is not helpful. The President has repeatedly clarified the difference between the MILF and other terrorist groups.

- Critics of the agreements, mostly rightists in Congress, warn of giving MILF control of development funds that may be used instead for their military upkeep. The hullabaloo (as Fr. Jun Mercado puts it) is lacking in historical context. On June 21, 2001, the GRP-MILF signed the Tripoli Agreement on IMPLEMENTING guidelines on the Humanitarian, Rehabilitation, and Development Aspects on Peace of 2001. Like the GRP-MNLF agreements on the SPCPD and ARMM, such transactions are in recognition of the peace process. By legal implication, the said GRP-MILF agreement binds the contracting parties. And if one party violates the terms of an agreement, then such is to be accorded legal sanctions. At the moment, all the uproar on the return of MILF camps is speculative.

- Dubbing it an "early exercise in self-determination," lawyer Soliman Santos sees the recent "special" agreements in accordance with local commitments to international law with respect to humanitarian intervention in internal armed conflict. The Philippines, he says, has ratified a number of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Instruments" but it has not passed corresponding national legislation.

"It is to the credit of the negotiators of both sides of the recent GRP-MILF agreements that they have availed of the tools of international law, particularly IHL to address the humanitarian problems of evacuees and communities in conflict-affected areas," Santos said in the article "The Recent MILF Agreements, Belligerency Status, International Law and the Philippine Constitution."

- There only seems to be wariness over the lack of transparency in coming up with the agreements. Civil society groups such as the Mindanao Tri-People Caucus reminded the President that the said agreements must have the "general support of the community, in particular the Mindanaons, for it to be effective and lasting.

- The agreements are not clear and substantial as to political structures that would confront the self-determination issue. But the test for self-governance has to start somewhere and need to be taken in steps. Rehabilitation and joint operations with government against criminal elements is a small but a substantial start The MILF has drawn lessons from the Moro National Liberation Front compromising an "armless" autonomy in the past. The MILF will want to prove it can build communities on its own not really for government’s satisfaction but for the people who they ultimately represent. |K|