In this uncertain times, self-less leaders are needed; those who think and act for the sake of the common good and higher interests of their people. They are who exhibit great wisdom and ability in the directing the affairs, say of the Bangsamoro people. They are what we must refer to as statesmen.
But statesmen are hard to find these days, the Bangsamoro people not excluded. But as revolutionaries, whom we call leaders of the MILF and MNLF, they are very many. They spent their lives in the service of their people and the cause they are fighting for.
Statesmen and revolutionaries, the real ones, are similar in at least one respect. They both work for the interest of the people – and not for themselves. They discriminate what is good for themselves and what is good for everybody --- and they choose the latter even if it is painful.
At present, a better deal in the form of a better law is under discussion by the 21-member Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC). Its membership draws from various sections of the people in the proposed Bangsamoro political entity. Except for the faction headed by Nur Misuari, the MNLF is represented by three of its leaders, who are all capable and articulate.
Time is too short for the BTC to be able to submit the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to Congress through the Office of the President. The BTC just held its first session last March 6-7. It has yet to decide on its internal rules, assignment of committees, and the working draft of the BBL. On top of these, the BTC has yet to secure the release of its funding. The first session was only funded by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
We are not faulting anyone for the delay. But a reality check must be ensured. To expect the BTC to work and accomplish something beyond its capacity is like forcing a child to do a man’s work.
Our view is that the BTC had accepted the challenge but it also expects all the help needed especially from government. It also expects that no one from among its membership will rock the boat and becomes obstructionist.
The call for statesmanship is more directed to the members of the BTC. Every member thereof is capable or leader in his or her right; and many had served government on various capacities. All in all, there are six lawyers, five from government and one from the MILF. Seven of the 11 commissioners from the MILF are part of its central leadership. Of course, they never worked in government, except those who served in the previous BTC, and most of them have not finished college or acquired degrees. But surely they know what they want, and they are clearly guided. They can also deal with everybody on the basis of parity of esteem.
Success in crafting and passing a good BBL will be reaped by the Bangsamoro people especially the generations yet to come. The rest of the populations will also benefit therefrom, because there will be peace in our midst.
Failure, on the other hand, has direct bearing on the GPH-MILF peace process especially on the issue of decommissioning of MILF weapons and combatants. Thirty per cent of the MILF weapons and combatants will be decommissioned after the ratification of the BBL. The rest will be decommissioned later, subject to arrangements agreed by the parties, which are contained in the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
We are not saying there will be war in Mindanao. Nobody wants war. What we are saying is that missing the MILF as partner of government by passing the BBL will be a great opportunity to miss. For 19 years since 1997, the MILF has proved to be a real partner in peace. Most of the wars or fighting were initiated by government.