by.the.way.1


A landmark accord to enrich and restore peace in perennially-troubled Mindanao has been officially forged between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the largest Muslim insurgent group in the region.

To the credit of President Benigno Aquino III, his administration never let up in its efforts to seal the deal before he left office in 2016.

The deal is probably Aquino’s singular achievement thus far.

The MILF finally acquiesced after being assured of approval of an enlarged and powerful autonomous region by the Philippine Congress, which is controlled by Aquino’s partymates.

The rebels might have thought they were being outfought and their ranks decimated by government forces.

Question: Will other Muslim renegades, to name the extremist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) among them, follow suit?

We mean, will the ASG disarm as the 11,000-strong MILF fighters promised they would do under the new autonomous region renamed Bangsamoro?

A bit of history: Informal talks for a peace pact started in Tripoli, Libya in 1975 between an envoy of former President Ferdinand Marcos and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

In 1976, the agreement was formally signed and, in 1977, Marcos created an autonomous provisional government for Southern Mindanao, but the MNLF refused to join it.

When Corazon Aquino became president in 1986, she flew to Mindanao and signed a ceasefire agreement with Misuari.

In 1989, a provisional autonomous entity was created composed of four Mindanao provinces.

Again, the MNLF refused to join it, saying it was in violation of the Tripoli agreement.

In September 1996, ex-President Fidel Ramos and Misuari finally signed an agreement ending at that time, a 26-year-old Muslim rebellion.

During his watch, deposed President Joseph Estrada waged an all-out war against the insurgents.

“You have to go to war to win the peace,” he said.

He added he would have succeeded had he not been unseated on allegations of corruption.

All these agreements, however, did not actually achieve their purpose.

The rebels never gave up their arms.

The so-called Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao never worked.

Will the soon-to-be created Bangsamoro under Aquino’s handiwork succeed?

If the past is a prologue, everybody is holding their breath.

But as the Plastic Ono Band sang, “Give Peace a Chance.”

The classic song was written in 1969 by the legendary John Lennon.

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