Misuari’s Kiss of Death PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 15 March 2016 14:47

Southerner

Rey-Luis Banagudos

Is this the double kiss of death for Rodrigo Duterte’s presidential bid and Senator Bongbong Marcos’ vice-presidential run? This week, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari publicly endorsed both’s respective candidacy.

Misuari’s support for Duterte and Marcos, both hounded by rightist human rights issues, is not a left-handed endorsement just because he himself is a fugitive from law facing rebellion charges arising from his bloody, quixotic adventure in Zamboanga City in 2013. The political and human cost of his misdeed has put Misuari in the wrong side of the Bangsamoro history.  By endorsing Duterte and Marcos, who equally share a more or less perverse understanding of Philippine politics and governance, Misuari drags his two golden calves into the howling wilderness of his utopian worldview.   Men who liked to play God understood the unforgiving truth too late.

Truth often begins from an unassailable premise – Misuari rightly says that among the five leading presidential candidates, it is only Duterte who has articulated a realistic support for the Mindanao or Bangsamoro peace process. As for Marcos, Misuari credits his dictator father for the Tripoli Agreement, yet conveniently overlooks that the old Marcos’ arbitrary implementation of the same agreement drove the peace process into the complicated quicksand in which it finds itself today. And, the young Senator Marcos has further deepened this quicksand by emasculating the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in the Senate. Traditional politics like war can be an extension of diplomacy.

This is why Duterte’s presidential rivals have been less direct and committal about the BBL and Mindanao peace process, since the national body politic is ambivalent, to the point of being hostile, towards this otherwise priority election issue. Remember the Mamasapano! Who among Mar Roxas, Grace, Poe, Jojo Binay or Miriam Santiago would dare cast the die for BBL to end politically dead a la Julius Caesar in the present crush for the presidential/imperial crown?

For now as far as the Mindanao issue is concerned, nobody can out the finger on any of them. Roxas as the anointed of President Aquino, who has taken the peace process to heights where angels (and political candidates) fear to tread, is likeliest to pursue the roadmap of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) of his benefactor; yet he has a checkered track record because of his past opposition to the 2008 MOA-AD and questions about his handling of the Zamboanga Siege crisis. Grace Poe has so far parroted the conventional line of investing more development resources in Mindanao as solution to the Moro insurgency, betraying a lack of appreciation of the historical roots of the conflict. Binay tries to ingratiate himself to voters by saying he will pursue the Sabah claim, a territory not even alluded in the Tripoli Agreement – he is just way off, really. As for Senator Santiago, no worries. By and large, the bet should be on the younger set of presidential and vice-presidential candidates who harbor a non-traditional, chivalrous view of how nation-building should proceed.

In this light, the next President should perhaps make his Vice-President as his chief peace manager, without necessarily replacing the present team whose work is outstanding enough to sustain the process despite the Mamasapano and BBL setbacks. Congress’ failure to enact the BBL could have already triggered a worse, more violent fallout has the CAB been less sounder than as it is. For the meantime though, as far as the presidential and vice-presidential candidates are concerned the BBL is best and safely left as a footnote of election issues.

This does not mean that the Mindanao peace process has ceased to be a major national issue.  As the unfloding security situation in Mindanao shows, it will be the most pressing concern of the next President and Congress. (Rey-Luis Banagudos)