Wednesday, February 4, 2015

There is still hope for the peace process

Many think that the Mamasapano incident is the one that finally nailed the coffin of peace in Mindanao. I sincerely doubt it.

For one, this incident, if handled properly, would just be one of those snags that are expected not to affect the final outcome of the process. In the long history of peace initiatives in Mindanao, there were at least a dozen such incidents, and of encounters between the military and the rebels and also resulted to loss of lives and the lost of trust between government and its counterparts in the rebel side.

What is different about this incident though is the "side story"--which is, the apparent failure if you may, of the military and civilian leadership.

Notice that the initial talk was against the MILF. Now, the talk has shifted--it is now about command and command responsibility.

From a very simple case of a clash turned bloody and inhumane to an issue which huge amounts of lives would have been avoided had command and control have been exercised.

If you analyse this issue very carefully, this is all about a military operation gone wrong. Yes, there were operational lapses and yes, help was absent when it happened. What is now being discussed is not anymore about the lack or absence of coordination between government and MILF forces but about why augmentation forces weren't able to reach the conflict site earlier than expected.

We forgot to acknowledge the very fact that these deaths could have been prevented had the MILF acknowledged the fact that these SAF forces are friendlies instead of enemies.

I do not buy the alibi that those deaths were unfortunate consequences of the lack of coordination. It was the lack of seriousness and of commitment to the peace process by the MILF, that is.   Had the MILF acknowledged that those troops which they were engaging were "friendly forces." an hour or two were enough to just do that.

Now, institutions of authority are battling themselves out, trying to harden their individual positions, while there is no one going forward to mediate contending forces.