Council need to focus on Mindanao conflict | Inquirer Opinion

Council need to focus on Mindanao conflict

09:53 PM November 16, 2011

This refers to Ramon Farolan’s column titled “A failed state.”

(Inquirer, 10/24/11)

No doubt about it, the Oct. 18 ambush and massacre of our soldiers at Al-Barka, Basilan, was a wake-up call for all Filipinos, who seem to be paralyzed or divided when facing a critical problem or situation. “Rejection of all-out war divides senators” (Inquirer, 10/24/11) even as, P-Noy calls for “All-out justice for 19 dead soldiers.” (Inquirer, 10/25/11)


On the other hand, we can now say that the “ultimate sacrifice” made by our slain soldiers has not been made in vain, for we are now compelled to rethink our policies regarding the Mindanao problem. (“Escudero slams Deles over MILF safe havens,” Inquirer, 10/28/11)


Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s warning that the nation risked “flirting with the status of a failed state” (Inquirer, 10/26/11) makes sense and should in fact make us sit up and do some serious thinking.  For four decades now, the Mindanao problem has been our country’s scourge. Once and for all, we should find the appropriate solution to it.

Two heads, it is said, is better than one. So, why not create and organize now a new Council of State presided by no less than P-Noy himself. The council should meet ASAP—as time is of the essence, considering that thousands of civilians have been displaced, their lives in total disarray.

Fortunately for us, we have now senators who come from the military or the police: Gregorio Honasan, Panfilo Lacson and Antonio Trillanes whose experience, expertise and insights can be valuable in a Council of State. Also, we have brilliant legal minds in the Senate: Juan Ponce Enrile, Edgardo Angara, Franklin Drilon and, of course, Santiago; Koko Pimentel who comes from Mindanao and has fresh and commonsensical views on the matter. And we still have around three former presidents, Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whose experience and insights in dealing with the Mindanao problem can certainly be put to use.

We can also invite civil society representatives and the Muslim religious sector to help formulate clear and unified policies in dealing with the Mindanao problem from a short-term and long-term perspective, with priority on near-term policy actions. The secretaries of justice, national defense and local government, for their part, can propose unified policy actions involving law enforcement which should be implemented at once on ground zero.

A separate fact-finding committee partly composed of representatives from Muslim Mindanao can also be created in the House of Representatives for some policy recommendations.

Meanwhile, since Human Rights Chair Etta Rosales herself says that there were apparent violations of the ceasefire and Tripoli agreements, including the International Humanitarian Law, the Commission on Human Rights must now initiate fact-finding actions that will be the basis for enforcing the law.


The bottom line or buzzword is “action agad,” action that is rational, sober, responsive and effective, not knee-jerk.


retired judge,

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TAGS: Al-Barka, Basilan, Mindanao conflict, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago

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