After decades of struggle in the southernmost Philippine island group, there is a promising chance for peace in Muslim Mindanao. One essential component for enhancing the humanitarian and socio-economic situation of the conflict-affected population in Southern Philippines is open access to political decision-making for everybody. This is crucial in order to cope with the Bangsamoro aspiration for true self-determination but it requires a bottom-up empowerment of citizens involving themselves in membership-based political parties and movements.
Last Tuesday, the Friends of Peace (FoP) -- led by Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Mindanao -- met with House of Representatives Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III. Both meetings were sought by the Cardinal and the FoP to discuss concerns on securing the gains of the peace process with the Moro liberation fronts (both MNLF and the MILF) as President Rodrigo R. Duterte moves to transform the present unitary system of governance to federalism. President Duterte has said that amending the Constitution to usher in federalism is the solution to ensure genuine autonomy and peace for the South.
I believe that Secretary Dureza, the dynamic Presidential Adviser on the Peace processes, and his colleagues had hoped to find clement weather when they arrived in Rome to attend the Third Round of talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front (NDF) at the end of January. But they surely must have been disappointed: the Eternal City was experiencing an unusual cold spell which probably made him miss the nice warm beaches of Mindanao where he comes from.
This is the year-end-special presentation of Pro PolitiCS for Peace for the year 2016, which recounts the one full year series of major activities, events, and undertakings of the project. This comprises the highlights of all engagements that were organized and facilitated around the much- talked-about and compelling topics such as: peace, Bangsamoro, ARMM politics, autonomy, federalism, and the Mindanao peace process.
There are three main options espoused by Muslim leaders and intellectuals in response to the Bangsamoro people’s quest for self-determination: autonomy, federalism, and independence.