WILL PHILIPPINE INSURGENCIES END SOON?
Erle Frayne D. Argonza
Magandang hapon! Good afternoon!
It is still poll day as of this writing, as the day’s polling time has been extended till 7 p.m. Poll-related incidence had accordingly dropped by 200% since 2004, an encouraging development amidst a backdrop of systemic violence.
What I’d reflect about this time is the insurgency question: whether the country’s decades-old insurgencies will cease after the installation of a new national leadership. The communist and Bangsamoro insurgents have been conducting peace talks with the Philippine state for a long time now, and there’s no question that insurgencies’ end is in the wish list of diverse stakeholders.
In a society where trust has been torn asunder by the prevalence of polarized mind frames for centuries now, it is understandable that insurgencies will persist for some time. Building mutual trust and confidence is therefore a sine qua non to the end of insurgencies.
Economistic apperceptions of insurgencies, such as to account them solely to high poverty incidence, would hardly hold water. Canada, for instance, is a prosperous country with good governance in place, yet a part of it (Quebec) almost bolted away from the Canadian state.
Addressing poverty, which is now at 33-35% incidence rate, is surely a must, added to food security. There is no denying that this has been on the agenda of peace talks, aside from the options for the livelihood of combatant insurgents when they go back to the mainstream in the case of a political settlement.
What we can see from the economistic discourse is that addressing poverty and social injustices would be good approaches to re-building trust and confidence. During the first two (2) years of the new political dispensation, there has to be a trickling down of incomes to enable poverty reduction, which should convince the insurgents of the sincerity and competence of the leadership in handling the socio-economic malaise of our society.
Furthermore, there has to be relentless efforts made by civil society, church, state, and philanthropic groups to build a culture of tolerance and peace. Peace talks shouldn’t be left to government and insurgents alone, in other words, but should involve the broadest sector of society.
The building of mutual trust, confidence, and contextual building of peace and tolerance, will redound to constructing greater civility and cooperation. A ‘dialogue of civilizations’ is a broad manifestation of a culture of peace and tolerance permeating the private sphere, which is a cherished human condition by the peoples of the world.
Insurgents are incidentally growing old, and are getting weary of the war itself. They want peace, and this is a boon to the peace talks. In our day-to-day conduct of affairs as a people, we should continue to build trust in the private spaces of our lives. This, we hope, would encourage insurgents to forge new social arrangements with us on a people-to-people basis, a step that would bring us closer to a high-trust environment.
We must also continue to exert pressure on the Phiippine state and insurgents to continue to dialogue and put a time limit to the peace talks. Peace talks have already dragged on for decades, so maybe it would prove fruitful to put a time cap on the talks. We can use organizational instruments that we have, such as professional, crafts, and civil society groups.
Let us hope that we don’t have a hawkish regime forthcoming. A regime of hawks would be anachronistic to the overall trend today of higher expectations for peace and a sustained dialogue between state and insurgents.
We are all running against time today, even as we citizens of an war-torn country are tired and weary of the wars. New weapons of mass destruction, such as the Tesla Earthquake Machine or TEM, are moving out of assembly lines, and sooner or later they would be traded via organized crime groups to hot-headed insurgent and jihadist groups locally.
A wish indeed, let us hope that the two (2) insurgencies will be settled finally, with the former rebels integrated into the mainstream to participate in parliamentary politics and civil society engagements. This will give us breathing spaces we need to concur more social cooperation and economic amelioration in the short run.
With the large insurgencies gone, the police & military forces can then focus their efforts on clamping down jihadist movements that we perceive as illegitimate or criminal groups. In no way should government negotiate with groups that possess warped sense of community and are unwilling to recognize the full import of dialogue and tolerance.
[Philippines, 10 May 2010.]