Galvez deserves credit

Moros are once again exuding hope that their dream to be at par with their brother non-Muslim majority in various aspects in society will be realized.

September 20, 2022

What Moros have long wished for happened. Thanks to the relentless and unwavering works of government peace adviser Secretary Carlito Valdez Jr. Moro leaders have buried the proverbial hatchet. It was a historic feat gadflies and naysayers say will not happen.

Factionalism has long been a hindrance to peace and development in Morolandia. It stymied the march toward achieving them, especially peace, which has long eluded the region like the Holy Grail. Many national leaders of note attempted to unite the factionalized leaders of the Moro liberation fronts — but failed.

Disunity has almost become endemic among leaders of the fronts. Moros are hard to unite. Anthropologists attribute this mainly to tribal affiliation. Each tribe thought royalty and maharlika blood runs in their veins. Thus, sprouted the various sultanates in Lanao, Maguindanao and Sulu from which the major tribes came from. But this is best demonstrated in the early stages of the independent or “merdeka” struggle, which morphed into autonomy.

The rebel fronts were defined along tribal identity. It started with the Moro National Liberation Front, the mother of all the fronts, which was organized and headed by the Maas Nur Misuari, a Tausug, which negotiated a peace deal with then president Fidel Ramos in 1996. From there, a breakaway group was formed, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front headed by deceased Hashim Salamat, a Maguindanaoan. Along the way, and not to be left out, the Maranaws formed the MNLF-Reformist group headed by deceased Dimas Pundato, inspired by exiled revolutionary leader Sultan Rashid Lucman. And recently, the MNLF was further fractured with the organization of another MNLF group headed by Muslimin Sema and deceased former Congressman Yusop Jikiri. With the deep cleavage, nobody thought that these fractious groups will someday unite. One claims a right of entitlement over the others. Until Secretary Galvez started negotiating their unification, which saw fruition these past days.

From a distance, the impression one gets of the retired Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is one who is unassuming, humble and taciturn. A military man of the old school — a gentleman. As a hyphenate, he wore two hats in the past administration, as peace adviser and Covid-19 vaccine czar. When he was designated by then president Duterte as the latter, many raised their eyebrows:

How can this military man tackle a job, which is fundamentally a medical and health concern? Should not a doctor or health practitioner helm the task force? But he has proven that he is a match to the herculean job, and the results are there for everyone to see. The fact that he held his present position as secretary of the Office of Peace, Reconciliation and Unity in both the past and the present administration is a testimony of his effectiveness as a good administrator and peace agent. If there is anything which could account for the recent unification of the former rebel forces, it is through his tact and diplomacy. His back door negotiation away from the probing eyes of media and public paid off.

The picture of the former rebel leaders — Misuari, Ebrahim and Sema embracing each other, witnessed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. — sends a thousand words, a poignant message of hope for the Bangsamoro and the country, that now the problem of peace and progress in the region will be addressed truly by government without being bothered by groups splintered by diverse agenda. Both the government and leaders of the fronts will have no one to blame should they fail in their mandate to bring peace and progress in the region. All hands on deck to achieve them.

The Moros are once again exuding hope that their dream to be at par with their brother non-Muslim majority in various aspects in society will be realized. The present administration has finally sent a signal that it will be supportive of the aspirations of the Bangsamoro for a proper place in the sun.

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