‘BOL a major step towards peace’
A Nobel Peace Prize for President Rodrigo Duterte? That’s a possibility, said a geo-political expert.
After signing the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) in just the second year of his term which drew praises from both the United Nations and the European Union, Mr. Duterte should now be considered for the award which will be given in October, Adam Garrie, director at online think tank Eurasiafuture, said.
“By working to end a centuries-long protracted and manifold conflict through a combination of legal intensity, cultural compassion and human outreach towards the Moros, Duterte has taken a major step towards doing something that the Spanish and American imperialists, Japanese occupiers and previous Filipino leaders could not do: bring peace to the Bangsamoro region and the Moro people,” he added.
Mr. Duterte was earlier nominated for the 2017 Confucius Peace prize which is China’s equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize. The award was eventually won by Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Awarded by a private company, the Hong Kong-based Confucius awards aim to promote “world peace from an Eastern perspective.”
Garrie noted “in many respects, the long standing Moro conflict” in Mindanao has raged for far longer than the internal conflict in Myanmar, the Kashmir conflict and the Israel-Palestine conflict which are often pointed to as struggles which all began in the late 1940s and continue to rage to this day.
“Prior to the late 19th century, Moro warriors had led a 400 year fight against Spanish domination while also proving a formidable resistance force against the Japanese occupation,” he said.
He noted even after the Philippines gained formal independence in 1946, Moros continued to wage war against ‘Imperial Manila’ in a fight that asymmetrically grew throughout the latter half of the 20th century and into the 21st century.
“In this sense, one can point to the Moro’s rebelling against various overlords as the longest running conflict in the world today,” he added.
“The conflict, however, appears to be on the verge of ending due to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivering the highly anticipated Bangsamoro Organic Law,” Garrie said.
The BOL should have been signed during Mr. Duterte’s State of The Nation Address (SoNA) last 23 July if not for a leadership struggle that led to Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo taking over the post as Speaker. Mr. Duterte signed the law last Friday based on copies of the BOL released by Malacañang.
Duterte now plans to meet with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Vice Chair for Political Affairs Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF chairman Murad Ebrahim and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chair Nur Misuari to finalize the implementation of the new law.
“Duterte’s engagement with MILF and MNFL has also helped to create a united front among Moros against extremist factions, including those aligned with Daesh [Islamic State] who in 2017 laid siege to the city of Marawi,” he said.
Garrie said in securing trust among ordinary Moros and their leaders, Duterte has managed to convince major Moro groups to embrace the peace process by staking his presidency on his ability to bring peace to the Bangsamoro regions, “while also convincing moderate Moro leaders to aid the Philippine armed forces in a mutual battle against extremist groups which have infiltrated Moro regions,” he added.
Dream of peace attainable
Members or supporters of the MILF also gathered yesterday to discuss the BOL with one expressing hope it would make their “dream of peace” a reality.
MILF members and supporters and local residents from various parts of Mindanao, including women in headscarves and fighters carrying arms, trooped to the main MILF camp in Sultan Kudarat for a consultation.