ROUGH CUTS|The challenge to Duterte’s peace makers  

UNDER a Donald Trump administration in ther United States the likelihood is that the Duterte-led Philippines will be having a rapprochement with that country. But it may not beneficial to the Filipinos at the same time.

The two seem to have some characteristics in common as Duterte himself admitted. One of these is their passion for women and apparently their attractiveness to the opposite sex. They are “outsiders” who suddenly barged into the national political scene under a “need for change” environment.

There are things that Duterte does not want the United States to do in the Philippines and Trump does not want either. So their intentions meet there. And surely they will come into terms on those.

Unfortunately however, Trump wants US businesses relocating their plants and operations in other countries either moved back to his country or its products levied high tariff when these enter the US. So if the newly elected US President will have his way US firms’ foreign operations would be very costly for its owners.

So, the Philippines will now find legitimacy in its pivot to other economic giants like China, Japan and even Russia for new investors and market. And while this can be viewed as good and in accordance with the direction of President Duterte, it has to be admitted that it will take some time to put the expected new investments in place. Thus, a longer interregnum in huge economic activities could take place and cause dislocations of workers in American-owned businesses that the Trump administration could pressure to pull out and move back operations in the US.

But of course such a situation should not be feared by Filipinos to be beyond solution. We have already the experience in dealing with that. All our political and economic leaders have to do is go back to the lessons brought upon us by the departure of the US military bases in the country.

Subic and Clark are the living showcases of the Philippine resiliency. So, should we be afraid of the Virginia wolf; of the Donald?

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Indeed the Moro problem in Mindanao is one hardest nut to crack.

As we had been harping in our previous treatises unless and until the Moro leaders decide to join hands in confronting their own problems and deal with government as a single entity the long-desired solution to the Mindanaso conflict is unlikely to come in this generation.

In the past few weeks many of us have witnessed some noticeable successes in the Duterte administration’s efforts to secure peace in Mindanao. And this is by engaging the leaders of the two major factions of the secessionist groups. The government’s peace makers were able to bring Moro National Liberation Front’s (MNLF’s) Nur Misuari  and Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF’s) Al Had Murad to Malacanang possibly for further “exploratory” talks for them to come together and have a common ground.

It is only but natural that those who were aware of the separate meetings by the President with the two Moro rebel leaders in Malacanang would be entertaining high optimism on the possible outcome of latest development.

 But what happened almost immediately after the meeting with Nur was indication enough of the futility of efforts to bring the two factions together.

 In an interview with a leading television news channel barely hours after Misuari’s meeting with the President he started haranguing against his rivals in the MILF. He called the leaders of the latter faction as “traitors” who derailed the attainment of the cause of the secessionist movement. Misuari even alleged that some Malaysian political leaders are behind the kidnappings in the Sulu-Basilan areas. By implication his charges could clearly be construed as an indirect reference to the MILF as also involved in the kidnapping for ransom.

Why, because it is no secret that the MILF is strongly assisted materially, and perhaps financially, by Malaysia and is dependent in that country for moral support in the negotiation processes.

And worst, according to the MNLF supremo, he could not work with any of the MILF leaders.

Now, this is definitely a gargantuan challenge to President Duterte and his peace negotiators to bring the two leaderships in one negotiating table, have them agree to stand on one common ground so they could talk of solving not just the Moro porblem in Mindanao but the more contentious issues that seem to divide the Muslims themselves.

Our publisher-on-leave Secretary of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Peace Process Jesus Dureza’s hands are without doubt already full to the brim. But we know he is ready for this.

So let us keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.

Posted in Opinion