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A problematic peace plan: OPAPP chief should be sacked, GPH peace talks framework with NDFP and MILF should be reviewed

Amidst the escalation of the armed conflict with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and to a certain extent, with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the government should sack OPAPP head Teresita “Ging” Deles and review its peace talks plan and framework.

 

It  now seems that the government peace panels under OPAPP have wasted an opportunity to sign a peace agreement and have sabotaged the peace process with the NDFP and MILF by employing a flawed framework  among others, by arrogantly refusing to honor previous agreements and agreed upon processess, and utilizing the peace processes as a military psy-war arm.

 

In his column, former Rep. Satur Ocampo exposes that in the Internal Peace and Security Plan (ISPS) of the Aquino government shows that military counterinsurgency measures may in fact be the preferred mode in the governments peace plan.

 

He noted that despite OPAPP’s mandate to facilitate talks, 58% of the proposed OPAPP budget is placed under PAMANA or Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan program, a lump-sum, counter-insurgency dole out not different from the controversial Conditional Cash Transfer Funds.

 

Rep. Mong Palatino questioned this in the OPAPP budget congress hearing. Palatino said that OPAPP’s plan to give subsidies and donations  to priority barangays worth P300,000 each is questionable and has no clear set guidelines and criteria. According to him the “CCT copycat” may be “dangerously used for something antithetical to peacebuilding.”

 

The AFP has also been given a hand in the implementation of the PAMANA program  which essentially places it under the framework of military operations and psy-war, masquerading as “peace” efforts.

 

The MILF has also recently criticized the implementation of PAMANA program in Mindanao, saying this is a plain and simple counter-insurgency scheme and proof that “government is not serious in the negotiation.”

 

Meanwhile, Deles has been tagged in a Senate investigation for funds misuse. Ansari Alonto, an OPAPP consultant said he and Deles campaigned for Arroyo in 2004. Alonto said Deles gave him “miscellaneous funds” for the campaign which included the recruitment of actor Robin Padilla.

 

Deles has also been accused of recycling false negotiations with GPH-funded armies like Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLS) and RPA-ABB.

 

Keeping Deles in office despite public clamor for her resignation has prompted many groups to question the Aquino government’s sincerity in talking peace.

 

The NDFP, in a recent statement said that the Aquino government is “merely pretending” that it is for “peace negotiations.” The NDFP said that Deles has moved to “invalidate all previous agreements .. by qualifying them to death or outrightly shoving them aside with utter arrogance.”

 

The NDFP believes that keeping Deles despite the public clamor for her to be removed is clear proof that Aquino has instructed her to sabotage the talks from the beginning.

 

Dr. Carol Araullo also explains how both the NDFP and MILF have “bent backwards considerably to ‘meet the government halfway’ so to speak.” She notes that the government rejects these proposals and appears poised to “scuttle the negotiations, despite spokespersons paying lip service to continue with the talks.”

 

“The conclusion that emerges is that the GPH is not inclined to truly address the roots of the armed conflict through a negotiated settlement. What it is really doing is to implement token development and social services programs to draw away the mass or support base of the MILF and NDFP and intensify military operations to downgrade their military capability until they are compelled to accept a negotiated solution dictated by the GPH.

 

It is an old, worn-out scheme that is bound to fail again.”

 

The problematic peace talks framework being pushed by the government panel has been a failure and a cause of frustration and disappointment not only for the warring sides but for the Filipino public.

 

Without a sincere plan to genuinely address the roots of the armed conflict in order to attain a just and lasting peace, President Noynoy Aquino’s call for peace amidst the intensified armed conflict is empty, if not hypocritical and untruthful. It cannot claim to be for peace when its peace plan has “psy-war” written all over it, smacks of insincerity and is designed to fail and thus incite further conflict.

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