I see the Palace’s move of abolishing the peace panel as an attempt or strategy to recover its lost strength, following the mess it made with regard to the aborted Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), plagued with loopholes, and lacked consultation with various stakeholders. After all, there is no way that the peace panel can credibly and effectively negotiate with the MILF.
By scrapping the peace panel, Malacanang is admitting that the peace panel has bungled with the peace process, and that this scheme for peace has fundamental problems.
With no light at the end of the tunnel as far as the conflict in Mindanao is concerned, what is highly important now is for the palace to create a new panel, composed of more effective and credible people. Since the government has underscored its desire to continue the peace process, it should act fast to assure the public that a new system is being formulated in order to maintain sobriety. At least, the government is on the right track with its call for demobilization, disarmament and rehabilitation. I only wonder if this is realistic, given the perceived lack of sincerity the MILF and other rebel groups have shown throughout the decades.
The new panel should be expanded to include the presence of other stakeholders, and should include lawmakers to ensure that future agreements would be consistent with the constitution. One clear lesson that the country painfully learns from the bungled MOA-AD is the lack of participation from lawmakers.
I really do not think that Hermogenes Esperon has the credibility to continue working as adviser to the peace process. He should have been axed as well. Really now, who can blame anyone for alleging Esperon’s stay as proof of PGMA’s payback for its most loyal generals?
Meanwhile, the MILF will still need to prove its sincerity in pursuing the peace process, and that is by surrendering Commanders Kato and Bravo.
All things considered, this cannot be said enough: the government should act swiftly to create a new panel. Without this mechanism, we realize that we are just one step away from an all out war. All it takes now from this scenario happening is one wrong move from either sides.