MANILA, FEBRUARY 3, 2014 (PHILSTAR) FIRST PERSON By Alex Magno - The last annex to the peace accord with the MILF was signed in Kuala Lumpur last week. That should pave the way for sealing a final accord in the next few weeks.

That imminent event, however, did not produce dancing in the streets of Manila over the weekend. Media coverage of what should be an historic occasion has been sparse. Commentary on it is guarded. Ordinary citizens do not seem expectant.

The lukewarm response to the probable political settlement may be due to what happened in 2008.

After a decade of talks, the two sides agreed on a Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD). That agreement was taken to court. The Supreme Court ruled, by a margin of one, to declare the agreement unconstitutional.

We are not sure how different today’s draft agreement is from the document trashed by the Supreme Court in 2008.

We know it contains numerous contentious points, including provisions on wealth sharing between the envisioned Bangsamoro Juridical Entity and the national state. It is almost certain that whatever document is signed, with appropriate ceremony, sometime in the next few weeks will become the subject of a constitutional challenge.

Questions on constitutionality are not the only hindrances to the goal of achieving an effective political settlement that will finally bring peace to Muslim Mindanao after decades of bloody conflict.

The ability of the MILF leadership to maintain its hold over a historically fractious movement is uncertain.

Already, a major faction broke off from the movement and renamed itself the Bangsa Moro Freedom Fighters. They could potentially gain more adherents if the armed units are demobilized and disarmed — and then break the peace now being forged.

Even if that happens, however, government will be dealing with a much smaller insurgent force. That should mark some progress.

The role of the MNLF in this new configuration remains uncertain.

The old, primarily Tausug-led movement complained it was excluded from the current peace process.

In a rather desperate attempt to reestablish its political presence, the MNLF deployed armed units to Zamboanga City.

That produced a calamity for the city after amateurs playing generals opted for urban warfare.

The Zamboanga incident nevertheless decimated what was left of the MNLF’s armed strength. It undermined the movement’s standing in the eyes of the powerful OIC. This movement could eventually lose the virtual OIC franchise that is the source of its international influence.

Nur Misuari’s ill-fated Zamboanga adventure might have sealed his own political fate.

The charismatic but mercurial leader has now reduced himself to irrelevance. Nevertheless, some more effort might have to be exerted to properly include the Tausugs in the current process of reestablishing a truly inclusive framework for peace.

We all want peace to be achieved in Muslim Mindanao. All the fighting that happened over the past several decades warped history in this part of the country. It deepened underdevelopment for the region, keeping the Muslim communities the poorest among Filipinos.

War produced tragedies too many to count. Conflict deepened misery and deepening misery created more excuses for violence. It is a vicious cycle no one wants perpetuated. After decades of war, no side was prepared to completely defeat the other. To do so will only create further complications.

Then there is that inconvenient matter about preserving the integrity of our nationhood.

There was an outcry when the MILF began using the term “substate” to describe the entity that emerges out of this process. There is no such thing as a “substate.” It is just a deceptive term substituted for secession.

Should the terms of the political settlement now being forged appear to constitute secession, Filipino nationalists will reject the entire project.


Chino Gutierrez, now 23, is a rare Filipino talent. He is a certified violin virtuoso.

At the age of 7, he began playing the violin under the tutelage of Alfonso “Coke” Bolipata. Before he even reached his teens, often accompanied by accomplished pianist Corazon Pineda Kabayao, Chino collected an array of prizes for his talent.

The young Filipino virtuoso was eventually accepted into the prestigious Munich State Academy of Music and Theater. His family’s modest means, however, made continuation of his studies in Munich uncertain. To help finance the education of this remarkable talent, friends and admirers are organizing concerts to showcase this young artist.

In a previous concert last November, an appreciative audience honored Chino with three standing ovations. The young artist will return onstage on Saturday, Feb. 8 at the Insular Life Theater. The performance begins at 8 p.m. The repertoire includes immortal pieces by Ysaye, Franck, Stravinsky, Dvorak, Wienawski and Ravel. In a special number, Chino will render Jose Rizal’s composition “La Deportacion” as transcribed for violin by Maestro Gilopez Kabayao.

“La Deportacion” is an especially haunting piece, conveying the pathos of the national hero’s exile in Dapitan. Likewise memorable is Chino’s stirring rendition of “Bayan Ko” as arranged by the late maestro Redentor Romero.

My readers know I do not usually endorse concerts in this space. This, however, is a truly exceptional case. Chino is a world-class artist. Patronizing his concerts will not only make us proud of one of our own. It will also go a long way in helping finance Chino’s education so that this diamond of a musician can be polished into a magnificent gem.

For ticket inquiries, please call: (02) 2181864/ 0915-1892998 and 0917-8177261. Be there and support our young virtuoso. It will be a memorable evening in the company of a true genius.



Uploaded on Apr 14, 2010 YOU TUBE
Joaquin Maria "Chino" Gutierrez, violin
Mary Anne Espina, piano
Vieuxtemps - Concerto No. 5 in a minor for violin and piano, Op. 37 II. Adagio III. Allegro con fuoco
February 6, 2010, Philamlife Auditorium Manila, Philippines
Presented by the Philippine Association for the Gifted
Category Music License Standard YouTube License

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