‘Education is the lasting solution to Mindanao war’
ILIGAN CITY—A negotiated political settlement to the long-running Moro rebellion in Mindanao is only a short-term solution, conceded government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer.
The government is banking on the education of the youth as the long-term remedy to the problems in Mindanao, she said at a recent forum hosted by the Lanao del Norte peace and order council.
Ferrer was responding to fears expressed by some political leaders that after a peace agreement is signed with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), new rebel groups would emerge and make new demands.
Ferrer said the Aquino government, which signed a framework agreement with the MILF late last year, sees a combination of peace deals and the promotion of education as the way to build lasting peace in communities torn by years of armed conflict.
While the government is trying to finalize the peace deal, which includes the establishment of a Bangsamoro government, it has also been exerting efforts to improve the youth’s access to education, she explained.
Ferrer said the government was aware that the peace deal with the MILF would not guarantee that similar uprisings would not erupt in the future.
It needs to be complemented by education as the long-term solution to make the youth “feel that they have a future, hence to see no need to be involved with armed groups,” she said.
Among the efforts to make education accessible to all are the construction of more school buildings and hiring of more teachers, she said.
Ferrer believes that with schools built in as many communities as possible, the youth will spend more time learning from teachers rather than listening to the ideals of antigovernment armed groups.
Ferrer is a political science teacher at the University of the Philippines, a traditional hotbed of activism and suspected recruitment ground for revolutionary causes, including Moro separatism.
Ferrer added the government also expects to achieve a turnaround in the situation in the five-province Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with various reforms being instituted by the interim regional administration and the continued commitment of more sources to bankroll development efforts.
Ferrer asserted that by changing the situation in the five provinces that comprise the ARMM, future revolutionaries would no longer be able to point to government neglect in convincing people to join them.
For years, these provinces were referred to by Moro revolutionaries as the hallmarks of prolonged government neglect.
The provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, and Sulu are among the country’s most impoverished areas. Social development projects were lacking.