Nicanor Perlas on Being a Political Leader for Mindanao

The Ampatuan Massacre which killed 57 people disgusted everyone of us but more than that we need justice and a real solution to the issues surrounding Mindanao.  Today is the national day of mourning for what was called the most brutal and barbaric event in modern times in our country.

I would like to share why I think a leader like Nicanor “Nick” Perlas would be a political leader for Mindanao who can finally bring peace and the needed justice that the people of Mindanao is seeking.  Here are some of the reasons supported by me as well as someone who lived in Mindanao and studied there, Nicanor “Nick” Perlas.

NICANOR PERLAS ON BEING A POLITICAL LEADER FOR MINDANAO, as expressed during Mindanao Coalition for Transparent and Accountable Governance (MCTAG)-organized Forum with the Presidentiables August 27, 2009.

One of the first most important things for a leader to be in Mindanao is a passion for social justice.  Many of the issues that are in Mindanao is a result of inequitable development, inequitable access to fruits of development, including the whole struggle for peace which is mainly a social justice issue.

The second trait is the kind of political will to move into arenas of governance that seem to be untouchable. So this means, for example, challenging the basic political structures that produce poverty, that produce conflict, that produce unsustainable development; to actually move into that system with political will and determination to challenge that system.

The third leadership trait would be, despite a passion for social justice, and maybe because of it…is also the importance to becoming truly an empowering, and consultative leader who really listens to what people are yearning for.

The problem in Mindanao is massive as it is with the rest of the country but especially here. No one person, no one leader can possibly provide all the answers.  I totally believe in…collective intelligence that emerges when a leader authentically listens to all his stakeholders to a specific issue area and then has the political will to act on what is emerging out of that issue.

And finally, I think it’s important that in this process of change and transformation, a leader can bring a broad vision, a lofty vision about our higher possibilities as a nation and as peoples here in Mindanao and at the same time have the practical experience and will to put the detailed operations to realize that vision.

I think that with these four qualities of leadership, then I think we will start seeing a very different Mindanao immediately after the first few years of a new governance, if it so happens.

Below are the transcripts of what Nicanor Perlas proposes for Mindanao which he answered during the presidential forum:

Perlas on Business Investments in Mindanao

Importance of the perception of the Business climate of the Phils. Surveys have shown that if a country is viewed as politically unstable–which is is being viewed now–and also the massive corrution in the country–we are perceived as the most corrupt in Asia, and on top of that we have increasing amount of fiscal deficit spending per government which in the past triggered macroeconomic instability, especially withdrawal of portfolio investments in the country– if we cannot solve that problem, we will not be encouraging business people. You cannot encourage business people to come in unless you solve the business climate.

Therefore one has to have good governance, fiscal management,all the key infrastructure has to be in place to encourage business people–we have the highest electrical prices in Asia. It’s a set of factors that have now been identified as the critical points for economic development in the country.

In the microeconomic or regional level in Mindanao, if the same factors prevail at the global/national level, then we’ll experience the same thing. There’s also the added perception in Manila, (and also outside) which may not be true, that the peace condition in Mindanao is not conducive for long term investment. This is the perception because of the ongoing conflict. I dont necessarily believe that this is widespread in Mindanao, it’s located in specific areas.

So in addition to the challenges of the national level, there is the challenge of peace in Mindanao. The new government has to set up policies that deal with changing the business climate and at the same time ensuring the equitable, participatory, transparent peace process in Mindanao is done and implemented.

Perlas on the Future of the Youth in Mindanao

Ang imagined future ko for the young people of Mindanao is a Mindanao where the young people truly understand ano yung kahalagahan at kahulugan ng buhay nila within the Mindanao, national, and global context. Sa age ng globalalization, ang tama sa kabataan ay dalawa:

All over the world, ang globalization process sinisira ang base ng ating cultural identity. Tumatama ito at the time na yung mga kabataan ay naghahanap ng identity nila. Natural tendency ng mga kabataan is to reexamine, to reflect upon the present and past reality na naharapan nila. It’s very important na yung mga proseso in society bukas sa deeper question of identity and culture ng kabataan. Mga proseso that have to do kung anong klaseng trabaho ang aking makakamtan, kung ano ang industriya. Ang kahulugan ng stage ng kabataan–lahat tayo dumaan dito–ay hanapin kung ano yung sapat na kahulugan at kabuluhan ng ating buhay. Pag hindi natin nahanap yon, mawalala tawa sa complex system ng pamahalaan at lipunan.

Ang question of identity ay mahalaga sa question of globalization process. Kapag hindi klaro kung sino tayo bilang isang bansa, ang globalization process ang mag-dedefine ng identity natin. Ito ang nangyayari sa karamihan ng kabataan dahil hindi sapat yung proseso sa edukasyon.

Lahat ito ang tinatalakay ay kung anong yung identity natin sa Pilipinas at sa mundo. Ang nangyari, we are formed from the outside, hindi sa loob. Hindi natin dini-define.

So nakikita ko isang youth dignified, klaro, may vision, multiple intelligent yung skills–hindi lang science, technology, logic, linguistics. Merong emotionally smart, socially smart, naturally smart, may moral integrity, merong existential intelligence, at merong spiritual intelligence, na ito yung magiging batay para pagtransporma ng lipunan. Wala tayong inner power kung hindi natin alam kung sino ba talaga tayo, ano yung mga kakayahan natin para baguhin and isang lipunan na ang daming problema t grabe ang korupsiyon.

Nicanor Perlas on the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity

The Bangsamoro Juridical Entity can be reconsidered in a totally new renegotiotaion, with greater transparency,clarity, participation and decision-making, including its relationship with MILF and ARMM.

We need to have among the Muslims their own process where they can agree to a larger situation. One of the things they have to agree upon, also on the Christian side, is what is the relaitonship of the BJE to the central government. This was one of the key issues that wasn’t framed, and how do we resolve the strong sense of self-determination within the context of our own destiny as a nation.

I am open for constitutional amendments if necessary but not in the context of ConAss, never in the context of ConAss, but in a properly constituted Constitutional Convention, with the proper consultation of our Moro borthers and sisters.

Perlas on a Peace Agreement with the MILF

I’ve been involved in several peace processes. I participated in some of the Muslim-Jewish peace process in Israel. At the same time also here in Mindanao I was involved from a techinical perspective in the MILF-GRP Peace Agreement of 1996. From my perspective, I would be supportive of a continuation and a rehabilitiation of the peace process. But we should learn from the mistakes and achievements–both sides– of the process. How are we going to allow the larger christian population to understand the importance of a peace process? Look at the statistics of ARMM–50-70% poor, least number of roads, least number of electrical connections, least number of health facilities and hospitals as compared to the rest of the country. Then we can see that there is a real social injustice that’s being done not only by the larger government, but by elements within the Moro leadership that do not allow the funds to reach the people in the countryside in the barangays.

It’s clear we need to address the historical and social justice issues that have been ongoing in this country for a long time. My understanding from conservations with both the Christian and the Moro side, that that MOA will go a long way towards something meaningful. The process should be totally transparent, there should be consultations on both sides. They have to also resolve or connect the relationship with ARMM, MILF and MNLF, which is something really important, and also the Christian side, for those christians who see this as a threat to them. If properly construed, there should be no conflict between the right to self-determination and the right of the nation-state. This is part of the process that would need to be clarified. If we want to have peace in Mindanao, we have to resolve this historical, long-term social justice issue.

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