Monday, August 18, 2008

Judging the MOA-AD: A Parable for Our Time

This is the first of two reflections on how to assess the MOA-AD between the GRP and the MILF in the light of our quest for lasting peace in Mindanao.

Many people reject the MOA-AD because they say the document is giving away Philippine territory to the Moros. It is a dismembering the Philippine Republic.

Other reasons for absolute rejection are:
*The Filipino people were not consulted.
*Even if there will be plebiscites, these will be rigged to favor the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity;
*The Bangsamoro Juridical Entity is simply another name for an Islamic State independent of the Philippines;
*President Macapagal-Arroyo allegedly wants the MOA-AD because it would mean a change in the Constitution to extend her term;
*The President is allegedly so corrupt that we cannot simply trust her with any agreement;
*The United States reportedly influenced the peace process and the MOA-AD because it wants an American military base in southern Philippines and has economic interests in the area.

One observes that most of the above reasons are external to the contents of the MOA-AD. The MOA-AD is not being judged on its own merits. The document is being rejected because of suspicions regarding possible circumstances surrounding it.

For this reason may I tell a story.

The master told his disciples this parable. Jane, a jeweler, saw a beautiful diamond in a shop. She admired and desired it. Unfortunately her competitor, Juan, owned the shop. Juan was reputed to be dishonest and always wanted to take advantage of his customers. But the more Jane looked at the diamond, the more she liked it. So she asked Juan, “How much is that diamond?” “750,000 pesos,” said Juan. Jane was shocked. “The price is too high for such a small diamond!” “Take it or leave it,” answered Juan. But Jane really liked the diamond. So she asked, “Is it genuine?” Another gentleman entered the conversation and said, “Oh, yes. I certify it is genuine. By the way my name is William. I shaped the diamond myself.” Really desiring the diamond, Jane said, “I know you, but can I have the diamond examined?” Both Juan and William agreed. So the next day, Jane brought her husband, Jose, who was an expert diamond examiner. Using his examining tools, Jose scrutinized the diamond from every angle for a whole hour, noting every facet of it. Then he took his wife aside and whispered to her, “You know how much I dislike Juan and suspect that fellow William. I must admit that the diamond is 100% genuine. There is no doubt. But I have noticed certain flaws in the shaping. So try to bring the price down, we can correct the flaws.” So Jane bargained. After a while, Juan and Jane agreed on 700,000 pesos. Both were happy and became good friends.

The disciples asked, “Master, why did Jane buy the diamond from people she did not trust?” “Because the diamond, though imperfect, was genuine,” said the Master.

+Orlando B. Quevedo, O.M.I.
Archbishop of Cotabato
August 17, 2008

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