Several years ago, at a conference at the Australian National University, prominent Filipino scholar and peace activist Fr Eliseo Mercado commented on the longrunning peace process in the southern Philippines, ‘We keep thinking we see light at the end of the tunnel. But as we approach the end of the tunnel all we see is another tunnel’. The scale of the separatist conflict between Philippine Muslims and the government of the Republic of the Philippines – in terms of lives lost and people displaced by the fighting – has diminished since the late 1970s, but fighting continues and attempts to achieve a settlement have failed to bring lasting peace. As often happens in such situations, the conflict has become more diffuse and new obstacles to peace negotiations keep emerging. However, negotiations between the Philippine government and the Moro National Liberation Front have continued since 1986 and negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front have been ongoing since 1996. These negotiations have been facilitated by external third parties, notably the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the governments of Indonesia and Malaysia, and successive Philippine governments have willingly accepted such outside mediation. Arguably, although the peace process since 1986 has not delivered a lasting peace, the persistent efforts of those involved have helped to prevent a resurgence of the violence that characterized the conflict in the early to mid-1970s.
|Title of host publication
|Diminishing Conflicts in Asia and the Pacific: Why some subside and others don't
|Edward Aspinall, Robin Jeffrey and Anthony J Regan
|Place of Publication
|Abingdon and New York
|Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group
|Published - 2013