POSTSCRIPT / May 12, 2002 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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GMA’s modus vivendi with MILF is disturbing

NAIVETE COULD BE FATAL: Like former President Erap Estrada and many others, we have misgivings about the reported forging of a “modus vivendi” or a mutual accommodation between the Arroyo administration and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

In exchange for a temporary cessation of hostilities, the government is reportedly set to allow MILF partisans to return to their camps overrun by the military, to tap the MILF to manage development projects in Moro areas, and to pay for the damage and injury to civilian folk in combat areas.

The least the Arroyo administration should do is publish the full text of the reported agreement so the rest of the population can evaluate it. Such a matter of heightened public interest should not be hidden from the people.

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FOLLY OF BUYING PEACE: We all want peace and national unity. If these are among the key objectives of the Arroyo administration in forging a modus vivendi with the MILF, we sympathize with the intention.

But recall the painful lesson that in dealing with such types of adversaries, it is foolhardy to be too trusting. We must open our eyes to the folly of entertaining illusions that it is safe and easy to “buy” peace from Moro rebels.

Just in recent times, we had witnessed the disastrous blunder of politicians buying peace from the Moro National Liberation Front of Nur Misuari. Is the Arroyo administration falling into the same trap? Is it creating another MNLF monster, another Nur Misuari?

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NON-NEGOTIABLE TERMS: But if we need a ceasefire that badly as a necessary condition for the rehabilitation of the ravaged sections of Muslim Mindanao, we should at least impose some non-negotiable minimum terms:

  1. The MILF must renounce formally and for always all aspirations for and all acts leading to the creation of a separate Bangsamoro state. The erstwhile rebels must take an oath of allegiance to the flag and to the Republic.
  2. The MILF must turn over for safekeeping all long arms of all its fighters and sympathizers.
  3. Only the Philippine flag must fly above camps, bases and hamlets of the MILF.
  4. All public funds used for MILF projects must be subject to periodic audit like similar funds spent for other government projects.

Note that all these conditions apply to the rest of us law-abiding citizens. There is no good reason why the same terms should not apply to the MILF and similar factions claiming to embrace peace.

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PINAY TEACHER CITED: Now for your Sunday reading, here are two “good news” items sent us by Fred Magallanes, a broadcaster friend who migrated to Canada with his family when martial law was declared in 1972. He publishes Filipino Forum (where the items came out) from Montreal.

He swears the FilForum is the best Filipino-oriented paper in that part of North America, and I believe him. In fact, the Canadian government has offered financial assistance to the ethnic paper with no strings attached in recognition of its outstanding service to the community.

From the Toronto bureau of FilForum, writer Aida Elago-D’Orazio, files this story:

A Filipino teacher has made it to Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, 2002. Pia Pascual Imperial, in her fourth year of teaching, was chosen by former students “as the most intellectual teacher in their academic career.” They consider her contribution to their education to be outstanding.

Imperial teaches social science to freshmen and sophomore students at Glendale High School in Glendale, California. As part of her extra-curricular activities, she leads a Filipino youth group that has been raising funds for orphanages in the Philippines.

When notified of her award, Imperial commented, “It is the students who keep me coming back to work everyday, and the Who’s Who is only the icing on the cake.”

High school and college students who have themselves been cited for academic excellence in Who’s Who Among American Studentsand The National Dean’s List are invited to nominate for the award a teacher from their academic careers.

Imperial attended George Washington University in Washington, DC, where she graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in finance and economics. She received her teaching credentials from Cal-State, Los Angeles.

In the Philippines, Imperial attended the University of the Philippines High School, where she won first place in the Benigno Aquino Foundation National Essay-Writing Contest. At Cal-State, she was a nominee for “Student Teacher of the Year.” She was also an honorary member of the Beta Gamma Sigma, National Honor Society for Collegiate Schools of Business.

Adding a feather to her cap, Imperial will be an honoree at the annual Filipino Trade Fair in Los Angeles in June. She will be presented along with other outstanding Filipino leaders of 2002.

When Gigi (as she is fondly called by family and friends) was informed of the invitation, her reply, according to her mother, Dette, who lives in Santa Barbara, California, was typically modest: “Mom, much as I appreciate the honor, I’m getting embarrassed. I’m not good at being honored.”

Imperial has three children and is married to Ric Imperial. Her parents are Raul and Dette (Alagar) Pascual.

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McGILL STUDES SET TO HELP: In another “good news,” FilForum reports that four engineering students from McGill University (Montreal and Quebec) will travel to the Philippines from May to August to teach Filipinos computer skills, including how to use the Internet.

The students will work in computer-training centers in Pangasinan and in General Santos in Mindanao. They plan to replace some of the outdated computers in the Philippine centers with newer models.

The trip is organized by the McGill chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB). EWB is a non-profit organization formed in 1997 by two engineering students at the University of Waterloo in Ontario.

Funding for the $30,000 project dubbed “The Scala Project” comes mostly from private corporations and charitable organizations.

The EWB’s Montreal chapter will introduce the program to other Southeast Asian countries if the project in the Philippines succeeds. The Philippine project is managed by Nabeel Al-Kady, a fourth-year computer engineering student at McGill.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of May 12, 2002)

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