Tuesday, August 2, 2011


The mammoth gathering at Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao last December 3-5, 1996 was a very historic event. More than one million people all over Mindanao came in droves. Organizers called it the "Bangsamoro People's Consultative Assembly." The assembly was organized to feel the pulse of the Bangsamoro people vis-a-vis the resolution of the problem in Mindanao and Sulu.
It was unfortunate, however, that only a few had the chance to deliver their speeches. But the rest spoke eloquently through their resolutions and placards: "Bangsamoro is not Filipino," "No to autonomy, no to federalism, yes to independence," and many more. Had this event taken place during the dark days of Martial Law, it would have been considered subversive, and could have sent to jail anyone who participated in it. Surprisingly, the Ramos administration chose to view it from a positive angle. Perhaps it has some plans for the immediate future -- and therefore it can't afford to offend the sensibilities of the people who participated in such a peaceful assembly.
A popular government is like a good doctor. A doctor diagnoses diseases. Once the doctor discovers the real cause of the disease, he or she prescribes the best and ultimate cure. The Ramos government is the doctor, while the Moros are the patients. But unlike ordinary patients, the Moros are not only manifesting the symptoms, they are already telling the doctor what the disease is and its ultimate cure. If the Ramos administration has enough political will to solve this historic disease, it could do it now. The solution or the cure, as it were, could be deliberated in the most peaceful manner and with the best of intentions.
It is time the government should abandon subjugation as final solution to the so-called Moro problem. The Moros may be slaughtered to the last man or woman, but the consequences for this, government could be tremendously disastrous. But the Filipino conscience would not accept this, and above all, the Almighty will decree otherwise -Insha Allah! The Spaniards, the Americans and the Marcos regime tried to annihilate the Moros - they all failed.
Government should now face reality that any solution to the Moro problem which does not reflect the true sentiments and aspirations of the Moros is bound to fail as all previous approaches
have miserably failed. For a long time, the Moros have been hounded by hatred and prejudice. This is shown in expressions of distrust on the Moro, e.g. "The only good Moro is a dead Moro." The Moro could be as sincere and trustworthy as any one, because he believes in God and the Day of Judgment when God rewards the good and punishes the evil. If there is anyone, who craves for a just and honorable peace, he is the Moro, because all throughout his existence, he never tasted one!
Man can suppress truth for a while but he cannot stop it from being unveiled. If President Ramos reads history well, he would know that the Moros are a wronged people. Then he would not have negotiated first with the MNLF and then with the MILF. If he were genuinely interested in the welfare of his constituents, or a great leader and statesman, as he wants everybody to believe, he should prove this to the Moros of Mindanao and Sulu. After all, the Moros are not really the problem. They did not go to Luzon or Visayas to wreak havoc there. They were the ones invaded in their homeland, and deprived of their basic rights as a sovereign people.
The Moros are not asking for the whole of Mindanao, because circumstances have superseded some facts of history. They just want a parcel of it, especially where they predominate. This will enable generations after them to live in peace and piety, as what Islam enjoins all believers. The indigenous peoples, or what the Visayans call Lumads may opt to join their blood-brothers, the Moros, and they are welcome. After all, the two peoples are inseparable in southern Philippine history. Is this too much a price for peace, development and prosperity for all?
The world is changing fast. Decolonization of states and peoples is a global trend. The Chechens, after a bitter servitude to the Czarist and communist rulers, have freed themselves. The Bosnian Muslims are moving towards self-rule. The Albanians are rediscovering Islam as the real source of salvation after a bitter dosage of communism. There are other contemporary examples where one state grants independence or quasi-independence to another: in Russia, in Yugoslavia, in Israel, in Malaysia, in Eritrea, and in many more areas. If this could be done elsewhere, why can't it be done here when the claim of the Moros to self-rule is a fact of history?
If the Moros have suffered a lot and on the verge of extinction, they and their leaders are partly to be blamed. But the greater blame
falls on the leaders, who are mostly traditionalists or secularists. In both leadership styles, leaders contribute very little, if any, to the general welfare of the people. In the end, they also made themselves losers. Traditionalism perpetuates age-old practices, which usually spawn abuses and tribulations to society, while secularism enslaves man in his quest of satisfaction for the insatiable self. This leads him to many evil ways like impiety, alcoholism, materialism, and other acts of hedonism. Moreover, people should stop thinking of salvation as forthcoming from without or by somebody's gift. Man should rely, first of all, to Allah and then on himself to develop, succeed and to be truly God's vicegerent on earth.
There are many honorable men among the Christians in Mindanao and Sulu, whose hearts are bleeding for the suffering and destruction in our midst. They also yearn that genuine understanding and peace should reign in this region. But at the same time, there are a great many of them especially the capitalists, loggers, ranchers, bankers and the like who are bent on getting everything in Mindanao at the expense of the native inhabitants. Where is Christian charity and justice?
The honorable Christians should come forward to spread the gospel of love as enshrined in their religion and not to allow the evils within their ranks to spread darkness and destruction. If they could not practice responding with bread every time a stone is thrown in their direction, could they not try the Islamic way of responding stone with stone, if one cannot grant pardon?
The future is not bleak. It is full of promise. But, first, we must get rid of our hatred, our biases, our pretensions, our impiety and our greed. Only then can Mindanao be called the land of fulfillment for all. "Live and let let live" shall be our credo for all eternity.


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