Hear Mindanao: Requite evil with good

[A statement from Mindanao]

We are saddened that the congressional deliberations on the Bangsamoro Basic Law have been indefinitely suspended.

But we understand, after the tragic events of Mamasapano, the need for reflection. Multi-layered investigations are ongoing. There is need to ask our questions, and seek the truth. In the pursuit of truth, we believe humility is more helpful than arrogance. Humility admits ignorance in the search of truth unknown. Humility admits respect for persons or organisations from whom we seek truth.

In this unhappy situation, no one has a monopoly on righteousness. No one has a monopoly on guilt.   With the wheat grow the weeds. The President has taken full responsibility for what happened. The intention was noble: to secure the nation from the bloodied hands of terrorists. But the outcome: a half victory that cannot console. Marwan is dead; Usman lives. The cost: the lives of 70 Filipinos: SAF operatives, Mamasapano combatants, and civilians, including one child.

The President was silent on why, as had been formally agreed, there was no coordination with the MILF for the police action in Mamasapano. Certain truths are better left unspoken for now. In the face of the deaths, and the exceeding violence attendant on those deaths, the MILF is conducting its own investigation. It too wants the truth. We believe that is good. In humility let the truth out. Let responsibilities be pinpointed. Let justice be done.

Meanwhile, let our suspension on the deliberations on the Bangsamoro Basic Law allow us to reflect on our broad aspirations as a people.   We do not want war. We want peace.

Let us not forget: the MILF is a revolutionary group. It took up arms against the Philippines in the face of an undeniable history of intolerance, violence and exclusion. They revolted because of their aspiration to live their religious convictions and shared culture in peace. Their call was for independence in quest of a true homeland. This period of reflection should recall the ignominious Jabidah massacre, the Manili massacre, the battle of Buldon, the Buliok war. It should recall the effects of the migrations and land-registration policies from the north on the Muslims and Lumad of Mindanao. It should recall the fierce struggle of the Filipino Muslims against the Americans for an independence the rest of the Filipinos had given up on. Recall the American massacres of Muslims at Bud Dajo, then again at Bud Bagsak in Sulu. Recall the 300 years of Moro wars against the Spaniards and the Spanish-led Filipinos, which never succeeded in conquest, but resulted nevertheless in their being sold to America in the Treaty of Paris. Recall that 200 years before the first barrio, Filipino Muslims had established sovereign sultanates. Recall the insight of Cardinal Quevedo: the root of the conflict in Mindanao is injustice: injustice against Moro identity, Moro political development, Moro integral development.

A revolutionary war begot suffering and death to Mindanao. It brought death to soldiers from the north. Both the Moros and the Philippines came to a shared insight that the road of violence in Mindanao only led to more war, more wailing of widows and children, impoverishment. More was to be gained on the path to peace. Within the framework of the 1987 Constitution, the Moro quest for a homeland where they could live in prosperity as Filipinos fully integrated in the Philippine nation was possible through a path of peace.

That path of peace has been arduous, tread by courageous leaders on both sides who have had to quell powerful objections to peace from within their ranks. The path of peace has been fruitful. In Mindanao, the peace has been kept. Cooperation between the MILF and the Philippine Army through the joint GPH-MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities, supported widely by a host of civilian groups, has been helpful in securing the peace and in bringing criminals to justice. Our partners in peace eschew the ways of the BIFF and the ISIS; the MILF is not extremist, it is not terrorist. Let us continue to heal our wounded trust in each other, and continue to strengthen each other in achieving peace and prosperity.

Today, precisely because of what happened in Mamasapano, that path should not be abandoned. Hear Mindanao: the peace process should not be imperiled. Let the revolution stop. Let Mindanawons turn factories of war into factories of prosperity. Let those in the north and in the south who are charged with leadership walk humbly before the God of Peace together. Do not do to others what you would not have them do to you. Do not requite evil with evil. Requite evil with good, confusion with wisdom, death with life. Pass a Bangsamoro Basic Law that secures the peace.


About Joel Tabora, S.J.

Jesuit. Educator
This entry was posted in Position Paper and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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