Yesterday the entire Filipino nation bowed their heads in mourning for the death of forty-four members of the PNP’s SAF (Special Action Force), henceforth to be called the “Fallen 44”. The government declared it a National Day of Mourning. In the necrological services held in their honor much has been said as praises about their heroism aside from the medal of valor awarded to each of them considered as heroes fighting in the name of the pursuit for peace.
In the extraordinary event that marked the killing of the SAF members, the Muslim rebels—both the MILF members and the BIFF breakaway group—could be regarded the anti-heroes. In common parlance, the “kontrabidas”. Already in the social media varied forms of violent verbal reactions proliferate:“mga traydor yan!” “pulbusin na ang mga iyan!”, “etcetera, etcetera!”
One very prompt and prominent reaction came from a former President of the Republic who was a convict of a plunder case. In cavalier fashion he said, “Hindi talaga mapag-katiwalaan yang MILF.” It will be recalled that during his own incumbency this very Chief Executive declared an “all-out war” against the MILF rebels and his military even took hold of the rebels’ main stronghold, called Camp Abubakar. That war also caused a big toll of civilian casualties.
Other previous regimes did their own all-out war against the same Moro rebel forces, notably former President Corazon Aquino’s government. Former President Gloria MacapagalArroyo also had her own version of anti-Moro war, and attempted to establish a Muslim state which was rejected by the Supreme Court for unconstitutionality. And the Moro rebellion continued, until it has brought the nation to this tragic incident.
And it sparks a new wave of anti-Muslim hate tirades from the Christian population, most of whom surely don’t have the slightest idea of the whys and wherefores of the Moro rebellion, much less why and how it all began—meaning, its historical roots. And yet, they have taken it unto themselves to arrogantly and indiscriminately condemn the Moro rebels, with no exception.
In any problem, whether one of individual, family, or societal dimension, it is imperative to start from history for a thorough analysis and understanding of is root cause. If the historical roots are not addressed, a problem would always remain. Its symptoms, like that of a chronic ailment or disease, may be removed by some remedial measures for a while. But as long as its root cause is not removed, it will recur and recur, sometimes in more far-reaching dimensions it may be very hard to cure it completely.
Such is the Bangsamoro problem in Mindanao.
The present administration of President Noynoy Aquino wants to resolve the Moro rebellion permanently. It has vowed to do it before his term ends in 2016. It shall be his government’s legacy to the Filipino nation, so his government pledges. And so it has initiated the “peace process” through a series of negotiations with the MILF, even asking a third party to broker the talks in the latter’s own territory. After quite a while, the BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law) was drafted and it remains for Congress to enact it as the legal foundation for the establishment of some kind of Bangsamoro State in Mindanao. Perhaps it shall have the essential features of a federal state (?).
But even before this incident of the “Fallen 44” happened, the “peace process” under-taken by the bright people of the Aquino regime already suffered certain shortcomings. It excluded the participation of the MNLF headed by Nur Misuari who, by the way, had in earlier periods succeeded in forging an agreement with previous governments (notably the Ramos government) for the establishment of an autonomous Moro government. As a matter of fact there already exists the so-called ARMM (Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao) of which Nur Misuari himself was its first Chairman. Because of this failure for an inclusive consultations and negotiations with all stakeholders, such as all other existing Moro rebel groups and quarters of Mindanao, it is inevitable that the peace process underwent snags and eventually the unfortunate Tukanalipao incident.
Without viewing the Moro rebellion from a historical perspective divests any agenda and program for peace in Mindanao a much much needed tool of analysis. It will more likely than not collapse. Or if somehow rendered with a semblance of respite from actual armed combats for a certain period of time, it will recur in perhaps even far more wide-ranging dimensions, simply because the principal cause has not been thoroughly uprooted.
Now, the anger against the Moro rebels—if not against the Moro people as a whole—has taken a new level and quality of hatred. And the actions and pronouncements of certain tactless politicians ignorant of history have only fuelled the anger to inordinate verbal abuses and curses among the Christian populace who have nurtured hateful anti-Moro feelings since time immemorial. [Anti-Moro chauvinism as an ideo-cultural malady sown by the colonizing Spaniards into the Christian Filipino soul has since been kept alive through the centuries.]
Our advice to these uninformed Christian Filipinos is to let them direct their retrospective eyesight to an intelligent review of Mindanao history—to that very moment when the first American troops set foot on Mindanao shores for their bestial “pacification campaign” against the Moro peoples. Then let those reviewing eyes focus and ponder on the Bud Daho and Bud Bagsak massacres. After a few moments, let those intellectual video cams turn to the successive regimes of the Philippine government—how they have blindly adopted and continued the policy of militarily pacifying Mindanao purportedly to give free reins to US monopoly-capitalists in enjoying the natural resources of the Island as guaranteed by the Parity Amendment installed by the late President Manuel A. Roxas.
At no other time is a careful review and re-examination of our historical experience more needed than today. As a conglomeration of multi-cultural peoples we need to mutually know and understand each other more deeply in order to achieve a productive peaceful co-existence.