Mindanao’s last chance

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The Moro land is once again under attack, standing right in the middle of an ocean of warmongers who are crying, capitalizing on the tragic incident in the town of Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25.

The echoes of their screams for blood continue to ring even now as an investigation is being conducted in order to uncover the truth behind the tragic incident.

As a Mindanawon, as a Tausug, I refuse to fall into the trap of these provocateurs whose only intentions are as cruel and inhuman as the tragedy that befell all the victims of the Mamasapano incident.

I and my family are living witnesses to how this devil called war can be so merciless on civilians, unsparing even the children who are yet to see the world, enjoy life, and build their future.

We have seen and experienced the repercussions when our leaders were snared by these warmongers’ machinations. We saw what destruction when they gave up on peace and resorted to violence.

Since the 70s, over 120,000 were killed in the Mindanao war – soldiers, rebels, civilians.

But the guns were silent the past years, signaling that peace is possible in Mindanao.

As a Moro, who lived through a life I thought would forever be trapped in the middle of armed conflicts for the past many years, I have never given up on my belief that a miracle called peace could happen in Mindanao.

And it did when the MILF and the government signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in March last year.

It allowed hope to spring and flourish in Mindanao, opening a beautiful space for people to live a life in peace, a life far from and contrary to the miserable life in cramped evacuation camps or makeshift shelters along the craggy roads or burning sun — without water, food, clothes; a life almost always without nothing but fear and uncertainty.

And so what happened January 25, Sunday, still remains unthinkable. For how can a silent bright Sunday, one of those days supposedly spent on counting out for the great possibilities awaiting the Moro people once the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law is passed, could turn out bloody.

Yes, we mourn the death of the 44 members Police Special Action Force at the hands of MILF fighters. We mourn the death of the fighters of the MILF at the hands of the police commandos. We share the grief of their families, and we join in the demands for accountability and justice.

However, accountability and justice can impossibly be had if we allow these warmongers to influence and corrupt us.

These people, most of them are not even Mindanawons, are apparently out to make Mindanao a garden of death and misery once again by breeding hatred and perpetuating war if only to serve their baleful interests.

These warmongers are now trying to crush the gains of the peace process, attacking the Bangamoro Basic Law and loudly beating the drums of war.

As Mindanawons, we know better.

The Moro people in Mindanao and all the peace-loving people of the island must stand against these warmongers.

We appeal for help from civil-society groups, individual advocates, and the international community to help us and never give up on us the way our past governments did.

Help us protect Mindanao and stand tall in defense of the gains of the peace process.

We all know that the solution to the Mindanao problem is never war.

We all know, as Mindanawons, the best solution is peace.

For the past 17 years, the Moro people have never ceased to dream of that day when Mindanao becomes a free land, and us – free nation.

Over the past 17 years, this dream was never extinguished by the injustices committed against the Moro people — not by the countless wars and the displacements, the deaths, the poverty, and everything that we are right now, what we have right now, and what we intend to become tomorrow.

Instead, the aspiration continues to spark, burning even more inside us as we wake up every morning and through the day. And the same aspiration made our romance with the stars and the moon even more beautiful.

A closer look at happened on January 25 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao brings shiver into my spine.

Am I scared? Yes, I am. But I cannot be paralyzed by fear forever.

I am a brave Moro. We are a strong Moro people.

For this, I trust that what happened on Sunday in Mamasapano in Maguindanao will not crush us or weaken our resolve to continue working for peace.

The past 17 years saw the gains of the peace negotiations that proved how great we are as a people and as a nation.

Are we not enjoying positive changes around us now? The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has succeeded in spurring development across the region – and although bit by bit, these developments are proof that the Moro people can make it and that we can stand on our own.

These gains were collected because of our sincerity to our aspirations and dreams for a Bangsamoro that is free, a Bangsamoro that is ours. We are enjoying these gains now because we, the Moro people, our leaders, were brave and tireless in making the lines open for a negotiated settlement.

These gains were the gains of peace and sacrifices.

Now, I would like to appeal to the Moro leaders and the government of the Philippines to not give up on the Bangsamoro.

I have said it before, and allow me to say it again, the Bangsamoro Basic Law will lay down a new horizon for the Bangsamoro people.

We believe that the BBL will roll out endless possibilities for the young ones – for us and for the generations to come.

This is our last chance.

On Sunday morning, I was dreaming of that day when the government of the Philippines finally approves the BBL.

I believe I was not alone that day.

 

Amir Mawallil, 26, is the founding chairperson of the western Mindanao chapter of Young Moro Professionals Network (YMPN), the largest non-governmental organization of Muslim professionals in the country. He is currently the director of the ARMM Bureau of Public Information.

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