Mamasapano and Edsa

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As we commemorate the anniversary of the People Power Revolution, we remember how we, as a nation, stood together against a dictatorship that has taken away our land, our families, and our homes, our lives.

At a time when everything was downright difficult and the world was bleak, we responded with a collective courage to the call of the time — to mobilize ourselves, go out on the streets notwithstanding the uncertainty of what was ahead. It was one of the best things to do — to arise. It was a revolution that left a mark and stunned the world that froze in sheer admiration over a people, a nation that successfully ended the reign of terror. It was peaceful.

Fast forward to today, we reminisce with a smile and pride how Filipinos ended the country’s dark years without blood. It’s not impossible, we say. But as we look back, we also realize how time changed us as a nation, as a people.

As times passed us by, many of us lost it.

The recent Mamasapano incident exposed how Filipinos have become over the years. While the EDSA People Power 29 years ago saw the unison marching of millions of feet under the rhythm of peace, a stark contrast is unfurling before our very eyes today, something that is doubly ominous given that we are a nation that values democracy.

Sure, there is not enough act of anguish for the lost loved ones — 44 families of police commandos seeking justice; at least four families of civilians seeking justice; at least 18 families of Moro freedom fighters seeking justice; a nation seeking justice.

Will violence result in justice?

The grieving can last longer than we can imagine, but — as we all know — an act of violence can never correct an act of injustice. History will tell us that; this life will teach us that. And this is something that we all know too well. We saw this in 1986.

What happened in January 25 in Barangay Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao was, as has been said, tragic. Right now, it is the civilians that are suffering the brunt of that tragedy. And in the middle of the clamor for violence, the civilians’ wounds are left open, gaping wide, bleeding profusely, as their cry for justice slowly silence to only disappear through a sky darkened by a looming war.

But however difficult, we should not surrender to a prescription that will only leave more and more broken lives, as if Mindanao has not had enough of deaths in the name of war since the 70s.

Now as we recollect the glory of the 1986 Edsa Revolution, it would not hurt if we also look at ourselves and our humanness in the face of our proclivity to judge swiftly, to desire for violence instead of good, to persecute instead of compassion, to hate instead of love.

The call of time these days is for us to regain our rights and freedoms.

Didn’t we show the world how we can rally behind a common cause, win freedom without violence and choose peace and win battles nonetheless?

We are not strangers to battles, as countless battles have gone beyond the fields and into our lives. Here at home, it is our collective experience in the Bangsamoro that makes our voice and actions all the more valuable in realizing this country’s dream for the future, our quest for just and lasting peace.

Yes, 29 years hence, peace is still the most powerful message of the revolution, and it is a message we should never forget.

Together, we have moved forward and have gone from the dark days of a dictatorship to days of hope and promise. More than ever, we need to take care of our hard-earned gains, to remind each other why there is no other option but peace, and to ensure that the message is not lost despite the noise of a few who have forgotten what we fought for.

May we never forget.

Gov. Mujiv Hataman

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao

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