PEACETALK: Justice can be attained if we all sit down with calmer heads

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ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/01 March) — I am writing this letter as the hate I see over unfortunate incidents has risen. We have politicians crying for “Blood, Blood, spill it on the kitchen floor” as if it was dressing chickens for the evening dinner. I see people post insensitive posts denigrating the dead, and inciting the living to battle so that the dead will pile up higher than the buildings of Makati and Taguig. But before anything else, let me tell you a persona note.

While people in Manila, as it is always expected, never ever to feel the need to rush to safety when mortars and projectile rounds fall, or of sudden unannounced searches where involuntary disappearance happen, where coffins carrying their loved ones are flown with flags draped over them, feel it is but as easy to say, “Kill ‘em all and bloody hell!”

Such babble is not as easy for us Mindanawons, or for our IP and settler brethren from Luzon and the Visayas who become pawns in the battlefield, homesick, distressed, and severely missing their families and can barely see them even on the most festive of seasons, and the fastest way to come home would be in a flag-draped coffin.

Allow me to tell you personally, I come from a multicultural family, I have both Muslim and Christian cousins and relatives, all very dear to me, Our family has lost much to the wars that ravaged Mindanao. If we tell you our family stories, you will not even dare think of speaking the word “war” for to imagine it as such is to imagine the images of the mutilated dead, of Muslim and Christian corpses.

It is true that there is an internal battle in Islam, between moderates and extremists, but this battle is also being fought in other religions, I may not have to speak of the intensity of the carnage Buddhists have done to Muslims in Burma, or of the Catholics against Protestants in Ireland, or of the religiously themed Drug Cartels of Mexico, all being done in the name of religion, when it is but religion who should provide spirituality and calmness to us all. I am not saying that this is not happening in the Philippines but I am merely stating to you a fact.

People go to extreme means when they feel that there is no other option available, when the very people they elected choose the easy way of raining mortars and cannons on a isolated barrio, than build roads, irrigations and agricultural programs designed to uplift the people.

In a Muslim’s persepective the word “Fitna” can be both translated as trial, hardships, tribulation, and at worst, “Corruption.” People are forced to experience trials, tribulations and hardships all because of the corruption of men who have been entrusted to develop the community, men who are supposed to deliver social and basic services and yet choose not to do so. In short, “walang paghihirap ang taong bayan kung walang kurap”.  

By just taking a look at where most of the companies operating in Mindanao have their main offices, we feel it is but unfair for people to simply call the country to “all-out war” where many of its revenues generated come from Mindanao.

While we have yet to address the socio-economic realities on the ground in Mindanao, we have not yet paved the roads, rebuilt torn schools, built drainages for farms, built dryers and storehouses, supported vigorously the farmers, people who claim to represent us all of a sudden call people to war, violence and chaos, when we have not yet meted out justice and healing for all of the war-torn families who lost their loved ones, destroyed properties and lost futures.

And so in closing I seek my friends to stop for a moment and pause, and think for a moment if you yourselves would be like the Babo in Mamasapano, who the PNP SAF took all of the food and items in her store and didn’t pay for it, or the families who lost their loved ones in Midnanao, or the families of the PNP and the AFP who received their loved ones in a coffin draped in a flag.

I am in Mindanao, because I feel I am from Mindanao, because I want to build a place where my children can grow up, speak my language and love my homeland where I seek to be buried, together with the love of my life.

If we are not prepared to see loved ones in burial shrouds and coffins, let us bring more words of peace, healing and reconciliation instead of inciting hate, fear and war. Justice can be attained if we all sit down with calmer heads.

MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. PeaceTalk is open to anyone who wishes to share his/her thoughts on peace in Mindanao. Prof. Yusuf Morales has recently been appointed as Muslim Concerns Coordinator of the Ateneo de Zamboanga University. He is also a member of the Board of Advisers of the Ateneo de Davao University’s Al Qalam Institute for Islamic Identities.)

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