PEACETALK: The infamous Jabidah Massacre: 50 years back and the search for justice

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COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 17 March) — On March 18, 2018, the Bangsamoro people will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the infamous Jabidah massacre.

Half a century since the massacre that has become part of the long list of historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro people.

The Jabidah Massacre triggered the organization of a resistance movement by the Bangsamoro. The Mindanao Independence Movement (MIM) led by traditional leaders, then the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) — all fighting for justice and the Bangsamoro’s right to self-determination.

The declaration of Martial Law in 1972 led to the slaughter of many more Moros in many parts of Mindanao. More massacres happened – the infamous Palimbang and Manili massacres, among them.

Earlier reports revealed more than 100,000 Bangsamoro took refuge in Sabah, Malaysia. The grant of an autonomous government, the creation of the Regional Human Rights Commission (RHRC), National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), holidays are considered by government as forms of transitional justice. But reparation for victims of Martial Law is inadequate and those who committed the genocide have yet to answer for their crimes.

Most importantly, the guarantee for non-recurrence did not happen. As what we can see all around us, the continuing military operations drive thousands of civilians out of their homes. The recent event in Marawi is a testament to the ongoing violence against the Bangsamoro.

And now we have another Martial Law. While it is a martial law declared in Mindanao, it is essentially a Martial Law in the Bangsamoro. While it may serve some good purposes, it also limits movements as well as its negative impacts on the livelihood of the ordinary vendors and fisherfolk.

The peace processes started with the signing of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement. That is 42 years ago today. Up to now, peace negotiations are still going on in spite of the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) four years ago.

Frustrations with the peace processes and the implementation of peace agreements in the last four decades have given birth to groups espousing violent extremism, such as those who resorted to kidnappings and those who laid siege on Marawi City.

Now in the hands of Congress, the fate of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) drafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission is still very unpredictable. While I am sure that Congress will pass a BBL, I am not sure whether a CAB-compliant BBL will. The mixed signals that we see make it very difficult to predict what kind of BBL will be passed by Congress.

Hence, I see a very small ray of light at the end of a very long and winding tunnel.

The Bangsamoro will consider an acceptable basic law as the highest form of justice for all the historical injustices committed against them. They look at it as response to their legitimate grievances. This can lead to national unity, healing and reconciliation.

Without an acceptable BBL, the Bangsamoro will always remember the Jabidah case and other cases of human rights violations committed to the Bangsamoro with negative images and not with reconciliatory eyes.

With a CAB-compliant basic law for the Bangsamoro, we hope to remember Jabidah Massacre next year and beyond with reconciliatory mood, healing and forgiveness.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. PeaceTalk is open to anyone who wishes to share his/her thoughts on peace in Mindanao. Guiamel Alim is Executive Director of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society whose main office is in Cotabato City)

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Q and A with Jibin Arula: 41 years after the Jabidah Massacre (1)

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