JOLO, Sulu (MindaNews/01 July) — Ever since we became part of this country it has been very problematic for our people.
We have been discriminated and misunderstood, we had to digest laws and regulations that were often rammed down our throats, we had to tolerate a system that was alien to our traditional ways and yes we even had to change our clothing. With a long list of dos and don’ts, some of us have come into conflict with the laws and some have resisted out right. There never was a time that our people in the southern part of the country really embraced being part of this Republic of the Philippines. Old folks will always remind us “bukun sayan bangsa ta” (they are not of our people/nation). There was restlessness that withstood time and generations.
But today is an important day for this country, the Filipino people have ushered in a new leadership. It is the inauguration of President Benigno Aquino III. President Noy is known to all of us being a Senator and a Representative from Tarlac. But he is also the son of Ninoy the contemporary Filipino hero killed in tarmac during Martial Law. And we think we also owe his mother President Cory for removing Martial Law.
If we are to rejoice with the rest of the country, then what is the relevance of this new leader to us. The late Ninoy once said, “I recognize the birth right of the Moro people”. What could that mean if he had lived longer? He was indeed familiar with our saga as a people especially he was very vocal on the incident of the Jabida Massacre in 1968.
The late President Cory caused to create the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in 1987 that was supposed to resolve our ethno-political struggle as Bangsamoro. However, ARMM fall fell short of a genuine self determination for our people. With all due respect for President Cory and other Filipino leaders that may have good intentions towards us, the fact remains to be seen, the Bangsamoro issue is yet to be resolved. And this is one of the major challenges for the son of Ninoy and Cory
So let this day be special and just like any citizen of this country we shall dream and hope for a better life with PNoy in the next six years. We know we cannot have illusions of resolving our problems overnight when we are now confronted by a complex situation of conflict. Corruption has become like deep seated dirt and fiefdoms are now deep rooted all over the country. From the heart of Lupa’ Sug, we join the Filipino nation with a long list of wishes in the said “pagbabago”.
We hope PNoy will make the American soldiers leave our land; we hope he will reduce militarization, eliminate private armies and curb warlordism; we hope he will attend to our concerns even if we have been locked up in the present autonomous set up. We hope there will be no more human rights violations and false frame ups on our people; we hope there will be no more air strikes by the AFP on Eidil Fitri and Eidil Adha; we hope that our women and children will not be “collateral damage” during armed conflict. We hope that issues on the 1996 Peace Agreement will be finally resolved. We hope that our quest for peace, justice will take a better shape and, we truly hope that PNoy will be blessed with strength and determination to lead this country.
But most important of all these hopes and wishes, we wish and hope that PNoy will remain a peaceful person, as we believe he is when we chose to vote for him. His peaceful soul will then exude and contaminate everyone so that we can gradually realize all our dreams. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Fatmawati Salapuddin is convenor of the Lupah Sug Bangsamoro Women in Jolo, Sulu).