CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/07 March) — The best peace dividend we, Mindanawons, can earn from a successful conclusion to the Bangsamoro issue would be law and order, one instituted with an iron resolve to respect and enforce uncompromisingly.
Such a regime is possible if, along with the political party of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the Bangsamoro Community, and other groups, we can launch a grand campaign to put Mindanawon society in good order so that all may live in freedom from fear and want and violence.
We must all aim to establish a social order that does justice to everyone—Lumad highlanders, Bangsamoro plainsmen, Christian Lowlanders, and all who embrace our society as their home.
We must not tire of searching for reasonable ways to effect closure to our historic grievances; because the past is past, and it is not right to exact a toll for what transpired by charging it entirely on the present.
Together we must now look to the future, which begins today, and reach out to one another with an open mind and a will to forgive in order to reconcile—but without denying that there are cases awaiting justice, which must not be forgotten.
We can then exemplify civilized living as a multicultural community, intolerant of uncivilized behavior, determined in avoiding the trauma of death and displacement, fighting criminality in all its forms regardless of who are involved.
But there’s no way we will succeed unless we somehow rid our households and communities of loose firearms. The unchecked possession of killing machines has bedeviled our communities for decades; and one wonders at what cost it will take to do it, and at what sacrifice.
Meanwhile, we sorely need a program to address the economic and social conditions that drive people to breach the peace or engage in criminality and adventurism. We must learn how to deal with misguided people effectively.
We can no longer tolerate lawlessness or barbarity. Let us strengthen education and community relations to promote positive attitudes, citizen empowerment, and livelihood.
There must be a relentless drive against unruly behavior, backed by programs to promote respect for the sanctity of life and concern for human dignity.
Perhaps our public institutions, the civil society, and the churches can cooperate to project the message that to kill is to violate one’s humanity, offend society, and make one unfit for the company of civilized, peaceable, reasonable citizens.
The mark of a responsible citizen is orderly, lawful, respectful conduct. One does not harm or threaten others, let alone throw a bomb to create chaos and disorder. And to be a believer is to be God-fearing and respectful of human life. This must be the relentless message in the community.
Henceforth, law and order must be emphasized, especially by the educational system, as the organizing principle of a community of Filipinos, the pillar of a progressive society.
Let us take a cue from the Charter of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO): Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.
Thus, nothing like the massacre at Ampatuan and Mamapasano should sully our collective sense of decency and righteousness ever again. No more should anyone offend human dignity by condoning terror, sabotage, or murder.
Let us nurture acts that inspire peace or goodwill. Let us strive to civilize, to promote law and order, to foster trust and confidence as befits honorable citizens of a nation of believers. And as an earnest of our intentions, let us moderate our conduct, avoiding extremes.
Then may we find our way towards reconciliation and forgiveness, living in peaceable co-existence under a regime of liberty, equality, and fraternity; where crimes and criminal disruptions no longer happen with impunity.
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Manny Valdehuesa is former UNESCO regional director for Asia-Pacific; secretary-general, Southeast Asia Publishers Association; director, development academy of Philippines; member, Philippine Mission to the UN; vice chair, Local Government Academy; member, Cory Govt’s Peace Panel; awardee, PPI-UNICEF outstanding columnist. An author of books on governance, he is chairman/convenor ofGising Barangay Movement Inc. [email protected])