MY, MY, MY MARAWI: The quest for historical justice

MARAWI CITY (MindaNews / 24 July) –  On the 42nd floor of Ortigas hotel after Eidul Fitr holidays, women civil society groups gathered anew. Sister Arnold Maria Noel offered an activist prayer at the Women’s Peace Collective Assessment of the peace prospects under the Duterte administration, “… pray against discrimination and suffering of the Moros.”

It was two weeks after the assumption of President Duterte and CSOs here saw each other for the first time after a concerted Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) lobby. What now for the peace movements, each one could be asking.

Peace gains were cited, not all is lost nor should we start from scratch. Former Peace Secretary Ging Deles noting her retirement tried to share reflections on every gain mentioning the following:

  • Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro
  • Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro
  • Draft BBL
  • Ceasefire mechanisms
  • Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission
  • Normalization

Lawyer Raissa Jajurie formerly of the Bangasmoro Transition Commission noted much international solidarity with the peace talks

For traditional enemies (State vs Moro front) to face ach other and agree to disagree and agree is one positive contribution. Finding ways to thresh out non-negotiables was a good thing. Not giving up on the table was worth noting.

Maybe we might be moving to more maturity in peace agreement-making in that political systems such as federalism may be tabled. Which should come first, BBL or federalism, no answers were offered as federalism would have to entail a bigger movement in a constitutional change unlike a BBL that requires mere legislative approval of a bill.

A proposal to form a technical working committee was reminded.

Amina Rasul gave us a wake-up call on the prevailing socio-economic conditions in ARMM that continue to feed on violence and extremism. She on the side told me how well received was the annual Eidl Fitr Festival in various parts of Manila such as the DFA Auditorium (and SM Block). I used to host the festival so I was glad that soft approaches in peacebuilding cascade and impact in public consciousness.

Was glad to be seated near a visual artist who is helping out Miriam College’s advocacy to popularize peace processes. On the side, shared notes on our other “jihad” with friends from BASULTA (Basilan Sulu Tawi-tawi). Joeo Councilor Lovely Izquierdo reminded our battle on cleaning up shores not just land from garbage.

RCBW Chairperson Jehanne Mutin who came from a Geneva UN GAD conference inspired with her experience of fasting while legworking on representing Moro women’s rights. Noorusalam ladies were each doing their faith-based activities in Metro Manila, Zamboanga, showing that one can motivate and jumpstart things even while being a minority.

I leave Manila with more luggage of inspiration. Thanks Miriam College and WAGI for organizing such collective.

Back in Marawi, I trek off to Iligan City for the briefing of Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission on its publication of findings from hundred listening sessions of victims of the Moro-government conflict.

Language of the research was a concern, and popularization so that non-Muslims understand the pains, conflict, struggles, identity. How to prevent violence to recur, and non-promotion of officials with human rights violation violence were cited.

One recommendation I read was have a Presidential apology with a minute of silence observed.

It was an emotional even  though a small group , a pregnant silence enveloped us while indigenous people’s leader Prof. Rudy Rodil spoke of the many reasons why we should correct history. He was  a historian and former GPH negotiator  and has  devoted himself to hundreds of lectures for youths to reread history in the quest for historical justice.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNew. Samira A. Gutoc-Tomawis, Ll.B., is former assemblywoman, women sector, of the Regional Legislative Assembly, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; former director, Al-Amanah Islamic Bank, Inc.; former director, Marawi Resort Hotel, Inc. See her blog at