ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/22 November) — As a young Moro boy, I heard stories of captured rebels and sympathizers who were brought to military camps never to be seen again to this day. I heard stories of unimaginable tortures – electrocution was common, directly or through extremities soaked in water, of cuticles pulled out by a pair of pliers, being hacked gradually, men thrown into barrels full of cement and of excavating their own graves. I heard stories of women molested, abused and raped, and of children taken from the safety of their mother’s womb. Horrendous tortures that will define my perception of the military, of the government and the so-called home defense.
Perhaps it is lame to be told to swallow pork knowing you are a Muslim or be denied to pray on your own, or your faith verbally abused as the devil’s? Shall I tell you of my mother’s island village suspected of coddling MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) rebels so it was decided to decimate the entire village with military bombs? Shall I tell you of my father’s home village that was to become part of the infamous 1974 Jolocaust? Shall I tell you of my childhood in Bongao where we spent hours under our houses on stilt because the military and the rebels were playing cat and mouse?
I thought I heard it all, until I became old enough to read, travel and interact more around Bangsamoro. The horrific tales just kept growing like an acacia tree. That whole community who sought refuge in a mosque only to be massacred continues to haunt me.
Why should I continue with this lingering pain? How shall I as a Filipino-Moro get healed of this pain? What shall be my position forward, not for me, but for my children and children’s children? For sure, I do not want them to go through what my elders and I went through. This kind of pain we did not and do not deserve as human beings. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Noor Saada is a Tausug of mixed ancestry – born in Jolo, Sulu, grew up in Tawi-tawi, studied in Zamboanga and had worked in Davao, Makati and Cotabato. He is a development worker and peace advocate, former Assistant Regional Secretary of the Department of Education in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, currently working as an independent consultant and is a member of an insider-mediation group that aims to promote intra-Moro dialogue).