MOORISH AND MOORING IN TAWI-TAWI REEF: Martial Law? Let it be as Perennial as War

BONGAO, Tawi-tawi (MindaNews / 21 July) — Identity cards. Checkpoints. Bombing and shelling. Warrantless arrest and detention of jamaa tableegh who could have spared themselves had they shaved fast enough. Two of such religious missionaries claiming to be Sabahan and bearing fake IDs were detained in Zamboanga City but no human rights advocates came. No religious, no civil liberty defenders would dare ruin his reputation and be tagged as terrorist-coddler.

So, No, we do not need extension here, where it has not really left us since 1972. Tell them to please just keep it going the business-as-usual way.

True, the past 60 days have all been pushing us to that edge, reeling between the thin line of fear and anger. If there was one good news that broke the monotony and changed the mood to a little upbeat for the week — one that stretched the smirk slightly into a smile — it was the submission of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and its affirmative reciprocation by the PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte). Yes. That one we could take with genuine gladness like the bitterness in one sip of a good kahawa sug (Sulu coffee).

But no big deal. One does not dwell in mirages. So to be quickly rid of this feel-good pat on the back is our best option. To be clear of its corruption and snake-eyed temptation is to be freed from its every possible complication, lest we turn deliriously ecstatic and be epileptic with frustration again. One must immediately seek homeostasis. Be moderated and back to maintaining that only remaining uncompromised location, to be outside, dispassioned and unaffected, and if needs be, to be distant.

Do not take anything from it or benefit out of it for one’s own, or to profit from in anyway it for self’s sake. Wary and mindful, one must keep being warned that in the present scheme of things, any option or particular preference — BBL, federal, NAL (New Autonomous Law) -ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) — is always an occupied choice; colonized by political vested-interest that to take one as my own will be like getting really martial-lawed and allowing oneself to be kidnapped, hijacked, arrested and locked-up with no clear charges – at gunpoint, there are no real choices really when it comes to choosing the way to die. It is no choice at all to be summarily executed into subservience to partisan politics that serves only its own masters.

It had been a long 60-days, not least because half of it was a month of fasting for purification, but we saw it through having to live wired and hooked like some tokhang-able addicts to the e-waves, glued to the TV, connected by unli-text messages for updates, tangled in grapevine gossips. By all modes and means, desperate to cross-check and re-assure ourselves that we are not yet the programmable sons-of-extremists or addicts-suspect-turned-terrorists-so-die fitted into the straightjacket of their loose and fast changing definitions.

And then there had been those much joking, threatening, apologizing, hood-winking, double-talking, even bigoted hyperbolic praising that needed us to be keen interpreters and wise guessers of meaning, clearly indicating that the safest is still to be guarded, self-sufficient and independent, not to be anywhere near where there are grey areas giving excuses for legislators to ask for IDs. Stay away from where there are surprise checkpoints in every plebiscite required. When one has evaded their kidnapping attempts, it is here — to federate or not, BBL or no-BBL, ARMM or disARMM — where unexploded ordnances are planted that a perfect ambush is hiding. Extension of Martial Law? Let it drone. No probs.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Mucha-Shim Lahaman Quiling is a native of Sulu and considers herself a cultural translator and political interpreter who has chosen to hover in the margins and live in diaspora. Having no permanent residence and academic affiliation for the last ten years, her searching allowed her to experience roaming and transiting in the littoral rims of NE Indonesia, and here at home, from Basilan strait to the waters of Sulu and Tawitawi, simulating as close as possible the traditional homes of Bajau and Suluk nations of Nusantara (maritime Southeast Asia).  Arung Mucha is a hybrid of the Sama and Suk; a daughter of the clan of Panglima Saipuddin from Laminusa island, Siasi, Sulu; with mixed-ethnic grandparents, of Suk minSilangkan, and Suk-Ilanun of Luuk, Sulu)