(Statement of Mujiv Hataman, Governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, on the 50th anniversary of the Jabidah Massacre).
I join the rest of the Bangsamoro people in remembering the martyrs of Jabidah.
Fifty years ago, our brothers from Sulu and Tawi-tawi were lured from their homes with the promise of a decent living and the honor that comes with serving the country. Instead they were subjected to abuse, driven to mutiny, and ultimately gunned down, defenseless.
Decades hence, the Jabidah Massacre has remained a wound in the Bangsamoro psyche—cauterized, perhaps, but ever-present. While it remains a footnote, mere foam ebbing against the forgetfulness of Filipino history, it stands jagged within the Bangsamoro narrative. The story of Jabidah and what it represents—the deception, the suffering, and the very indignity of having to fight for acknowledgment of this deception and suffering—strains against our efforts to look towards a fairer, more equitably progressive future for our people.
Indeed, this Bangsamoro vision has remained elusive. We have been offered few windows to achieve it. There have been times when our fellow Filipinos were less than generous in their faith in our ability to determine our own fate. At times, we ourselves, or those we chose to represent us, have squandered opportunities to prove that we are capable of doing so.
And yet, today, fifty years after the blood of the Jabidah martyrs were spilt, we are afforded a pathway that has perhaps been too long in coming. The Bangsamoro Basic Law is now being debated upon in earnest in the halls of Congress. From where I stand, it enjoys support not only from our communities and the many Bangsamoro sectors, but from many national leaders who recognize that it is time to fix a system that has only encouraged patronage, neglect, and poverty.
We see its passage as an integral stride in the Bangsamoro struggle. As I have said many times before: We are almost there. There are times when our leaps lengthen, and times when we merely inch forward — but we must remain steadfast and disciplined and hopeful; we must funnel our frustration intro resolve. We must do everything within our capacity to ensure that the BangsamoroBasic Law is enacted.
Soon enough, Insha Allah, the story of our Jabidah brothers will be part of a richer tapestry: One where tragedy breeds hope; where grief bleeds into determination, and ultimately, triumph: The achievement of the Bangsamoro dream, where we look up to a flag that not only recognizes injustice, but strives towards justice in all its forms; where we sing an anthem that not only inspires us towards unity, but celebrates diversity.