By Nash B. Maulana
Innalillahi Wa Inna Ilayhi Rajion (To God we belong and to God we shall return).
You were fresh from a long detention at Fort Bonifacio when we met after Edsa in 1986. You were politically tagged when everyone who was against the prevailing system was being Leftist – and was charged of subversion under the now repealed R.A. 9600, I was told.
You were the one and only “Uncle Sam” that Moro students got to mingle with in a number of engagements in our extracurricular activities in the Metro back in the ’80s.
You were our adviser and mentor at the weekly Bangsa (Bangsamoro Student Alliance) intercollegiate paper which I edited (1987-1988). You were also there when I moved to the MHRC (Moro Human Rights Center). Yours was a familiar face at the Philippine Social Science Center Building, and indeed, anywhere the Moro students met to stand up in protest against human rights violations perpetrated against the Moros.
You were there at the last ditch of those confluence of efforts to save the Kuliat Madrasah in Tandang Sora from demolition when half of the community land was surreptitiously sold to Iglesia ni Kristo.
In professional community peace works, we were both part of some projects that brought forth big success for greater welfare:
We were together for a CSAC (Children in Situations of Armed Conflict) project in Maguindanao and Cotabato for the UNICEF with Raymond L. Toledo in 1993.
The second was the CSO support initiative for a dialogue to bridge the blazing gap between the National Government and the MILF, in a bid to help halt the military operations against recalcitrant Moro forces in Maguindanao and Cotabato provinces in 2008, following the MOA-AD rejection by the Supreme Court, and in order to give way to a fresh start in the peace process. We were then together with Col. Ernesto Aradanas, Kaka Guaimel Alim, the late Congressman Simeon A. Datumanong, and Rajah Buayan Mayor Zamzamin Lumenda Ampatuan, among others.
We would hold small group meetings at the residence of the late Congressman Simeon Datumanong along Ilang-Ilang Street in Cotabato City and in the Crossing Simuay compound of the late MILF First Vice-Chairman Ghazzali Jaafar, and sometimes at Estosan Café when the number of participants increased.
As CBCS (Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society) Secretary-General then, Bapa Sam signed a letter addressed to then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, through Datumanong, and together with Guiamel Alim as the CEO of KFI (Kadtuntaya Foundation, Inc.), he asked the national government through the President to “stop the military offensives in Maguindanao and Cotabato provinces and give way to a fresh start in the peace process” stalled by the attacks simultaneously launched by recalcitrant Moro guerrillas.
The third time we were together in a project was in the Great October Bangsamoro Agenda-Setting by which we drafted – and the CSO representatives signed – a Letter to the UN Secretary-General in 2008, seeking for international intervention to help manage a humanitarian situation here in 2008. That CSO-BM initiative was jointly supported by the UN ACT for Peace (with Danny Ong) and by the LGSPA (Local Governance Support in ARMM, with point person Joseph Palanca).
The fourth time and the most strange for you, being a First Quarter Storm activist of the ’70s and martial law detainee, was a clandestine CMO (Civil Military Operations) support to address community concerns in the post-Maguindanao Massacre situation and help clear-in-character some villages, including those around Shariff Aguak town (amid GMA’s martial law in 2009). We were together with Gen. Anthony Alcantara, Col. Rudy Asto, Sheaharazade Rivero-Lu Datumanong, Capitana Suraida Ampatuan Mamaluba, and Anwar Kuit Emblawa, among several others.
And how could I and Anwar forget the condition that you would set for the meeting, through the 6th Infantry Division Commanding General, that officers and soldiers attending the meeting should not be conspicuously bringing firearms to the venue? And so they did comply!
(Nash B. Maulana of Maguindanao is presently a news contributor of the Manila Standard. He has written articles for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Philippine Free Press, and The Mindanao Cross, where he has a weekly column.)