Last of two parts
DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 04 September) — Nurredha Misuari says that in the meeting with Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez, she saw how everyone “just wants to cooperate now and they are really … for this unity, for peace” and are focusing on the future. “Kaming mga anak ninyo, your children, ang sabi ko, I’m really happy with what’s happening now kasi few years ago this was not even possible.”
She told everyone in the meeting: “Now the challenge from us your children po is within the context of these two questions… The first question is what kind of legacy do you want us your children would inherit from you? Number 2 question: what kind of nation do you want to build for our future?”
Nurredha says she bears no grudges against the children of the other MNLF leaders who left his father’s side. “We are not talking about ourselves here, or our interests here. We are talking about our people, we are talking about the future, the children so we can easily set aside our personal issues.”
She said her father “was very happy” seeing the photos in Malacanang during the oath-taking and seeing the children of his comrades who are also Members of Parliament (MPs).
“Was he not resistant given that the BTA is MILF-led,” MindaNews asked. Nurredha replied: “No no. Sabi pa nga niya he wants to visit Murad. Really, it’s really something. Ama is really open now.” Murad is Ahod ‘Al Haj Murad’ Ebrahim, MILF chair and concurrent interim Chief Minister of the BARMM.
“Knowing na nandito na yung mga anak ng leaders na kasama niya noon and he’s looking beyond, yung sa future. Sabi niya sa akin, ‘always remember using the next generation, using that term. That is very important. Think always about the next generation. Yan na yung important ngayon.’ So yun yung sabi niya sa amin and he’s very happy,” Nurredha said.
Abdullah Hashim says he is “very optimistic” and very happy about the new BTA composition.
“If played well, Inshallah, very hopeful ako na parang papunta na talaga siya doon sa inaasam na peace” (that we will really achieve peace). He said they were very happy when the MNLF under Sema participated in the MILF-led BTA but there was “always this longing na yung Misuari, you know President Duterte was pacifying them pero parang ano kaya, like for example, especially now? What they will do, so nung pinakita nila through this gesture na they want to participate, they want to help the BTA, the Bangsamoro, so it is a very welcome development and hopefully we can work together.”
He said he is aware that the MPs have their own agenda “but hopefully makahanap ng commonalities” (we can find commonalities) so they can push for a common agenda and focus on it and have a level playing field in the first regional elections in 2025.
What will they contribute to the BTA?
Omar Sema says he is not in the BTA as the son of Muslimin Sema but in his capacity as “one of those who wrote the Bangsamoro Basic Law” and on who has institutional memory of the process. “I know how the BOL went through during its legislation and that’s an important aspect in our work sa BTA para malaman natin yung intent ng law sa mga provisions.”
Sema says “there is really a need for us to be united,” especially since 2025 is an election year.
“We should be on board the BARMM government, be it the MILF or the MNLF or the traditional politicians, religious leaders. Dapat iisa na lang kami at that time (2025) and of course there will still be political parties but the point is, we must reach the point where we now have the same, we share the same mindset … that we are a people who have achieved this level of autonomy, self-governance, na we … no longer have to wage war for the pursuit of our aspirations but we now have a government that truly represents us and a government where we can exercise our aspirations, yung genuine autonomy and identity namin,” Sema said.
Abdulkarim Misuari says “i-maximize ko ang kaya ko whatever, not (just) to the BTA. I want to contribute to the whole republic, to right the wrongs.”
“We are not here to challenge anybody, we are not here to take power from anybody, we are here to lend a hand. We are here to help,” he stressed.
Hamid Malik, who at 27 is the youngest member of the 80-member BTA, wants to work on a Medical Reserve Corps that President Marcos talked about in his State of the Nation Address on July 25.
Nurredha Misuari’s quick reply on what she can contribute to the BTA is: “I can be a voice. I can be the voice of those young women on the ground and you know before designing any programs, laws or policies, services, we really have to go back to ground. We need to gather the most accurate and the most recent data para we anchor our decisions from those data, para correct and decision natin and timely siya.”
She wants to have finance literacy caravans “to encourage the youth to know more about financial literacy kasi you know, especially women sa ating bangsa, it’s in our culture na mga babae we handle the finances of the family so women and the children should be financially literate para may direction sila, they know how to spend their money whether konti lang or marami, they know how to spend their money wisely, para walang waste, and that’s something I can share from the degree that I graduated from,” said the youngest female member of the BTA.
Albakil Jikiri wants the reconciliation process within the MNLF and with the MILF to continue. He says a law could be passed on this, and “at the same time,” he wants to do everything he can to ensure that the Bangsamoro Government attends to the needs of its constituents., including those who were widowed during the war.
Abdullah Hashim is “just happy” that a peace agreement had been reached and the BARMM has been established but he actually preferred a “private life, tahimik lang, away from the limelight.”
He was hesitant in becoming a BTA member. “It’s not my dream to .. become like a politician or like someone overseeing na napakalaking responsibility,” he said, adding that while some people want it, “hindi yun for me” (it’s not for me).
But fate intervened and he was appointed BTA member in late 2020. Soonafter, his doubts about being inexperienced were addressed with the help of his mentors in the parliament. “Hindi naman ako politician, hindi ako nasa government so parang may fresh output … fresh insight. Meron rin tayong nadala sa table,” he said.
As children of Moro revolutionary leaders, they grew up with people having high expectations of them. As members of BTA now, how are they coping with the pressure?
Albakil Jikiri says the MNLF members in Sulu are still around and have high expectations of them. He acknowledges that without them, he would not be in this position.
“Although we became children of Jikiri, of Nur, of Sema, the main thing is, we are here in the Parliament because of the revolution waged by the MNLF so we will do our best, we cannot promise because many promises have been broken, but we will do our best to help because what we are fighting for — hula, bangsa, agama — we want our people to feel that this is not just for us but for them,” he said in Filipino.
Omar Sema admits he feels the pressure because his dad has people looking up to him “and we have to act like disciplined people” because the children of the commanders and the commanders themselves are also looking up to them “and of course they expect us also to have, magpakita na matalino din kami, na may alam din kami, na we understand their causes … and we have to treat them also as how our father has been treating them.”
“Do the right thing”
Abdulkarim Misuari says the time to be pressured was before the decision if he will join the BTA or not.
He recalled telling his brother, “this is what our parents fought for, our family, our bangsa. Is it worth fighting for? “
“That’s the question. Kasi if it’s not worth fighting for, pahinga tayo (let us rest). Let’s be like anybody else there, enjoy our lives, nobody knows us. So, the thing is, it’s worth fighting for di ba? Yung karapatan nang, yung mga tao, wala silang privilege na may boses. So that was the time that we decided na we should move, we should join. After that, it’s just the decision that’s the hardest part.”
He cites the interview he recently watched, of Pink Floyd’s co-founder and vocalist, Roger Walters, who said that when he was a teenager, his mother advised him that in making decisions, he should listen to everybody whether he/she agrees with him or not; that he should listen, read and learn and that these are the hard steps. What comes next, the mother said, is easy: do the right thing.
“Now it’s like yung sinabi ng nanay ni Roger. We have to do the right thing. Do the right thing even against the odds. Do the right thing even though sa tingin ng mga iba, it’s not right,” he said, adding that at the end of the day, it’s his name that is at stake and that his children will bear the impact of the decision he would make. “So, I don’t have the luxury to be pressured, I don’t have the luxury to be intimidated. It’s not me, it’s not Abdulkarim who is here, it’s the people that I’m fighting for.”
Continuation, not replication
“All my life,” says Abdullah Hashim, he has “struggled with it” and eventually learned to become “comfortable” with the people’s high expectations of the children of revolutionary leaders.
He said their attachment to the legacies of their fathers is “paano maipakita sa nakakarami na ito na yung continuation noon, hindi … yung ire-replicate pa yung ginawa nila” (how to show to them that this is a continuation, not a replication of what they did).
He said if he can use his father’s name to help in the peace process, as he did recently when he slammed a group claiming to be members of the “MILF Salamat Wing,” that is “okay” with him.
But Abdullah says he is not his father and he does not have to be his father. He said leadership in the MILF is not inherited. There are many who are more qualified than him and if there is one who can be developed as a leader, “there’s no problem with me.”
He notes how those who are near and dear to his dad are also looking at him and watching if he is doing good in serving the Bangsamoro. “Okay na yan sa akin. Hindi ko masyado ma feel yung pressure kasi I don’t need to be the next Salamat Hashim, not necessarily in the context of being a revolutionary, but as a person serving the Bangsamoro, religious figure for example serving the Bangsamoro in these peace times na … I don’t need to be the next Salamat Hashim. Another person can be that one, yeah, not me, so I don’t feel that pressure.”
Hamid Malik says people who look up to his father always asks about his children.
But he wants to show that there are other ways, “hindi lang ang revolutionary na makipag-gyera” (being a revolutionary is not just going to war).
“Actually there is also revolutionary na pwede gamitin natin sa utak, pwede natin gamitin sa pagkaka-pulong pulong na ganito (using our brain power or through meetings like this),” he said.
To serve the people, Hamid said, is what is always in his heart, especially as a nurse. “Nasa puso ko talaga. I’m not, hindi lang ako anak ng father ko actually… ang iniisip ko lang palagi is paano ko ma i-extend ang help ko” (It’s in my heart. I’m not just the son of my father. What I always think of is how to extend my help to the people), of course with my profession. He said he wants to help everyone, not just those in Jolo, Sulu but also the nation.
He says he does not feel much of the pressure because it was expected that people look up to their fathers. “So that’s why I wanted to extend my help to them .. in any way na ikakabuti talaga sa community, sa mga people.”
Misuari’s daughter, Nurredha admits feeling the pressure. “Yes po, yes because we understand the gravity of the situation and the responsibility po. We are talking about lives, we are talking about the future of our people, the survival of our culture of Islam in our bangsa, we are talking about hula and bangsa and most of all is our agama, so it’s not an easy task.”
She said she understands it fully but what makes it easier and bearable is “you know that you’re not alone, you cannot do this alone. You have to work as a collective.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)
Children of the Bangsamoro Revolution: their battlefield is Parliament (1)