Posted by: luvin | September 21, 2008

In Mindanao Peace is Non-negotiable

I am writing this, as a reaction to Antinio La Vina’s article (apparently the issues are successfully articulated as it made me to react) “In Mindanao, peace is non-negotiable” posted at Antonio La Vina is from Cagayan de Oro, and is the Dean of Ateneo School of Government, which made it even more interesting.

Oftentimes, it is tempting to discuss the legality of issues at hand even if we don’t have the expertise to dwell on the legal aspect of the matter. But when legal experts speaks or writes, we can’t help but pay our attention to them.

First, I would like to start where he ended. Why he is advocating social entrepreneurship, why he is for peace…..because he saw first hand the brutality of war, when he led a group of young people that provide relief assistance to evacues in his hometown, Cagayan de Oro during the wars of 70’s.

One of his interesting point, is his admonition to warlike rhetoric which is a lefthanded jab at local leaders who on instinctive mode made  those remarks. He admonished the local leaders whose speeches may have fanned the flames of hatred and war.

He maybe right. But the local leaders reaction are equally justifiable. There appears to be divergent attitude towards this problem in Mindanao.

For me, Antonio La Vina’s experiences appears to be lacking,  for him to trully understand the implications of exploding bombs or the emotional distress brought by terroristic activities. Or for him to trully understand the emotional implications of BJE.  I would like to avoid proposing that one has to be on the war ground to trully understand war, but Ican’t help to assume that perhaps viewing the moro problem from the airconditioned room in Ateneo have somehow clouded the real issues, or perhaps his long stay in Metro Manila, or his stay in Cagayan which is relative peaceful, donot allow him to trully appreciate the complexity of the problem.

Local Leaders Reaction

Why would local leader’s rhetoric sound like an invitation to war? It is not really clear to me, but perhaps the reaction is instictive rather than a product of a careful comtemplation. When somebody throws a jab on your face, your initial reaction is to duck, and retaliate in the same manner. Throw a jab and follow it with a cross and an uppercut. That would normally results to an ugly commotion. And when the heat subsides, in hindsight, you may regret that you reacted that way. But you can’t help it.

Maybe it is the culture of war (an abused phrase often used by people who have never lived in places where actual exchanges of gunfires happen) that is taking it ugly face, but  I tend to support the local leaders views in this matter. My initial reaction is more aligned to the barbaric side, than to the utopian rhethorics of peace. When Manny Pinol encited the people of Cotabato province to take up arms to defend themselves, I immediately said, amen.  I also said, we should defend our rights, we should defend our future and the future of our children. We have to arm ourselves.

On hindsight, I realized that my initial reaction was not exactly helpful.  Maybe those were  not the right words to say, but I sometimes, too, the wrong turns out to be the best option during the wrong moment.

There are several points, though, that I totally agree with Mr. La Vina. First is about the lost opportunity.  He said, “we have lost and opportunity,” but not is totally lost. I wish to also add, that sometimes it is better to lose an opportunity, than to grab it, but in doing so, we grab more shit with it.

I also like his suggestion for a QUAD, approach for the negotiation. Yes, the local people, the lumad, the moros, and the government must sit together to discuss what need to be done, what can be agreed upon, what are the right approaches to solve this problem.

Likewise, the mention of the dysfunctional unitary system, which is also contributory to the leadership crisis in the local level. A system that supports the continued domination of inept and corrupt local leadership.

The root of this problem I think is the moro elite’s desire to regain lost dominion. There is nothing wrong with it, as they have proven to have historical basis for their aspiration, and they have proven to have the capacity to engage this government to a protracted war. It is just right to provide them the opportunity to regain their REGAL BEARING, but please, not at the expense of the non moros.



  1. Dear Luvin,

    Thank you for your honest observation on the crisis in Mindanao.

    I can’t blame you and the other Christians if you are skeptic (I don’t know if that is the proper term but what I mean is about your understanding of the Islam religion) of our capacity and effectiveness in governing ourselves when granted with a truly autonomous political power.

    I don’t have the energy to refute the realities you have cited (e.g. datuism, elitism, landlordism, etc.) about the contemporary Moro leadership as these are very obvious particularly in the ARMM. But I just wanted to share with you that what some (if not most) of these Moro leaders have done and are doing are un-Islamic in nature.

    Datuism, for example, where cruelty, opportunism, terrorism, etc. are evident as its core elements are strongly condemned by Islam. Our Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) if you search for the truth will tell you that the system of datuism (such as in Mindanao, for example) is strongly condemnable. He is of royal origin but never had he exercised dictatorship.

    It may be hard to prove that what I am telling you is true because it is very different from what you experienced and observed not only in the Philippines but also in some other Muslim countries. But I just wanted to clarify that a truly Muslim country is the one completely following the teaching of the Qur-an and the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) where everybody has the right to co-exist provided that everybody is faithful to his religion, doesn’t undermine the existence of each other’s group, doesn’t transgress each other and doesn’t do other form of injustices to humanity. It is only when any of these condemnable acts that an Islamic country or community or group will react aggressively through, to some extent, the use of force (arm struggle). Hence to respect what Islam is advocating for, which are for the benefits of all – regardless of color, ethnicity or nationality, religion, etc. – means peace and prosperity to all.

    Full Autonomy based on the principles of Islamic governance is the one we are aspiring for, because we firmly believe that it’s only this way that the condemnable acts I have cited above can be eradicated, regardless of who will commit any of them; either they be Moros, Lumads or Christians or any group for that matter.

    But again, you will not completely understand the things that I shared with you if you will not read and understand our Qur-an and the traditions of the prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) – not necessarily to adopt them, but just to know them. Just try to read them and you will conclude that what some (if not most) of the Moro leaders, including other Muslim leaders in the world, are doing are un-Islamic. Please don’t be deceived by some interpreters who just wanted to highlight the violent teachings of Islam without stating first why Islam is acting that way.

    The BJE (MOA-AD) may be the solution to the Bangsamoro problem. But granting that the operation of this system will deviate from the Islamic perspective as its leaders will still practice the traditional ills such as datuism, elitism, landlordism and other forms of social injustices not only to the Moros but also to Lumads and Christians, expect that not only the Lumads and Christians may revolt against the system but more importantly the TRULY MUSLIM MOROS will continue its arm struggle for a PEACEFUL AND PROGRESSIVE COMMUNITY for the Mindanaons.

    Lastly, i just wanted to go back a little bit about the Pinols’ very strong objections to the MOA-AD and Umra Katu’s allegedly terroristic (un-Islamic) activities. I am confident that you are an independent minded Christian – like Archbishop Quevedo and Fr. Mercado, to mention a few – who wants to seek peace, justice and progress for all; as Jesus Christ (Peace Be Upon Him) had maintained his advocacy for truth and peace.

    I would advice you to please do an independent investigation about the Pinols’ acquired land properties which can be affected by the MOA-AD: how they acquired these thousand hectares of the ancestrally claimed land of the Bangsamoro (parts of Columbio, Tulunan and M’lang in the nearby marshy areas) and the Lumads (Arakan valley); the bearing of Manny’s anti-MOA-AD move on his surreptitious plan to run against Susing Sacdalan for the 2010 Governoship in Cotabato, and on his strategy to use the poor Ilonggos (mostly) to advance his plan.

    For Umra Katu, if you could have access on independent Christians in the nearby villages in Tubak, Aleosan, they may provide you information whether Katu really started the war or not, and may tell you if he really killed innocent Christian civilians and burned Christian houses.

    To seek for the truth, join the independent local human rights groups and the Bangsamoro to request the direct participation of International Investigating Body – although I personally hate to involve outsiders but that is the only way because of the bias investigation of the local CHR, the mass media and other anti-Moros investigating groups – to settle the issue, once and for all. I would suggest the inclusion of human rights advocates from the U.S.A. and the Europen union (not to include the OIC) so that no one can say that the group is siding the Bangsamoro.



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