Mabuhay Filipino Thinkers!
Our country is facing numerous predicaments right now from the Mindanao Crisis, Pork Barrel Scandal and the alleged cover ups of the Malacanan Palace to the anomalies of their Allies. Also, let us never forget the left and right mass protest action of the concerned citizens and the apparent coup plot brewing inside our very own Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Every Filipino now must be saying :
Nako! Nagkanda leche-leche na ang bayan natin. Pa ulit-ulit nalang! Sila-sila nalang!
However, I want to give our fellow readers a different perspective regarding the ongoing Mindanao Crisis based on the direct information I learned from a good friend who is a proud MNLF sympathizer and a son of a former MNLF Commander. Our conversation lasted for 2 hours and it was very detailed and enlightening on understanding the other side of the party while all we see in the mainstream media are different kinds of propaganda warfare from MNLF and AFP.
When I asked my friend about what is happening in Mindanao and their justification for the recent Zamboanga Stand-off he simply answered me point blank with this statement :
“Bro, ang problema sa Mindanao parang problema ng Palestine at Israel. Hindi ito matatapos ng MOA sa MILF dahil ang MILF malakas lang sa Cotabato, Maguindanao at Lanao del Sur habang ang MNLF naman ay malakas sa Basilan, Sulu at Tawi-Tawi. Iniwan nila kami sa ere. HIndi naman pwede ganon nalang”
Then, I asked him what do they want to achieve and why are they still supporting Nur Misuari who was given a chance already to lead ARMM as a Governor after the 1996 Peace Covenant with FVR.
“Bro, ang peace covenant na iyan. Hindi naman na sunod at hindi binigay ng gobyerno lahat. Hindi naman autonomy talaga iyan dahil controlled pa rin ng Government ang mga mamumuno sa ARMM dahil pinapabahaan nila ng pera. Isa pa, walang consistency dahil every 6 years iba na naman ang leader. Peace talks na inumpisahan ni FVR, tinapos naman ng All out war ni Erap. Mga kapatid din namin ang mga MILF at halos lahat iyan ay magkakamag anak o magkaka kilala dahil maliit lang ang Mindanao.”
In all honesty, I simply do not believe that it is a valid justification on the problem since Nur Misuari already had the chance to be the Governor and blew it away backed by numerous alleged scandals that he just personally enriched himself while in the office. However, I still listened to him with an open mind and asked him about the solution he believed that can solve the whole ongoing chaos in Mindanao and he answers me again with his broken tagalog with a crisp Tausug accent.
“Una sa lahat bro, dapat di nakiki elam si Maam Climaco (Mayor of Zamboanga City) dahil Mayor kalang. National issue ito, dapat ine-endorse nya ito sa national level hindi yung palaban agad ang dating mo syempre lalaban at lalaban iyang mga tao. They are asking for freedom deprived to them. Lahat nalang ng ARMM head galing sa Malacanan. Linalaro nalang nila ang pinangako nilang demokrasya. Ano aasahan mo samin na maniwala kami sa mga tao na nangangako ng freedom bro eh di nga nila maayos ang Metro Manila. Dapat ang ARMM kung gusto nila ayusin may District 1 and District 2. Example : Basilan-Sulu-Tawi Tawi malakas si Nur District 1 iyan and District 2 naman kung saan malakas ang MILF.”
I asked him if is it possible that MILF and MNLF would join force together for a united Bangsamoro Autonomous State :
“Imposible bro. Hindi mangyayari iyan dahil parang magkakapatid iyan na may pride na rin at isa pa every 6 years iba ang pangulo. Hindi guarantee na ang pinag uusapan ngayon itutuloy ng susunod. Parang parliamentary government ang ARMM na puro assemblyman pero ang mga taxes puro National Government pa rin. 25-75 revenue sharing hindi pa napapatunayan na mangyayari iyan. ”
Now, I am more confused. Why are they still asking for freedom and total autonomy kung ranks lang nila di nila ma unite? Still, I do not want to prejudge them because they are the one who is directly involved in the situation while I am talking to him inside the comfort of my home where hospitals are within my reach, basic roads and infrastructure is never a problem and I have the luxury of being literate while most of our brothers in Mindanao do not have basic materials for a primary education. Wait a minute!
Did I just mentioned luxury of being literate? Did I just emphasized basic services?
I think we are about to understand the problem more and YES! We are about to find out what is the real problem. Is it our Bangsamoro brothers and sisters or the Government ? or “US” Filipino people in Luzon and Visayas who never treated nor consider them as our very own family?
Anyway, here we go for our another piece of conversation when I asked about what may happen if they “successfully” seceded as a country or in simple term : “Humiwalay sa Pilipinas”
“Bro, if maging successful we can enjoy more funds/resources to build more roads, infrastructure tulad ng palengke, hospital, mosque, eskwelahan. Ang nangyayari pinepera lang nila lahat ang pondo. Matagal na ito ginagawa sa Mindanao hindi kami pinapakinggan pero sa Luzon 10B pork barrel scam national headlines na agad. Hindi naman kami trina trato na Pilipino. Kahit mapunta kami sa Malaysia mas pabor samin iyon dahil mas maiintindihan kami ng kapwa namin Muslim at mas malapit sa amin ang kultura.”
Did he just mentioned basic services and infrastructure? Did he just mentioned that they are open to be part of Malaysia rather than continue as part of a Philippine where they are often deprived of basic human rights? Something must be wrong not just to them but in the Philippines society as well.
Marahil tama sila. Kung ang Ampatuan na nagnakaw ng bilyon-bilyon ay hanggang ngayon wala pa mi isa na nahatulan sa kabila ng kanilang pag ma-masaker sa isang katutak na mga Journo/media. Ano ang mararamdaman nila kung sa Metro Manila naman ay halos mapatalsik na ang Presidente dahil sa 10B pork barrel scam habang sila ay matagal na itong rinereklamo? Sila palagi ang bagsakan ng bomba para ma lihis ang issue sa Metro Manila. Are we realistic when we say we are Pro-Philippines? or is this the proper time to change the stand to Pro-Filipino.
Let us never forget that Metro Manila alone evicted 2 Presidents and while a big chunk of Mindanao is considered as a “war zone.”
We talked for 2 hours and discussed many things both personal and our public stand on some important topics. However, not to make this article any longer. I would like to end this by a very important and enlightening recollection I had when he answered my simple question:
I told him :
“Bro. what we need is to empower the people to speak up their mind and share their sentiments and suggestions in the government without a fear of a possible political reprisal and equalize the opportunity of Filipino people to serve the public by reforming our expensive election system. Do you think bro we can push that idea to our brothers in Mindanao? Do you think that can be a good answer to your quest for equality and empowerment?”
He answered :
“Not at this moment bro. It cannot be done in a system bro na lahat korakot. Lahat magnanakaw, lahat may ambisyon maging Presidente para sa interest nila. Mangyari man yan bro, every 6 years palit ng pangulo. Bago ang direksyon. Sa ngayon bro, hanggat hindi kami napapakinggan instead ang 3rd generations ng fighters sa sa plenaryo at microphone ang hawak sa pakikipag laban. Hindi ito matatapos at bakbakan pa rin ito hanggang sa susunod na generation. Pano namin pagkatiwalaan ang gobyerno na hindi consistent at pabago-bago. Gobyerno na nagpapabaha ng pera kada eleksyon para mag bilihan ng boto. Sistema na kung sino sino ang kandidato at hindi nakikipag debate para malaman kung ano ang plano at plataporma.”
It is really hard to conclude anything in a society where we are divided by our political and sociological biases. However, let us look forward that majority of the Filipinos may have a better understanding that unless we listen to them as a Filipino and share to them the basic human rights and services that are needed we cannot expect anything new. They will simply close their ears from the same people who are offering them to “freedom and democracy” that even us in Manila failed to implement well.
They made a lot of pragmatic standpoint. How can we export our own brand of democracy and freedom if we are still having a hard time implementing it in our own backyard? Let us never forget that they never stop in raising the issue that they are a different “state” from the Philippines.
You want a better and peaceful Mindanao? We should start empowering our fellow Filipinos all around the world to be heard. Give them an avenue where they can speak up their mind and suggest.
Give them a fair and transparent election, An informative and not a limiting kind where only the rich and strangers’ with the blessing of the Malacanan Palace can participate. Unless we start addressing the right problem, we cannot get the solutions we want.
Wait a minute, am I talking about their simple request that we here in Manila cannot even enjoy?
I do not want to end this article this way but it seems that we are in a chicken and egg situation. I do not want to say “God Bless the Philippines!” nalang talaga and I still want to believe that there is good hope for this country within our lifetime.
# End #
Edwardo Miguel Guevarra Roldan
Isang Samahan, Isang Pilipinas (ISIP) and Think Philippines!
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