A Look on Mindanao’s Peace Situation

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I remembered writing this essay for a contest. And with the situations today in my country, particularly in Mindanao where I live, I’m sharing my article to you..

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“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek,

but a means by which we arrive at that goal. “– Martin Luther

Many see Mindanao as a hideout for many rebel groups, a war zone – a land of unceasing conflicts: be it in arms or in ideals. Although social strife is evident throughout the island, many still hope for her peace.

Mindanao lives by contrasting beliefs: the rights by tradition and the laws of modern age. Muslim rebels have long been fighting for greater autonomy or even independence over the whole of Mindanao claiming that the greater part of the island’s lands are their ancestral domain. The most recent attempt at this is the infamous GRP-MILF Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). They believe that it is the birthright of all Moros and all indigenous peoples of Mindanao to identify themselves and be accepted as “Bangsamoros”.

But the residents of Mindanao are zealously challenging this claim. Civilians with their public leaders in Zamboanga City, North Cotabato, Iligan City and Isabela City, went out to the streets to rally against the signing of MOA. Understandably so, for they have duly acquired the land the rebels are staking claim on.

The granting of these territories would recognize the Bangsamoro’s social and cultural rights, foremost of which is the right to a homeland and self-rule. But this necessitates major constitutional changes and with the present Philippine Charter, it is even unconstitutional. If these territories be granted to them, the Filipinos will be losing more than one island; they will lose their identity as well – LuzViMin no more.

Since time immemorial, Mindanao has been two-faced: of war-driven poverty and of God-given beauty; of disparate ideals and of unified cause. The escalating armed conflict in Mindanao has affected many lives impelling them to poverty yet she remains as beautiful as the most virgin of forests.  Rebels and civilians alike, though how different their ideals may be, still wish for the same thing: the good of their people.

The government has made numerous efforts to bring peace to Mindanao, some of which are questionable. “What is being offered to the MILF is not a federal state. You cannot have an independent state — one that has its own military and can deal with foreign states — within a federal system,” said Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, United Opposition (UNO) president.

If deception be the means by which peace will be achieved, then it would seem that it would remain out of our reach.

CURRENT SITUATION(as of writing this article):

The terrorists promised to release the hostages if security forces which surrounded their jungle lair in the town of Indanan would pull out.

Troops have repositioned away from the Abu Sayyaf on Thursday, but the terrorists now wanted armed village guards helping the military to pull out also.

Three soldiers had been killed and 19 more wounded in fierce clashes..

..and still..no hostages were returned safely to their family..

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