Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Mamasapano Clash

If it not be disrespectful to the grieving of the widows, I wonder if it is permissible for me to think that the justice she called for – in tearfully coming to accept that her husband is a national hero fallen – moves beyond the gut-wrenching demand in grief for retributive justice. Was she demanding, somewhat in the spirit of the law of retribution, the lex talionis, that for her husband and every fallen soldier, an enemy’s wife lose the same number of husbands among the enemy be killed? Was she demanding an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, so that for every soldier shot at close range in the face, and enemy soldier be shot in the face, for every limb severed, an enemy limb be severed? Was she demanding that the cycle of violence be renewed with a vengeance so that Mindanao be returned again from a land of promise to a vale of tears?

Or was she calling for justice for the lives of the fallen because the militaristic police operation had evidently been botched? The somber ceremony of the necrological services was eclipsing this. Was she calling for justice even for the person to whom she was appealing for justice, the Commander in Chief, who had entrusted the sensitive mission of heroes to the discretion of a police commander of assailed integrity whom the Ombudsman had suspended for suspected graft and corruption? Was she calling for justice because the mission of heroes was now associated with baser motives covetous of a foreigner’s bounty? Was she calling for justice because the mission that could have been successful failed because the proper coordination with the military had not been made, or the proper coordination with the nation’s partner for peace on the ground in Mindanao, the MILF, as had been agreed for such operations, had been discounted?

It is with the strains of our national anthem in mind, that the image of the children of Mamasapano is so poignant. They are children, Moros and Filipinos too, walking for peace. They are not walking in a circle of violence, which in their future leads them only to be the parents of children of violence in unending killing and war. They are walking out of decades and centuries of war into the dream that we all share of something of heaven marking our life on earth in the Pearl of the Orient Seas: “…buhay ay langit sa piling mo.” It is a dream, an appeal, a journey for peace.

In this light, the three hundred bayani were not sent into Mamasapano to kill Muslims, nor to kill the peace process, nor even to kill anyone. They were sent in to serve arrest warrants for terrorists, to serve the instruments of justice in peace. They were not sent in to distinguish between the BIFF and the MILF in a small town of intertwined families and traditions nor to make judgments on any of them. How could they do this? They were sent in to serve warrants of arrest on two persons.

Under the leadership of the MILF, we must all appreciate, these are children of warriors who themselves are walking away from the way of guns and violence into the way of peace. They are our partners in peace. The decommissioning of arms accord in Malaysia yesterday between the MILF and the Philippine Government brings this partnership a step further. It is an agreement that goes deeply counter to local culture of power and personal recognition in the possession of arms, but it is an agreement forged in the hope of a higher culture of democratic negotiation and waging peace through forged agreements.

Those who have little opportunity to learn of Islam and perhaps even of Christianity and come to an appreciation of the history, culture and peoples of Mindanao, and those who have not yet had the opportunity to appreciate the provisions of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law nor had the opportunity to learn of the spirit of the autonomy provisions in1987 Constitution must appreciate that the MILF is not calling for an Islamic State that uses centralized power to eliminate the non Muslim. The MILF is standing to a Bangsamoro which recognizes a diversity of religions, the Philippine Constitution, the rule of law, the wisdom of democracy, the vested rights of current property owners, the importance of a second and more difficult Jihad of education, the full demands of social justice.

We can embrace each other as brothers and sisters,

Neighbors, partners, friends, and fellow Filipinos,

living in peace – a just and lasting peace in our homeland that you also call your promised land.

We mourn together for our loss.

Let us work together to attain justice and lasting peace

so that what happened in the cornfields of Mamasapano

and other battlefields in Mindanao

will never happen again.

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