The uncanny similarities that Macabangkit B. Lanto observed in Marawi City during the first and second impositions of military rule, the latter only in Mindanao (“Flashback to Marawi in ’72,” Opinion, 5/28/17), point to the reality that the issues surrounding the first are the same ones involved in the second. The added factors are the drug problem and, most importantly, the Islamic State persuasion. Or are these mere multiplications of the same rationale of the original uprising? That is, the poorest reside here in Mindanao?
Most uncanny, too, is the taking of a Catholic priest as the easy pawn in the rampage of the Maute group. It recalls when, in the first martial law in 1972 at the height of the hostilities between Muslims and Christians, a 24-year-old newly ordained Catholic priest had to be smuggled out of his convent for fear of his life.
Fr. Teresito Suganob of Marawi, who was abducted along with some parishioners by Maute gunmen, has called on President Duterte to save them and to stop military operations. He is known to have brokered dialogues with his Muslim counterparts, reaching out even to the Moro rebels themselves to promote peace and harmony.
The recent reports of how some brave Maranao people protected some Christians from falling into the hands of the Mautes even at the risk of their own safety are very heartwarming and would surely gladden the heart of Father Suganob.
Forty-five years earlier, the first Lanao-born priest, Fr. Rodulfo M. Galenzoga, put up the Kolambugan Dance Theatre to bring together Muslim and Christian youth for a productive collaboration of plays highlighting the grandeur of Maranao culture and art. Its biggest production, “Maranatha,” was shown in 135 places all over the country, including the University of the Philippines and Ateneo de Manila University.
Father Galenzoga belonged to the Diocese of Marawi. The diocese was headed by Bishop Bienvenido Tudtud, who guided him through the predicament that both of them were facing on the two fronts (the hostilities and military rule). Bishop Tudtud died in a plane crash in Baguio.
It is downright ironic that religious people working indefatigably for peace and prosperity among the indigenous people—where the government has failed in its effectivity—become the easy prey in the horrors of war.
The persistent problem in Mindanao has so far needed two impositions of military rule to contain uprisings. The land of promise has become the battleground of empty promises. Looking back, one recalls President Ferdinand Marcos saying: “We must build with haste in the Muslim areas the condition that will accelerate development…. The peace in our Muslim South will endure only on the basis of social justice.” And so he issued Presidential Decree No. 960 creating the Southern Philippines Development Administration in April 1975.
But these were merely musings of a politician thinking of the next election, according to J.F. Clarke.
We who have lived our life in Mindanao, who have seen, felt and researched the extent of the atrocities done to defenseless civilians, and who have borne the brunt of the loss of economic opportunities aside from grinding poverty, heaved a sigh of relief when the President declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23. We find assurance that our children will not suffer the fate of the Yazidis in the Middle East. Even the potent commentator, Prof. Ryan Maboloc of Ateneo de Davao University, accorded the President as having the divine political will. Despite his personal downsides, Mr. Duterte is a statesman who, according to Clarke, is thinking of the next generation, which still is best done under civilian rule.
Flor S. Temple, of Jasaan, Misamis Oriental, was a teacher at Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology. The subject of her thesis for her master’s course at Ateneo de Manila was the Kolambugan Dance Theatre.
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