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Kris-Crossing Mindanao

‘Security is indivisible…’

/ 05:04 AM November 05, 2018

As long as there is anyone in the world who suffers injustice and insecurity, none of us has security and justice…”

Thus concluded Martina Weitsch, in a brief but insightful article, “Mobilizing public opinion for peace: the next challenge for peacebuilding communities” (Berghof Dialogue Series 2009).

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This insight from an international peace studies scholar is timely as “national security” is often used to justify military action against indigenous populations believed to be harboring “enemies of the state.” In the name of “national security,” the security of the already weak and vulnerable populations — like the thousands of displaced persons from Marawi — has been jeopardized.

Prospects of rehabilitating the battered city without considering Maranaw aspirations for their city’s future development now loom large with government pronouncements on how the process willtake place in the fourth quarter of 2021
onward. The siege’s survivors fear thatbig capitalist and military interests will largely dictate how the rehabilitation
proceeds, and this might relegate them to the sidelines.

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For many Maranaw, the “official” groundbreaking last Oct. 30 did not usher in a collective feeling of hope. Instead, as one local academic posted on his social media wall, “it was a formal occupation,” an affront to their identity, dignity and sense of security as a proud people of the lake. Earlier, they have referred to the five-month siege as an “invasion of a
different kind.”

As we chastise government for itsdrastic decision to bomb Marawi for five months, we also hold accountable those who have chosen the path of violence in pursuing their flawed goals of establishing an alternative world order, for whatever reasons. You can call it many names, especially the terms used by the dominant global forces — such terms include terrorism, violent extremism, or even jihadism. Western media practitioners seem to favor the use of the latter term, to call attention to their equally flawed premise that only Muslims are capable of extremist violence.

Definitely, invoking peace and security as a reason for being among groups challenging hegemonic powers is in itself highly contestable: It is preserving peace and security of one powerful group at the expense of the weak and vulnerable ones.

Peace and security are for everyone, most especially for the weakest sectors of society. Those who have only known hunger pangs associated with the insecurity of livelihoods should be provided an enabling environment for them to enjoy the blessings only genuine peace and inclusive security can bring.

Some Mindanao warlords, aka local government officials, ride in their comfortable, highly secured vehicles with
fully armed and battle-ready “security” guards. When this happens, the likelihood of attracting the forces of their political enemies is high, thus triggering a possible firefight.
If this happens, the security of the powerful becomes the source of insecurity and conflict in the communities of the weak.

Kyoto, Japan. In my last guest lecture at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University (Oct. 24, 2018), the professor who hosted me remarked, “…it seems that the challenges to peace building are more overwhelming than the opportunities for forging it in Mindanao…and this is worrisome.” The Japanese government is one of the biggest donors in the long and winding peace journey of Mindanaoans, especially in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). My host repeated what many Japanese professors I met earlier have asked me, “After all these years of donor money, why is peace still elusive in the ARMM?” Perhaps the answer is that security has been only for the already secured, while the poor in Mindanao continue to experience insecurity, poverty, and injustice.

Send comments to rcguiam@gmail.com

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TAGS: injustice, insecurity, Kriss-Crossing Mindanao, Marawi rehabilitation, Marawi siege, Martina Weitsch, Rufa Cagoco-Guiam
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