Candle in the wilderness | Inquirer Opinion
Kris-Crossing Mindanao

Candle in the wilderness

On the eve of the elections, I received a copy of a proposed action plan for the Regional Legislative Assembly of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). It was prepared by a young Tausug.

He visited me in Jolo while researching for his thesis for a master’s degree, and I told him he would probably be the first Tausug with a master’s degree in Anthropology, a field of expertise so sorely needed in Sulu but which nobody, it seemed, was interested in.

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He did get his degree and went on to work for a PhD, during which he wrote this roadmap for the legislative reform agenda for the ARMM transition government, to which he was nominated.

The roadmap as he wrote it:

FEATURED STORIES

1. Implementation of the Roadmap to Reform of the ARMM through legislative focus on the following:

•Electoral Reform—cleaning up of the ARMM voters’ list; full automation of local, provincial and regional elections; adoption of the public forums utilized by the ARMM selection committees as a requirement for candidates in future ARMM elections;

•Transparency—a Public Information Act for the ARMM that will require all LCEs (local chief executives), PCEs (provincial chief executives) and RCEs (regional chief executives) to provide regular information pertaining to budget allocations and expenditures in the region; for the RLA (Regional Legislative Assembly) to conduct/sponsor regular public forums and consultations in aid of legislation;

2. To pursue legislation on the following:

Security sector reform—that will center on the documentation/registration of all security forces/groups detailed to political offices, including the registration of all arms associated with or utilized by these groups; institutionalize the conduct of strict and regular monitoring of the ammunition supplies of the PNP, AFP and CVOs (civilian volunteer organizations) within the ARMM;

3. Youth Empowerment—by providing legal assistance to detained Muslim youth suspected as members of lawless elements such as the Abu Sayyaf Group; legislative support for the adoption and implementation of Drop-Out-Reduction-Programs across the ARMM; legislative endorsement of and support for existing literacy programs for children, youth and young adults in the ARMM;

4. Legislative intervention for the adoption of financial capacity management and of measures against corruption and corrupt practices across the ARMM to lay the groundwork for all sustainable development and livelihood programs provided by government and nongovernment agencies;

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5. Representation of CSOs (civil society organizations) and POs (people’s organizations) in provincial and regional governments of the ARMM.

The young man who drew up that roadmap, Alber Husin, “the gentle warrior for peace,” as one journalist characterized him, has published numerous papers, delivered many more lectures and designed various programs all for the cause of the elusive peace in Mindanao and Sulu.

After working in several institutions and organizations involved in the quest for peace, he became the regional field-based consultant of the Philippines Response to Indigenous and Muslim Education (PRIME) in 2011, a job he eminently qualified for. In addition to his academic credentials he also attended seminars and conferences in affiliated fields abroad.

But his nomination to the ARMM transition government was rejected. He was not good enough in the assessment of Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and the administration’s political adviser, despite the fact that he was Jesuit-educated like the incumbent President Aquino.

If he were running in the elections today (even assuming he had the money or was a candidate under the Liberal Party, which is a remote possibility), he would not win.

Soft-spoken, exceedingly well-mannered, his handsome face was always seemingly aglow with his shining principles and unshakeable belief in the infinite goodness of even those who espouse violence as a means to resolving conflicts.

But that is just as well, for he would have been the most pathetic politician—very much unlike politicians as we know them, the kind that the electorate generally vote into office.

It is just as well, for like Jesse Robredo, he too was more than Galahad.  Of him too it can be said the “world of Philippine politics was never meant for one as beautiful as you.”

On the night of Feb. 10, in Pagadian City, Alber Husin was shot reportedly by a policeman, and just before dawn four days later, he died in the hospital that tried its best to save his life but could not stop the snuffing out of a candle in the wilderness.

He was only 37 years old.

On May 25, his friends and family will be marking the 100th day of his passing.

The investigation into his murder by police authorities has yet to yield conclusions.

Meanwhile, all those who love him—family, friends, peace advocates and all Tausug to whom he dedicated his lifework and to whom he is a great loss—cry out to the heavens for justice.

Justice for Alber Husin, a beloved son they are very proud of.

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TAGS: 2013 Elections, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, nation, news
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