For the sake of the Bangsamoro
In the name of peace, for the sake of humanity and in behalf of the innocent civilians who are again bearing the brunt of violence and atrocity, I am appealing to Chair Nur Misuari and all my brothers in the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to release all the hostages and to withdraw immediately and unconditionally from the civilian communities in Zamboanga City, and to return to their camps.
In Islamic teachings, there is no justification at all for the hostage-taking of helpless men, women and children and the occupation of civilian homes and communities. Such acts are a violation of human rights and of the International Humanitarian Law that distinguishes military targets and civilians who are supposed to be protected.
I am urging President Aquino and the local crisis committee to provide an “exit” for these heavily armed MNLF fighters, through third-party mediators acceptable to Misuari. Just like what happened in 2001 during the Kabatangan fighting, sobriety and determination to preserve innocent civilian lives allowed these people a viable exit back to their camps of origin.
What is happening now in Zamboanga City only shows that the political leaders in Sulu have no effective control over their constituents. No amount of “pamana” and token reforms can appease the growing desperation of the Tausug people who have been continually victimized by corrupt traditional politicians. Oppression, corruption, human rights violations, collapse of the rule of law, warlordism, and total absence of governance in Sulu brought about by irresponsible leaders who are subservient to the dictates of Manila—these are the conditions pushing the Tausug people to the brink of desperation and fatalism.
There is no doubt that the current siege of Zamboanga City is yet another desperate attempt to prevent the signing of a comprehensive compact that the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front are determined to seal in the next 10 days of the negotiations in Kuala Lumpur. The timing of the attacks on the eve of the 40th round of the talks unequivocally sends the message.
Also, we must not lose sight of the fact that while the MNLF clearly has legitimate concerns that need to be heard, it is not farfetched that other political interests, including beleaguered politicians in the pork barrel scam, are riding on this issue to divert the ire and attention of the public.
To all emerging leaders of the Bangsamoro, let us join hands, let’s appeal to our elders to set aside the revolutionary agenda, ideological divides, tribalism and factionalism among our people. Let’s not race against each other for the attention and favor of the national government. Let’s rise above this situation and sacrifice our political and personal interests for the sake of the Bangsamoro.
“Obey Allah and His Messenger and do not quarrel among yourselves lest you lose heart and your momentum disappear. And be steadfast.
“Allah is with the steadfast. (8:46)”
—TEMOGEN “COCOY” TULAWIE,
human rights defender,
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.