N'y aurait-il pas une autre voie que celle des armes afin de régler une fois pour toute ce conflit qui ne fait que détruire alors que construire pourrait unir les peuples ?


In order to put a dent in resolving the conflict in Mindanao, we must put our trust in “rebels and crazies.”

By rebels, I don’t mean people who rely on the business-as-usual approach of violent confrontation and armed struggle.

What I have in mind are people who think different, people who are not afraid to buck the system, and people who challenge the status quo---that is, the parallel militancy of the Bangsamoro and the militarism of the government.

And yet, crazy enough to believe that a different way of thinking will actually work.How do we do this?

First, we must understand that our current way of handling one another is based upon the tacit assumption of an ideology.

By ideology, I mean a body of beliefs and practices that justify the various stakeholders’ goals, objectives, and strategies in dealing with the issue at hand.
Second, we must realize that our current ideology no longer holds any moral purchase in solving the crisis.
Third, we must reimagine the way we look at the problem, as in pursuing a different planning trajectory in order to confront the challenges of a new dispensation, an ideological shift, so to speak.

Understanding the underlying ideology of the Mindanao conflict is important not only because it reveals to us how the current players interpret their various roles, but also, how they play those roles at the peace table.

Take for example, the Bangsamoro belief of itself as a nation of warriors who have not been defeated by the Spaniards, Americans, or Christians. Although militant in orientation, I think it is an understandable ethnocentric reading of one’s group especially when one talks of pride, respect, and identity of a people.

Personally, I am proud of the feisty and martial history of the Bangsamoro as the unconquered natives who did not identify themselves as subjects of the Spanish king who became Catholics or as wards of the American governor who became Protestants.

But what about now? What has happened to that spirited tradition? Into what form has it evolved now? What are the external and internal faultlines responsible for its growing militant response?

For me, one palpable strain lies in the hands of our national leadership whose stratagems did not fare better compared to their colonial counterparts.

They have offered and still offer a mixed bag of ignorance, insensitivity, and sinister moves for political and personal ends.
It is unfortunate that our leaders have squandered unique opportunities to lead us all to our own promise land.

Here are some few examples.

President Quezon once declared that there is no place for sultans and datus in the emerging republic. As a consequence, he underestimated the role of sultanate and Islam and shoved the Moro problem into the backburners of our national agenda.

President Magsaysay in his efforts to contain the Communist and agrarian problems in Luzon, frantically sped up the government settlement program in Mindanao which in turn gave rise to violent land disputes between Muslim and Christian farmers.

President Marcos summarily executed young Muslim trainees in what is known as the Jabidah massacre after his clandestine plan to infiltrate Sabah (a part of Malaysia in North Borneo territorially contested by our government since it is by tradition a part of Sulu sultanate) derailed.

As an offshoot of that massacre, Muslim militant groups organized such as the Mindanao Independence Movement (MIM) headed by Udtug Matalam, the Bangsa Moro Liberation Front (BMLO) led by Sultan Rashid Lucman, and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chaired by Prof. Nur Misuari.

President Arroyo in her ruse to combat the Muslim groups particularly the Abu Sayaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a breakaway faction of the MNLF, underhandedly lionized and armed a Muslim warlord and his family to the teeth to fight the militants on behalf of the government. The preferential treatment overflowed with money and guns.

As if blinded by their sense of invincibility and irrepressible hubris, the alleged perpetrators and their underlings brutally killed and buried 58 people in what is now known as the Maguindanao massacre without a qualm; the victims included family members of their political opponents, journalists, lawyers, aides, and motorists mistakenly identified as part of the convoy.

And so with this kind of treatment, what do we expect from them? How do we want them to respond to us?

To date, the Bangsamo militant posture is threatened by the growing call for militarism on the part of the government. That is, the reliance on the use of military action as both reactive and proactive response to the conflict exemplified by President Estrada’s all-out-war doctrine.

I understand that there is this senescent and still ongoing effort to resolve the conflict amicably, but I am not hopeful especially when both stakeholders’ mouths drip of war and peace and are euphemized by PNoy’s all-out justice spin at the same time.

So here we are standing at the crossroad of our national survival forced to venture once more into the dominant ideology of Bangsamoro militancy and government militarism.

Quo vadis?

While I believe that everyone is equally right in their picture of the origins and causes of the Mindanao conflict, I also believe that everyone is similarly wrong in its callow confidence on how to end this conflict.

Lately, the government and the Bangsamoro have more than a little difficulty in keeping up a happy moral face.

Both are having difficulty especially in cultivating a culture of amity and sharing because they regularly spike each other’s dark fantasy of retaliation and revenge. when confronted with a crisis, the government and the Bangsamoro with their vast array of spins, alibis, and rationalizations always end up in a proverbial political standstill.

Like performers of a Christian moro-moro play, both parties simply perpetuate the stylized and exaggerated struggle between themselves designed to end with, supposedly, the defeat of the latter.

Realistically, how can the Bangsamoro be confident at all about its short-term as well as long-term prospects with militancy since it cannot defeat the military and its apparatus?

And how can the government be overly confident of vanquishing the Bangsamoro with its militarism approach just short of ethnic cleansing?

Why does this grotesque misconception persist? How do we get out of this quandary? Here’s my take of solving the Mindanao conflict.

We must accept the fundamental truth that throughout our years of war and conflict, the real enemy is nowhere to be found!

After all these years of riding the highways and byways of our disparate and stubborn struggles, we realize that we have been riding the wrong ideological horse, so to speak.
Thereby, having realized the futility and anachronism of our existing ideology, we must now abandon it and replaced it with a new one.

The new ideology is not hard to find. It is an ideology rooted in the past. It is the ideology of how Islam was introduced to Mindanao. Not by warriors but by traders and missionaries.

Consider this, if the Bangsamoro primarily regards itself ideologically as a nation of traders and missionaries, then we won’t be preoccupied with these unnecessary deaths and wasteful clashes.

Instead of spending hundreds of millions on how to kill one another, why not spend the largesse in creatively rebuilding existing Bangsamoro towns and cities into productive city-states rather than elusive sub-states?

Why city-state? Because its prioritization of trade and commerce is not only more basic to he Bangsamoro physical well-being, but is also an easier task to plan and implement.

Just imagine the possibilities. No more expensive and ineffective peace process and no more violence, to boot.

Needless to say, that a Bangsamoro city-state is more relevant and responsive to the accelerating globalization of both population and capital engendered by changes in communication and information technology.

While cognitively empowering, creating a sub-state is unproductive, if not, illusory. It is unproductive because its preoccupation with war and political conflict sap our limited energy from engaging in serious entrepreneurial, managerial, economic development, and cultural renewal.

It is also illusory because, while it is easier to talk about establishing a political sub-state, creating a workable structure, is not, much less, a functioning one.
This means that for now, it is more pragmatic for the Bangsamoro people to settle with what they have rather than what they want.

So, here is a crazy idea.

Although I dream of a Bangsamoro Clark-like freeport along the Moro Gulf, for a starter, not develop Al-Barka, Basilan, let’s say into a trading center of PX and duty free shops?

For example we can design a masterplan of a two-tiered town center for Al-Barka, Basilan dominated by a mosque surrounded by residences, a K-12 school, and a polytechnic-based junior college and by a harbor terminal with an adjoining airport, all connected to the central business district (CBD).

And yes, I am crazy enough to provide planning and consultancy services for the Bangsamoro people, pro bono.

All I need, let’s say, is for the MILF to provide me with the best Muslim architect and Muslim civil engineer in its ranks to work on the proposed plan.
How many among us really think that this task is more difficult than war to do?

How many among us really think that planning for our mutual destruction is more desirable than using our imagination and creativity to build?

If we don't, then, what are we doing?
Finally, to all "rebels and crazies" out there, here’s something to think about: watch here.

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