World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Philippines: Memories Of War And An Historic Peace

Philippines: Memories Of War And An Historic Peace

Eleven years ago, I was in a small store with a friend in Pikit, North Cotabato, in central Mindanao. We were exhausted after an all day field work of interviewing people about how and why they were evacuated due to fighting. We had seen people shot dead, taken to military camps, and disappeared, rebels blocking main highways, and so on.

As we ate and drank beer our table shook repeatedly due to the heavy impact from artillery rounds from a 105 howitzer, inside a military camp next to us. They were firing at a marshland and riverbanks where the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the biggest rebel group in Mindanao, was camped.

As the firing continued my friend and I were too exhausted to pay much attention to it. We continued drinking. Days later, nongovernmental organisations, peace advocates, including myself and journalists, went inside what used to be the lair of Hashim Salamat, the founder of the MILF, by boat to the riverbank. It was deserted; structures destroyed. (Photo: Indigenous villagers in the hills of Mindanao.)
Known as the ‘Buliok offensive,’ the scene I had just described was one of the many memories, I myself had witnessed, from late 90s to early 2000s, of the government offensives against the Muslim rebels which spanned 40 years of the armed conflict in Mindanao.

At that time, however, I thought there was no end in sight. After decades of conflict, it never occurred to me that, after eleven years from that day, I would live and witness myself the political settlement of a deep social and political division in my homeland; the island of Mindanao.

The armed conflict and insurgencies in Mindanao had been there, even before I was born. All my life I grew up hearing stories how people lost their loved ones. You learn that surviving takes the place of living.

Surviving means any person, like myself, would grow up with military and police checkpoints in every corner of a road, if not every kilometre, and believe that it was just part of the daily routing. It was normal for a family to keep a ‘bail out bag’, that is a bag, or bags containing clothes, documents and necessary items handy in case they run from an escalation of fighting. It was normal that when we went on a bus, to the markets, malls, and public places, the authorities would be checking that no bombs had been planted, and so on.

In fact, in my years as a former journalist based in Mindanao I have covered many stories of the protracted fighting, bomb blasts, arrests of individuals—whether guilty or not—accused of bombing, soldiers and the rebels showing off their fire power, and how it was the people, not the insurgents or the military, that suffered.

I know that, while journalist obtain some sort of ‘glory of by-line’, by writing exclusive stories, and getting published in the newspapers, but as a person I thought at the time, and still believed today, that it has to, and needs to change. I felt that although there were some sort of glory, to obtain glory from the misery and suffering of others, the Mindanaoans like me, was not worth it. It was one of the many reasons why I quit journalism for NGO work.

Thus, others may refer to the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), by the government and the MILF on March 27, 2014, as “just a piece of paper,” to me it was more than that. While there is truth in it, that the agreement would have meaning only when its objective is realized; however, the very symbol and gesture of conciliation itself was very powerful.

The agreement cultivates tolerance, acceptance and the concept of how to learn how to live in harmony with others who are different from us.

Of course, what will come out of this agreement remains to be seen, but for now, the Filipino people, notably the people in Mindanao, had shown that there are political solutions, even to very deep social and political differences when people make the effort to understand each other.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

South Sudan: UN Agencies Reach More Than Half A Million

South Sudan: UN Agencies Reach More than Half a Million People with Life-Saving Aid More>>

Israeli Plans To Expand Its Illegal Settlement Enterprises

PLO Executive Committee member, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, strongly denounced Israeli plans to expand its illegal settlement enterprise by approving the construction of 2,561 units in the settlement of Givat Hamatos. More>>

ALSO:

Ecuador: Villagers Plan To Seize Chevron's $106M Arbitral Award

QUITO, ECUADOR, Sep. 30 /CSRwire/ - In what could be a huge boost to their campaign to force Chevron to comply with a $9.5 billion environmental judgment in Ecuador, rainforest villagers plan to enforce a court order directing them to take possession ... More>>

World Grossly Ill-Prepared To Deal Ebola Outbreak

Leaders from Sierra Leone and Liberia, the two countries, along with Guinea at the frontlines of the battle against the unprecedented Ebola outbreak in West Africa, urged the General Assembly today ensure the United Nations mounted a stronger, better coordinated response “to end this grave threat to our collective survival.”More>>

ALSO:

  • Save The Children - Save the Children Builds Its First Ebola Treatment Centre


  • Israel’s Netanyahu Warns Against ‘Militant Islam’

    29 September 2014 – From the podium of the General Assembly today Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the world of the grave threat he said it faced from militant Islam’s desire to dominate the planet, be they Sunni extremists or ... More>>

    Deputy PM of Syria Victims Of ISIL Brutality 'Waiting On Us To Act'

    As the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militant began carrying their slaughter in the Middle East, “they might have surprised many of the countries present here, but not…us,” the Deputy Prime Minister of Syria told the United Nations General Assembly, underscoring today that the time has come for the world to stand united and tackle the threat head-on.More>>

    Not A Single Child Untouched By Recent Gaza Conflict

    There is not a single child who has not been adversely affected by the recent conflict in Gaza, where children suffer from bedwetting, difficulties in sleeping, nightmares, a loss of appetite, and display more aggressive behaviour at school, an independent United Nations human rights expert said todayMore>>


    Ebola: UN Readies To Start Work As Death Toll Surpasses 3,000

    Ebola response: medical supplies, including protective equipment and essential medicine, are loaded onto trucks at the Lungi International Airport in Freetown, capital of Sierra Leone. Photo: UNICEF/Sulaiman Stephens More>>

    Get More From Scoop

     
     
     
     
     
    World
    Search Scoop  
     
     
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news