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THE MULTI-DIMENSIONAL ROOTS OF VIOLENT EXTREMISM

Posted on 12 January 2018 by cbcs_mike

Fifty three multi-sectoral Bangsamoro leaders converged in a dialogue-consultation on “Promoting Peace and Preventing Violent Extremisms” with a theme: “Promoting peace is Preventing Extremism” held at Estosan Hotel, Cotabato City on January 9-11, 2018.

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The activity is a Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) sponsored with a support from United Nations Development Program (UNDP) – Mindanao Office as their contribution in understanding the two critical but contrasting issues – peace processes and the rise of violent extremism.

In an aim to understand deeply the issue of rising violent extremisms, four prominent Resource Speakers were invited to shed light and present the issue from different lenses. Prof. Rufa Guiam spoke of: “Structural Roots of Extremism in the Bangsamoro from Transitional Justice Lens”.

From the Resource Person’s presentation, she stressed the Four Pillars of Transitional Justice as (1) right to know (the truth) (2) the right to justice as to the case of the Bangsamoro addressing the historical and human rights violations (3) the right to reparation and (4) right to guarantee of non-recurrence. And that without resolving or neglect of the above transitional justice, violent conflict will become a “vicious cycle” in any particular group of people or nations much more in the Bangsamoro context. Thus becomes a potential push-factor for a rising number of people joining the violent extremists’ ideologies.

On the same occasion Dr. Danda Juanday, Administrative Officer of the Local Government of Cotabato City in his opening and welcome message revealed that in their own initiatives in order to understand the root of violent extremism, discredit Islam as the reasons of peoples joining the extremists groups. He emphasized that majority of the communities involved in the studies pointed out that: (1) socio-economic reasons and (2) political dissatisfaction as drivers of peoples joining the group, however the biggest of them all he said is “people are becoming irritants and impatient over long-lingering non-resolution of the Bangsamoro problem.”

The idea was substantiated by Prof. Guiam who stressed that: “Only 1% among the many reasons why people join the violent extremists points to Islam as the reason”, according to some global studies.

She further quoted Dr. Garry LaFree and Bill Braniff who explained in their course that: “..various widely accepted statements about terrorism which were not based on empirical or scientific evidence and, in fact, had been proven wrong by research based on the Global Terrorist Database.” This is to refute the widely propagated issues that terrorisms and violent extremism always been connected with Islam or to Muslims the world-over.

By Mike Kulat

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Marawi City IDP Leaders Decried Militarization and Urge Passage into Law of BBL

Posted on 04 January 2018 by cbcs_mike

Prominent Internally Displaced Person (IDP) leaders of the Marawi City carnage mostly women after narrating their different heartbreaking experiences, suffering and anxieties ended with a synchronized assertion for demilitarization of Marawi City and instead work for the immediate passage into law of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission’s (BTC) drafted Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), now filed in the House of Representatives as HB6475. They further, emphasized that the passage into law of the BBL and eventually the implementation of Islamic laws are the only ultimate solution, so that the Marawi Crisis will not be repeated again as well as in all other conflict-affected areas in Mindanao.

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The different stories was told during the activity called “Listening Process” with IDP Community Leaders held at the Ayala Resort, Mindanao State University, Marawi City last December 19, 2017 sponsored by the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) base in Cotabato City, headed by its Chairperson Mr. Guiamel Alim.

The burst of emotions came after an overview was given by Mike Kulat, Senior Program Officer of CBCS stressing that: “the process maybe new to some but necessary in order to document the actual experiences and sufferings of the victims of war”. Reminding that for the last two decades of lingering armed conflicts in the Moro dominated areas, there were occurring wars at least every two years and there were no concrete documentation on them.

In the past, what where counted were numbers of massive displacements, numbers of killed on both sides of protagonists, captured war materials including civilian lives in some cases. On this the Marawi Crisis, victims are lucky enough as there were much talks of “Marawi Recovery Programs” manifested by the existence of “Bangon Marawi Groups, a ten billion pesos President’s commitment and many others. Nevertheless, the usual recovery programs deals on; Buiding economy and businesses establish schools, rebuild hospitals and infrastructures. So the question is: Can these physical reconstruction and recovery fixed and remedy the root-cause of the problem? Can it cure traumatic and mental anguish due to lost of kit and kin? What about destruction of relationships, social dislocation and political disintegration? He added that these were the importance of the listening Process and from the victims’ perspective, documents their perceived alternative solutions and recommendation in order to avoid repetition of the same traumatic experiences not only in Marawi City but in the whole of Mindanao.

One unique story of a sudden war in Marawi was revealed by a Christian teacher happened to be trapped by the war while on seminar at the Noramis Convention Hall in Lilod Madaya. She disclosed that prior to the May 23 start of war, there were already talks of armed group’s threats of occupying Marawi City but disregarded by many including her. Even on the following day as sporadic firings were heard in Amai Pakpak Hospital and Dansalan College, she thought it was a simple rido as usual and will subside soon after authorities intervened.

A day after,” the burst of firings became intense until the first time I saw Omar (Maute) with a Yakan speaking fellow” she started. And continued: “She commanded all of us to go down of the hall, counted us and ask some questions. Then he ordered us to stay intact and come back to us later and then left for supervision of their troops.” And added that: “This was the time that the first thing that came into my mind was the Zamboanga Siege” and fear and anxiety, she stressed. After they left, the trapped groups were able to contact with Barangay Officials who instructed them to leave the place immediately towards Amai Pakpak Hospital before the armed men go back.

However, before we reached the place, “we met several patients escaping and told us that the hospital was already occupied by the Maute-ISIS groups”. So they redirected their route towards Matampay. Upon reaching the place, the teacher went back to Noramis since a number of her fellow Christians were left in the area who were new in Marawi that came from the municipalities of Bumbaran and Wa-o and do not know what to do.

When she delivered her fellow Christians to safer place only then she remembered to look for her seven month old baby left with her family. On the occasion of escaping she had to climbed to the closed gate of the Noramis in order to enter several times. At one time he met an escaping man and cried for help and she said: “this was the first time I saw how a man cries in times of severe crisis.”

Many different but similar stories were told of war experiences but were all ended up in taking the Marawi incident as hard lessons for self-reformation and transformation. However, the matter could only be effective and sustained by complementary structural mechanism through passage into law of the BTC darted BBL and returning back to Islam as a guiding principle in the day-to-day lives of not only the Maranaws but the Bangsamoro people as a whole.

Johary Ditucalan Ayo
CBCS Area Coordinator for Lanao

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CSO LEADERS RECALLS EXPERIENCES ON MARAWI CRISIS

Posted on 04 January 2018 by cbcs_mike

Twenty eight leaders of Moro civil society organizations (CSOs) converged in an activity called “Listening Process” conducted by the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) in an aim to validate, document and fuse the multi-dimensional issues that came out after the infamous Marawi City Siege, that resulted in a tremendous destructions both physical and emotional aspects. The activity was held in Iligan City on December 18, 2017.

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Guiamel Alim in his welcome and overview of the event stressed that: “the process may sound to some as new process but a timely and long neglected process” especially on the case of the Bangsamoro who had been on armed-conflict for so long. He stressed that the process is a data-gathering and documentation that allows a “free-flowing story telling” without rebuttal.

He emphasized that the Marawi victims of crisis are lucky enough as the talks of “reconstruction, rehabilitations and recovery programs” had been talk of the town and becomes flavour of the day not only by the Meranaws but even on national scene. The usual reconstructions and recovery programs deals on: (1) Buiding economy and businesses (2) Establish schools (3) Rebuild hospitals, infrastructures (4) New laws, [parliament ... federalisms]. However, he quipped: “can the physical recovery fix the structural roots of the Marawi crisis and Bangsamoro problem as whole?” This is the main focus of the activity: “that the result will be used as an instrument in correcting historical injustices” against the Bangsamoro and identify both short term and long term solutions to recurring problems.

The participants different but identical personal experiences on the Marawi catastrophe ranging from deaths of close kins, caring of olds and the sickly during the sudden eruption of the unexpected war, destructions of houses and lost of properties and valuables. The narrations were usually interrupted with sobs as signs of deep traumatic effects of the war that remains in the heart of every victim.
On the issue of who’s to be blamed in the disastrous event, the participants expressed different outlooks as some blames the Maute-ISIS connections, some to blame the Local Government units (LGUs), the national government and the military. Other have it that Marawi incident is a government “pre-meditated” plans because of the prior threats were allowed to thrive. However, they all ended in their narration as one, that the matter was a shared responsibility including themselves and the whole people of Marawi City and its surrounding communities.

For one the Maute-ISIS connection had been in their midst for several years starting in Butig and Piagapo municipalities including the Marawi City occupation were public knowledge. The matter was known to the community peoples, the LGUs up to national level particularly Department of National Defence but no concrete actions were taken. The reason why Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana once revealed that there was miscalculation and underestimation of the capacity of the Maute-ISIS to do the threat. The narrators all admitted that there was a top-to-bottom neglect of a forthcoming danger at that time.

Majority of the narrators pointed out that the long term solutions to the problem is to unite in supporting the passage of the BTC drafted Bangsamoro Basic law, that will redound to self-reformation, advancing the Bagsamoro identity to include going back to Islamic systems of life. In so doing, using Marawi incident as hard lessons learned, if not the catastrophe will just be a vicious-cycle not only in Marawi City but in all other Bangsamoro areas.

Johary Ditucalan Ayo
CBCS Area Coordinator for Lanao

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PASSAGE OF UNDILUTED BBL, A HOPE OF BRIGHTER FUTURE FOR THE YOUTH

Posted on 15 December 2017 by cbcs_mike

The call of the youth to Congress was expressed by Ustadz Nuroddin Mantolino, Chairman of the Union of Youth Organizations of Zamboanga Peninsula at an “Interfaith Peace Assembly in Support for the Passage of the new BBL” held at Pagadian City on December 10, 2017. The assembly was attended by no less than two thousand participants coming from the municipalities of Labangan, Dumalinao, Dinas, Dimataling, Lapuyan and Tukuran in the province of Zamboanga del Sur and Pagadian City.

Ustadz Nuroddin mantolino whie reading youth manifesto  in an INTERFAITH PEACE ASSEMBLY held at Pagadian City on December 10, 2017.

Ustadz Nuroddin Mantolino whie reading youth manifesto in an INTERFAITH PEACE ASSEMBLY In support to BBL held at Pagadian City on December 10, 2017.

In their official statement they pinned their hope of “having a conducive environment to live in” for the youth only if the new BBL is enacted” into law without watering it down. But that status “would only be achieved by resolving the Bangsamoro Questions through the immediate passage and enactment into law of the newly crafted Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) drafted by the expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).”

He also stressed that the future of any country is largely dependent on the capacity and strength of the youth just as one of the Philippine Hero said: “youth is the hope of our motherland” and this is true in our country as well as to the youth of Zamboanga Peninsula.

They also believed that the passage into law of the new BBL as the only “most viable tool for healing and reconciliation of the long standing Bangsamoro Issues” that would redound to “more progressive and brighter future for our generation” or the youth of today and tomorrow.

He further emphasized that “the only thing that could bring about genuine smile to the Bangsamoro People” that will come from the bottom of their heart is enactment of undiluted BBL.”

In closing, Ustadz Nuroddin called on Congress and invoked on God’s intervention to listen to the pleadings of the youth to be given the privilege to have “a progressive and brighter future through the success of the BBL.”

By Mohaiya Pua
CBCS Area Coordinator for
Zamboanga Peninsula

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INTERFAITH PEACE ASSEMBLY-PAGADIAN

INTERFAITH GROUP OF ZAMBOANGA PENINSULA INITIATED ASSEMBLY IN SUPPORT TO BANGSAMORO BASIC LAW

Posted on 14 December 2017 by cbcs_mike

More than two thousand people assembled at the Rotonda, Pagadian City last Sunday in an activity called “Interfaith Peace Assembly in Support to the Bangsamoro Basic Law” which was organized by coalition of groups headed by the Interfaith Forum for Solidarity and Peace represented by its Executive Secretary Ms Faye Mae Reyes; the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) represented by Mike Kulat and Ms Mohaiya Pua – Senior Program Officer and Area Coordinator for Zamboanga Peninsula respectively and the Ummah fii Salaam headed by its Executive Director Sultan Maguid Marohom.

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The activity was made possible in close coordination and collaboration with the Bangsamoro Platform for Unity, Solidarity and Harmony (BM-PUSH) headed by Datu Kiram Cayda, its Clustered Province Convener, the Labangan Cultural Heritage led by Tarhata Daligdigan and the MILF Provincial Committee Officers of Zamboanga Peninsula headed by Naguib Mantolino.

The main resource person of the assembly was BTC Commissioner Atty. Raissa Jajurie who expounded that the BBL is a product of the negotiation between the government and the Bangsamoro. She said that the importance of the BBL is: “that it deals with allowing the Bangsamoro to run self-governance under the realm of the Philippine government.” In other words, “it is a genuine autonomy. Autonomy with substantial fiscal autonomy and Exclusive Power which is clearly delineated from that of the Reserved Power of the Central Government”, she added.

She also stressed that: “The importance of BBL is that it is an implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro which mandates the establishment of governance that suits the culture, ways of lives and beliefs of its constituencies”.

While Commissioner Jajurie clearly presented the significance of BBL, on the other hand she appealed to the participants to continue working hard for the passage of the bill in Congress and much work is still to be done.

“We need to express our sentiments and to be heard by Congress. We need to be present in every public hearings and consultations and assert our views and appeal to Congress for early passage of the BTC drafted BBL as soon as possible. We need to work hard not only in heart and mind but let’s shout our assertion for the passage of BBL” Commissioner Jajurie emphasized.

While in Lower House or House of Representatives BBL is already all set, the main problem is in the Upper House or House of Senate, since BTC drafted BBL was not yet filed. There was a BBL filed by Senate President Koko Pimentel but that is his own version.

This was followed by commitment and support of multi-sectoral leaders. Among those who have given their statement support were: Sheikh Esmael Kalalagan, the acclaimed Mufti of Zamboanga Peninsula, Mr Duma Mascud of the Mindanao Alliance for Peace, Mr. Nasser Pulindao of the coalition called #SignnewBBL and representative of Christian Communities of the Interfaith Group as well as the women group of Zamboanga Peninsula.

As last speaker, the Union of Youth Organization of Zamboanga Peninsula president Ustadz Nuroddin Mantolino read before the crowd their Statement of Support for the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

By Ms Mohaiya Pua

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SCHOOLS, COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES IN ZAMBOANGA PENINSULA CONDUCTED FORUM FOR PEACE

Posted on 14 December 2017 by cbcs_mike

More than a hundred political science students of at least nine colleges and universities of Zamboanga Peninsula converged in an activity dubbed as “Forum on Human Rights, Violent Extremism and Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL)” in celebrations of Mindanao Week of Peace 2017.

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The activity was sponsored by Inter-Faith Forum for Peace represented by its Executive Secretary Ms Faye Mae Reyes in partnership with SCC-Kadugtong Community Involvement, Amnesty International, SCC Polisays and Artes Liberales held at Diocesan Pastoral Center, Balangasan, Pagadian City on December 9, 2017.

On the three major topics, Dr. Nora Agustero, vice president for Academic Affairs of SCC in her welcome remarks said that the theme and issues of the peace forum are timely and “heavy issues and topics” that will deal with a “social justices”.

Sultan Maguid Marohom, Executive Director of Ummah Fii Salam expounded the rise of violent extremists from global setting down to local level. He also gave its corresponding causes and effects of such extremism as that of the recent Marawi Crisis.

On Human Rights and International Humanitarian Laws was delivered by Human Rights Lawyer Atty. Kenny Sabellano who spoke of the basic rights of every individual person even in time of state emergencies or martial laws.

The resource person on updates on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) was Mr. Mike Kulat, Senior Program Officer of Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) based in Cotabato City briefly described that: “BBL is giving social justices to the centuries old clamour of the Bangsamoro people for their right to self-determination”. And added that on matter of human rights he said: “the biggest human rights violation for the Bangsamoro is the wholesale and collective continuing denial by the government of their right to self-determination which will hopefully be addressed by the BBL.” The right to self-determination aspired by the Bangsamoro are within the ambits of International Human Rights and Humanitarian Laws and even by the domestic laws.

In conclusion, he appealed to the youth and students in supporting the current Government, MILF, MNLF and the broad stakeholders’ initiatives for peaceful political settlement of the Bangsamoro Question once and for all.

He also sighted among others our leaders pronouncements as: Former Congressman Ali Pangalian Balindong in his campaign materials that: “The BBL is our last Chance for Peace.” No less than President Duterte in his departure speech to Japan on October 29 emphasized on BBL that: “If we do not act on it expeditiously, I think we are headed for trouble. I will urge Congress to fast track it because the Moro rebels are getting impatient.”

No less than MILF 1st Vice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar stressed in a Press Conference with International Media held on September 22, 2017 stressed that: “If all political initiatives are exhausted, we will take up arms again.”

These statements coming from top leaders of both the government and non-state actors coupled with evident rise of extremisms are enough warning and looming situation when Congress fails to enact BBL immediately.

By Ms Mohaiya Pua

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ZAMBOANGA PENINSULA YOUTH STATEMENT OF SUPPORT TO BBL

Posted on 14 December 2017 by cbcs_mike

Assalamo Alaykom Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuho.

We, the Union of Youth Organizations in Zamboanga Peninsula and as a component of the youth sector in the entire country, we unite ourselves primarily aiming for the transformation and development of the youth to become more beneficial to the society.

As a youth union, we strongly believe that the development and progress of our society is largely dependent on the status of its youth. And likewise, the Zamboanga Peninsula youth would not prosper without having a conducive environment to live in.

We believe that the state of existence would only be achieved by resolving the Bangsamoro Questions through the immediate passage and enactment into law of the newly crafted Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) by the expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).

The Fey-Zap – as component of the youth sector, commits itself to the best of its capacity to be an agent of peace and societal transformation and Development.

It strongly supports the passage of undiluted BBL as the most viable tool for healing and reconciliation of the long standing Bangsamoro Issues, towards more progressive and brighter future for our generation, Insha-Allah (God Willing).

At this time, its very limited but valued time, the only thing that could bring about genuine smile to the Bangsamoro People which rooted from their heart, is handing over them the enacted and undiluted BBL.

We hope and pray that Allah Almighty will help us youth to be privileged with a progressive and brighter future through the success of the BBL. Ameen.

[Delivered by Ustadz Nuroddin Mantolino, Chairman of the Union of Youth Organizations of Zamboanga Peninsula at the “Interfaith Peace Assembly in support for the passage of BBL” held at Rotonda, Pagadian City on December 10, 2017 attended by no less than two thousand multi-sectoral delegates coming from different municipalities of Zamboanga Peninsula]

By Mohaiya Pua
CBCS Area Coordinator – ZamboPen

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Marawi Carnage 4

Understanding The Roots of a Continuing War

Posted on 24 October 2017 by cbcs_mike

(An analysis of the roots of the violent conflicts in Bangsamoro using Marawi city as the specimen. The writer is a free thinking Bangsamoro who is a student of violent realities in Mindanao. He is a combatant for PEACE, an advocate of non-violence, justice and for unity and solidarity of all peoples.)

Marawi City liberated, Military winning the battle:
Is the War Over? Unveiling The Important Message

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People feel relieved that the battle in Marawi City, considered the fiercest battle the AFP had ever fought in post WW2 and the Philippine longest urban war ever, is over. It is said that the Marawi battle is even longer that the Manila war fought between the American forces against the Japanese Imperial army.This humanitarian pause will somehow reduce the sufferings and the insecurities of the Meranaws and an opportunity for many of them, especially those heavily affected, to rebuild their shattered lives. Many stories can be told but after 5 long-months the result of the violence reveals a human disaster. More than 800 (920) alleged ISIS members were reported killed, more than 150 (165) security forces of the government died and about 50 civilians killed and hundreds of hostages traumatized. And a total of 1,780 hostages have been rescued, and 850 firearms were recovered. The number of displaced, in-dignified, mentally disturbed and traumatized civilians is in the hundreds of thousands. Some children died in the evacuation centers.The report says there are still 60 persons missing.

The cost to properties destroyed is in the billions including commercial, government infrastructures and residential buildings, Masajid, Madarish and a catholic chapel.These data from reports can even be conservative. It is hard to account for diaspora at this point in time but hundreds of families have crossed oceans and seas to far destinations battling new culture and way of life. This catastrophe of the highest order is the by-product of terrorism on one hand and the counter-terrorism act on the other hand. These are the two culprits in the destruction of Marawi City.

Marawi City will be re-built. This is an assurance from the government. New buildings will be erected. Infrastructures destroyed will be reconstructed. Who will design how Marawi City will look like? How will the lives of those adversely affected be rebuilt?
It is worth to know that the reconstruction in other areas of the country affected by natural calamities is still not over after more than 5 years. The Zamboanga crisis that displaced thousands and destroyed buildings and the Tacloban natural calamities that destroyed hundreds of houses are among those areas still undergoing reconstruction. Will Marawi City be treated with priority? Indeed it will be a long journey of rebuilding what has been destroyed in 5 months by terrorism and counter-terrorism.

Some people are asking who destroyed Marawi City? That question will never get a monolithic answer. It is similar to the question of which comes first the egg or the chicken that triggers endless debate. What will get a common answer is a question of which is heavier, a kilo of metal or a kilo of cotton. To the uncritical mind, the metal is heavier. To some, the ISIS is the culprit. To others, it is the military. Still to others, what happened to Marawi City is the anecdotal “Umpisahan Mo, TatapusinKo” or “Kapag Puno Na Ang Salop” which ended up in humanitarian crisis. Counter-terrorism is as destructive as terrorism or vice versa.Some studies show that counter-terrorism sometimes creates terrorists.

Violent conflicts and all the damages they caused is a result of two parties in conflict. It takes two to dance a tango as the saying goes. It is incorrect to attribute the damages to the AFP alone or to the non-state party alone. It is safe to say that the damages are the product of the two parties in conflict.

Marawi City is liberated after a 5-month of no let-up battle. But the curious mind is asking, liberation from whom? The military is winning or had won the battle. But winning against whom?

Winning the battle by the stateis not surprising but no doubt has been very costly as the Marawi case shows. There is no single non-state armed group in the world that is winning any battle against states with established strong armed forces. The Al-Qaida, the Taliban, the ISIS are all losing their battles in the Middle East. At home the MNLF, MILF, Abu Sayaf, BIFF and others are not winning any battle. They can hold certain territories for a short period of time but eventually will be driven out by military force. This is a reality.

But winning a battle is not necessarily winning a war

Winning the battle is not the goal of non-state armed groups. They know this from the start. Why are these small and scattered groups fighting power giants like the combined armed forces of the, Arabs, UN and EU? In the homeland, why is the MNLF, MILF, ASG, ISIS groups fighting a 150,000-strong armed forces of the Philippines supported by para-military groups?

They must have good reasons to engage in battles where their chance of winning is remote. The message is clear. It is the expression of resistance against oppression and injustices that is the most important reason for the battle. They demand for the redress of their legitimate grievances, correcting the historical injustices committed against them and their having been victims of violence and being marginalized.

The MNLF has been fighting for national liberation against national oppression (Land, People, and Agama). The MILF goes further by putting Islamic component in their war against national oppression (Territory, People and Identity). The ISIS-inspired (or affiliates?) armed groups are fighting for the establishment of Dawla-Islamia (Sharia’h).

Is the war against national oppression and the establishment of Shariah for the Muslims not legitimate? Is terrorism the answer? Did the Muslims in Mindanao start the war? Or the war was brought to Mindanao?

The Euphemism of Terrorism

Terrorism was not a language when the Spanish and and US imperialists launched their colonial aggression in the Bangsamoro homeland one after the other. When the Spanish invaders attacked Mindanao bringing with them the cross, they did not commit terrorism, they simply introduced new culture, plunder our resources and control our people. When the Americans massacred the Tausog in the Bud Daho, they did not commit terrorism, they just introduced democracy. When the armed forces of the Philippines massacred young trainees in Corregidor and Palimbang and other places in Mindanao, they did not commit terrorism, they simply wanted to defend the country. When the para-military groups massacred the people of Manili, Wao and other communities, they did not commit terrorism; they even became heroes as freedom fighters.

The man who killed 37 people in a big hotel with casino in Manila, was not a terrorist, he was simply an addict. Mr. Stephen Paddock who massacred 58 people in Las Vegas was not a terrorist, he was simply crazy. Those who are killing suspected drug users, are not terrorists they are simply vigilantes.
Police who are killing allegedly resisting drug users are not terrorists; they are law enforcers or heroes. But if they were Muslims, the stories could be different.

Today, when the Bangsamoro demand for their legitimate rights to self-determination they can easily be branded all together as terrorists.

“Terrorism” in the Philippines

The MNLF had agreed to drop their demand from establishing an independent state and acceded to autonomy after the government asked foreign country to intervene. Negotiations took place from 1975 to 1996 (24 years) that ended up in the infamous Final Peace Agreement of 1996. Yet the talks failed to bring peace due to problems of non-implementation of agreements. Between these years, some members of the MNLF dropped out from the organization. The MILF split in 1983, the MNLF Reformist group followed and later on a group now known as Abu Sayaff (ASG) split from the monolithic MNLF.

The GPH-MILF peace talks dragged for 20 years ending up signing series of major agreements; the MOA-AD in 2008, FAB in 2012, the CAB in 2014. The political agreement was to be translated into law that will govern the autonomy for the Bangsamoro but the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) was not passed in 2016. The failure to sign the MOA-AD that would have created a Bangsamoro political entity led to a section of the MILF, known today as the BIFF to split from the MILF. The non-passage of the draft BBL in 2016 created additional frustration from a segment of the Bangsamoro non-state actors – the so-called ISIS inspired groups.
In his keynote address in the PVE consultation in Manila, former president Ramos said, “We need to fight poverty and the problems of exclusion and marginalization that are pushing some of our citizens into the arms of violent extremists. As Pope Francis said: “Human rights are not only violated by terrorism, repression or assassination, but also by unfair economic structures that creates huge inequalities”.
With respect to use of military in resolving violence, Ramos continued, “ … it is important for us to understand that a military response might result to further alienation and radicalization of our people. Let us make sure that military operations do not become recruitment slogans for extremists”.

Ramos continued, ”Let us empower our communities so they can promote tolerance, inclusivity, equality, and peaceful resolution of conflict. In relation to this, let us empower our women, our youth and other sectors, the participation of whom can ensure the success of our efforts to prevent violent extremism”.

Another study shows that “If we rely exclusively on hard power to find solutions, we will not tackle the many underlying conditions that breed violent extremism and drive youth to join violent extremist groups. We need soft power as well, and this means education. Not just any education: relevant, inclusive and equitable quality education
Existing policies on the prevention of violent extremism (PVE) acknowledge the need to address economic factors, but limited attention is directed at the underlying structural economic policies that have contributed to creating many of the conditions conducive to rising extremism.

The study further reveals that while a minority of people becomes violent, economic conditions pertaining to social exclusion and thwarted aspirations are recognized as contributing factors to their radicalization.
Guarantee of No Recurrence

People think that when a big battle is over, the problem is over.There can be no easy and quick fix to the Bangsamoro question, but there can be a good start. The process will be long and notlinear, there would always be obstacles and bottlenecks but if we start right, we may end right.

The Marawi crisis is not isolated from the complex problem of peace and security in the Bangsamoro. It is an extension of the long armed struggle by the Bangsamoro taking a new form and structure. Those who fought the government forces in Marawi consider themselves as jihadists, not terrorists. Their goal may have taken a level higher than autonomy and their means more violent.

To fight the “terrorists” militarily may result to the victory of the government but the conditions that could have led to be “terrorists” may not have been won. Ideologies are hard to defeat but better alternative and better ideas may defeat it. The need to address the circumstances that can lead to extremism shall have to be addressed.

Conditions conducive to terrorism, recognized at the level of the UN and the OSCE, include “prolonged unresolved conflicts, dehumanization of victims of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, lack of rule of law, violations of human rights, ethnic, national and religious discrimination, political exclusion, socio-economic marginalization and lack of good governance”.

Structural injustices breed violence.

The Marawi crisis shall not be repeated. This was also the cry of the victims of the Zamboanga siege. But what assurance will guarantee no recurrence?
While some critics argue that extremism is the product of religious intolerance and the attempt to establish an exclusive monolithic global religion, the Bangsamoro narratives resemble those conditions found by the UN and OSCE. The message of former president Ramos critically pointed out some of the important incubators of extremism in the country.

Better Alternative To Violent Extremism (BATVE)

A political structure that will address the legitimate grievances, correct the historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro will help prevent recurrence of extreme violence. An autonomous government with adequate power and resources that can address marginalization will contribute to these efforts .

An example is the case of Timor Leste and Aceh. The democratic space created by the grant of independence and autonomy in East Timor and Aceh respectively has given tremendous motivation for them to move on, not easily but constantly. Violence in these areas had been significantly reduced and people have the opportunity to engage in productive activities that supports their socio-economic needs. This can also happen in the Bangsamoro. The BTC-draft BBL is the best alternative to violent extremism. It will provide the Bangsamoro their long-held aspiration to exercise their self-determination, a state of affair they used to have before the Philippine was born.

The draft BBL shall be seriously considered as an opportunity rather a problem. In the long term, it will pave the way for national unity and reconciliation as both the national government and the Bangsamoro government can join efforts at addressing socio-economic and political problems.

The first dividend of peace the people in the Bangsamoro will experience is a democratic space that will deter violent conflict and secure their lives and properties. The absence of violence will provide space for the people to engage in productive activities that will address their socio-economic needs. Development does not come drastically but gradually and constantly. Institutional reforms will take place and structural justice will eventually be achieved. It will be a long process of reconstruction, rehabilitation and transformation but the BBL can be a good start.

For Marawi City to be truly liberated, we must know the truth with the end in view that truth and justice will prevent the recurrence of the same crisis. How the Marawi crisis happened, who are the perpetrators and the victims? Were there human rights violations? Will there be reparations and justice for the victims? Who are the perpetrators and will they be meted out justice? And very importantly, what are the measures to ensure that the same crisis will not happen again in Marawi and or elsewhere.

In the long term, real liberation will be enjoyed and violent extremism will only become the thing of the past.

The all-out war, the Zamboanga siege and the Marawi crisis will only be part of history. A new future will dawn. The battles will be gone, and only then that the real war is won.

By Abu Mumar

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BM-PUSH PRESSCON STATEMENT

Posted on 06 October 2017 by cbcs_mike

July 18, 2017

We, the leaders of the Bangsamoro Platform for Unity, Solidarity and Harmony (BM-PUSH) composed of Bangsamoro multi-sectoral leaders organized in different parts of Mindanao organized primarily to help build constituency in support to the ongoing peace processes between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Fronts conducted series of meetings amidst the current Marawi Crisis and the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao.

We make it known that we denounce any kind of terrorism much more if it caused the displacement, misery and devastation to now more or less 300,000 individuals scattered in different municipalities in the peripheries of Marawi City.

On the other hand, we laud the joint efforts of the GPH and the MILF in utilizing the peace and security mechanisms of the peace process by establishing the “Peace Corridors” purposely ‘as safe and secure corridor for women, men and children fleeing the crisis in Marawi as well as a reliable space for humanitarian assistance to pass through’. We therefore urge the government and the MILF that such Peace Corridors be strengthened and expanded in vulnerable conflict-affected areas in Mindanao.

We recognize that the declaration of Martial Law is within the ambit of the president’s mandate under extraordinary condition. However, we are equally apprehensive of its consequences especially on human rights violation under this state and therefore we appeal to the security forces; the police, military, its force multipliers and to DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana as the administrator of the martial rule to be mindful of both domestic and international frameworks on human rights in its implementation.

We sympathized with the grieving families of the police and soldiers that perished in compliance with their sworn duties but all the more we grieved with the growing numbers of innocent civilians that died either by trapping or caught in crossfire which is until now continues to be retrieved in various places of the battle zones of which many already in state of decomposition.

We finally call on the stakeholders of the Marawi tragedy to end the crisis for the interest of hundreds of thousand innocent civilians who are carrying the burden of war they never wished.

And therefore, we appeal for the government and MILF to fast-track establishment of the Bangsamoro Government through the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro compliant new Bangsamoro Enabling Law as the best option in ending these decades of armed-conflict in Mindanao.

BM-PUSH Conveners:
1. P-CART
2. MAP
3. CBCS
4. FBCSO
5. COM
6. WOMB
7. LBO

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MANIFESTO of SIGN NEW BBL CAMPAIGN

Posted on 03 October 2017 by cbcs_mike

We, the members of the coalition of broad networks of Bangsamoro/Filipino Civil Society and Grassroots Organizations serving Mindanao and its Islands had long been supporting and accompanying the GPH-MILF Peace Process towards its successful conclusion.

The peace process had been lingering with uncertainties for the last twenty years while majority of the Bangsamoro were and are holding their high hope of attaining just and lasting peace in their homeland through negotiations as they believed in the principle that the most civilized way of achieving peace is through the negotiating table.

As we feel we are nearing the peak of our efforts as well as majority of the Bangsamoro seems gradually exhaust their patience in unending dream of peace, we are launching today (September 29, 2017) our campaign under one banner of broad civil society organizations (CSOs) and networks with the grassroots called “Sustainable Initiatives of Grassroots and Networks for Bangsamoro Basic Law” to be popularly known in its acronym as “#SIGNnew BBL”. These initiatives was conceived as our means of maximizing multi-prong approaches in appeasing those becoming impatience as well as to employ every available means in advancing the passage into law of the new Bangangsamoro Basic Law in Congress.

Anent the above, we make these calls and statements to wit:

  1. We laud President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and the leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for their continuing efforts as manifested in their series of meetings undertaken on: (1) September 4, 2017 meeting of the President and MILF leadership (2) September 14, 2017 meeting of the President with the Bangsamoro Tranistion Commisioners (BTC) and Congress leaderships and finally (3) September 20, 2017 meeting of the President with the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC), Congress leadership and majority of the Cabinets and finally endorsed BBL as “Urgent Bill”.
  2. We likewise commend Congresswomen Bai Sandra Sema and Ruby Sahali for spearheading the submission of the draft new BBL in Lower House as well as their commitments to peace manifested through authoring House Bill 6475.
  3. Our calls to both members of House of Senate and House of Representives to give credence to the new BTC draft BBL. This is neither an incursion nor intrusion to your independence as Legislative Branch of the government but an appeal to uphold the gains of the now forty two year’s peace processes between the Government and the Moro Fronts (MNLF and MILF).
  4. For those whose felt exhausted of decades of waiting for peace to withhold their frustrations and instead to be calm and sober and give chance to the peace processes and benefits of the doubt to first Mindanaoan Pressident who has a very strong political will to end the Mindanao Question.

Finally, we are one in belief that the enactment into law of the BBL and eventual establishment of the envisioned Bangsamoro entity is the only effective way in suppressing rising violent extremism and narrow-down adventurism of the younger generation of the Bangsamoro.

#SIGNnewBBL Convenors:
1. League of Bangsamoro Organizations (LBO)
2. United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD)
3. Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS)
4. Mindanao Alliance for Peace (MAP)
5. People’s CART (P-CART)
6. Federation of Bangsamoro Civil Society Organizations (FB-CSO)
7. Federation of United Mindanawan Bangsamoro Women – MPC (FUMBW-MPC)
8. SEED Foundation Inc. (SEED)
9. Community Organizers Multiversity (COM)
10. Women’s Organization Movement of the Bangsamoro (WOMB)
11. Coalition of Moro Youth Movement (CMYM)
12. Confederated Descendants of Rajah Mamalu (C-DORM)

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