Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Beyond Being Just Spectators, Bystanders in the Mindanao Conflict

“War or peace,” they come and go just like any other conflict elsewhere in the world, say in Kashmir, Sri Lanka, or Gaza in Palestine. Small wars it may seems. But the graphic images of deaths and destructions shown world wide by international and local TV networks touches our hearts and shakes our thoughts to witness in our very own eyes. All this long, we are ordinary bystanders, spectators, or onlookers to how brutal and ruthless these mighty nations who claim to be protectors their lofty ideals of democracy and freedom but trample defenseless peoples’ lives and dignity. Ancient warriors fought wars for glory and conquest of vast lands but in our days United States and its allies including the Philippines profit from wars at the expense of their hapless victims.

We knew they make peace whenever convenient for them and they wage war whenever beneficial for their interests. Aptly described by Prof. Maulawi Calimba in his Quadrant Theory of “No War, No Peace” treatise. The truth is they hang in the balance the complete resolution of these festering conflicts because it’s good for the business of those interest groups, they anyway profit the highest in the scheme of things. Land lords get to grab more lands, politicos gains more votes in elections in their new found turfs, junior military officers in Mindanao get fast promotions to generals and increase military financing more and more from annual government budgets and US military aid, and worst of all war industry boost huge profits and generate employment and opportunities.

Lest we forget at the domestic front, Philippines have got its own endless quagmires of four decades long of armed struggle of Mindanao’s native people called the “Bangsamoro” since 1968. The widespread Muslim revolt that intensified in early 1970s in Mindanao has brought ten of thousands of deaths and destruction with it already reaching billions worth of properties, economic opportunities not to mention the loss of billions of pesos from the government coffers as costs of wars for more than forty years and still counting until this moment.

The lessons in Gaza thought many of us that we cannot care less for all these troubles in our own backyard, we cannot be so naïve and continue acting as bystanders. Many Filipino leaders play rhetorics to bring peace the soonest possible time but refuse to make concessions and while embracing peace but with no readiness to take reasonable compromise and sacrifices. Especially for Mindanaoans, we cannot be forever leaving our fate to our selfish leaders and detractors of Mindanao peace.

Inspired by the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Michael Ahtisari, I am of the opinion many peace advocates, my colleagues in Maradeka in the Philippines and people all over the world with conscience look into the humanitarian crisis in Mindanao and act as critical observer. Though many may not be truly aware and understood the roots of the Mindanao conflict but it’s not really that too far away to be concerned and take stake responsibly in building national consensus for peace.

I felt it my personal responsibility then to launch and open this blogsite, Mindanao peace observer to serve the purpose. Before it reaches the level of intensity as those in the experiences in Kashmir, Tamil, Tibet or Palestine, we hope to join in spirit of bonding many like-minded bloggers without biases and prejudices in link up to share insights in ending these endless cycles of violence that breeds more violence and extremism. Be one of us in collectively doing the right thing.

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