The never ending story of war —right in our backyard
Waking up to a broadcaster howling against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front one morning, I was tempted to turn the radio off.
The grain of his voice has pestered me in my space in that corner of the house.
“Maayo ng girahon sila kay gusto man diay nila og Independence!” Gusto pa gyod nila iapil ang tibuok Bukidnon aron mohimo sila og regional government!” (It’s good to go to war with them since they wanted independence. They also like to cover the whole Bukidnon in a bid to form a regional government!).
I was really forced to get on my feet even if I only had three hours of sleep yet and dialed the radio station.
He was shouting without trying and it was evident from his grumble that he was not able to do his assignment.
He was expressing his wild opinion on the stalled Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and yet when I called his station director, I was told he wasn’t able to read even a page of a copy of the document.
What a pity. I think over a hundred thousand people were listening to him at 7:30 a.m. and he was reading an outdated document (1999?).
Immediately, I sent out a copy of a portion of the draft MOA and also a piece written by Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo on the MOA and its role in the peace process.
Even before I could ask that the anchor man read the documents first and forego for a day his views, he then read the reactions of listeners sent via text messages. Of course what do you expect these messages were about?
The listeners were enraged —they want war, pulbusin na (powderize!).
I tried to go back to sleep, but I failed.
The issue of the MOA is very sensitive and we expect a lot from our commentators when they lend their opinion on the issue.
We couldn’t afford ignorant and dangerous information to hit the airwaves and the newspaper pages.
Already the situation is volatile, let us not muddle it, I told another reporter who was also startled.
Almost always, I think the media is part of the problem of unpeace in Mindanao.
The problem is evident in how major broadcasters discuss the peace process in radio stations airing over communities in many parts of Mindanao.
Hopefully, the media will realize it has a stake in this war or peace in Mindanao.
We look up to the media to give light in the times of darkness, fear and animosity.
This is a problem; however, that is not a monopoly of the news people. It is partly a problem brought about by the intramurals in the peace process itself.
This is a problem that we altogether, albeit unconsciously sometimes, worsen because of our close minds and ignorance.
True, there were questionable facets of the MOA and the peace process, but this should not keep us from probing into it first before adding our noise to the deafening sound of mess that hovers over Mindanao theses days.
I had been accused of being pro-MILF because “I always give the Moro rebels the benefit of the doubt”.
And why not when they signed a ceasefire agreement and they talk peace?
Getting out from several impasses in the process, the position of the armed group MILF has transformed in the negotiating table.
We were talking peace on the MOA as an “initialed” output (not yet the Final Peace Agreement). We were talking with a peace panel of a rebel group, and why didn’t the government take it magnanimously?
And now all the prospects of war are up. Should we congratulate the warmongers?
While there is no excuse for MILF hawks when they staged attacks, they should be pursued. But where are we going? Are we to ignite once again the never-ending war?
When the government abandons its peace process with the MILF, does it consider the situation of civilians on the ground?
Or are we supposed to position ourselves for peace to reign in our heartland, and to try all means and paths to find it?
It’s not about favoring the BJE, listening to a rebel group, or trusting an insincere government.
It’s about batting for peace, choosing peace, building peace, owning our future, making our future.
And we know ts for the long haul.