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Winners and Losers

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I am moved to tears by a comment in Manuel L. Quezon III‘s article “The March of Folly in Mindanao” in his and John Nery‘s column “CURRENT” in Blog.

The commenter, known only as “lumad” had this to say:

lumad Says:
August 7th, 2008 at 9:01 pm
Bilang isang lumad ng mindanao, matuloy man ang kasunduang GRP-MILF o hindi, magkaruon man ng digmaang sibil o hindi or magkaroon man ng hiwalay na istado ang muslim at kristyano sa mindanao ang talo sa lahat ang mga lumad. Nananatilli sa kabundukan, nanatiling walang pinag aralan, nanatiling walang boses o representasyon sa ano mang larangan, nanatiling walang lakas o pagdepensa sa sarili sa anu mang digmaang magaganap. Ang lahat ay malinaw at kahit sa anong panig sa gobyerno, krisyanong mindanao o moro ang lumad ng mindanao ay baliwala sa lahat.

I don’t know if that comment caught me in a gloomy mood today — thus the sudden emotion, or maybe it’s just that the comment felt so real, so sincere and so melancholic all at the same time. I believe, however, that the latter is true. Such is the sadness that it etched in my heart the first time I read it that I had no other thought in mind but to write about it this instant.

All this talk about the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (BJE MOA on AD) and the peace process has been for the most part, rather sudden and instantly overwhelming to us all. So many aspects of the MOA itself and issues related to this has been dissected over and over again by commoners and scholars alike. Questions about constitutionality, feasibility, effectivity and even morality has been raised against this document and the act itself. Heck, they even question the Supreme Court for intervening in supposedly an Executive dealing. MILF questioned the government’s sincerity to make peace because of the TRO while the government urges the MILF to “leave” areas in North Cotabato where there was  supposed “incursion” — as a sign of “acting in good faith”. Currently — if we are to believe all the reports coming in, it seems that we’re nowhere near the end of the tunnel. Thus, no glimpse of light anytime soon — specially with the TRO likely to go on indefinitely (and that’s not even about the BJE’s “constitutionality” yet — the TRO in effect is only to maintain the status quo).

Lost in this love-hate relationship, we have somehow forgotten that beyond the issue, beyond the discussions, beyond the “technicalities” — there are real people, real people that are truly affected. People whose lives hang by a thread, earnestly and patiently waiting for attention and assistance. While this issue is discussed in closed doors, in fancy halls and air-conditioned rooms, there are people who have become nomads in their own land, walking the ground in fear but braving it just the same — all because they have no choice, they are stuck there. They are waiting. Some hoping for salvation. Some have abandoned all hopes for such. Some indifferent as a result of witnessing too long a war — numb to anything that is and will probably happen. Some say this BJE is a mere guilt-trip by the government, due largely to the fact that Mindanao has been neglected for a long time — regardless if it were intended or not. Well, I say so what if it is? Isn’t it about time we cared? Imperial Manila, we have a problem! Right now, that is not even relevant. Guilt-trip or not, the fact remains that help is needed and fast. Let me ask you, when does guilt happen? When is it felt? Have you ever felt guilty about doing anything righteous? Have you ever felt guilty about helping a friend? I don’t think so. Guilt springs from the acknowledgment of a wrong-doing — whether intended or not. So, if there’s guilt, then by God, let us do some guilt-tripping! If you call giving people what’s rightfully theirs “guilt-tripping”, then call it that. If you call making peace guilt-tripping, then call it that for all I care. Those are just “terms”. “Terms” tend to be relative, ambiguous and easily misinterpreted. So let it pass. Let’s get past the concept of “terms” and work on something more universally understood — peace.

In the final analysis — at least in my small brain, “lumad” is correct. What he is saying is nothing but the simple reality that is faced by the lumads. Plagued by illiteracy, lack of representation in all sectors and helplessness in impending wars, uncared for and ignored — this is their reality, a reality that to many of us is but an abstract idea that’s “interesting” to toy with, deliberate on and eventually gain intellectual appreciation for. Heck, to some, even monetary and/or political gain.

They say in wars, nobody really wins. And while it is true, should such a thing ensue (God forbid), we know there will be evident winners and losers. We already know who the losers will be. The question now is, who would the winners be?

In retrospect, I give you some war quotes (as it relates to our current situation) for pondering. May it cast a spell of hope and peace and secure our future. May we finally settle the long-standing conflict in Mindanao for good.

“The use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations.” — David Friedman

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fire signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger, and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower, speech, American Society of Newspaper Editors, 16 April 1953

“Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.” — Ernest Hemingway

“All wars are follies, very expensive and very mischievous ones. In my opinion, there was never a good war or a bad peace. When will mankind be convinced and agree to settle their difficulties by arbitration?” — Benjamin Franklin

“We have war when at least one of the parties to a conflict wants something more than it wants peace.” — Jeane J. Kirkpatrick

“When the rich wage war, it’s the poor who die.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

“We kill because we are afraid of our own shadow, afraid that if we used a little common sense we’d have to admit that our glorious principles were wrong.” — Henry Miller, The Wisdom of the Heart, 1941

‘”It is easier to lead men to combat, stirring up their passions, than to restrain them and direct them toward the patient labors of peace.” — AndreGide, Journals, 13 September 1938

“The military don’t start wars. Politicians start wars.” — William Westmoreland

“To kill a man is not to defend a doctrine, but to kill a man.” — Michael Servetus

“War should belong to the tragic past, to history: it should find no place on humanity’s agenda for the future.” — Pope John Paull II (Karol Wojtyla)

And finally, my favorite:

“Borders are scratched across the hearts of men

By strangers with a calm, judicial pen,

And when the borders bleed we watch with dread

The lines of ink across the map turn red.”

Marya Mannes, Subverse: Rhymes for Our Times, 1959


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