Ten years ago, on 21 July 1997, the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed an Agreement for General Cessation of Hostilities in Cagayan de Oro City. We welcome such moved with great enthusiasm, optimism and hope that finally the young republic of the Philippines and the Bangsamoro people will have a respite from incessant war and never ending distribution of relief operation to war refugees, payment of pensions to the families of dead soldiers, and begging for post war development fund here and abroad.
But we viewed said agreement as nothing but grand height of hypocrisy because nothing was achieved but a sporadic wars, hide and seek, talks impasse to the detriment of the innocent people.
We could not forget that in 11 February 2003 the people of Pikit failed to perform their Eid’l Adha prayer due to the uncalled for bombings of Buliok in Raja Muda. The pre-election war in Jolo last May this year, where people were displaced and failed to exercise their suffrage was just another manifestation of insanity, wastage of money and insatiable desire to kill and waste monies for war.
The Bangsamoro people have yet to recover from war shocked, their dead have yet to decompose and here we are again in the hysteria of another unfathomable war simply because one priest “Father Bossi” disappeared and so again we are perceived as the culprit and so therefore, we deserved punishment thus, on 10 July 2007 an intensive military operations in Basilan of all the place was held, heavy firefight ensued which resulted to untold damages and lost of lives..
Innocent lives was emaciated, 14 soldier killed 10 of them were inhumanely mutilated again said barbaric crime was attributed to the Moros, I said Moros because whether or not we are members of the MILF, MNLF or Abu Sayaff that is immaterial. Father Bossi appeared alive, emerged not from Basilan but in Lanao, and I must say survived another charade? But, many people were dead in search for this one man of God.
Filipinos and Moros, my question today is that can we not live in peace together under one country of two nations? Can we really not stand together and rebuild our God forsaken country so that we can arrest the never-ending diasporas of Moro and Filipino workers abroad? When do we cease to experience war and hostilities? When do we see skycrappers and not gunners in Basilan, Jolo, Maguindanao and Lanao.
Brothers and sisters in humanity let us band together and rebuild our depressed and impoverished country; thus we call on all armed group be they in military [AFP], MILF, MNLF, Abu Sayyaf and NPA to lay down their arms, and stretch our arms in friendship and brotherhood as one family under one country.
The war in Basilan must be stopped right now and let the people return to their communities so that they can rebuild their lives. No more pointing of blame as to who poked and shot the gun first, because all of you in the armed group soldiers and rebels are guilty of the crime against humanity, you disturbed our peace and tranquility and so therefore all of you must be brought to the rule of law and justice.
Our women, children and old folks are hurting and our country is sliding into the abyss of poverty. We cannot afford to see our neighboring ASEAN countries to move forward while we Moros and Filipinos lagged behind.
We demand that President GMA prioritize the resettlement of forestalled peace talks between the government and all rebel groups, and those responsible for the kidnapping of Father Bossi must be investigated and put behind bars.Tthe Basilan war must STOP now!
Chairperson, Young Moro Professionals Network, Inc. (YMPN)