President Ferdinand Marcos started his dictatorship when he signed Proclamation 1081 on September 21, 1972. The said Proclamation, which he announced in the evening of September 23, 1972, placed the entire Philippines under Martial Law. That marked the beginning of a dark age in the Philippine history.

Marcos, then, virtually discarded the Philippine Constitution by blatantly violating its provisions, particularly, the Bill of Rights (Article III). He ordered the military to pick up and detain thousands of his critics. Most of those who were detained were tortured by their captors. Many of them just disappeared and never surfaced again. Even without the benefit of undergoing trials, some were kept in military detention camps for years.

As far as resolving the conflict in Mindanao , Marcos knew only of a militaristic solution.

At the height of that martial rule, the Marcos regime brought to Mindanao 75 percent of its military might to quell the legitimate Bangsamoro struggle for self-determination and independence. Such militarism succeeded not in resolving the conflict in Mindanao but in bringing the Bangsamoro cause to the attention of the international communities. It also recruited more determined Bangsamoro youth to push through with the struggle by whatever means.

Not having learned lessons from his predecessors, then President Joseph Estrada committed the same mistake when he launched an all-out war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro people seven years ago. Indeed, militarism never solved the conflict in Mindanao .

President Gloria Arroyo does not want to be outdone by Marcos and Estrada. She is presently engaged in her war-on-terror that usually victimizes the innocents.

We deplore the prevailing situations in the country that are reminiscent of the dark Martial Law days.

Among them are the following:

  • The Bangsamoro people remain easy suspects of terrorism. Their communities are often subjected to unlawful search and raids by the military on the pretext of flushing out suspected terrorists.
  • War continues in most parts of Mindanao . It leads to endless pursuit of suspected enemies that usually displaces the Bangsamoro civilian population. Bangsamoro communities are bombarded with heavy artilleries some of which are just used in international warfare. Displacements, eventually, disrupt the studies of school children. They dislocate the livelihoods of the people and force them to seek refuge in evacuation centers to suffer from various kinds of health hazards.
  • Cases of torture among detainees remain unabated.
  • Many political detainees still languish in jail.
  • Involuntary disappearance and extra-judicial killings continue.

The Human Security Act of 2007 gives power to the government to justify and legalize state-terrorism. The law does not safeguard basic freedom and liberties of the people.

Besides, what disturbs the minds of the Bangsamoro youth today is the fact that the Philippine Government finds it difficult to resolve the conflict in Mindanao in its peace negotiations with the MILF especially on the issue of territory. The MILF has practically reduced its demands for a territory to only the areas where the Bangsamoro people predominate.

The United Youth for Peace and Development, Inc. (UNYPAD) refuses to believe that the present peace negotiation is just being used by the Philippine Government as another ploy of deception against the Bangsamoro people. Along the same vein, it strongly believes that the Philippine Government needs genuine sincerity and strong political will if it has to resolve the conflict in Mindanao , or this same conflict will be here to stay and remain unresolved in the foreseeable future.

We, the officers and members of the UNYPAD, are calling upon the Philippine Government to revisit the past and learn from it. If it is serious enough in resolving the conflict in Mindanao , it must address the root cause of the problem by respecting and upholding the inherent right to self-determination of the Bangsamoro people. Militaristic solutions did not work and it will never do.

It is our belief that resolving the conflict in Mindanao will ultimately redound to the benefit not only of the people of Mindanao but that of the whole country. Conversely, keeping the conflict unresolved and turning a blind eye to the sufferings of the people here will be detrimental to the interest of the entire archipelago.

We are crossing our fingers and hoping that in the near future, the Bangsamoro people, as Secretary Silvestre Afable once put it, can “finally live in a homeland rather than a rented territory paid for in blood and suffering.”

ANWAR UPAHM
Vice President for External Affairs and
Spokesperson, UNYPAD
Contact No.: (064) 390-3184
Mobile Phone No.: 0926-2607768