Too rich, thus, very poor-A A +A
Saturday, March 2, 2013
AN APPEAL by a friend saw me more than 300 kilometers from home listening to stories of places unfamiliar and of names never heard before.
Still groggy from a very long trip made longer by the long waits on one-way highways, I had to listen to their stories until 10:30 p.m. and then listen again from 9 a.m. till 2:30 p.m.
I was obviously out of my depths as comprehension was slowed down by major stumbling blocks of who, what, where, and when.
The why’s and the how’s are clear. There is this group of indigenous peoples being harassed by a well-connected cult leader who claims he is the Master and his son is the Christ incarnate; which son from which woman, that is lost among the missing who’s. The cult leader is not even of that land but comes from faraway Luzon with his minions, begging the indulgence of the hospitable lumads when they first arrived, but has become so powerful, he has ziplines and swimming pools all set to welcome tourists to this wonderland that the tribes are applying for a title as their ancestral domain.
Sixteen of the tribal leaders now have warrants of arrest, seven of whom are accused of the unbailable crime of murder that they swear they never committed. The group came knocking at the bishop’s residence to seek help.
There to listen to them were the chief of police, the battalion officer in their area and several other government agency representatives and non-government organizations.
They were made to understand by the lawyer that for them to be able to file motions for bail on recognizance, re-investigation, and everything else, they have to be arrested and spend some time in jail. Stalemate.
The military officer, who appears well-versed in psy-ops spoke up after listening for two straight hours to enlighten the other people who are in the dialogue on what is at hand. This is more than just wanted men and women hiding from justice and a cult leader who is taking over a tribe’s ancestral domain by harassing and outright threatening those who resist his rule. This is about tribal folks who look up to their leaders and will only understand what they see. That is: Even if being arrested is a necessary sacrifice, all that the tribal folks will see is their leader handcuffed and jailed. That will spell unprecedented chaos.
There are a lot of dimensions in the story, including how the law that seeks to protect tribal people can push them into legalized serfhood, but as I grapple with the who’s and the where’s and the when’s in very unfamiliar territory of an unfamiliar tribe in an unfamiliar set of events, the story has to be shelved.
Yet, as I ponder on that very long trip, comes the never-ending realization that in a world where power corrupts and the corrupt rules, the marginalized will always be pushed off the margins into the abyss of nothingness and made pawns in a struggle not of their own making as they sit in the most coveted of land where gold, silver and copper entice the lust of men. Thus I say what I have long surmised: Mindanao is too blessed for its own good. Many more will die, many more will be jailed, and many more will live deprived.
The who’s, the what’s, the where’s, and the when’s may change and become very unfamiliar, but the how’s and the why’s remain the same. firstname.lastname@example.org
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 03, 2013.