Rido and the Annex on Normalization

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014


IN RECENT years, there has been an increase in case studies in the issue of "rido" and management of "rido" in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Several recommendations for further studies were suggested by the academe and civil society organizations in order to address the violence and conflict in Muslim communities. However, while there have been studies, "rido" has continuously happening and the challenge on the process of Normalization as identified by both peace panels, Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, for the Bangsamoro political entity is a reality that our communities has to address.

The OPAPP's primer tells us that "the Annex on the Normalization is one of the four (4) Annexes that provide details to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB). It is a process through which communities affected by the decades-long armed conflict in Mindanao can return to peaceful life and pursue sustainable livelihoods free from fear of violence and crime. It also involves the redress of unresolved legitimate grievances and the rehabilitation of conflict affected areas". Thus, it also aim to address the conflict caused by "rido".

The Asia Foundation (TAF) recently just launched their expanded version of their book entitled Rido: Clan Feuding and Conflict Management in Mindanao. This book explains the nature, causes, effects, and management of rido in Mindanao. The TAF study was based on a survey that was undertaken in 2002 where the data showed that clan conflict is more prevalent in Central Mindanao. TAF also stated that "rido interacts with other forms of conflict, notably separatist insurgencies, and thus managing those conflict more intractable." (TAF, 2007)

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Rido means feuding or clan conflicts. Dr. Steven Rood of TAF wrote that "feuds between clans are known throughout history - Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy, after all, because the two lovers come from different families".

The study on rido by TAF "mapped the incidence of clan conflicts in Mindanao and conducted in-depth investigations into the root causes of the conflicts, the parties involved, the conditions for their escalation and recurrence, the relationship to other forms of conflict, and the potential for conflict resolution.

My recollection and idea about "rido" started since I was a young boy in my grade school. One night, my uncle (my dad's first cousin) arrived in our home in Cotabato City informing my dad that his brother was gunned down in one of the restaurants at town area. With no much discussions, dad and his cousin drove to Parang and called for a family meeting. While the family of my uncle was mourning and arranging the Islamic burial rites, the Lidasans' male were arming themselves and conducted a private investigation. My uncle was murdered by a hired killer due to maratabat issues. I was too young back then and I was not part of the whole process of managing the rido, but I heard from my mom that justice was served. After few years had passed, my mom told me that "nakasaup tanu den" (your family was able to do justice of your uncle's death).

The death of my uncle was not the only case of rido that my clan ever experienced. On both sides, Lidasans and Sinsuats, I had very close relatives who were killed because of rido due to maratabat (approximate the concepts of honor, self-esteem, and prestige but is sometimes equated to lineage or social status in the community (TAF, 2007), politics, business rivalries, petty disagreements, and even because of land conflict between two siblings. Even as early as 1950s, prominent Cotabato political families once had a rido with our clans. And even during the era of the Sultanates of our ancestors, rido has been one of the main causes that our communities and families were divided.

It is a given fact that feuding and revenge killings are common to many societies throughout human history. Local gang and frat wars experienced this day in and day out. The question I would like to answer is that, "in areas where government or a central authority is weak and in areas where there is a perceived lack of justice and security, can we really address "rido"?

Based on the way our indigenous practices handled rido, even without the help of the national government, we were able to address this problem. We have systems and protocols of managing and addressing rido. It is not through the usual courts systems as introduced by our state.

The Bangsamoro political entity will be tested in the days to come. How will the MILF decommission their Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF)? Will the traditional and political warlords "decommission" their private armies in the guise of CVOs and CAFGUs or as blue guards?

We are not naive of these realities. We recognized them and our communities have ways of addressing rido in our own ways. How do we balance cultural and religious practices or the "adat betad" with that of the State law?

The book Rido of TAF recommends that we need to recognize, enhance, and support the development of mixed or hybrid institutions or systems composed of formal and informal structures that our communities are utilizing when handling and managing conflicts. I agree with this idea. Thus, the success of the Bangsamoro, especially in terms of the Normalization, requires not only a military solution of disarming the armed groups but also to allow the community recognize and utilize indigenous ways of addressing rido and conflict through active non violence.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on May 07, 2014.

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