WHY do people in Muslim communities continue to take up arms? Are all of the efforts to bring peace in Mindanao still in vain?
Despite the education, the many aids, and attempts to reach out and acculturate the Meranaws of Lanao del Sur, the region’s infamous reputation for guns and violence still stands.
So, is violence and the ‘insatiable hunger for combat’ embedded in their genes?
It’s actually embedded in their history.
Once upon a time, when the Americans became successful in persuading the Meranaws to give up their arms, they double-crossed the latter and an episode of massacres happened to the tribes people.
This event led them to mistrust even the current government. They would rather protect themselves and survive through their own efforts—even through illegal means—because they have learned from what their forefathers had suffered from.
There were also reports of Meranaws who do not pay taxes and do not follow rules laid down by the state. It’s not because they are savages, it’s because we failed to educated them about the value of doing so—and that some of them are still fixated on the treachery that fell upon them throughout history.
Muslim professionals, during some of my interviews, have also said that despite the hard work of many to raise the current situation the Muslim tribes are in the present, some LGUs and government agencies still refuse to do their work right for the Meranaws and other Muslim communities.
Lanao del Sur and other regions that have large populations of Muslims still suffer from high rates of poverty and illiteracy, and are deprived of proper health facilities.
Looking back, their ‘aggression’ now is actually how they flesh out what they have learned from the betrayal they had to suffer from as well as how they were somewhat ‘abandoned’.
On top of everything, many Muslims are still and are feeling persecuted because of their religion and ethnicity. Because of this, they do not feel much incentivized to follow the rules of the community whom they feel have not accepted them fully.
What you think is hate and aggression from the Muslims may actually be a subconscious way to protect themselves and defend their kin.
Now that the Marawi rehabilitation efforts and rebuilding is lagging behind, many fear that the Meranaws would grow impatient and would decide to take up arms again to reclaim their lands.