THE year 2018 has just ended, and 2019 has begun for the Bangsamoro. The past two years have been full of difficult challenges and trials for our people and our nation. While that is what I would like to discuss in my article for this week, I would also like to speak about why I am still positive that we can overcome all these challenges in spite of everything. I strongly believe in the strength of our President, our government, and our people.
I was born and raised in Cotabato City. I was born during the height of the Marcos Martial Law years in the late 1970s. Massacres, series of armed conflicts, all-out war policy, bomb attacks, and sieges in Ipil, Zamboanga...
After Marawi City, many people were afraid that there would be another devastating attack. However, for almost everybody I know from Maguindanao, Lanao, and Armm, these fears have decreased over the following weeks, months, and years. Life goes on and we maintain a sense of normalcy.
With all these unfortunate events, we have to understand the context and why these things happen. For the recent bomb attack in Cotabato City, we need to understand that the purpose of terrorism is to frighten us and to make us believe that we are in imminent danger. We are not. Studies have shown that most of us are more likely to die from skin cancer than from an act of terrorism.
But for some people, watching these events on the news (online or broadcast) may actually have excessive fears of future attacks. Some may even become Islamophobic (the fear for no apparent reason of Muslims or people who “look like they are Muslims”).
Dr. Robert Leahy explains that these fears are part of the goal of terrorism—to instill fear in those people who witness it or hear about it. Terrorism is more a political and psychological weapon than a true military strategy to achieve the subordination and defeat of “the enemy.” Today, the greatest threat to our democracy and way of life is the rise of violent extremism.
Why, then, am I still confident for 2019 and beyond for the Bangsamoro and Cotabato City?
First, I believe that Cotabateneos are strong. We are united and we all work for peace. We have survived all these years. In the armed conflict surrounding us, we have been able to give and receive thousands of evacuees.
Second, our government will do everything possible to guarantee peace, security, and freedom for its citizens. 2019 is the year we ratify the Bangsamoro Organic Law. A few months thereafter will be the midterm local and national elections. For these democratic processes, we have developed ways and means to improve the political discourse among our most precious resource: our youth.
Third, more and more people are becoming involved. Today more Filipinos have learned about the history of Mindanao and the Bangsamoro people than in any other generation. Even Catholic schools and institutions are actively involved in peace building work and support the ratification of BOL.
I have witnessed the enthusiasm and ingenuity of our Bangsamoro youth today. They all work for the peace and development of Mindanao. They value the principles of good governance, inclusivity and promote social cohesion. They value human rights and human dignity. They continue to promote, exercise, and defend these values and principles for the Bangsamoro.
We all need to support our youth today - all of us working together, each contributing our own talents and expertise – as we envision a more dynamic, progressive, and sustainable Filipino nation. Our work, and the work of our forefathers, will all have been worth it.