A LATE pastor friend said: “That phrase Christ is the answer, but then what is the question?”
Funny but true, we like to believe someone or something is the fix, but we fail to appraise what is our problem?
For instance, our "honorable" politicians granted the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao. Martial Law is good, it will protect the people, they chorus. We should ask, protect us from what?
We need to know, as people of Mindanao, what is our problem?
Farmers say their problem is not having land to till as lands are taken away by mining and plantations. Workers say it’s Endo and low wages. Lumads are losing their ancestral land and their schools. Moro people want a place called home amidst endless wars and endless negotiations for autonomy.
If we look at the problems of the masa, none of these reflect the terror that the Duterte government speaks about. Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Southern Mindanao points out that these are issues that the president promised to solve. Especially on the peace issue, he said that as a Mindanawon, he needs to correct the historical injustice. But now he has turned away from finding a solution.
It seems Martial Law is peddled now as the cure-all solution. But what is more worrying is how the public is forced to accept this.
Inquirer columnist Oscar Franklin Tan points out that in the seven months with Martial Law, we seem ignorant of the Constitution and ignorant of the basis of this extension and context. And I may add, we seem to be more ignorant of what is to come.
A group of conscientious Mindanawons raised valid points in their open letter: Why is the president only relying on the military side to assess the peace in Mindanao? Why are not the civilian sectors heard, such as the voices in Marawi who say Martial Law is not needed after its “liberation”?
The group also raises concern of Martial Law expanding its scope to target the CPP-NPA now that the talks are abandoned and the latter are declared as “terrorists”. “We can only expect more wars that tragically would also be additional reasoning for Martial Law. Mindanao and its peoples would all the more be trapped in a vicious loop of violence, stunted growth, unchecked poverty, repression, and armed resistance. Even if fraught with complications, a peace process is still the most reliable way of achieving durable peace.”
By extending Martial Law, we are indeed going back to the loop of poverty breeds rebellion, and more violence creates more rebellion. We need to ask this question: does this Martial Law make us safe? Does it bring peace and whose peace?
A song by Michael Franti and Spearhead may answer this: “We can bomb the world into pieces, but we can’t bomb it into peace.”