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THE WORM’S EYEVIEW: Begin transforming Mindanao now

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/05 May) — With the onset of peace and cooperation occasioned by the Bangsamoro Basic Law’s passage, there’s a lot of multi-tasking to be done, implementing measures to be made, monitoring of developments, and the like.

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No less than the total mobilization of Mindanao society is needed to pursue the agenda of peace and development, on all levels, with all sectors, in all corners.

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All eyes and all hands should now be on the present and its onward march to the future; no dilly-dallying or wasting time on what essentially belong to the past.

Much better to focus on what the future needs and what need to be done at present so that nothing will delay the future’s arrival. And, please, no more killing and hurting… or arming!


To whomever it may concern: rather than invest on weapons and killing machines, it is so much more rewarding and life-affirming to invest in life-giving, life-enhancing programs and implements.

Inveterate warriors should now moderate the urge to battle. Would they turn their swords into plowshares? Gun owners who are fascinated by killing machines and “kill-ratios” should change gears now and wake to the realization that there has to be an end to anger, hate, death-dealing, and destruction.

Too many killings and killing machines cheapen life in our society. Rather than enrich and ennoble life, they demean it.

Obsessive attachment to weaponry is unnatural and destructive. Brandishing weapons is menacing and cruel. Except in rare cases, as in self-defense, weapons terrorize people and diminish their dignity. A terrorist who uses a weapon dishonors his nobility and debases his worth as a person.


Terror turns off hope and drains out happiness. It kills laughter, creates fear, and spreads the darkness of despair. It’s inhuman! Not humane at all.

Far too many people in our society have been in the clutches of terror, especially in barangays and towns conflicted by insurgents and terrorist groups. Terrorists have mindlessly made innocent people suffer.

Really, there’s hardly any compelling reason for war-mongering or for stocking an arsenal anymore. What grievances there are to redress are essentially unaddressed issues of the past.

Let’s address them now, but in so doing, let’s not traumatize the present generation. Bring up the problems now. And let’s involve civil society and government in resolving them.


It’s saddening that clan wars are breaking out in various places at this time. It reflects how badly developed are our communities, how poorly served by education, how disorganized still, how badly functioning their institutions, and how substandard the people in charge of them.

Given our level of education and access to information, education, and the sciences, it is so unseemly that instances of barbarism and crudeness should still roil the community.

More than enough processes, techniques, and resource persons are at hand with which to define, rectify, and redress the wrongs of the past. Justice is possible; it is within our reach if we have the will and the focus.

Together we can take wise measures and adopt enlightened policies to prevent past wrongs—and present ones—from recurring. We just have to think them through and give full play to our sense of justice and fairness in order to resolve them.


We owe it to ourselves and to the rest of society to address bigotry, killing, and corruption seriously. We owe it to ourselves to establish an effective regime of law and order.

We have to learn to let passions cool down, to avoid provocation and bad blood, such that all the men and all the women in all our barangays may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want.

The Mindanao Peace Talks are now at the stage where mutual trust and confidence, mutual understanding and acceptance, are crucial.

It’s time to lay the cards on the table, to take off the mask, to reveal ourselves to one another without posturing or concealment in our motives. No more dissembling or pretense.


Of ourselves, let us demand openness and candor; of our government, transparency and accountability. Let the concluding talks proceed cordially as befits an exchange between and among citizens in search of honorable peace and understanding.

Finally, it makes no sense anymore for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to invoke its revolutionary nature. That’s something it already agreed to set aside when it sat down to talk and negotiate.

Nor is it necessary to trigger memories of barbarism and refresh the reasons for sabotaging, killing, destroying, or terrorizing.

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No need to challenge government, to which establishment we all contributed.

Let’s just start the healing process, mindful of all the hurts and reckless rhetoric of the past. We’ve all seen enough and felt the effects of violence and terrorism, images of mangled, mutilated bodies, broken dreams, and dashed hopes and ideals.


So let’s begin now the task of transforming Mindanao into the home of civilized peoples. No more bombings and beheadings and barbaric carnage to horrify the civilized world.

Our basic sense of humanity must prevail; violence must be stigmatized. Even as we express remorse for so much violence that has taken place, let us now resolve to stay the hand of the reckless and the lawless and give peace a chance.

Thus, we focus on making our social, religious, political, economic, and other institutions bring about civilized living. They are our societal control mechanisms, the safety valves moderating the urge to barbarity or violence. Agreed?

Manny is former UNESCO regional director for Asia-Pacific; secretary-general, Southeast Asia Publishers Association; director, development academy of Philippines; member, Philippine Mission to the UN; vice chair, Local Government Academy; member, Cory Govt’s Peace Panel; awardee, PPI-UNICEF outstanding columnist. Author of books on governance, he is chairman/convenor ofGising Barangay Movement Inc. valdehuesa@gmail.com

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