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COMMENTARY: Of both the living and the dead…

I am overseas but deeply concerned of what is happening in my country so I make sure that I would read news and updates regularly. So the recent news is shocking.

The Supreme Court finally decided in one of the most controversial issues for Filipinos that concerns both the living and dead – the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. With the vote of 9 – 5 – 1 in favor of the burial is actually stunning. I feel devastated. Many would say, it is time to move on. We can expect these from those who do not deeply engage themselves in scars of martial law and those who think that the decision is best to maintain peace and promote healing.

Of course I respect their opinion but, moving on from an injustice is easier said than done. It would actually take a process, a long process of healing. Some may have resolved their pain and anger but it doesn’t change the fact that the injustices committed and the negative impact to the lives of those who are affected have not been dealt with. This is true especially among the Moro people wherein most of the massacres, killings, enforced disappearances, land grabbing happened in the martial law period. Victims are still calling for justice. In fact, many have died waiting. Numerous families are still displaced from their land and some may not be able to recover theirs. There remain numbers of families that have never been reunited after the conflict and the war is recurring up to now.

But what can we do? We weep, we shout, and release our anger in whatever form. A human rights lawyer said this is like rubbing salt into a wound. Definitely, motion for reconsideration can be done but reversing the decision of the en banc is less expected. Legal experts would proceed with in the legal means, but we can also expect that the late dictator’s supporters will take advantage of the decision and do all they can to immediately carry out the burial.

So we are in pain, yes, but this is also a time for us to reflect. We can begin by extending support to those who weep more than us. We need to reassure them that many are still and will continue to call for social justice, support healing and reconciliation initiatives and work for peace. We can make use of our grief to think of how to level up our struggle. For the Moro people, there are recommendations of the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) that can be done. These are based on the “listening processes” conducted in many communities.

This is also a good time to recognize those who serve our voices and create venues for dialogues like the Konsyensiya Dabaw that gathered signatures and sent petition to the Office of the President, and a Moro lawyer, Atty. Alghamar Latip, who with all his passion went to the Supreme Court and presented our arguments, and others. To them we say, thank you for representing our cause. So let’s Move On! We should move on by strengthening our voice and speaking louder, together. WE WANT JUSTICE! NEVER AGAIN!

(Hasim Guiamil is a humanitarian worker and peace advocate who was born and raised in Mindanao. Currently working in an international organization and involved in humanitarian response for the Syria Crisis.)


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