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A MORO IN EXILE:  Moros need to go beyond issuing statements of condemnation

MANILA (MindaNews / 28 May) — Moros need to go beyond issuing statements of condemnation.  The reason why indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas,  summary arrests, and summary executions continue is because Moros do not seem to know any response other than just to issue statements of condemnation.

Numerous mechanism have been created for incidents such as these.  There’s the RHRC (Regional Human Rights Commission), the AHJAG (Ad Hoc Joint Action Group), CCCH (Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities),  IMT (International Monitoring Group) including CPC (Civilian Protection Component),  INGOs/NGOs (International Non-Governmental Organizations / Non-Governmental Organizations), NBI (National Bureau of Investigation), PNP (Philippine National Police),  etc.  Make these mechanisms work.  Put them all to work!

With such a huge number of mechanisms coupled with numerous trainings, there seems to be no end to summary executions. What then is the use of all those trainings and all that organizational mandate and resource?

Aslamia and Sadim Tambak. Dead on Ei’ld Fitr. Killed by mortar fire inside their house in Barangay kitango, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao on 24 May 2020. Photo courtesy of RASUL AKMAD

And where is UNICEF which is so outspoken when it comes to the issue of child soldiers but ever so quiet every time a Moro child dies from an artillery shell, especially when the suspected source of the shell is a state security unit?  How many Moro children need to die before they start talking about it?

Is the UNICEF’s mandate on child protection limited to the issue of child soldiers? Are they prohibited from highlighting or discussing  grave child rights violations if the suspected perpetrators belong to the state security apparatus?  Has it been using the reporting mechanism on grave child rights abuses on these and past incidents of indiscriminate artillery and aerial bombardments of civilian areas? How many times?  Has it been using the MRM (Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism) to put pressure on the state as much as it has been actively using it to put pressure on non-state actors?

But again, Moros need to look at themselves — at what they have and have not done, or not doing.  They need to graduate beyond merely issuing statements of condemnation. Furthermore, handing out relief items and financial assistance to the victims does very little to prevent a repetition of these incidents.  They are good for PR and photo ops, but does very little to prevent future incidents.

Folks, this is why I have never been a fan of posts about peacebuilding and human rights trainings here and there.  Most, especially those held in posh venues here and abroad, are nothing more than junkets. I would much rather see posts about actual response to incidents of violations. In that case, I would tip my hat off.

There.  Grow up, Moro champions of good or reformist governance, human rights defenders, peacebuilders, and civil society folks.

Lastly, is this the era of peace, development, dignity, and all other motherhood statements that the public was promised?

This is my response to those asking about recent incidents and to those who tagged me in their posts.  They seem to think I should do something.  My suggestion, exact accountability not just from those who abuse our children but also those who are supposed to protect us from them.  Otherwise, I guarantee, this is not the last time we will see innocents among us dying. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Zainudin Malang is a lawyer from Mindanao who spent years on deployment in acute emergencies in East Africa and the Middle East. Before that, he was the founding head of a human rights and civilian protection organization in Mindanao and was one of the five members of the peace process monitoring body)

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