(The Philippine Star)
The following is the full statement issued by De La Salle Philippines President Br. Jose M. Jimenez FSC on the conflict in Marawi. It is entitled Upholding the Rights of Citizens in a Time of Conflict: An Appeal for a Holistic Response to the Crisis in Marawi”
“In the past days we have witnessed how the lives of our fellow Filipinos in Marawi have been disrupted by the actions of the Maute Group. As many flee the violence that has taken over the city and as many experience displacement, we continue to appeal to civil society to work together with the local church and government agencies to ensure the safety and well being of those affected. In solidarity with those who experience this insecurity, let us ensure the availability of necessary material and social supports to help our affected brethren pass over this period of crisis. As educators, we wish to call special attention to the plight of children and young people, who in this situation of conflict are rendered the most vulnerable.
We denounce the lawless acts that have been committed by the Maute Group against the civilian population of Marawi. The right of people to life and liberty cannot be subordinated to one group’s assertion of its political or religious beliefs. The actions of the Maute group run counter to the values of tolerance and dialogue that we wish our young people to learn and live by.
We urge our government leaders to uphold the processes guaranteed by the 1987 Constitution. We believe that the restoration of order in Marawi City can be accomplished by the judicious use of the powers provided by the Constitution and the unwavering commitment to protect and respect the inviolable rights of individuals. The situation of disorder cannot be addressed by an appeal to discord and wanton disregard of the limits imposed on the exercise of the state’s power. The prudent use of power by those in authority is a blessing for those who are governed.
The conflict that is now playing out in Marawi City has as well, deep roots in our country’s history. As an institution of learning, we are committed to a deeper appreciation of the roots of discontent that have fuelled this conflict. We pledge, to build alongside our civil government, the structures that will allow every Filipino access to resources that are necessary for development. Our development can only be authentic if we all develop together. As an educational institution, we re-commit ourselves to allowing persons and communities to realize their own power for creating good. May the long march towards the peace we long for begin in our hearts today and live on in the actions we shall take in the days ahead.
Fraternally, Br. Jose Mari Jimenez FSC ,president, De La Salle Philippines
Roots of the conflict
I follow the news to know what is happening. But I read books to understand what’s happening. There are many books that can help us understand the roots of the conflict in Mindanao.
Gallantry in Mindanao by Ben Cal was published in 2000. In the book’s preface, the author, a Filipino newsman, wrote the reason for writing the book: “ The outbreak of another war in Mindanao, the second one in my generation, sent my memory chips into a frenzied rewind bringing me back to the first, the one the government fought against the Moro National Liberation Front in the early Seventies.”
He was referring to the war, in Mindanao, during the martial law regime of Marcos. It was a conflict that resulted in more than 100,000 civilian deaths and 10,000 soldiers and policemen who were killed during the conflict.
Ben Cal narrates the story of the gallantry of the soldiers who fought for the Republic. The most interesting narration, from a historical view is his description of the first clash with the Abu Sayyaf, which was formed in 1989.
On the morning of Friday, January 13, 1995, a nine year old boy reported to an army unit in Mabuso, Basilan that around 150 armed members of the Abu Sayyaf were unloading supplies two kilometers from the camp. Captain Cirilito Sobrejana of the 1st Scout Ranger Company organized a team of 30 Scout Rangers to conduct a surprise attack. The clash in Matarlang, Basilan was the first time the Abu Sayyaf, then led by Janjalani, figured in a gunfight with government forces. Most of the stories in the book sound almost exactly the same as the news reports we are hearing today.
Muslim in the Philippines by Adib Majul was published in 1999 – a “must reading” for those who are serious about understanding the conflict in Mindanao. The author is a converted Muslim and views Philippine history from a Muslim perspective.
Among the insights in his book, he says that Islam in the Philippines was part of the Islamization process in the Malay and Indonesian Peninsula. The Spanish attempt to Christanize and subjugate the Muslims in Mindanao was the primary reason for the start of the Moro wars. The Muslims were provoked to rise up and defend their territories.
In order to instill fear, Spanish soldiers destroyed Muslim houses, plantations and beheaded captured local leaders. Women and children were taken as slaves. Muslims from Borneo and the Malay Peninsula have always aided the Muslims in the Philippines in fighting the Spanish invaders.
The conflict in Marawi has deep roots in our history. A necessary step towards peace is to understand the history of all our people including the Muslims in the Philippines.
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