BEtween friends: Tingog Mamasapano and the peace process PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 16 February 2015 11:49

By Fatima Pir T. Allian


Mamasapano has a total land area of 19, 424 hectares and is located on the northeast portion of the province of Maguindanao. The place is suitable for agricultural crops and marshy areas for fishing. Flash floods and armed conflict are two areas of concern in the municipality.

Barangay Tukanalipao is one of the seriously affected areas aside from Pimbalkan. According to the municipal leaders the incident of Jan. 25, 2015 affected a total of 1,324 families or 6,620 individuals from 5 other barangays. Unfortunately 11 civilian casualties were reported injured 5 of which died, the youngest a 5 year old little girl named Sara Panangulon. Badrudin Langalan, Mursib Hassim, Omar Dagadas amd Mohammad Ambilang also died last January 25.  While 13 schools with 6,406 students with 126 teachers were affected by the PNP SAF operation in the area and the exchange of fires between different groups; the MILF, BIFF and private armed groups.

A women’s solidarity and listening mission was conducted last February 11, 2015 by the different Mindanao CSOs with funding support from the Oxfam. The mission was also to generate the narratives of the women survivors and share their experiences to the public and to counter the calls for an all out war.

Babuh Bidarya Adam bravely shared her stories to us and said, “I am not afraid. Tell them my name and show them my face so the truth will come out. I am only afraid of Allah and no one else.” She said that on that fateful day of January 25 in the morning, the whole family was surprised to see ‘soldiers’ in their home. They were asked to stay in one corner while pointing their guns at her family. She was taking care of 8 grandchildren. Seven of her children were with her too. Later she confessed that it was the PNP SAF who were in their home because she said, “they have a different uniform.” At least 30 PNP SAF stayed in their home. “We asked if we could leave but the other man said he will have to contact a certain person before we would be permitted to go. We did not have food. They did not permit us to cook. What we had was just water to feed especially my grandchildren.” At around 5 pm Babuh Bidarya said that they were permitted to leave their home.  “My 18 live chickens were all eaten by the men. Some of the hollow blocks to build a masjid were damaged and the wirings,too. They (men) used them to slaughter the chicken for their food.

After the Maguindanao Massacre in 2009 Babuh Bidarya said that their place was very peaceful. “We tended to our corn fields without fear. Our kapihan was doing good. You could walk peacefully and visit your family and your neighbours.” We asked her what her message to PNoy would be and she said, “What is good for us, for the Bangsamoro we will go there. We are afraid of the police and the military because they have weapons. They might go back and do it again!” We need relief goods because we can not go back to our home. We are staying in an abandoned house. There is no flooring yet. We just make do with what we have.” She believes that the peace talks should continue and justice should be given to those who died and survived by this unfortunate event. Before she left I touched her hand fighting back tears and smiled at her. She said, “I believe something good will come out of this. You see, Manisan (beautiful), without this conflict it is very impossible for us to meet.” One day she said to a companion of ours, “When things will be better and there is no more fear, I will cook for you rending and pastil. We will walk home together.”

For Babuh Bidarya and many other survivors of the different conflicts in Mindanaw, the peace process is very important and not the all out war, as many claim, to be the best option. The four decades of war has brought so many deaths in the family. Women, children and elderly suffer most from war. It is easy to say an all out war is the best option for those who are living outside of the conflict area. They do not know how it feels like to lose someone you love, to start all over again because you have no home to go to, and to be trafficked and be victimized all over again. The peace process is a component in attaining meaningful peace for the IP, Moro and theour Christian sisters and brothers. Let the Mamasapano incident remind us if we fail in this peace talks, we may have (God forbids!) similar incidents that will happen again, and again, and again.

We pray that we all work for peace. Assalamu Alaikum! “A guidance and a mercy for those who do good.” (Qur’an 31:4)