War zones are poor zones PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 16 February 2015 11:58



In the Philippines it  appears that there are forces that seem to be working against each other. While the GRP and the MILF have been working out the final provisions for the creation of the Bangsamoro Entity and strengthen the hope for peace in Mindanao, other groups are doing the opposite. The tragic Mamasapano incident has made this glaringly obvious.

I will not go into the why’s and the who’s   of this latest sad national experience. We have enough to read in the print media and to watch and listen to in the electronic media. What I wish to highlight is that we seem to be back on a war footing. Those Filipinos who care about peace in the country, and particularly in Mindanao, should reflect deeply on what is happening and make careful evaluation of what we read or hear about.

We should make a review of the often cited reasons  for the “war in Mindanao”.  The Bangsamoro’s  non-stop claim is that  Mindanao has been theirs from the beginning but  now they are a struggling minority in their own lands. They have not been given their fair share of developmental funding from the national government and this is why the Bangsamoro territory- all those areas of the country where Muslims, whether MNLF- or MILF supporters- lag behind other provinces in the Philippines in about all the developmental indicators. The reasons claimed for this situation are the topics for intense debate among those who are on either side of the divide and will not be laid to rest so easily.

It is claimed that the lag in progress and development between Mindanao ( especially the Muslim-majority areas) and the  other areas of the Philippines has prompted aspirations for independence of the Morolands. This aspiration over the last 40 years   has now been modified into the creation of their special areas, first the ARMM and now the Bangsamoro  Entity (BE).

What the colonial administrators did or did not do belong to history and cannot be undone.  The more relevant point to remember is that the Philippines is now governed, not by  colonial administrators, but by a government of, by and for Filipinos.  Are we, in spite of religious and ethnic affiliations ,   ready to do the job together?

It has been said that “war zones are poor zones”.   An MILF leader said something similar when he said that “in armed conflict we all lose, we are all victims.” If the motive for waging the war 40 years back stems from the wish to hasten development in the BE, then it must be obvious that beating the drums of war again runs counter to the objective.