Mindanao and the peacemaker PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 17 June 2016 14:24


BY Jack Edward Enriquez

Soldiers in full battle gear ready for firefight moving on foot cautiously through the uninhabited plain, then crossing the knee-deep water marshland backed up by several tanks creeping swiftly until they seized their objective—the lair of the dreaded Maute group.

In the evacuation center of about 5,000 evacuees relief goods were distributed to displaced families mostly mothers with a baby in their arms and frightened tots tagging behind. On their faces were traces of fear, confusion and uncertainties as they gazed at the troops posted within the vicinity to secure the areas, based on the video of the report from Lanao del Sur.

Another group sowing terror in farming villages in Central Mindanao is the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. In the past few months there has been armed clashes that caused destruction to lives and properties. Food production and livelihood activities were abandoned as the inhabitants were forced to leavetheir farms for fear of their lives. The impact of  poverty is like a sledge hammer crashing on the ordinary rural folks while peace has gone out of sight.

In this modern time the history of Mindanao opens two bloodiest pages: the Maguindanao Massacre where some 58 people were mercilessly killed, 32 of them workers in media. They were treacherously killed by combined lawless groups and enemies of the state, according to investigation reports.

In Sept. 2013, the peaceful residents of Zamboanga City, particularly the city’s commercial district and the suburbs, were awakened by a horrible nightmare when a group of MNLF rebels armed with high powered guns attempted to seize City Hall and take control of the government in this small progressive, exotic city at the southernmost tip of the Zamboanga Peninsula. Though many of them were killed, a big number arrested and the rest driven away the severe destruction to lives and properties is beyond the comprehension and rationale of man. The loss in economy is worth millions and the damage on the city’s name as a tourist destination still haunts to this day which could be seen in the construction sites under the Rehabilitation Plan and the transitory sites occupied by the IDPs.

In the hinterlands of Basilan, the Abu Sayyaf Group who are into kidnapping, extortion and bombing tyrannize the communities and villages. By chance they would harass combat troops on patrol through ambuscades and bombings with the use of IEDs which could result to hours of firelight. At times, the military suffered heavy casualties. Through intelligence reports the enemies also suffered the same,. Although doing a body count proves futile.

The ASG bandits and terrorists in Sulu are giving headache to the government for their inhumane acts— beheading of hostages. With high powered guns moved fast over the hilly rugged terrain, hopping from one island to another. Besides, they managed to get closer with the civilian populace with the use of the ransom money which posed a serious obstruction to the military operations. Nevertheless military authorities vowed to exterminate the ASG problem sooner o later, although the shedding of blood on the government side sometimes seems too painful to accept.

The senior citizens, Muslims and Christians alike, shared the common view with the same sentiment: “We are sad, we can’t help but cry for our hearts bleed over what’s happening here in Mindanao. We don’t cry for ourselves but for those young children, the newly born babies. How will they grow in this world, in what manner will they be reared by their parents, what is there in the future in store for them? Should these fighting and killings continue, what will these children become? Uneducated or unschooled, they will pick up the guns, run to the hills and fight against the authorities to avenge the death of their fathers. The cycle of violence and disorder goes on and on. What will happen to the Filipino nation?”

The elderies pray for peace. All of us should pray the same. Let us forgive those who trespassed against us, forget all the differences and unite for peace. Respect the truce and smoke the peace pipe. Let bygones be bygones.

Open our hearts to the peacemaker, quivered the creased lips and whispered.