Peace beyond any agreement PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 09 May 2014 11:13



“I went home two months ago but I only stayed one day. I was afraid I would be kidnapped.”

Home was Jolo and the statement was made by a pretty  young woman  whom I met in a hospital in Manila where she is undergoing training to be a diplomate in cardiology under one of the most prominent cardiologists of the Philippines. She is a Tausug, soft spoken and gentle in her ways and with the lovely skin tone of so many Filipinas that make them so exotic to foreign eyes. Although a Tausug her family has lived in Manila for some  years.

We exchanged comments and observations about the peace situation in our part of the country and that is how her comment about being kidnapped in Jolo came up.

Professionals like her are what Zamboanga City and the BASULTA area need to move our area forward. If competent doctors, engineers, lawyers, etc. think twice about establishing their professions in this part of the country for reasons of the unstable peace and order situation, what can we look forward to? Should we allow our area to be a backwater of the Philippines that is home only to the undesirable dregs of society? It will be, if people of  good intentions in the Bangsamoro and outside cannot – and will not— join hands to work out peace for our area.

Political victories and military victories will be for nothing if there is no peace on the ground, in the area where ordinary people live out their lives.  If we have a signed peace agreement (CAB) as we have now but the criminality goes on, the disregard for rightful ownership of property goes on, and  kidnapping  and the likes go on , what kind of peace are we talking about?

An awareness campaign has been initiated on the theme of “No Te Vayas De Zamboanga”.  The implications are quite clear. But it will be gross naivete to think that only one group of people is interested to get out. One doesn’t have to be a deep thinker to realize that the desire for peace is not limited to one group of people only. Bangsamoro or not, we all want to live in peace. And Bangsamoro or not, when there is no peace,  we move on to where there is peace.

When the fighting in Jolo broke out in 1974  the cream of Tausug society  left Jolo; many have not gone back. And what has that exodus done to Jolo? It has been 40 years since that happened, but the Jolo now is nowhere near the Jolo of  40 years ago. And that is the reality that many Joloanos cry about.

Genuine leadership is one that aspires for development and good for all, not just for oneself or one’s immediate cohorts.  It would be well for the decision makers in the Bangsamoro to accept this as a given.  Development plans for the Bangsamoro Entity (BE) must include  all who  live in the BE across religious and ethnic divides.  Anything less will be an invitation to stagnation and discontent.

It is worth repeating that “Peace is harmony among those who are divided” whether the divide is one that is political, religious or ethnic.  And peace is for the BE and the neighboring areas.

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