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Carpet-bombing Marawi is not the best option

Mas Yahya
Iligan City, Philippines
June 27, 2017

I believe the Muslims in the Philippines should not always be blamed for the worsening Moro issue. The Philippine government has the most responsibility.

While the Moro community through the Moro fronts is committed to the agreements they signed with the government, the government failed to do its part. 

The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) decried the way the government implemented the Tripoli Agreement and the other accords, still they had to try out the experimental Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) by force of circumstances, a fatal move that led MNLF founding chair Nurulaji Misuari to bolt out of the fold of law and became fugitive and jailed. Whatever happened thereafter is a matter of survival.

In the case of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which is the most moderate but strongest Moro group, it has finally inked the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and what is only needed is the basic law. But Congress threw it out of its wall. Even then, the MILF did not respond with arms, hoping the new administration of Rody Duterte, a fellow Mindanaoan and with a Moro blood, would be true to its word, thus hope for a lasting peace may finally realize.

And because of the failure of the government, many are frustrated and become attracted to extremism. What is happening in Marawi which has devastated a lot is the bitter fruit of that frustration. The Marawi siege has killed hundreds of people, destroyed homes, buildings, properties, and infrastructures, and rendered hundreds of thousands internally displaced persons (IDPs), while the government is losing millions of dollars of people’s money in the siege, a painful truth that it is diminishing our economy.

The war in Marawi will never solve the problem. 

The late Ferdinand Marcos did an all-out war in the prime of his Martial Law dictatorship. His armed forces aided by military paratroopers had killed over a hundred thousand people through massacres and conventional battles and sent several hundred thousand evacuees to different localities and abroad but despite these massive operations, Marcos did not solve the problem. Analysts believed even if he employed all his might including family resources, he could never solve the Moro issue by an all-out war.

So the dictator had to ask Libya and other OIC countries to help intervene because his government was losing too much that it could not afford to take another lap. On pressure of the OIC, the Moro front had sat down with the government on the negotiating table. Their negotiations had resulted to the creation of ARMM and other agencies aimed to ameliorate the welfare of the Bangsa Moro. The problem, however, is that most Moro People looked at these actions as act of government’s insincerity for they did not truly represent the spirit of all the agreements but aimed only to appease the Muslims. 


And as long as this sentiment is in the heart of the Bangsa Moro, extremism can easily penetrate them. And battles like the Marawi siege cannot annihilate the Muslim problem. You may flatten Marawi or any other Muslim city in the country with the so-called carpet-bombs but you cannot erase that sentiment of the frustrated without running refuge to extremism.

Once and for all, the government, if it is true to make the Philippines progressive and developed with peoples even how diverse they are peacefully living as law-abiding citizens, must be true to its word and implement whatever accord it entered into with revolutionary armed groups, be they NPAs, MNs, MIs or what not. Only this can we truly achieve peace; only this can the Philippines become a power the world cannot underestimate, and only this can we possibly become a world power.

(Masiding Noor Yahya is dubbed as dean of Lanao local media. He is president of Sarimanok Press Club, chair of Lanao Association of Multimedia Practitioners, and founder of Ranao Star, the only weekly newspaper published from Marawi City. He was protem secretary general of World Federation of Muslim Journalists based in Kuala Lumpur.)
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