Our country has indeed faced a lot of crisis this year. Yolanda which is one of the most, if not the most destructive typhoon that had hit Earth, has shattered the lives of those in the Visayas region especially those in Tacloban, Leyte. Not long before this was another natural disaster. The very old churches in Bohol, among other structures, were destroyed by a high-magnitude earthquake. A few months before this was a three-week siege led by some faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga. This resulted to about 200 casualties and evacuation of around 100,000 citizens. All of these need help from our government. And we do hope that the crisis in Zamboanga will still be remembered despite the focus being given to the two natural calamities aforementioned.
It is good for us to understand first why the third tragedy, which will be the focus of this article, occured. The history of the Moros in Mindanao dates back to the coming of the Islamic people before the era of the Spaniards in our country. The Islam was first introduced in Mindanao and spread up to the other parts of the country. Some even say it reached as far as Batangas that’s why they have their expression “ala eh” coming from the Muslim god Allah. Along with religion, a form of government was also introduced. Then came the Spaniards and tried to spread Christianism as wide as possible over the country. However, the Muslims in Mindanao were not swayed by the new faith being introduced to them. Hence, the Spaniards made a treaty with them. A treaty is an agreement that one group does with another who does not belong to their territory. This means that the Moros were legally separated from the rest of the Filipinos that were conquered by the Spaniards. The same thing happened when the Americans came. They also made a treaty with the Moros. However, when the Republic of the Philippines finally had freedom from its conquerors, the Moros were illegally incorporated within the Philippine territory. From then on, peace agreements were made to have things settled.
During the time of Marcos and his dictatorship, a lot of places in Mindanao were bombed and destroyed. Because of this, their economy went down. Most of the investors of businesses located there backed out and looked for other places that will be more favorable for them. Also, those educated people had to go elsewhere for a brighter future. What then was left for the Moro people but a sign of hopelessness? A sign of hopelessness that will only be vanquished through a good relationship of the Moros and the Philippine government. According to the seminar attended by the writers of this blog, something in the peace agreement of 1996 was not followed by the government that’s why the crisis broke out. Another peace agreement was being done with another Moro group which was the MILF and this was probably another reason why Misuari was angered.
Because of this crisis, a lot of people cannot go back to their homes yet. The military forces are not yet allowing them to go back to their homes for some reason. Also according to statistics, provinces in Mindanao are somewhat the least priority when it comes to accessibility of potable water and electricity. How then can the citizens in Zamboanga recover with their lives? How can they move on? We hope that our government will be fair with their decisions regarding this. Now that a lot of other problems are being addressed, we do hope that our fellow countrymen in Zamboanga will still be remembered. For us students who are very active in the social media, what we can do is to publicize and spread the call for help. We can use this gift of technology we have in our generation, which is to connect. Let us not marginalize the small groups in our country but rather connect with them. The season of Christmas is indeed nearing and a lot of our fellowmen are in need. Let us make this a season of helping and giving out to others. Aside from spreading this call for help and giving out donations for victims of this tragedy (as well as those who were affected by the natural calamities), what we can give are our prayers, that will surely be of help.