In defence of those in Mindanao not affected by Martial LawPosted: May 31, 2017
Understandably, Mindanao is divided over Martial Law.
In response to outcry from Manila over Duterte’s declaration of it over Mindanao in response to the Marawi crisis, many in Mindanao have taken to social media to insist Martial Law reassures them against the spread of terror. I am one of those who have been very vocal on that score.
Since then there is growing dissent to this view from within Mindanao, most crucially from those directly affected by the Marawi crisis. Civilians are being killed by the indiscriminate firing and the air strikes, it is argued.
This reaction comes in the context of the discourse of Mindanao identity, a contentious and deeply divisive problematique which pits Lumad against Moro against Settler. People in Mindanao claiming to feel safe under Martial Law, viewed through one lens of such a context, are in fact merely bourgeois Settlers serving to silence the Moro subaltern, blind to the plight of the most vulnerable in the island. (this is a very rich topic to discuss and I think it deserves a separate discussion altogether).
True enough, the Settler community has always been guilty of silencing the two other peoples of the island, just as the Moro has been historically guilty of silencing the Lumad.
But I contend that the present situation is not so straightforward.
The problem with any subaltern perspective is that it always thinks because its problems are indisputably the most pressing and serious, it is the only perspective worth taking, its concerns the only ones worth considering.
Of course it is horrible that civilians are dying in Marawi, of course we have to find a way to avoid it, of course many Lumad will not even have IDs to present at checkpoints, of course Martial Law is a double edged sword.
But in this complicated, deeply divided land, one man’s bane is another’s boon.
This is a terrorist crisis, the tables might turn anytime, and we who are currently privileged and safe may suddenly be the ones being brutally mistreated, accusing those who are currently suffering of being privileged.
Can you imagine what horrors non-Muslims face (and the possible advantages the Moros have) if an Islamic State was established? And worse, the heat of warfare may breed a communist totalitarian regime like the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, which may well make even being educated a crime.
There are many historical examples of this recurring horror already, of the marginalized suddenly oppressing the originally privileged and using their marginalization as justification for oppression.
How many of the privileged Tutsis in Rwanda did the Hutus slaughter? What atrocities did the working class revolutionaries in China commit to the scholar-bureaucrat class during the Cultural Revolution? How did the Taliban, Al Qaeda and Daesh take advantage of Western interventionism and local resentment to destabilize governments and perpetuate the systematic slaughter of non-Muslims – and of Shiites – in the Middle East?
It is being close-minded to insist people are being selfish just because their security comes at the cost of that of other’s.
‘We’ feel safe in Mindanao because of Martial law, and that plural first person pronoun may not include everyone, but it includes a significant portion of Mindanao’s population, one which is now at risk of being actively and deliberately neglected. The current victims are not the only ones affected by this crisis, everyone is at risk.
And it is no coincidence that I am also against the class struggle being advocated by the communist terrorists – it is rooted in divisiveness and exclusion, responding to silencing and oppression with more silencing and oppression that only perpetuates a vicious cycle of endless conflict.
We who are urban Settlers are not silencing the Moro or the Lumad subaltern here (if we are, we do so unwittingly). As a matter of fact hearing them plea against the horrors they suffer under Martial Law is very welcome, as it helps improve the declaration’s implementation.
But with their response to our positive attitude towards Martial Law, they’re already bordering on wishing to silence us, seething with resentment at what are perceived as intentionally committed injustices.
They versus us.
The dispossessed Moros are playing right into the Extremists’ hands, sowing hatred and division among themselves against non-Muslims. And the privileged but morally self righteous in Manila (and even in Mindanao) are only making it worse by amplifying the message of divisiveness.
The message all this UP-centered opposition to Martial Law is sending to the ordinary Moro is simple: ‘You’re a victim, this Martial Law was declared to oppress you, the non-Muslims like it even if you’re suffering, hate the non-Muslims.’
And all for what? In more practical terms, do you think these suffering sectors will be safer without Marital Law? Do you think the situation will be better if the declaration was revoked? If we are to be silenced for our shortsightedness, what better alternative is there?
Can we not simply work together to address the problem at hand and improve one another’s solutions so that they work for all, instead of bickering about being excluded?
Extremists, communist terrorists, and Imperial Manila are all pitting our three peoples in Mindanao against one another.We must resist this, we must resist the temptation to think only from our own perspective, Lumad, Moro, and Settler alike, and try our best to listen to one another.
Now is the worst time to be divided as peoples living together in this beautiful, beautiful land.