Mar can kiss Mindanao goodbye

Inday Espina Varona

Posted at Mar 21 2016 03:11 PM

The next time Mar Roxas faces a crowd of Filipinos of Muslim faith and talks about Tuwid Na Daan, people may start screaming, "Fraud!" And he’ll deserve it.

The administration presidential bet hardly bothered to stump for his President’s draft Bangsamoro Basic Law. As then interior secretary, he would have been a perfect spokesman and unofficial mediator to the grassroots. Legislators, especially members of the House of Representatives, always keep an eye on their districts' trenches.

Roxas offered some tepid words of support, nothing else. Not that it surprised anyone from Muslim Mindanao, which still remembers his strident opposition to the Memorandum of Ancestral Domain agreement hatched under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Defending his performance during the Zamboanga siege, Roxas let his true colors show.

“…minimal ang mga civilian casualties doon sa pagsakop ng Zamboanga ng mga Muslim na mananakop,” Roxas said.

Mananakop means conqueror. In real terms, invaders out to conquer territory.

Do they scrub one’s brain of historical memory at Wharton?

Short-term memory: At no point in that 2013 three-week melee -- not before, during or after -- did anyone ever frame Nur Misuari’s Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) as a conquering force.

While government couldn’t just allow armed men to parade around Zamboanga, everyone but Mar knew the MNLF’s restive forces were seeking redress for many grievances. Misuari may have been an incompetent, even corrupt administrator of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), but at no instance did anyone charge him of wanting to grab Zamboanga for Muslims.

Roxas’ error becomes more grievous when ranged beside President Benigno Aquino III’s oft-repeated claim that the BBL is all about righting historical wrongs.

Just a few days before the debate, the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission had just released its report after “listening process sessions in more than 210 Moro, indigenous, and settler communities in Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, involving some 3,000 community members and local officials.”

Roxas, Mr. Kung-Alam-Ko-Lang, presumably has not talked with these people. All these years of negotiations and he’s clueless about the roots of Mindanao unrest. Does he even talk with President Aquino?

Mô Bleeker, the commission chairperson, wrote the report’s foreword:

“There is a penetrating, chilling contrast between the beauty of the Bangsamoro, indigenous and Philippine people, their extraordinary hospitality, their kindness, their ancient culture, the beauty of the surrounding landscape and the permanent, shocking ugliness of everything that has been touched by war, violence, greed, disrespect, and deep neglect…”

“There is nothing ‘new’ in this report – nothing that you, as an informed person, would not be in a position to know already. There is, however, something ‘new’ in this report that can perhaps inspire you or even change the way you look at life. You can listen to your fellow Filipinos, Bangsamoro and indigenous people, women and men like you, and you can try to imagine their reality. Indeed, this report is about listening, convening, and acting together.”

Roxas, the man who would be president of the republic, is either uninformed, suffers from amnesia or is simply too prejudiced to care.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.