Amidst the call for “all-out war” and increased aggression in Mindanao, it is important that we remain calm and sober as we educate ourselves more on the contexts of the roots of the Mindanao Conflict, which has been instrumental in the creation of “MNLF,” or “MILF” or to what is now hanging in the balance, The Bangsamoro Basic Law or BBL. Lately, a video of the violent act of killing of an SAF has been shown in national TV. As students of Ethics, we ask the following questions:
What is the truth that the short video clip of supposed MILF savagery tries to convey? How would a critical thinker approach a particular clip that is devoid of context? What is the real purpose of showing the video in a public arena?
I speak with you now as a life-long peace activist. I came from Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, and I grew up in a situation where conflicts between armed militias happened in a regular basis. I witnessed how innocent civilians, mostly children, were displaced from their homes and communities because they were caught in cross-fires. These people would crowd church grounds, which too often were the only safe places they could go to where they would not be turned away. I was a dedicated church worker in my younger years; believe me when I say that these images of helpless civilians impacted on me so much that I vowed to be a peace activist for life. I was drawn to community involvement when I studied at the University of St. La Salle where my mentors in Balayan, a COSCA-like center in USLS, instilled in us the true meaning of being a La Sallian: someone who is dedicated to community involvement. We regularly met with NGOs that catered to children caught in armed conflict. My best friend in college, November Canieso would keep me in line so I would not waver in my mission as a student of USLS.
This is where I am coming from. I am a La Sallian, and I am a champion of Justice and Peace!
I think St. Francis of Assisi beautifully captures what it’s like to work for peace. I want to strive for this; I’d like so very much to be like St. Francis.