By Raïssa Robles
When I watched the coffins of the slain police commandos at the airport today, I felt very, very sad and pained that the Mindanao wars which started close to half a century ago continues to this day.
I also realized by looking at the feeds on the social networking sites Facebook and Twitter that those living outside Mindanao had little grasp of the violent history that has engulfed the island of Mindanao. The shocking sight of 44 dead bodies in neat rows today was probably one of the rare times that people in Manila have witnessed the deadly consequences of the Mindanao wars.
The late dictator Ferdinand Marcos had made sure that he kept the rest of the country ignorant of all these.
I wondered how I could share what I knew (from covering the peace talks since 1986) when the atrocities in Mindanao have never been officially documented.
Just an hour ago, someone on Twitter using the handle @jane_rr called my attention to a link which led to the site of an NGO called the Mindanao People’s Caucus. This is one of the NGOs that has been very active in the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. I have interviewed some of its officials at times.
Being an ex-newsman, Ninoy was fond of facts and statistics. And I’m glad he was.
He tallied the horrific cost of the Mindanao wars between 1974 to 1981:
- From 10,000 to 11,000 government soldiers killed
- Over 100,000 Filipino Muslims killed
- Over 1.2 million displaced and homeless
But you and I, we never knew that then. Or now.
And it is for this reason that, personally, I want the conflict in Mindanao to end. But in a way that will keep the Republic intact. The killings have gone on long enough.
Please read for yourself what Ninoy Aquino said about the Mindanao problem.