“The afternoon of the 23rd of May 2017, was a day that changed the course of history. Terrorist groups trooped in the city of Marawi and set foot in the territory that they claim. Black flags were raised, multiple gunshots fired, hostages were taken in and civilians spread running around the streets in fear of the invaders. This resulted to the President’s call for a declaration of Martial Law in the whole region of Mindanao.

 Is this the beginning of war?”

Before I proceed into sharing my opinions and views about this. Allow me to share a break down of points to better understand details shared in this article.

  1. The terrorist groups are formed by the Maute, Abu Sayyaf and foreign jihadists.These are local and foreign terrorists that are not a catalyst of the Iraq and Syria Islamic State (ISIS), but have sworn allegiance to it;
  2. President Rodrigo Duterte is the 3rd president to implement Martial Law in the Philippines and is the 2nd president to declare it in the Mindanao region;
  3. Marawi City is home to a majority of Filipino Muslims living in Northern Mindanao;
  4. Rallies are being held by netizens in Metro Manila against the declaration of martial law which led to tensions rising over the internet;

Terrorism Rising

Terrorism is a Cancer that is slowly spreading into the internal state. No one would have expected the invasion to happen in a city populated with people who are the same Allah (God). President Rodrigo Duterte presumes that these terrorist wants to “establish an Islamic state in Mindanao.”  Source here

Everything that is happening in Mindanao was the fear that fated religion and the people of Mindanao that escalated into the depressing reality.

A number of theories splurge in the internet that leads to the Marawi siege, but this only makes the situation more sophisticated. Although it would have been expected that rebel groups will demand for their plan to pursue but the real question is “Why did it happen now?”

I may not be in the position or have the credentials to refuse me in drafting my explicit views in a blog. But the situation has been existential threat and to note, a rising one. With this I write my expressed views to the national and international community of the World Untold about Mindanao. 

Life in Mindanao

I have lived in Mindanao in the city of Iligan, which is approximately 37.9 km or half an hour drive from Marawi City. During my early years, we were always guarded and restricted from doing things we wanted to do. We were highly overprotected by our parents and taught that everywhere we go we  must always be alert for anything that could happen.

I moved to Manila for college studies, no one really knew where Iligan City was. And whenever I mentioned that I am from ‘Mindanao’, I always got asked “Hindi ka ba natatakot?” (Are you not afraid?)

Mindanao is the home of a majority of Filipino Muslims about 3.7% are from the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)

I grew up learning about how living in Mindanao can be and religion was a major issue. The mix of Muslims and Christians were faced with challenges that defined more of the Muslim religion. Historically, terrorists groups have been existing in the southern side of the region, most of them in hiding.

With the events that happened in the past year, it became a factor of why Mindanao was seen to be a least destination of choice. It caused a failed view, to see the beautiful side of the country that possessed rich culture that lies in the region. Now we see why Terrorism is a big deal for Mindanaoans.

Despite the rise of events in the past, this led to the President’s resolution of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) as a promise to resolve peace processes in Mindanao. The basic law aims to establish an autonomous region and it serves to be a democratic process of the Bangsamoro people, a territory that is ‘for the Filipino Muslims in Mindanao.” Source here

Peaceful as it tries to be, Mindanao is still a developing region that holds a number of business especially in the agriculture sector. According to Benjamin Diokno Secretary of Budget and Management, the implemented Martial Law might take a positive impact on the country’s economy.

Social Media Divide / War

Despite the ongoing outbreak, another war is taking is heating up via social media. The clamor of people from the South (Mindanao) and reactions of the Martial Law implementation of the North (Luzon).

Majority of the reactors are composed of students, organizations and institutions that are against another comeback of the late President Ferdinand Marcos’ Martial Law. Fears of advancing the abuse of military capabilities for more civilian casualties is one of them.

It clearly states the condition when the President can declare Martial Law under the 1987 Constitution Article VII Section 18 “…in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it.”

Yes, there is fear that history may repeat itself. But in this situation let us ask ourselves who should we really fear? These people who we leave to invade and become a living threat to our society or the fear that we did nothing to stop this madness and wait until the rest are already dead and these monsters will still pursue?

Mindanao may be a region that has been forgotten in the past and now an existing threat rises. The former Martial Law was an epidemic of a historical trauma that changed the way Filipinos view the Martial Law. According to AFP spokesman Brig. General Restituto Padilla the Armed Forces must be the agency to be trusted as “they took an oath to protect the state and every citizen of the country, even at the cost of their lives”

Source: Padilla, G.R.P (2017, May 27) AFP tells ML critics: Stop living the past. The Philippine Star 

There has been much disparity in the internet. One that Filipinos and the readers of this blog must realize the factors of posting via social media at the height of the situation. Do we ever stop to think about families of the military soldiers deployed in siege, who struggle 24/7 trying to get reliable updates and are faced with nothing but silence and hope. How about grieving families of dead victims?

It is a clear rebellion over the ‘knowledge’ that the social media is feeding, there is a lot to take when it comes to pressing issues that we clearly need to think first before say.

Indeed it disappoints me to see how people view the Martial Law to be another abuse of power, but how people from the province see it as an outrage selfish act. That is because Mindanao has been anticipating this kind of attack and not all feel safe anymore.

This should not be a selfish motive or us to fear a repeat of history. This is war between a nation and people who want to destroy it and establish an Islamic state.

We need to set aside the “what ifs” and take the time to see the present situation. Marawi City may be just one city in the region, but the attacks makes it more important for our government to bear in mind. We take so much time sharing and posting world crisis but when it comes to this national calamity many amongst us stand against it.

Hope. 

Coming from Mindanao, it strikes me to hear the bearings of my hometown in this current situation. We have now entered a war zone and the only weapon we carry is the knowledge we acquired.

I do believe that there is still hope for the country to resolve the issue in a unified manner. I do not need to lay in details that can be further researched. It is never Mindanao versus Terrorism, rather it is the Philippines versus Terrorism.

There are other things better to do in our hometown than call out to fights that might never be resolved. I speak for Mindanao and call out Filipinos to take a chance in this war by supporting, donating and

I urge the members of the internet to STOP SHARING VIDEOS AND MEDIAS OF THE MAUTE GROUP. Instead of sharing and contributing to the propaganda, rather we allow ourselves to utilize Social Diplomacy in this time of need.

And I quote President Duterte’s words inspired from a passage of the  bible verse Ecclesiastes 3

“ There is a time for everything. This time, this is a time for victory. We cannot lose it. How can we lose it? We will overcome, and we will win.”

Featured Image: Taken from Google images photo courtesy of Al Jazeera