Earlier this week, Rodrigo Duterte called for martial law on the streets of Mindanao in response to the attack by IS-sponsored terrorists – and as someone who calls those streets my own, I desire more of it.
Like a natural calamity, clashes and peace crises in Mindanao are no longer news to a true Mindanaoan. So when news about the Maute in Marawi spreading terror and unrest broke out, most people here in Sarangani Province were not that affected, until the president declared martial law all throughout the island, thus, the cancellation of the annual biggest beach party in the region, the Sarangani Bay Festival, to which all of us particularly here in Glan, Sarangani were looking forward.
We are used to this situation and we have survived terror attacks worst than this. The only difference is that this time, we have a president who is brave enough to take a bold step, something that the past administration didn’t even consider when trying to resolve the same issue. Maybe the situation is heightened by the fact that the current president is from Mindanao, and his vocal condemnation of corruption, drugs, and acts of terrorism has gained him international attention and has critics against his approach on the war on drugs questioning every killing incident associated with the issue.
Having been an avid fan of the president even before he became one, I fully support the imposition of martial law in Mindanao. If this is the approach that the president believes to be effective, an ordinary citizen and Mindanaoan like me could only hope and pray for the fast resolution of the present crisis confronting the land of promise through martial law. After all, an act of terror should not be taken lightly, especially if the government is serious in its objective to finally put a stop to it, indeed finally quashing this evil that plants seeds of fear in the hearts of every peace loving citizen whose everyday lives focus on both trying to make ends meet and seeing their kids through school.
To my foreign friends, there is really nothing new about the situation in Mindanao. Every now and then this type of situation crops up and it’s become so natural to us that we feel like it’s a part of our culture. The situation is just magnified by the fact that 20 years ago, the same event could not be publicised to social media like what we have now. We would not be able to hear the reaction of the people to the imposition of martial law, the discussion and arguments would not be immediately heard and information was limited to what the media people would print and broadcast.
But that was then.
People today are more informed and educated. We welcome change like rain after a very long drought. We may say that we are used to the image branded upon us but it doesn’t mean we do not want lasting peace here in Mindanao. It is after all us people here in Mindanao who suffer the most.
Marawi is just a small part of Mindanao but the effects of the ongoing crisis affects all of us Filipinos. Let this be a situation that unifies us as a nation. Let’s give peace a chance and focus our attention on more important things such as education, health, livelihood and other social needs that will lead us towards prosperity.