Old Essays: Experiences with Aksyon Mindanaw and the Maguindanao Massacre

After working with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for morethan 5 years, the people we supported in the different communities decided to organize a pro active organization. An organization that aims to be different from the existing paradigms in looking at the Mindanao problem.

In March 7, 2007 my friends in different NGOs and public officials in our province organized a group named Aksyon Mindanaw. This organization is a conglomeration of POs, NGOs, and youth organizations that focuses on peace, development, and environmental protection.

Last March 7, 2009, in a national general assembly, I was elected as National President of Aksyon Mindanaw. Our group worked closely with local and international organizations in conducting series of development work in the different regions of Mindanao. We also helped in conceptualizing the Bishop Ulama Conference’s project Konsult Mindanaw (KM). KM was the respond of the government after the fall of the MOA – AD. The project conducted more than 200 focused group discussions all over the Philippines and as a process of consultation in line with the GRP – MILF peace talks.

In October 2009, when we were conducting series of trainings on community organizing in the province of Maguindanao, I had a chance to meet a good Muslim who was determined to change the political landscape of Maguindanao. He shared to me his vision and goals for the province of Maguindanao. My initial reaction was that, we will support you in all possible way can.

On November 22, 2009, when our group – Father Albert Alejo, and some friends from Media was on our way to Simuay Crossing to dialogue with Vice Chairman Gadzali Jaafar, I received a txt message from a relative asking me to join him in filing his certificate of candidacy for the province of Maguindanao. I replied that I can not due to my previous commitments. I asked him where he will file his candidacy; he said he will file it in the provincial capitol of Maguindanao. The rest was history.

Due to our commitment in helping the people of Maguindanao attain peace and development, Aksyon Mindanaw and in partnership with IPER, Lumaya Ka, The Asia Foundation, and law students from UP conducted a forum at UP NCPAG on the issue of Maguindanao Massacre on December 1, 2009. When almost all the sectors where still stunned of what had happened,we were was brave enough to exposed the gruesome culture of impunity, culture of violence and warlordism that existed in Maguindanao.

This morning, a close relative called me up asking me if I can join them in commemorating the first year anniversary of the Maguindanao Massacre. I replied that I can not due to a prior personal commitment with my family. But I told him that the “fight” for justice and ending tyranny and oppression in Maguindanao will always be with me wherever I go.

Looking at the two recent elections that our country just experienced, the culture of impunity clearly manifested itself. Like a monster in the story of Beowulf, it has mutated drastically. Until now, even after the what had happened in Maguindanao, some LGU officials blatantly showed that they can deprive people of their right to suffrage. In the Iranun municipalities of Maguindanao, our very own municipal officials had shown arrogance and hungry for power in the way they deprive the people of their right to suffrage. Because of what had happened, the Iranun has the perception that the government and some NGO “pro development” workers in the area closes their eyes and let the unscrupulous politicians get away with it. Again, we tolerate and allow the culture of impunity to exist in our homeland.

Sometimes I think that my life and my people’s life in Maguindanao are moving so slow. But it is ok with me because I know that I am moving forward. The justice system in our country may also be slow. But I know that one of these days change is coming in Maguindanao and Mindanao. I believe that good things comes to those who patiently waits and believe that God is good and he will have the final say of all these things.

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