By John Tria
As martial law enters its first week, the big story is just how strategic Marawi is and how big a response is needed to deal with the Maute group’s activity, threatening to spillover into important travel routes between north and south Mindanao.
Already a humanitarian crisis has taken place, with tbousands leaving their homes in search of safety.
Meanwhile, many in Luzon especially among Manila’s cognoscenti seemed to have turned their fear of martial law into a prejudice against southerners, especially those from Mindanao, since a good number of Mindanawons have expressed their support for the measure.
These negative attitudes from a number in Metro Manila have become more pronunced in recent weeks following another event – the performance of “provincials” in the recent bar exams – and now the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
Truth is, there has always been prejudice in Metro Manila against people not from the capital region, particularly from the south.
Moreover, it is clear that these cognoscenti in particular have harbored an arrogance too obvious to deny – that those who disagree with them deserve no respect, and that outcomes that do not favor them are always questioned.
With this, many Mindanaoans feel that the negative reactions by their Luzon-based relatives against martial law are expected and respected, but that any name-calling and outright discrimination against them because of their support is unfair and unwarranted.
Even the protest action at the University of the Philippines in Diliman against martial law was met with disdain and charges of hypocrisy, because the many placards saying that they “stand with Marawi” got little support from Mindanaoans, who know all too well how Marawi residents and Maranaos are often ridiculed and looked down upon in Luzon.
No one exemplifies the worst if these cognoscenti traits than that from a once popular member of an all-male trio, who allegedly tweeted that Mindnaoans are “taga bundok” and uncaring about how the Luzon brethren would feel about martial law being inposed upon them.
Expectedly, his post received a lot of blowback. Mindanaoans are not from the mountains as majority of them live on the plains and coastal cities. Neither are they backward or ignorant.
After all, Mindanaoans beat the singer’s own alma mater’s examinees in the latest bar exam.
Above this noise, the calming statement came from no other than the Mindanao Catholic Bishops, who surprisingly did not slam martial law but asked that all actors work against its abuse, and pursue long term peace.
This well received statement earned the appreciation of both Christians and non Christians who lauded the statement’s wisdom to go beyond temporal issues and the way it was grounded on current contexts.
They recalled that the Catholic Church in Mindanao has withstood past martial law and its abuses, and built constructive dialogue between faiths, and between government and its people.
Knowing this, it’s a clear fact that Mindanaoans have had to bear the brunt of violence and government incompetence and neglect for decades, and appreciate it when government acts decisively to protect their livrlihoods and families.
Many feel that the strong response of a Mindanawon president is a credible effort that, unlike the feeble and misguided attempts by previous Manila governments, will finaly put an end to decades of strife between peoples – uniting them to defeat a common enemy is felt.
That the President was well received in Iligan and Marawi offers much hope for real peace.
In a Facebook post, a certain Ana Margarita from Iligan writes:
“Mindanao is full of patriots willing to sacrifice the convenience of the present and to carry on in the midst of adversity, as they have always done. We will do what it takes, because we are not cowards.”
Mindanaoans deserve respect and not prejudice.
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