By Fr. Emeterio Barcelon, Sj
Our experience with martial law has not been good. That of Marcos started out well but it deteriorated. No wonder because power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Has martial law been successful anywhere or at any time? It is possible but I do not know of it. Like that of Marcos, it was necessary since we were in the troughs of individual greed and corruption. I remember a police general who was my classmate and friend who was idealistic. Soon he was involved in the abuses. War or violence does not bring out the best in man but rather the wrong tendencies in man. Ours should be non-violence. As our Lord promised in the Sermon on the Mount: Blessed are the peace makers for they will possess the land. Our duty now is therefore to bend over backwards to make sure that there are no abuses. The odds are all against us that we can make this martial law result in the good of the community.
Non-violence is the ideal. We should not do violence to others, and we should suffer violence with forgiveness just as Our Lord said on the cross: Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing. And finally we have to act with love without thinking of the consequences of our acts of love. This is very high expectation but that is what our Lord expects of us His followers. We Christians are a people of peace and love. And it is not easy to follow. We even have justified our transgressions with reasoning of “just war.” There is no such thing as a just war. We have justified violence but there is no justification for it. We need to suffer a lost if we follow Our Lord’s teaching,
Now we are in martial law at least in Mindanao. We have to make the most of it. We need to make sure we do not have to expand its coverage nor have to repeat it once it is over. We need to bend over backwards; otherwise abuses will be inevitable. The President is taking the responsibility. That is how it should be but he needs our help and prayers. As I have said, Marcos had all the good intentions but we know that good intentions are not enough. Let us not allow this to be a second blunder.
Now that we are in it, we ask why it happened. I understand that Maute had valid complaints against the government but that was no justification for the rebellion. We have our courts but they are too slow, especially for the rights of minorities. Our justice system has to improve considerably in order not to have a repeat of what we are undergoing in Marawi.
It is now a question of body count. And we are losing many civilians who through no fault of theirs except that they lived in Marawi. It is unfortunate that so many soldiers have to die or be wounded. We cannot fully appreciate the sacrifices that they make for our own and for our country’s safety. May the Lord bless them.
We pray also for the civilians who lose their lives and their property through no fault of theirs. We hear of many Muslims who try to protect their Christian neighbors. It can be done: To live in peace and harmony and love in a place like Lanao del Sur. Lanao del Norte is good example of peaceful co-existence and cooperation. May their tribe increase.
To repeat martial law is not a boon. We have to bend over backwards to make sure that it is not abused and that our people do not suffer too much because of it. But it can be done. As followers of Jesus we have no choice but to adopt the principles of non-violence. It does not mean passivity and doing nothing. It means doing what we can for peace and love. We therefore cannot initiate violence and when we are subjected to violence we must forgive and love the aggressor. We act for peace and love without concern about the outcomes. But we must act.
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