Kim’s Dream Orlan Ravanera
The Road to Peace in Mindanao
To advocate means to tell the truth with a firm belief that VERITAS LIBERABIT VOS (The Truth Shall Set Us Free), So to begin, please allow me to share a simple poem of what the TRUTH has to say:
“My name is Veritas (the Truth). So simple is my language, Mankind runs after me because I am a precious possession. But to the rule of those who disseminate the fallacies of life, I am a threat, so I have to be imprisoned in the dungeon to silence me. But there will always be lovers of truth who will seek for me because they cannot live without my presence. Many have marched to their death because of me. No one knows that in the silence of the dungeon, I am gaining strength. One day, I will burst out into the open and liberate the oppressed from the fallacies of life.”
One has to kill in order to live. That is the law of the jungle that follows the Darwinian’s principle of “Survival of the Fittest,” like a strong lion eating-up a cornered prey. No way shall we follow that jungle-like existence, that one has to kill in order to survive. All major religions in the world have bannered the essence of life to love one another, to recognize the divinity and sacredness of life, be human or non-human. Oneness with all of God’s creation, free from the control of the Ego (Satan), with a firm belief in the oneness of life, oneness of mankind, oneness of religions – then and only then can there be peace.
With the advent of the present dispensation, we rejoice in the thought that Mindanao will be taking center stage with regards to the concern for peace. During my stint as USEC/Chairman of the Cooperative Development Authority from 2015 to 2021, His Excellency PresBBM was then a Senator and I had the privilege of a meeting with him in his Senate office as his Chief-of Staff then was my niece, Atty. Ilya Kristine Ravanera, the sole daughter of my late brother, Atty. Manuel Ravanera. As I entered his room, he immediately asked me how much is the budget for the 53 cooperatives of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MILF) who have ceased fire and have organized themselves into cooperatives. When I told him the exact amount which is not that big, he told me that such is very small. He then called-up Malacanang to increase the budget which was approved. I thanked him so much as it was then so amazing for a Senator from Northern Luzon to have an in-depth analysis of the Mindanao war with a firm belief that only through people empowerment through cooperativism can those in the margins be drawn into the mainstream of development to stop the war..
It is of due notice that there can be no peace if people are hungry. In Mindanao, aptly called the “food basket” of the nation, no one should be hungry, yet, it is in Mindanao where there is high incidence of hunger. It is a pity seeing malnourished children against the backdrop of vast agricultural lands producing high value crops and fruits, but these are not meant to be eaten by the people. These are for exports to feed the over-nourished people in highly developed countries.
There can be no peace if many Mindanawons are wallowing in poverty. In an island oozing with ecological resources, not only above the ground but below where there are 72 kinds of minerals. Two-thirds of the nation’s exports come from Mindanao. Indeed, there is no reason for poverty but the poor in Mindanao are the poorest throughout the country. All of the six regions are suffering from high poverty gap ratios compared to other regions in Luzon and in the Visayas. The Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao has the highest incidence of poverty at 70% followed by CARAGA Region at 69%, based on a Study of the United Nations Development Program. Yes, amidst the bounty lies so much poverty. Unless these contradictions are rectified, peace will remain an illusion. Unless those in the margins are drawn into the mainstream of development processes, all the outpourings of development programs will just be palliatives and cannot be the real solution. Unless social injustices and inequities are erased in the social structure where a few elites continue to have much too much and the many who are poor have much too little, we will always have negative peace, ready to erupt anytime given a flimsy stirring as in the case of the “Maguindanao Massacre.”
Unless the issue on so-called Electric Cooperatives is rectified which are cooperatives in name only as decided in a landmark case by the Supreme Court in 2003 penned by Justice Mariano del Castillo that until now are not recognizing the patronage contribution of their 13 MCOs(member-consumer-owners) of about one trillion pesos, social justice will remain an illusion.
Indeed, the truth shall set us free from a wrong mindset and fallacies of why there is a Mindanao war which is not a Christian-Muslim conflict. The Muslims are integral part of the Indigenous Peoples of Mindanao just like the LUMADS whose five million members in Mindanao are now living in extreme poverty, who have been left behind, development-wise. It is only through empowerment of the Indigenous Peoples and the Muslims can they be drawn into the mainstream of development, that INDEED NO ONE SHALL BE LEFT BEHIND. It is only then can we truly say that such is the road to peace in Mindanao.