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ROUGH CUTS | The VP’s Marawi promise: Too early, too soon

Vic N. Sumalinog

THE official start of the campaign season for national elective officials is still a bit far. But the other day VP Leni Robredo and some of her senatorial bets were already in Marawi like they were on their campaign sortie. She assured the people in that city, and in the whole of Lanao del Sur in the process, that her administration will look into the problem that has beseeched the Moroland for over a century already. In a Facebook post Robredo announced that she will go back to the root cause of the problem and went on to say that her government will empower the Moro people because that is the way to solve the problem.

     Is that so? Is it that easy to eradicate the century-old Moro problem? Wow, the VP should have been drafted by the opposition as its Presidential candidate a long time ago; possibly before PNoy or Roxas. But levity aside, what was the root cause mentioned by the opposition standard bearer? It is the poverty of the Moro people in Marawi – and perhaps the whole of the Moro land in Mindanao. Therefore, it seemed convenient for her to talk about empowering the Moro people so they could get out of the rut that poverty has dragged them into. But looking back to the history of the Moro people in Marawi, can the Vice President say that they were in abject poverty several centuries ago? Did not the Muslims only start their diminishing social status when the Spanish colonizers came to the Philippines and imposed their own mores and tradition; their supposed intellectual superiority to the Moro people? 

     Was the Vice President unable to read the history of the Muslim saga as early as centuries before the coming of the Spaniards; that they were already trading with merchants from as far as the Middle East countries and with India and China? Yes, the Moro people, whether they are from Marawi and elsewhere in Mindanao, were actually living with ease under the sultanate system and having trade relations with merchants from the rest of Asia. And this was the reason why the colonizers from Spain were so agitated to subdue them and deny them their trade opportunities.

     Our Moro brothers’ situation became even more decadent with the advent of the American regime. The new colonizers used the stick and carrot policy. Where they can easily subdue the Moro people with their enticement through their gift of tongue, they had the carrots ready for them. Where they met resistance and their offers were rejected outright the Americans applied the power of the stick. They subdue the Moro people by force with blazing guns and cannon; with their superior fire power. With that policy the impoverishment of the Moro people in general started. Even then, to us it is not really poverty that is the root cause of the Moro people’s problem  in Marawi.  It is here that the VP must make a 360 degrees back and forth turn of her head for her to see the real ills of the people in that part of Mindanao.

     But even before she is able to discern with certainty the real problem and the so-called roots of it, she is already offering a be-all solution. That is the empowerment of the people of Marawi.  But many are apprehensive with the Vice President’s offered bold antidote. What exactly is the empowerment that she is offering to solve the problem? In what aspect is this to be given? Will the VP, once elected, allow the Moro people in Marawi to chart their own destiny by allowing them to establish their own government outside the ambit of national sovereignty? Her use of the term is somewhat very broad that no one is capable of fathoming its extent except those who share with her ambition for power.   

     Clearly, the Vice President with her team that went to Marawi the other day for their early campaign visit, was making a promise too easy to say but quite difficult to keep. And surely it is one commitment that is couched in uncertainty with the promisor only having a vague understanding, or not knowing at all, what exactly is the real cause of the problem. Therefore, this early, it is already bound to fail. The only possibility of its success is in creating false expectations among the people in Marawi.


     Long before the deadline of the filing of candidacies for national elective positions, we had been reading a lot about the Karlo Nograles for Senator Movement especially in the social media. And there were also several other members of the Cabinet whose names were mentioned as among those who signified their intention to run for the Senate. Unfortunately, at the end of the deadline last October 8, 2021, we failed to hear their names mentioned as having filed the COCs with the Commission on Election. Neither did we read their names in the national papers except that of DPWH Secretary Mark Villar. What happened? So where is Karlo headed to? DOLE Secretary Bebot Bello’s name is not listed also among the filers. And the Administration is quite silent as to who is its real candidate for President, Vice President as well as its senatorial line-up.

     We have this notion however, that when the right time comes, the administration will only have to take advantage of the candidate’s substitution rule as far as its Presidential and Vice Presidential bets are concerned.

     As for its senatorial ticket, we’ll bet that it will just simply pick out among those who have already filed, especially those who are supposed to be independents. But we guarantee that one of the picks of the administration for senator will be Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro. After all, he is too qualified for the position.                                  


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