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COMMENT | Why we, Bangsamoros, should keep the Shaheed out of politics

By: Hasmeyya L. Tiboron

Can we, Bangsamoros, stop invoking the Shaheed (war martyrs) when we talk about politics, especially in this upcoming Parliamentary Election?

The Jihadist terrorist groups have tarnished the word “Muslim” so much that when people hear it, they see a raised black flag with men roaring “Allahu Akbar” in the background. They sure painted a barbaric picture of us who wish to occupy the earth with guns. But we’re not. Islam is a religion of peace and we are commanded in our scriptures to promote public safety and order. We do not wage war against the people we are supposed to share this world with.

The Grand Caravan for ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law on January 13, 2019, attended by more or less 50,000 Bangsamoros, including senior citizens, proved our desire for peace under the intense heat of the sun, some even barefooted. Mothers from remote areas hung malong on multi-cab overhead grab rails as hammocks for their young children. Civil Society Organizations served in any way they could, from giving food to serving as medical teams. Even small carinderia and sari-sari store owners offered their pastil and bottled water to passersby for free. This is how eager we were to show that we were no longer interested to know who was right or wrong, or who started what. Just end the war, because in a war, nobody really wins.

Two months later, our leaders exercised our newly attained self-determination, and from then forward, we have witnessed what peace and development felt like in legislative function, and infrastructure of the health sector. There’s no doubt that many lives have been sacrificed to attain this. This is why our leaders recount their sacrifices in their speeches and honor their bereaved families in their programs. Our scholars mention them during khutbahs. They’ll forever be remembered as long as that green flag is raised and cried upon during the Bangsamoro hymns.

But anything used in excess can lose ingenuity and meaning. Our leaders and scholars use the Shaheed as reminders and good examples of courage, sincerity, and honor. Sometimes, however, some of us use Shaheed’s honorable status dishonorably. When we see public officials and high-ranking administrators fail to deliver what they promised to represent us on, we see people in the Facebook comment section, “So all along, you just used Shaheed’s blood to thicken your coffers?”. It appears that if we use the Shaheed to power trip and guilt trip people, the one who uses the Shaheed’s name becomes us because the real Shaheed defended the land for the sake of Allah and not to run the government and using their honorable act to voice out our whims only discredits their pure intentions.

We are about to enter a new wave of Bangsamoro history in 2025. In the past few months, many of us bristled at Facebook posts about people who didn’t show support to establish the Bangsamoro Government from start to end now dare to run it. Sure, anyone legally qualified can do so in a democratic government. Even the Chief Minister urged us to be ‘custodians’ of democracy in his message commemorating the 126th anniversary of the Philippine independence proclamation. And as responsible citizens, we do not pick and choose from what we advocate for. However, fears and anxiety fill our system when we think about our future as Bangsamoro because the Bangsamoro region is still not like other democratic regions. They’ve already concreted their homes from floor to ceiling, while we’re still deciding what our pillars should look like. It’s too early for any drastic move because our house is too small, and yet our voices are too many, and our needs too varied.

It’s online political discussion season again. Whether we operate from hope or fear, we should address our concerns through mature reasoning and productive conversation while keeping our misused Shaheed card in our sleeves forever.


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