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A case of misplaced pride and political hubris…


(By: Yusuf Ashraf “Joey” Pamaran Tugung) Without a doubt the moral conscience of the Filipino nation has been shaken as a result of the “Mamasapano Massacre.” The cries for justice have not only echoed in the halls of Congress but also in the hearts and minds of the entire peace-loving citizens throughout the entire archipelago regardless of their faith, creed, religion, culture, social, economic and educational standing in life. And yet despite this nationwide moral outrage and righteous indignation, some of my fellow Filipino Muslims are acting as if the gruesome and brutal massacre of the Fallen 44 gallant PNP-SAF members by the combined forces of the MILF and BIFF is a badge of honor – something to be proud of. Instead of helping to heal the emotional pain of a wounded nation, some of us have shown a behavior and a character that is not only insensitive, intransigent, belligerent, and incendiary but as well as cruel.

In the context of the political discussions on the Mamasapano Massacre, I consider it as our misplaced pride and arrogance when we predicated all our turbocharged non sequitur arguments that anyone who is for the suspension or against the passage of the BBL is considered anti-Muslim, and therefore, an enemy of peace and the peace process in general. And it is worst, when we indiscriminately, insensitively and irresponsibly label them as bigots!

I consider it as political hubris when our contemporary Muslim political leaders bullied and threatened our legislators before the Senate Committee hearings about their political career becoming over in the national political scene just because they had been critical of the BBL and the peace process, for their suspension of the passage of the BBL, and for tagging the MILF as terrorist. Understand these aspects in law making happened and will happen even without Mamasapano. It is a truism that even after a law has been enacted, the legislature is not and will never be deprived of its authority to change, amend or even repeal it.

In my humble opinion, and based on how our present-day Muslim political leaders have presented themselves during the Senate hearings and in the media, I would say that since the generation of the great Filipino Muslim leaders that we had (i.e., the Tamano’s, Alonto’s Pendatun’s, Rasul’s, Espaldon’s, Abubakar’s, Amilbangsa’s, Mastura’s) sad to say I have not seen as of yet the best of our Bangsamoro leaders and of the MILF, after Hashim Salamat.  

I consider it as insulting to the national senses of the entire Filipino nation when we belittled the incident as simply a “mis-encounter” despite the overwhelming videography evidences proliferating in the internet on the savageness of the event. In a situation like this when the nation is still in mourning and the national debate is focused on the Mamasapano Massacre, we must be civil enough to humble ourselves and take the higher ground by giving respect to the opinions and positions of everyone regardless of how hurting and painful it might be to us. And underneath this national outrage, let us not forget also that the skirmish is substantially a justice issue for the families of those Fallen 44 of whom 2 of them are our fellow Muslim brothers.

The infamous Mamasapano incident and the imminent derailment of the BBL should not be regarded as a Muslim issue, and neither, a peace issue. It is simply a MILF issue, no more and no less! Understand that the MILF does not necessarily represent the dreams, aspirations, and hopes of the entire Bangsamoro people, and more so, those of the MNLF, BIFF and the Abu Sayyaf, and other movements for a Filipinized Muslim renewal or identity. The incident could have been the defining moment for the MILF to show to the entire nation and to the international community that they conform with the norms of “civilized” society. As a proud Moro, I thought that the better part of our nobility as Filipino-Muslims would have been to humble ourselves and welcome all of these accusations and criticisms that were leveled against us. And initially, the proper path to take was to accept our mistakes by issuing mea culpa statements; being apologetic and conciliatory; and remaining sober and calm, rather than being emotional, evasive, threatening, accusatory and confrontational.

I am a proud Filipino Muslim, the son of a respectable and eminent Muslim leader (the late Ulbert Ulama “Bob” Tugung, Al Haj) in Mindanao who believed in the historical and cultural rights of the Filipino Muslims to the land of our ancestors. Bob Tugung did not only fight hard for Muslim autonomy but had ably served also as the first Regional Chairman of the Regional Autonomous Government in Region IX, which was the precursor of the current ARMM. However, in the light of the unavoidable circumstances and its unintended consequences, I believe that now is not the time for us to be condescendingly proud as a Moro but is a time instead to be humble. My religion (Islam) does not gratify in the senseless murder and killing of people. My religion is all about peace, justice and love for mankind. And the ramifications of the infamous Mamasapano incident are not about “us” versus “them” theme. On the contrary, it is a wake up call for all to craft the blueprint of a Bangsamoro governance structure that promotes political unity and political competence. Thus, our religion and our proud tribe must not be dragged or exploited on this serious and critical political issue. Let the parties in the 2014 peace agreement (CAB) i.e., the MILF and the Government Peace Panel, handle alone the repercussions of the Mamasapano Massacre, relative to the BBL and the entire peace process. And since ours is a republican government and a representative democracy, let’s entrust with faith to the duly elected 24 wise men and women of the Senate and the 292 Representatives in the House of Congress the enactment of an enabling law that it deems best for the Bangsamoro homeland.

In behalf of my like-minded Filipino Muslim professionals, allow me then to sincerely apologize to the entire Filipino Nation, especially to our Christian brothers and sisters for our inadvertent misplaced pride and arrogance. And to the bereaved families of the Fallen 44 gallant PNP-SAF men, kindly accept our sincere sympathies and profound condolences. We are with you in the search for justice. And to Sen. Peter Alan Cayetano and the members of the BBL, Public Order and Local Government committees, please accept our profound apologies for the political hubris that were displayed by our contemporary political leaders. BBL or not, we are with you in the quest for a long, lasting, comprehensive, sustainable, just and enduring PEACE in the Bangsamaro Homeland, in particular, and in Mindanao, in general.  - END | NOTHING FOLLOWS -

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