the conceit . . .

MALAYA‘s editorial today asks if, and thinks, yes, the bangsamoros’ demand for a homeland in mindanao is just.

The conceit of the Ilocanos, Kapampangans, Tagalogs, etc.

It’s probably not news to most people that among the poorest regions of the country are the Au-tonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Western Mindanao and Central Mindanao. The first is predominantly Muslim, the second (covering the Zamboanga peninsula) has also a significant Muslim population while the third (composed of the Cotabato provinces, Sarangani and Cotabato City) is where Christian and Muslim communities have a history of engaging in communal violence.

This fact should give pause to those rallying around the Republic in the name of national sovereignty and territorial integrity in opposing the grant of genuine autonomy to the Muslims. The national government has long neglected the Muslims. Were we the victims of such abandonment and discrimination – not to speak of outright exploitation – we probably would take up arms against the government too.

Let us be frank with ourselves. While we tend to see ourselves as members of a liberal, pluralist and secular society, what is the reality?

Even as our attention is focused on the rebellion in the South, theRepublic remains threatened by a communist insurgency that is fundamentally rooted in the poverty and injustice that mock our deeply held pretensions to a modern, prosperous and progressive society. Let’s leave aside Gloria Arroyo and her delusion that she could defeat the communist rebellion within two years. As long as poverty and powerlessness remain the lot of the mass of our people, we will not see the end of rebellion in our lifetime.

Most of our people have already tuned themselves out from our leaders’ stirring speeches about democracy, civil liberties, the rule of law and equal opportunities for all. Many have voted with their feet to repudiate their allegiance to the Republic.

A minority with a distinct way of life and inhabiting a well-defined territory have chosen to carve out through armed means a homeland for themselves. They are, for the moment, willing to stay within the Republic, or so they say, under a framework of autonomy. But they are also prepared to secede if their demand for self-rule is frustrated.

Is their demand for a homeland just and fair? We think so. And our belief springs from what we feel is a more principled adherence to the ideals that our forked-tongued politicians spout during historic occasions such as our Independence Day celebrations.

We have made a mess of our country. If we cannot clean it up, let us not stand in they way of other people who want to carve out their own destiny. They would probably end up under the misrule of their equivalent of a Gloria Arroyo. Or worse.

But at least they are fighting for what they believe is right. They should shame the far bigger conglomeration of Ilocanos, Kapampangans, Tagalogs, Visayans, etc., who have quietly acquiesced to the rape of their hallowed institutions, the plunder of their patrimony and the robbing of their dignity as a people.”