By Robert Marohombsal Alonto
IN response to a dear friend’s query — “So how do we feel about the reported deaths of Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute?” – let’s put it this way:
In 2003 when Sheikh Salamat Hashim, the Amirul Mujahideen and Chairman of the MILF passed away, people unabashedly shed tears.
On Oct. 16, 2017, when the deaths of Isnilon Hapilon, the Abu Sayyaf honcho tagged as the Isis East Asia Emir, and Omar Maute were reported in the news and the social media, people also unabashedly cried.
But, there’s a big difference – nay, a heaven and earth gap, comparatively speaking – when people cried for Sheikh Salamat on one hand, and Hapilon and Omar Maute on the other.
In Sheik Salamat’s demise, people shed tears out of deep, spontaneous grief and sorrow for a Moro Islamic revolutionary leader who led the real jihaad and planted the seeds of real jihaad in the hearts of the oppressed Bangsamoro people. He was a compassionate revolutionary leader who made it his mission in life to struggle for the liberation of the Moro people from colonial oppression and all forms of injustice; a revolutionary leader who always argued that while armed struggle is necessary to defend the faith, people and homeland from aggression, the most civilized way to end a conflict, however, is peace negotiation and a democratic referendum that would allow the people to freely express their right to self-determination and decide on their future political status.
In war, Sheikh Salamat strictly forbade any violation of the Geneva Conventions or International Humanitarian Law. War, from his Islamic philosophical standpoint, should not make man lose his humanity, and instead war should be resorted to only to end unjust wars and conflicts and thus man’s inhumanity to man.
So when he died in the midst of the Arroyo all-out war in 2003 in the mountain fastness of Butig, no media announced his death but the dark clouds of gloom settled over the entire Moro homeland. The Moro masses, especially the people of the Lake in whose midst he returned to his Creator, grieved for him both openly and secretly in defiance of possible government retribution. And the masses, regardless of the ethnic divide and social boundaries, put up white flags in homes and along major highways all over Mindanao to demonstrate their sorrow for the man who embodied their collective aspiration for justice and freedom.
What about Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute?
People cried not because of sorrow and grief but because of jubilation over the deaths of these extremist criminal thugs who made barbarism and human cruelty the hallmarks of their obscene ideology of hate, intolerance and sectarianism. In other words, people shed tears of joy over their ghastly deaths. Hapilon and the Mautes deliberately caused the senseless destruction of the only predominantly Muslim city in the country: Marawi; the deaths of many innocent civilians as well as soldiers and police; and the mass displacement of 300 thousand people.
For many people, thus, who suffered and are still suffering because of the mayhem they have unleashed, the “permanent neutralization” of these two thugs was good riddance! That’s why now a celebratory mood is in the air!
Sheik Salamat stood for Islamic justice and human liberation. As such, he made a Muslim love Islam and restored to the Moro his dignity, honor, his appreciation of Moro history and right to self-determination, and therefore patriotic loyalty to his homeland.
Isnilon Hapilon, Omar Maute, their Isis ilk and those who created Isis stood for the greatest evil that man can ever possibly turn himself into. By their horrific misdeeds, they made a Muslim with little knowledge of Islam hate and fear “Islam.” And with their links to foreign nihilist extremism, they wanted to reduce the Bangsamoro to just being an insignificant nameless “province” of a dubious entity they called “caliphate” run by Zionist and imperialist agents in Syria and Iraq.
This is what we feel now.
(Robert Maulana Marohombsar Alonto was a member of the peace panel of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that negotiated the Framework Agreement of the Bangsamoro signed in 2012 and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed in 2014. He was also a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission that drafted the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law that the Aquino administration did not pass. This piece was posted on his Facebook wall on Oct. The author gave permission to reprint this.)