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Third time’s a charm?

Netnet Camomot

THE Pinoys who survived the first martial law from 1972 to 1981 have come full circle. They’re now 45 years old and above, with the more senior retired from work, finally finding time to relax and enjoy the fruits of their labor. And then, the Marawi siege happens, prompting President Rody Duterte to declare martial law in Mindanao.

Except for Marawi, it’s business-as-usual in Mindanao, but with this feeling of, Where do we go from here?

Since I and fellow Rotarians visited Marawi two days before the siege, for the unveiling of the Rotary marker of the Rotary Club of Metro Ranao, some videos and photos of the city that have been posted on Facebook and shown via mainstream media may encourage recent memories to crop up.

Marawi was peaceful that Sunday. But there’s this thought now that the Maute group was there all along, waiting for the signal to strike. To say we are fortunate for leaving the place before the siege, however, is the highest form of insensitivity. Because if we claim to be fortunate, how about the people of Marawi? All Pinoys are affected if peace continues to remain elusive for some parts of Mindanao. There are so many beautiful places to discover here, if only it’s safe to visit all of them.

The first time I visited Marawi in the ’90s, I was younger and perhaps adventurous. We traveled from Cagayan de Oro to Marawi, and then from Marawi to Surigao, all in one day, to attend Jaycee inductions. And to up the ante on our so-called adventure, here’s one more tidbit: the “we” there refers to three lady Jaycees. We were part of a convoy of Jaycees that assembled in Iligan before proceeding to Marawi. After lunch, that same convoy returned to Iligan from where the three of us again left for CDO to fetch a lady Jaycee before going to Surigao.

A non-Marawi resident was–and still is before the siege?–always advised to drop by Iligan where friends and their cars await, and this convoy would all go up to Marawi. That’s how it was for us in the ’90s, and even 25 years later, last May 21. As the saying goes, The more things change, the more they stay the same.

When the US began to be strict in keeping its borders safe after 9/11, we thought then that no matter how strict its homeland security is, terrorists would continue to embrace the mantra, Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Not even the wall that US President Donald Trump is planning to build along the US-Mexico border will be an absolute deterrent against terrorism.

Some of the 9/11 hijackers had trained to be pilots in the US. They didn’t arrive in the US on 9/11. They were already there, waiting. With that in mind, profiling can become controversial, with investigators careful not to be accused of racism.

If only terrorists look like aliens, i.e., Martians as depicted in movies, then, it’s easier to pick them out from a lineup. But none of us has even seen a Martian. Or a real E.T. phoning home. It’s the movies’ producers, directors and writers that feed us with what they think should be the face and body of an alien.

Terrorists, by the way, are produced by ideology that has gone awry. Giving too much literal meanings to words, reading in between the lines…

And whoever gets to write on the white paper first, wins. The white paper is a person whose mind is still devoid of any beliefs, or whose beliefs can easily switch to the other side. That could be the reason why they’re young, reportedly from 13 to 18 years old.

Our parents usually are the ones who expose us first to their beliefs–Catholic parents raise Catholic children, same goes for other religions. But once the child is old enough to question the beliefs he was seemingly born into, he may start to form his own, hopefully for the better and not for the worse.

John Lennon’s “Imagine” always comes to mind whenever there’s conflict: “Imagine there’s no countries/It isn’t hard to do/Nothing to kill or die for/And no religion, too/Imagine all the people/Living life in peace…”

It’s dangerous to talk about religion and politics. Once the debate escalates, you can only wish it won’t be as bad as road rage.

It’s also dangerous to be drunk while singing “My Way” at the karaoke bar. But that’s another story.

This third martial law circa 2017 is expected to last for 60 days. 54 more days to go? Are we counting?

The second martial law was for Maguindanao, which lasted for nine days in December 2009, care of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo after the Maguindanao massacre.

I don’t remember counting the remaining days of the first martial law since we had no idea if it would ever end. But we got tired of reading the newspapers’ censored banner news–then President Ferdinand Marcos controlled everything, including the media.

We are hoping President Duterte’s martial law is different from that of Marcos which lasted for nine long years. But the incumbent president did say that his martial law “will not be any different from what President Marcos did. I’d be harsh.” He also said that Marcos’ version was “very good.”

Oh, my. Define “good.” Define “harsh.”

Meanwhile, we’re grateful that President Duterte’s arrival in Iligan on Friday was met with cheers, not jeers. We all should take that as a good start of his martial law. But this is only the beginning. Will the cheers remain on the 60th day?

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About Netnet Camomot

Netnet Camomot once edited a society page and covered society stories for another newspaper. She has long been writing about the lighter side of anything under the sun, including pressing issues of the day, with a touch of humor.

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