by Ali G. Macabalang
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem.
In my Facebook wall – Mindanao Tapatan Lane, a large number of guest-posts evolved, still growing, around pros and cons on the presidential candidacy of former Senator Bongbong Marcos.
His candidacy has ostensibly divided all sectors, including Muslim Filipinos and even our ulama (spiritual leaders). Those wanting Bongbong to sit in Malacañang invoke about sparing him from the offenses of his father’s martial rule that left hundreds if not thousands of ethnic Muslims massacred (women raped) in Kausuwagan, Lanao del Norte; Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat; and Carmen, North Cotabato, among others.
The massacres happened because the Marcos military establishment recruited uneducated street guys, whose mere qualifications were their knowledge to handle guns and kill.
But the positive feats of the Marcos era are conveniently harped about Bongbong, such as the building of the LRT, CCP, ICCP, San Juanico Bridge, construction of diversion canal on Agus River to magnify hydroelectricity generation from Lake Lanao, and etc. (The building of the bridge and Agus I Dam, by the way, allegedly involved kidnapping of poor children and adults, made as human sacrifices.)
Those aforementioned infrastructures were indeed monumental. But I would like to ask the BBM Muslim supporters, have they benefitted from those infrastructures that are located outside Mindanao – except for the Agus I Dam?
The Agus I Dam had adversely affected the ecology of Lake Lanao. One tangible example is the loss of many local fish species – Bonggaong, Lindeg, Baolan, Tomaginting.
The Marcos regime was known for sowing dissension among the MNLF, luring key revolutionary leaders to “return” to the folds of law and offered them logging concessions – a scheme that left many of our forests bald and had opened the gates of flooding in surrounding low areas.
The Marcos regime failed to pave the Lanao del Sur circumferential road and the Marawi-Cotabato highway, both road networks deemed as Mindanao’s original reference point (as evidenced by the Kilometer 000 in Marawi City.)
Parts of both road stretches were paved only during the time of President Fidel Ramos, who defied his own second cousin FM because of the latter’s abuses. Ramos’ withdrawal of support led to the EDSA Revolution I that deposed the dictator.
The Agus I Dam has indeed magnified hydroelectric generation from Lake Lanao. But do the people living around the lake have ample electricity until now?
The rise of Bongbong to the national leadership as an elected senator happened at a time when the MILF was on the verge of completing the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). The MILF peace panel incorporated a provision in the BBL that would provide the Bangsamoro governance to enjoy authority over Lake Lanao management.
But Bongbong, being the chair of the Senate Committee on local government, rejected the MILF desire. Lanao Sur’s youth leader Drieza Lininding attended one Senate hearing to convey the Maranao’s sad plight and concerns in the unilateral grip of “Imperial Manila ” over the lake. Bongbong ignored him as evidenced in a recorded video.
Another video clip showed Bongbong pointing out: “Mr. (Senate) President, I cannot support BBL in its present form, hindi ito magbibigay ng kapayapaan.”
The BBL was archived (killed) when senators rode on the public outrage over the Jan. 25, 2015 bloody encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao that left 44 SAF troopers alongside MILF, BIFF and civilian residents.
The BBL has been resurrected into Bansamoro Organic Law (BOL), courtesy of PRRD. The BOL prescribed co-management with the national government over Lake Lanao.
When Bongbong as senator visited Cotabato City, I had interviewed him exclusively for Manila Bulletin. I sensed in him an obvious elite stature in answering my questions – too different from dignitaries I had mingled with.
I had interviewed the late FM, Cory, FRV, PGMA, PNoy, Erap and also PRRD when he was mayor. These VIPs were more humane in answering questions. Bongbong, on account of his birth on a silver platter, is too high to reach for me, much more for an ordinary Juan or Abdul.
Some groups have arranged a one-on-one talk with Mayor Isko, who reportedly agreed. I had huddled with Isko in a rare meeting in Buluan, Maguindanao and he was so humble – a characteristic shaped by his poor family history.
I guarantee whatever I earned in my 44 years of media practice that Bongbong will be more elite when he is elected president.
So, my own choice of a next President will never be Bongbong. I am afraid he will torpedo again the half-carried mandates of the BOL. May Allah (SWT)