#Journeyto30 The year of living dangerously
Epi Fabonan III (The Philippine Star) - January 9, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – A commercial airliner with 131 passengers crashes in Samal Island. A trash slide in Payatas, Quezon City kills more than 200 people. A young computer science student releases a virus that damages around 45 million computers around the world. Terrorists kidnap a number of foreign tourists and locals and hold them for ransom. They then bombed several places in Metro Manila on Rizal Day, killing 22 people. But the penultimate story that dominated newspapers at that time was the continuing Moro insurgency in Mindanao.

Indeed, 2000 was the year of living dangerously, as epitomized by The STAR’s July 10, 2000 banner story about the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) capture of Camp Abubakar in Maguindanao from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The banner story is but a glimpse of the still ongoing cycle of violence and peace in the region brought about by fragile and tense relations between Filipino Muslims and Christians. After a 1996 peace agreement between the Ramos government and the Nur Misuari-led Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the succeeding Estrada government waged an all-out war against the MNLF offshoot, the MILF.

The fall of Camp Abubakar, however, didn’t end the decades-long insurgency. A triumphant Estrada, shown in the media celebrating the victory with soldiers over heaps of lechon and bottles of beer inside a Muslim rebel camp, was but another trigger that continued the Moro struggle throughout the first decade of the 21st century.

With this front page, one can’t help but think if we, as a nation, have really learned from our history, or if we are merely living a continuing past. With the unfortunate encounter last year between police commandos and the MILF, as well as the delayed passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law in Congress, prospects for lasting peace in Mindanao seem stymied.

Will we see a repeat of the violence that killed or displaced thousands of innocent lives? Will we continue to live in more dangerous years or will Filipinos – Christian and Muslim alike – move forward to achieving a common goal of peace, progress and stability?

The answer lies in our choice of leaders in a few months’ time.

ACIRC ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES BANGSAMORO BASIC LAW CAMP ABUBAKAR CHRISTIAN AND MUSLIM FILIPINO MUSLIMS AND CHRISTIANS METRO MANILA MINDANAO MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT MORO NATIONAL LIBERATION FRONT NUR MISUARI
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