Writing this quick note to process one of the many strange developments of the week, which included my being roped in last minute to present a study conducted by the World Bank and the International Organization for Migration on marginalization through land dispossession in the Bangsamoro region. Presentations are part of my usual day-to-days but this was unusual—it was a launch at Camp Darapanan, the present headquarters of the largest armed revolutionary group in the Philippines, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (or MILF, read as M-I-L-F, not the lewd joke familiar to most westerners).

It just so happened that our lead author, Dr. Fermin Adriano, was unable to fly to Cotabato and our rather crazy and generous team leader, Matt, chose to gleefully task me with translating the key technical messages in a vernacular that would be understood by the larger audience, and not just the international actors and VIPs present in the room. And that entailed being the lost young female non-Muslim, non-Mindanawon pseudoacademic on the dais with Mindanao peace process heavy hitters such as Ishak Mastura, Guiamel Alim, Rufa Guiam, peace panel chairs Mohagher Iqbal and Irene Santiago, plus the amerul mujahid himself, Al-haj Murad Ebrahim. Kumbaga sa Tagalog, pinabili lang ng suka, napadpad na sa Darapanan. (Which actually describes a fair chunk of the seven years of this life, to be fair.)

Continue reading “Lupa”

The costs of memory: options for transitional justice and reconciliation, ten years after Tokhang

Note: Shorter versions were published on and as part of the Resbak zine released in February 2017. 

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer nor a transitional justice expert. This was not written in any professional capacity. I am a private citizen of the Philippines attempting to get some nagging questions out of my head as fast and raw as I can. Any alternate options? Disagree? Feel free to add!

Consider this a work of speculative fiction.

It is 2032, ten years after Rodrigo Roa Duterte successfully terminates his term as President, and with it, the lives of the estimated 4-5 million ‘drug personalities’ in the Philippines, plus change. A Marcos or two may have succeeded him as head of state. Maybe not. But somehow, conditions have made it so that the Sovereign People of the Philippines are calling out for ‘transitional justice and reconciliation,’ a term first bandied about in the wake of Martial Law, and later popularised as part of the convoluted Bangsamoro peace process.

The United Nations—Tatay Digong’s favorite international body—defines transitional justice as the ‘full range of processes and mechanisms associated with a society’s attempt to come to terms with a legacy of large-scale abuses committed in the past, in order to achieve accountability, serve justice, and achieve reconciliation.’ The word ‘abuses’ remains hotly contested, of course, triggering accusations of bias and various political colorings and retardations from all sides. But on a more concrete level, it asks two questions. First, what makes people deeply hurt and angry? And secondly, what will it take to address that hurt and anger?

Continue reading “The costs of memory: options for transitional justice and reconciliation, ten years after Tokhang”