Allahu Akbar: A young Moro's open letter to Duterte

The Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper - - Front Page - By Amir Mawallil (The 27year old author is a member of the Young Moro Professionals Network.)

STILL A MONTH into your inauguration, change — "real change" — is palpable in the air sweeping through the Moroland.

These days, many Moro people find inspiration from your boldness. Your seething anger for everything that is wrong in the system represents their own anger, and for this reason, thousands of heads nod when you declared “I am angry for you.”

When you were in Cotabato City one sunny afternoon during the campaign, you were welcomed by thousands of your Moro supporters. A thunderous chorus of "Allahu Akbar" interrupted your speech for a number of times. The massive crowd were on their feet, their fists raised in the air, when you yourself shouted "Allahu Akbar". They were ecstatic.

Nevermind if you sounded awkward. Never mind if your voice faltered as you repeated the takbir. It was enough that you were standing in front of a people who saw you as the leader they needed, someone who did not only humbly try to speak their language, but also promised to end their suffering from war, from poverty, from oppression.

You see, you stood in front of a generation of Moro that inherited the tragedy of armed conflicts. It was enough that you stood there — tired, indignant, and crazy but without the foolishness and pretensions of the past.

The same thing happened in Zamboanga City. People from the islands travelled all the way to the center of Western Mindanao to show their support for you. It was not like that in the past elections. This time, your rally became a congregation of Christians and Lumads and people from the island provinces — the Tausugs, Sama, the Yakans. All of them, in one place, demanding change, as you promised change.

For observers, it was an apparent indictment of the failures of the past, and at the same time a statement of protest against the oppressors of Mindanao, against the oppressors of the Moros.

And again, the takbir. And again, the frenzy.

It's a given – part of your audacity is this rawness of character that is not only baffling but also disarming to a point that many people find your flaws acceptable and beautiful at the same time.

It is your grit, and whatever that is burning inside you now, that now serves as a beacon of life and hope for many.

As a young Moro in Mindanao, I can say that matter of factly – having seen how Muslims in Mindanao have been breathing that air filled with optimism over the realization of the promises of a Duterte presidency. One only needs to ask any random Muslim on the streets to confirm this.

Among the presidential candidates, it was only you, Mr Duterte, who publicly showed affection to us Muslims. This affection reverberates even now, weeks after you have won the presidential race. It is the same affection, and the promise of peace in Mindanao and for the Moro people, that we hold dear these days.

You promised to "correct the historical injustice committed against the Moro.”

You declared yourself the Moro people’s president.

You said that among the presidential candidates, it was only you who could speak about the Moro problem. Of course — you are from Mindanao. You have Moro roots. You are friends with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chair Nur Misuari. You have a warm relationship with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

In Davao City, Muslims from different tribes act as deputy mayors. And yes, you pushed for the passage of an antidiscrimination ordinance that covers religion. It is protective of us Muslims.

Yes, you have experienced war. You’ve seen the suffering of the Moro people. You’ve witness the unnecessary deaths of Moro children and their mothers, their fathers. You know the suffering is real.

Mr President-elect, you openly expressed full support for the realization of the aspirations of the Moro people. You articulated, quite bluntly and painfully, what many of the Moro felt about the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

And Moro hearts melted, Mr President, when you said "Kung manalo ako na presidente, swerte ang mga Muslim. Swerte ang Mindanao.” (If I win as president, the Muslims are lucky. Mindanao is lucky.)

You said you will fix Mindanao. You said you will solve the Moro problem.

Yes, like you, the Moro people are also waiting for the day of reckoning.

I cannot wait to see you in Malacañang in July. I can't wait to see the day when someone from Mindanao will speak in front of 100 million Filipinos, bringing with him our past, bloody as it was, our present where we struggle still, and our future, as bright and peaceful as the promise of the real change that is about to come. –

Amir Mawallil

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