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Radio for Peace interviews Datu Lidasan

Datu Lidasan on extremism and the peace process

The live radio interview was conducted on July 6, 2017 and aired over the program 'Bangsamoro Now: Voices of Peace', a weekly radio program run by the Kutawato Multimedia Network (KuMuNet) in cooperation with forumZFD Cotabato office. It was also the third in a series of interviews by the program on the topic in the aftermath of the May 23 Marawi siege by ISIS-inspired extremist groups and the subsequent declaration of martial law on the entire island of Mindanao.

KuMuNet Radio station
© forumZFD

“I hope it will not happen. But the more the government is delaying the Bangsamoro peace process, the more young Moros and even the IPs (indigenous peoples) are losing their trust on it,”

thus answered Datu Mussolini Sinsuat Lidasan, a young Moro professional and a member of the expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) when asked about the prospects of the new Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) they drafted and set to submit to the office of Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte before his first State of Nation Address (SONA) on July 24.

Lidasan, who is also the director of Al Qalam Institute for Islamic Studies and Dialogue in Southeast Asia, a partner organization of forumZFD in Davao, emphasized during the interview the need for active lobbying by local civil society organizations “for the Congress to really understand the historical and social injustices committed against the Bangsamoro people,” and to ensure the bill's passage.

“If another failure in passing the BBL happens under the Duterte administration, I am afraid another Marawi incident may happen in other parts of Mindanao,” he warned.

Radicalization

Lidasan admitted that radicalization is “affecting our communities.” The profile of the young extremists is changing, he said. They now include young professionals and children of prominent Moro families. “Maybe because of frustrations and it is happening in other parts of the world too,” he added.

But the Marawi siege, according to Lidasan, has a 'different dynamics.' He said that poor governance, poverty, shadow economy, rido or clan war and lost of trust in the government all led to lots of frustrations. He also cited a failure in community policing.

“People really wanted change. It was a time bomb that eventually exploded!,” he claimed.

And it is this desire for change, he explained, that is sometimes being exploited by some external groups by introducing a “different narrative” such as the idea of a caliphate.

Martial law

“We have to reduce the need in prolonging martial law,” Lidasan answered when asked on his views about the declaration which on July 23 will reach its 60th day.

He also said that putting Mindanao under Martial Law after the Marawi siege also had some positive aspects: “People are now working together. It now has a mandate and the constitution has a clear guidelines for it. May ngipin na ang gobyerno (the government now has a teeth) compared to years before.”

So far, no cases of human rights violations have been filed since Martial Law has been declared, he added. He also finds that the declaration helps in restoring order as “we can now address private armed groups, the New People's Army and other insurgent Moro groups.”

Lastly, Lidasan appealed to the listeners to build trust on the government instead of just ranting on the social media. “We should go directly to the communities instead of always complaining,” he stressed.

President Duterte, in his recent pronouncements, said that the decision to extend martial law beyond 60 days will mainly depend on the advise of his military and police officials.

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