So Liberal Party presidential candidate Mar Roxas is now a “datu” of the sultanate of Lanao del Sur. According to the Inquirer report, “for now, he is happy to settle for the title of datu” even as he aims his sights for the top office of the land in Malacanang Palace at the heart of Imperial Manila which is no less than 1,500 kilometres north of Roxas’s new kingdom.
According to the Inquirer report;
[Roxas] was received warmly by the Lanao sultans, one of whom introduced him as the “incoming President of the Philippines.”They hung a medallion of honor around his neck, conferred on him the Amai Pakpak Award—so named after a Maranao hero—and presented him with a plaque as an adopted son of Lanao.
This “warm” reception by sultanate elders notwithstanding, the sentiment coming from ordinary Filipino Muslims seems to be different. Jun Macarambon who, according to his Twitter profile is a “A Male #Bangsamoro, Activist, Blogger, Security, h4x0r, GNU/Linux and FOSS Evangelist, PC Enthusiast, Filmmaker” tweeted this morning saying “MAR ROXAS HONORARY TITLE DATU & SON OF LANAO DEL SUR AN INSULT TO MUSLIMS / BANGSAMORO”. Ms ‘Mindanaoan’, a noted Mindanao social media celebrity and Cagayan de Oro City resident who tweets as @mindanaoan, in turn, tweeted in response to Macarombon; “Bai, I read the posts from Filipino Muslims. Everyone’s pissed. I’m a bit worried…”
Indeed, there is much cause for Filipinos to be worried about this latest Mar Roxas shenanigan. The administration of Philippine President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III to which Roxas reported to as a Cabinet secretary is anything but mindful of, much less sympathetic to, Mindanao’s sultanates. As such, it is quite hypocritical for Roxas to be gushing about his new honourary title as datu of Lanao Del Sur today. The fact that Aquino and Roxas would endorse the preposterous idea of creating an “autonomous” Bangsamoro “nation” governed by, of all groups, the terrorist Moro Islamic Liberation Front is enough of a slap on the faces of the traditional rulers of Muslim Mindanao.
Back in 2013, a conflagration between Manila and Kuala Lumpur erupted when the late Sultan Jamalul Kiram III of Sulu asserted his claim to the territory of Sabah (currently recognised as a ‘state’ of the Federation of Malaysia) when his supporters undertook an incursion into and occupation of an area in Lahad Datu that lasted weeks. In response, Malacanang quickly sided with Malaysia and, in all ironies, called Kiram’s men “terrorists”. President BS Aquino also ordered the deployment of Philippine Navy assets to the area, not to resolve the crisis from the perspective of Filipino nationals but to protect the Malaysian coastline from further attacks from said Filipino nationals.
Such atrocious behaviour coming from a national government — siding with a belligerent foreign government and deploying military assets against its own citizens — is unparalleled in the annals of human history!
The gracious thing Roxas should have done was politely decline the “honour” of being crowned Datu of Lanao del Sur. He is, after all, a practicing (indeed, an outwardly prayerful) Roman Catholic. On that fact alone, he should have thought twice about acceding to this latest PR stunt. Evidently, he proved incapable of thinking beyond that and recalling the shameful way his government treated the Sultan of Sulu and the way it dealt directly with a known terrorist organisation rather than defer to Mindanao’s sultans for more sound guidance on Mindanao affairs.