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Mamasapano Encounter: The Cry for Justice and Peace

Fr. Amado L. Picardal, CSsR, SThD

Along the Way


THERE is a lot of grief all over the land over the death of the 44 SAF commandos. There is a clamor for all out war, especially coming from Christians in Luzon and Visayas. The deliberation of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law has been suspended. I wish to share my own view about this tragic event in form of a poem which I wrote. This is an attempt to “walk in the shoes” of the Muslims and MILF.


We Who Mourn


You mourn for the 44 who perished in our cornfields.

We, too, mourn not only for them but for our dead:

18 Mujahideens, a little girl and four other civilians caught in the crossfire.

Not counting those massacred in Corregidor almost 50 yrs ago

and over 60,000 who perished in our homeland through the years –

casualties and collateral damage of war.


You cry for justice for the 44.

We, too, cry for justice and for peace

after what we have suffered through the centuries.

You have not seen the tears in our eyes.

The TV networks only showed the tears of those left behind by the 44.

You blame us, condemn us, and hate us – as if it was all our fault.


We were peacefully asleep when we heard gunshots.

It was still dark when armed men arrived in our place.

We did not know who they were.

We thought we were under attack from rival groups

or that the ceasefire agreement had been broken by the military.

If they were military or police, why did they not coordinate with us

or inform us of their presence?

They fired at us and we fired back.

There were also others who joined the fray.

It was kill or be killed.

We killed many of them.

They also killed some of our brothers.

A bloody encounter brings out the worst in each one of us.

In order to prevail we become ruthless.

And it takes a long time to put out the raging fire.

We found out too late that it was a misencounter.


You call it a massacre,

as if we planned the whole thing.

You call us terrorists harboring wanted terrorists.

You say only a dead Moro is a good Moro.

You say that we cannot be trusted.

And now you want to dash the only hope for a just and lasting peace –

the scrapping of our peace agreement that we have labored for so long.

And you want to unleash another all out war on us and our children.


Please remember this.

There will be no victors in this war. Only victims.

Next time it won’t just be 44 who will come home in bodybags

and it won’t be only 18 of our Mujahideens that will be buried in our cornfields.

The number of widows and orphans will multiply.

Not counting the billions of pesos spent in bombs and bullets

that can better be used for the poor.


You want to unleash your armed might and subjugate us?

The Spanish conquistadores tried.

The American imperialists tried.

Successive presidents from Marcos to Erap tried.

They did not succeed.

You may turn our homeland into a no man’s land

and impose the peace of the graveyard.

But the traumatized orphans will grow up someday,

filled with hate and will swell the ranks of the Mujahideens

who will not be open to talk peace like us.

The spiral of violence will continue.

We will live in perpetual war that will be waged all over the country.

Is this what you want?


We are not your enemy. You are not our enemy.

Our ancestors welcomed your ancestors to our homeland.

The land which you claim as your own used to belong to us.

All we ask is for justice and a land we can call our own.

But we will not drive you away from our homeland

that you also regard as your promised land.


Our faith may differ but we have much in common.

The Christ you follow is the Jesus (peace be upon him) that we revere in the  Qur’an –

as Isa ibn Maryam (Jesus Son of Mary) – born of the Virgin Mary,

al Masih (the Messiah),  Al Nabi (the Prophet), who suffered and died

and ascended into heaven and will return as judge at the end of time.

We both believe in One God/Allah – the almighty, the merciful

and we both honor Abraham (Ibrahim) as our father in faith,

we are all children of Abraham, children of the one God/Allah.


We can embrace each other as brothers and sisters,

Neighbors, partners, friends, and fellow Filipinos,

living in peace – a just and lasting peace

in our homeland that you also call your promised land.


We mourn together for our loss.

Let us work together to attain justice and lasting peace

so that what happened in the cornfields of Mamasapano

and other battlefields in Mindanao

will never happen again.

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