Just and lasting peace is built on acknowledging truths, not altering them. Today, as we commemorate both the International Day of Peace and the anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines under the Marcos dictatorship, we are reminded of how the life of every Bangsamoro has been altered by years of violence against our people and of our deeply-rooted desire for peace.

On this day, we confront the many ways our people’s lives and destinies have been shaped both despite and because of the decades-long violence and conflict that was committed against us and our communities. In the Bangsamoro, September 21 is a constant reminder of our people’s greatest aspirations and our deepest, darkest fears.

The ongoing pandemic continues to hit the most vulnerable among us, many of them coming from underprivileged and marginalized groups who have been systematically oppressed and disenfranchised especially during the Marcos Dictatorship. Many of the policies and programs during the regime have resulted in countless human rights violations that weakened not only our economy, but also weakened families and communities who still struggle against poverty and social inequities until today. 

Our shared desire for a Bangsamoro that fully represents our people’s hopes and aspirations is borne of a shared history that has been constantly denied by those who have failed to recognize our humanity. Our approach to the peace negotiations and the entire peace process is anchored on acknowledging the past and seeking justice for the ways our rights and freedoms have been violated. Our constant remembering of the horrors of Martial Law and the Marcos Dictatorship is an act of resistance against erasure and historical revisionism. 

We in the Bangsamoro know firsthand how building peace in the present without first making peace with our past will always be a futile attempt at creating a better future. Today, as we commemorate both the International Day of Peace and the anniversary of the Martial Law declaration during the Marcos regime, may we continue the hard but necessary work of remembering as we continue to work towards justice and healing for all.