Abdullah Macapaar, also known as “Kumander Bravo,” the MILF leader who used to lead attacks in Lanao del Norte including Kauswagan town, and now a Member of Parliament in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), said on Saturday he does not want conflict anymore and encouraged everyone to work together to bring lasting peace to Mindanao during the 23rd Qur’an Reading Competition in Brgy. Delabayan, Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte.
“Sumali po ako sa BARMM kasi ayaw ko na po ng away. Wala namang naghahangad talaga ng away, Muslim man o Christian. Kailangan na pong magkaisa ng mga Muslim,” he said.
(I joined BARMM for I do not want conflict anymore. Nobody really wants conflict, Muslims or Christians. As Muslims, we now need to be united.)
He added that the BARMM government also seeks to help communities outside BARMM to promote lasting peace.
“Ang sabi po ng Chief Minister, ang BARMM government, hindi lang po para sa BARMM. Tutulungan din po ang outside ng BARMM para po sa kapayapaan ng Muslim at Kristiyano dito sa Mindanao, lalo na po dito sa Lanao del Norte,” he said.
(The Chief Minister said that the BARMM government is not only for BARMM. It will also help communities outside BARMM to ensure peace between Muslims and Christians in Mindanao, especially here in Lanao del Norte.)
He acknowledged the efforts of Kauswagan Mayor Rommel Arnado in restoring peace. He said the lives of Muslims have improved and that there is now a better relationship between Christians and Muslims in Lanao del Norte.
“Masaya naman ang mga Muslim dito sa Lanao del Norte. Ngayon lang po kami nakaranas ng magandang pamumuhay dahil bumalik si Mayor Arnado. Nawala na po ang gulo. Nagkakaisa na ang mga Muslims at Christians. Iyon din po ang hinahanap namin, na mawala na ang gulo para maibalik na natin ang kapayapaan,” he said.
(The Muslims in Lanao del Norte are happy. We are now experiencing a better life because Mayor Arnado has come back to help us. The conflict has gone away. Muslims and Christians are now united. That is also what we are aiming for, for the conflict to go away so we could restore peace.)
Macapaar also urged the local government units (LGU) to contribute in the restoration of peace.
“Sana ang gobyerno at mga LGU, tumulong din sa mga Muslim at Christian dito sa community natin sa Lanao del Norte, sa pamamagitan ng pagtatayo at pag-aayos ng aming mga madrasah, mosque, at pagpapabuti ng edukasyon. Iangat natin ang edukasyon, palakihin natin ang sweldo ng mga Alim at Ustad. Gastusan ng gobyerno iyong mga batang hindi makapag-aral at iyong mga nag-aaral ng Arabic,” he said.
(I hope that the government and LGU will also help the Muslims and Christians here in Lanao del Norte by building and improving madrasahs, our mosques, and education. Let’s improve the quality of education and increase the salaries of scholars and teachers. I hope the government will also fund scholarships for children who can’t afford school and those who are studying Arabic.)
He added that education is important in ensuring a bright future for Muslim children.
“Maraming mga batang lumalaking magnanakaw at kriminal dahil hindi nakapag-aral. Kaya sana mapabuti pa ang edukasyon para sa kanilang kinabukasan,” said Macapaar.
(Many children grow up to become thieves and criminals due to the lack of education. That is why I hope we can improve education for the sake of their future.)
Macapaar is the commander of the northwestern Mindanao forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and is commonly known as one of two MILF commanders who attacked the municipality of Kauswagan in 2008 due to frustration over the Supreme Court halting a peace deal with them. Earlier this year, he was one of the 41 individuals nominated by the MILF to be part of the Bangsamoro interim government and represent Lanao del Norte.
Along with Mayor Arnado, Macapaar was invited as a guest at the 23rd Qur’an Reading Competition in Kauswagan, where they both shared their desire for lasting peace in Mindanao.