[Dash of SAS] Widowed by war
In 2008, a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) led by Commander Bravo and Commander Kato waged a series of attacks after the Supreme Court declared the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) unconstitutional.
Ten months after the initial attacks, the writer was sent to Lanao del Sur on assignment to report on the protracted displacement and the disrupted lives.
The story of these widows, Bedora and Asliah, was originally supposed to have been carried by an overseas publication:
LANAO DEL SUR, Philippines – Two MILF widows speak about their husbands – father to their children and fallen rebels.
Bedora, 40 years old
I don’t remember anymore when Tarati first joined the MILF. When I married him, he was already a rebel. I wasn’t afraid to marry a rebel. I was proud to marry a man who was doing Allah’s will and was fighting for our independence.
He was killed in September 2014 when he, along with others, went off to get rice and other supplies for the rest of the troops. The soldiers caught them unaware, opened fire, and killed my husband.
When they told me he was dead, I felt like my head was cut off. I couldn’t breathe and felt like I died along with him. All I could think of was: how was I going to take care of our 10 children? I don’t know how to farm. Ever since we were married, he took care of our needs. I only had to take care of the children. Now, I don’t know how we are going to live.
We have not been able to even give Tarati a proper burial. We were never able to recover his body because the area where he was killed is still surrounded by soldiers. The other troops weren’t even able to recover his gun.
My first-born is a boy who is now 22 years old and in the city staying with relatives. He doesn’t want to join the rebel movement because of what happened to his father. He is old and I cannot convince him. But I have 4 other boys who are still young, and when they grow up, I will have them join the movement. It would be unthinkable for me not to have them continue fighting for the cause that their father died for. It would anger my husband if none of his sons took up his cause. It would be a disgrace to his memory.
I have a daughter who is 16 years old and still unmarried. It is my wish for her to marry a rebel, just as I did.
Asliah, 40 years old
They (the troops) were hiding in the forest. There, they ran into soldiers and fighting ensued. My husband hid behind some rocks. The other troops went to get help, but my husband was left behind because he had a gunshot wound on his leg. He told them to save themselves. Otherwise, all of them would die if they stayed with him.
Four days passed before anyone found him.
He had another gunshot wound in his head. That’s what finally killed him. We think that it was from a sniper. I would like to believe that Acob was able to fight back even though he was alone.
My children and I buried him and on the 100th day (of his death), we celebrated his uniting with Allah.
Acob was an accidental rebel. It was actually one of his cousins who was the member of the MILF. They asked Acob to be their guide in an area that only he was familiar with and from then on, he joined them.
I don’t want to have my remaining sons fight anymore. It’s better to be, and remain, a farmer. You have no enemies.” – Rappler.com