Ahmad Sampang ibnu Hajiri, MD

A Personal blog by a Tausug medical student (now a doctor!) from Sulu and the stories that inspired him.
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Assalamu Alaykum! (Peace be upon you!)

A few days from now and the tragic incident in Mamasapano, Maguindanao will reach it's first month (which coincides with the EDSA revolution anniversary). A lot of things already happened. Things came out from a "shock to all", to a "word war in the internet", to "teledramas and privilege speeches" and now to "twists and turns". And only God knows where we are heading after it reach one month, and perhaps beyond.

Really, I am supposed to stay silent about this. As may have been manifested by the days of delay of publishing "Medschool-related" posts here in this blog. I just can't seem to publish my medschool adventures while these things are happening. And I still cannot decide whether to post something about the 'incident' or not.

Breaking the silence

I never really wanted to post about sensitive issues like what I usually do years back. I have learned my fair share of lessons that made me somehow keep my thoughts to myself: scribbled in those pages upon pages of papers in my journals. Promising myself that soon, I will be able to publish them all in one go: revealing to the world, what few things I know, and how I view the things that are happening around me. The secrets that will change the world, the innovative ideas that will make things better--or so the ambitious me thought.  So yeah, I'd rather be silent lest people will call me crazy.

But then again, in every rule, there will always be exceptions. And yes, this is perhaps one of those 'exceptions' that I am going to break that silence. (I already wrote an essay entitled "Breaking the silence" but still failed to publish it (-_-)


To tell you all honestly I have a loooong list of things I wanted to point out. But Alhamdulillah I already found a lot of people doing the "pointing" better than me online. So yeah, they save me the trouble of doing that in the wrong way (*laughs*). But this one particular issue I wanted to raise in this short post is something that I honestly cannot simply deny. And thus the title goes: 

"It was 67 not 44"
I even made a campaign poster for this:

Mamasapano maguindanao fallen44 #67not44

copying the original black background style used in many online campaigns before. Feel free to copy this and share in your social accounts. I won't care about intellectual rights right now -_-


Hashtag Fallen 44.

Fallen 44.   Fallen 44.

Really, we keep on hearing this tagline of "FALLEN FORTY-FOUR" all throughout the media: newspapers, radio and television broadcasts, online discussions and even in the senate hearing! We all know who are the "Fallen 44" being mentioned here: The 44 slain PNP-SAF during the clash in Mamasapano last January 25. 

And we hear:

"We should ask for justice to the 'fallen 44'", "The fallen 44 are heroes", "The lives of the fallen 44 should be sanctified", "the fallen 44 fought for us", "We will remember the sacrifices of the fallen 44 in our hearts", etc. etc. 

I would even want to quote a very prominent Senator asking (directed to Mr. Mohagher Iqbal of MILF):
"How would you take responsibility to the deaths of the 44 FILIPINOS who died that day?"

[Caps lock and bold type for emphasis on "44 FILIPINOS"]

And so we ask:

Question 1: "Are they the only ones who died?" The answer is known to all: "No."

Question 2: "Who else died that day?"
The answer as of this writing is: "18 armed men NOT from PNP-SAF and 5 civilians."  So adding the 44 PNP-SAFs we have 44+18+5 = 67. It's simple math guys, just review what your Mathematics teacher taught you in Grade 1.

Question 3: "Regardless of any affiliations, are all lives equally important?"
The easiest question. Of course the answer is "Yes. All lives matter. All lives count. All lives are equally important."

Question 4: "Then why are we only asking for justice for the fallen 44 and not the rest of those who died that day?"

The answer my friend is way beyond our grasps. Honestly, I still do not know why. Is it because they are not from the Government forces that their lives don't matter anymore? Don't they deserve to receive Justice as well? 

It was not just 44

The clamor that the Mamasapano incident have left 44 families grieving: fatherless children, husband-less widows, one-child-less parents, is another misleading claim. It is true, that this tragic incident have left more hearts grieving. But then again, IT WAS NOT JUST THEM! 

It was not just the 44 who died.
It was not just the 44 who left their love ones crying, fatherless, husband-less.
It was not just the 44 who had their dreams cut off.
It was not just the 44 who needs Justice and truth.
It was not just 44. It was 67.

The Principle of Exceptionalism

In an article in Rappler.com written by Ms. Rosa Castillo, I first met the word "Exceptionalism". Quoting her:

"If there was indeed brutality on the part of the MILF or BIFF forces, then the specific perpetrators should be brought to justice. But as we call for this, we should also demand for government forces' accountability for human rights violations they committed not just in Mindanao, but also in the rest of the country. Otherwise, we will be practicing exceptionalism, where certain lives matter more than others."
You can read the whole article here: Mamasapano: Who do we condemn? Whose lives matter?

This simply magnifies the "exceptional" mindset of the Filipino masses, especially those in the upper echelons of the Central government. Remember that statement by a prominent Senator I mentioned above. That single statement, albeit maybe unintentionally uttered, can simply tell us how they (the Filipinos) think about the "exceptions".

"...the 44 FILIPINOS who died"

Simply means that they/he/she did not consider those who died other than the 44 as "Filipinos". Yet still, midst this kind of mind-set they have, the "Muslims in the Philippines" are still trying hard to keep the promise and live harmoniously as "Filipinos"; forcing themselves to fit in and hoping that one day, sooner one day they will be accepted as such. 

So long as they/we consider the lives of the people "not in the fallen 44" as collateral damages, as unimportant than the "fallen 44", how do we expect we achieve equal justice? We should all aim for Truth and Justice, not just to the "fallen 44" but for the "Fallen 67". Unless we consider the equality of importance of their lives, we will never end this cycle of misunderstanding, conflict and chaos that divides us more.


Time and time again, similar incidents like what happened in Mamasapano, Maguindanao have happened but only a few would reach the national or even international headlines like this one. As to why this particular incident have gained fame in such short time is another bewildering event for us. How many massacres have happened in Sulu and Mindanao? How many human rights violations done by either members of the military or the local government units? How many undocumented killings, unreported, unrecalled: forgotten through time... (mental note: I should stop already. The world is not yet ready for these 'revelations')

And through time and time again, we the Muslims in this generation are always reminded by Islam with only two things: Sabr and Tawakkul

It is stated by Allah in the Noble Qur'an in Surah Al-Bakara (2:155)

Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere,

And it is with this that I will end this supposedly-short-but-I-just-can't-control-my-hands-typing-so-fast post with the reminder, especially to all my Muslim brothers and sisters. We have to persevere. We have to keep our faith. These are nothing but tests for us to be stronger. Let us show the world what is the real message of Islam which is Love, Peace and Submission to the One True God: Allahu Subhanahu wa Taala.

In sha Allah we will get through this :) Just keep yourselves aware, be involved and yes, BE THE SOLUTION!

Signing off for now,

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just saying. -Dr. Ahmad