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            Featured Tausug: Atty. Edilwasif Baddiri





Atty. Edilwasif Baddiri graduated with honors from the Ateneo de Manila Law School with a Juris Doctor Degree in 2000. He also finished his pre-law course, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in 1996 from the same university. He passed the bar examinations in 2001 at the age of 25.




In 2001, Atty. Baddiri was elected Municipal Councilor in his native Indanan, Sulu and served as such until 2004. As the elected President of the Philippine Councilors League in the Province of Sulu, he concurrently served as Provincial Board Member from 2001 to 2004. As Board Member, he chaired the Committee on Laws and Ordinances, authored the 2002 Provincial Revenue Code and the Tausug Customary Law. He also sponsored various resolutions concerning the general welfare of the People of Sulu and conducted committee hearings on the problems of basic services delivery and the peace and order situation.



Not one to rest on his laurels, Atty. Edil as he is fondly called by some, attended the Kennedy School of Government in the prestigious Harvard University as a Fulbright scholar where he obtained his Masters in Public Administration in 2006. According to Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Noralyn Mustafa, he made history as the “first Tausug to enter Harvard”. 


In 2006, Atty. Baddiri began his Master of Arts in Peace Studies program in the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame, Indiana, USA. 


As a lawyer, he worked on human rights cases and served indigent clients, an advocacy which started back in his days as a law intern in the Human Rights Center of the Ateneo de Manila University. He once served as Legal Counsel and Member of the Board of Directors of the Philippine Red Cross-Sulu and Boy Scout of the Philippines-Sulu from 2001 to 2004.  


Convenor of the Young Moro Professionals Network, he was involved in various Muslim Organizations such as the Metro Manila Muslim Youth Leaders Congress of which he was co-convenor, Bangsamoro Consultative Assembly also as co-convenor, and the Bangsamoro Sulu Youth Movement as Spokesperson. 


He taught Business Law and Philippine Constitutional Law at the Mindanao State University, Sulu from November 2001 to March 2004, Notre Dame of Jolo College from November 2003 to March 2004 and at the Ateneo de Zamboanga University in the summer of 2001 and 2007. 


A prolific writer, he was a columnist of the Zamboanga Today Daily Newspaper from 2000 to 2004 where he wrote weekly column on issues affecting the youth, the Moro People and the Province of Sulu. He has written extensively on issues affecting the Bangsamoro People, the Philippine government and the Philippine peace process.


At present, Atty. Baddiri is the Chief of Staff of Congressman Yusop Jikiri who is serving his first term as representative of Sulu’s first district. In addition, he is a lecturer on Philippine politics and governance at the Ateneo de Manila University.  






Tausug Online was able to interview Atty. Baddiri in his office at the Congress of the Philippines, Batasan Hills, Quezon City on his perspective and insights on certain relevant issues. Read on.




What makes you proud to be tausug?


There are many things that we have to be proud of as a Tausug. For one, we have a long glorious history. Before the existence of the present republic, we already had a state in Sulu – the Sultanate of Sulu. Secondly, if you look at Moro history, you can see the immense contribution of the Tausug people. Lastly, despite the difficult challenges that our people are facing now, we continue to aspire for a renewal, a bringing back of the glorious past.


What Tausug values do you live by?


            I primarily live by the Tausug value of pagmartabbat ha baran. Di kita mabayah hi butang ha kahalan amun mabiyas kita.  Another important value is honesty - pagda baran dih kaw hikabutang ha kahalan amu in hika babah na sin baran mu iban bangsa mu pasal kitaniyu mga Tausug we have a sense of justice, Bang kaw nakahinang mali mag-amin kaw. You pay for your mistakes. Hangkanda iwasan ta mabutang kita ha kahalan amu in mara pa kasipugan in baran ta iban mga nanubuh katu. So amu yadtu in mga important values sin bangsa ta. In pagda mu sin baran, pagmartabbat mu guided by agama mu as a muslim, duun amu in hinang mangi ka iwasan.


Per our website’s viewership, it appears that most of our viewers are tausug OFWs  in the middle east and other countries and majority of them dream of returning to the Philippines if the economy improves. For one who has given politics a shot, what should be done to turn that dream into reality?



            Subay ta kahatihan in kahalan ta. Mataub parsababan hangkanna miyabut kasigpitan in kahalan ta iban sin hula. Complex in problems sin lupah sug. Pasal sin complex siya, complex da isab in solution. Mataud aspects in subay mahinang lamud ha solution.


            Muna-muna, subay tuud dumayaw in education sin kabataan. Pasal ha kitah ko in bangsa ta Tausug bang hi compare mu pa bangsa Maranao, in bangsa Tausug mataud na in lisuan mag-iskul. Wayruun na malasa ha pagiskul. Bunnal bang ta kakitaan in kamaasan ta ha bihaun didihilan halgah in pagiskul sah biyah dimagbus in pagiskul amuna in pagkawah diploma. Malaingkan in diploma yaun representation hadja sin nakapagiskul kita. In mahalgah didtu bang kaingatan mu pasal sin pagparayaw sin baran mu iban sin hula mu iban da isab sin kahalan mo in knowledge and wisdom that you learn in school. Sah, hambuuk aspect hadja sin long term solution in EDUCATION.


Hikaduwa, kalagihan mamumus in pagparinta sin hula tah. Bunnal, tao marayaw in kamatauran sin leaders ta bihaun. Sah, because of the infrastructure that there is, the kind of electoral system that we have (Although it is not only in Sulu but it is also true throughout the country), they have to spend so much and play the system. For example, amun pag control sin votes. Awn mga instances, hambuok tao in mag-control sin boto sin hambuuk municipality atawa hambuuk barangay. In mga bihadtu bukun marayaw because in kaguwaan niya sawpama in ikaw mayor atawa governor, bang in nagpadaug kaymu hangpuh tao da you are only accountable ha mga tao yadtu instead of the whole electoral public. Electoral problems should be fixed in such a way that the electoral system in magpadaug kaymu amu in tao tuud mahadjana bukun kamu magdepend hadja ha hangpuh tao daing ha 200,000 tao. Therefore when you govern you look for a way to serve these thousands of people instead of these ten people, so when you disperse amu in matabang mu in kamatauran. Most probably this will amount to mahinang in mga kadan danan, marayaw in mga tubig. In solution ini about the electoral system amuna in pag iyanun nila automation. Well there are many kinds of automation amu in pag iyanun biometric technology amu in way na makaboto kaymu amura in baran mu. This is insured by a fingerprint.


 Thirdly, we should find a way to solve the complex issue about violence. You look at amu in kahalan sin hulah mag-involve pasal sin babae. Maytah bang in usug iban babai maglasa, maytah in parakalah subay pagbunuan. At least now simibug na kitaniyu pa unahan. In kamaasan ta amu in usug iban babae magtiyaun at least bihaun nag evolve na in amu in maglasa na in usug iban babai sah in katauran ha kagimbahan even when I was still a board member mataud tuud problem amu in pasal ha babae, Sambil bihaun, mabut pa level amu in magbunuh. Actually, didtu mismo ha hulah namuh awun sung magbunuh last week pasalan ha babae. Its unfair to women to call it problema babai but that’s how our people call it. Our society should mature to the point that we do not resolve our conflict in violence. It is sad that we at this point, although we have made things right, sah yadtu pa sambil pa bihaun. Violence is destructive to the society. It ruins the community.


Lastly, we have to realize that we are a group of islands separated from the mainland. Our economy is mainly agricultural. It is mainly agricultural for a precise reason: mahalgah in kurente natuh. Maytah mahalga in kurente natu? Because in source sin kurente natuh is a powered diesel plant and everytime sumakat in price sin oil  tumaas da isab in price sin kurente ta. How can you compete with an industry based in Zamboanga? For example bang duwa pilak in kurente ha zamboanga in katuh upat pilak because in Zamboanga they buy their electricity from geothermal power plant and hydroelectric power plant. Biyah da isab sin marawi which is cheaper.


So, what can we do? We need to lay out underground cable to connect our transmission system to mainland Mindanao. It will cause billions but it will transform the economies of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. Unless done so, Sulu will forever have an agricultural economy. It is not bad per se because we get to preserve our environment. However, it limits our options to economic progress.


What do you think are the factors that keep the muslims especially the tausugs from getting the best education?


There are two causes. One is internal to the Tausug. Most of our young Tausugs are lazy students. Instead of studying, magtambay in kabayaan. Moreover, there is an attitude within our society to equate good education with the diploma instead of real skills and knowledge. Two is the view that poverty is a hindrance to a good education. In some sense it is true but other people have proven it to be false.  Mataud da isab miskin daing ha katuh that have finished their education. Way nahinang parsababan in  kamiskinan. Bukun parsababan in kamiskinan bang kaw awn da tihbut. Mataud scholarships available.


On the lighter side, allow us to ask a few personal questions. You remain an eligible bachelor. When will you tie the knot?



Mataud parsababan. One, I grew up in Zamboanga where you are provided with life-options that veer you away from early marriage. Bukun biyah sin ha Sug very common in early marriage misan waypa atawa yampa nakatalus sin college nila. Two. I had big dreams. I really wanted to be a lawyer.  I finished college at the age of 20 and then it took another 4 years to be a lawyer. At 25, lawyer na ako. It was always my dream to study in Harvard.  Bang kaw mag asawa na, some dreams you have to give up because of the additional responsibilities.


I wanted to make that into reality mainly because I wanted to show the possibility of seeming impossibilities. Nothing is impossible if it has been done before. Bang kakitaan sin mga kamanghuran natuh sin nahinang ta ra isab, they might say, “Na, misan hi kuwan yaun na kaya da niya, uno isab kita ini sibuh-sibuh da.  Para kakuh I really hope na maka inspire biyahadtu ha mga kamanghuran. Becoming a lawyer is not impossible. Going to Harvard is not impossible. To be at par with leaders of Philippine politics, and even the world, sets you apart from most. Bang hirul sin Allahu Taala hopefully by next year. Because biyah enough na in na-achieve ta at this point, marriage na in next stage. I have always look at life in stages. For now, marriage and family are the next stage.


What is your ideal girl?


In biyah katuh, dugaing na in kiyalagguan ta. While we are Tausug like our parents, we have a different world-view. Our parents grew up in Sulu where conservative values predominate - strict sila ha mga rules with regards to relationship with women, bang hisiyu family, bang uno in religion. On the other hand, I went to two catholic schools and adopted a more liberal world view. It will come to a point na bukun na kaw comfortable sin world view sin maas ta. So, dugaing tuud in world view ku but then again, knowing my parents and loving my parents, I cannot get married in such a way biyah isab  amahan sila atawa bukun marayaw ha pangatayan nila. So it’s a dilemma and it is not just me. The problem has always been maglag kaw sin the usual malingkat, malanjang, maputi generic ideal but  the most important one amu in magkugdan in pikilan niyu. Bang magkugdan in attitude niyu, in pangatud niyu ha hulah, ha mga kahalan. So, my ideal girl is one who is smart, pretty, tall and confident with herself.



The broadsheets and TV are filled with news of Muslims arrested on mere suspicion that they are terrorists or members of the Abu Sayyaf.  Considering these arrests and with few Tausug lawyers to represent those concerned, do you think Tausugs should now consider producing more lawyers?


Subay niyu kakitaan in kahalan ta bang kaw magbalik pa sug. Bihaun, landu na in kamiskinan ta. We have to realize that education is the greatest equalizer. It will allow you to be at par with those that have been blessed in life. Bang kaw awun pangiskul awun hadja chance mu to succeed and to become a better person. In mga kamanghuran must look at their situation as well as the situation of the Tausug people. Bang mu kitaun in bangsa Maranao mataud na kanila mga regional directors sambil pa mga Iloilo Regions 6,12 and 9. In basilan, the PNP Provincial Director is a Maranao. It might come to a point sambil didtu ha lupah sug gana-gana Maranao in hikabutang pasal in sila naghahalgah sin education. Na bang kita di magapas sin biyah hadtu lumugay dugaing bangsa na in mamarinta katuh. We need more lawyers, doctors, engineers and other professionals.



Have you experienced being discriminated on account of your religion”? If so, how do you deal with it?


I think I benefited from going to an elite school, an open minded school. In Ateneo, they have certain views on Muslims but because you got there and way ha pikilan nila na mangih kaw tao. In Harvard awun mga tao from different culture, different colors, different races so awun pagka open minded amu in level sin education niya mataas in panghati nila although dih mu maig in mga misconception nila. I had a great experience in manila. Most of the people here see you as a novelty pasal daing kaw ha sug biyah masub sila duma magbissara kaymu. The fact na tiyabuk kaw sin iskul, the presumption is tao marayaw kaw. Therefore, certain misconception na naka-attach ha mga muslim dih mikit kaymu. In such instances, our role is to break those misconceptions. Subay kaw dih mangalu. Subay kaw mag pasensya na hadja pasal malisuh kaw mabunnal in misconception nila.




As a staunch supporter of the MOA establishing the BJE or Bangsamoro Juridical Entity, how will you convince young Moros that they deserve to have it and stand to benefit from it?


It is an improvement to the present ARMM. The MOA-AD is a movement towards a final peace agreement. It is an instrument for peace para humundung na in pagbunuh ha hulah ta iban tumagna in pagparayaw sin hulah. Secondly, if you read the MOA-AD, it is a recognition of our history and legacy as Tausugs, as Moros. The Philippine state is recognizing the Bangsamoro people. Thirdly, MOA-AD gives us more power to develop ourselves. It is closer to the principle of self-determination than any document crafted between the GRP and the MNLF. Kita niyu na in mag-agi bang uno in kabayaan ta ha hulah ta as a people. Ganapan in resources, ganapan in power, ganapan in territory. As a BJE, it can realize the destiny of the Bangsamoro as determined by them.


It is a rectification of the injustices done by the Philippine state. For those who  oppose the MOA, they don’t realize mayta in kahalan miyabut biya ini. It our challenge to make known the Bangsamoro narrative. With the change in narrative, there is a greater chance that government policies can change.



(Cyber question) why do you keep your FS (friendster) account private? Are you okay adding people that you don’t know in your account?


Mataud reasons. It varies from time to time and mainly because an FS account was meant to be para ha mga kabagayan hadja. There was a point na kalagihan ku siya hi private ubus yadtu way kuna hadja siya na change. In biya mga time yadtu I don’t mind it being public, I don’t mind adding anyone because way da isab secret didtu. Although common da bihaun kaun in mga pattah, maghinang account dugaing, atawa fake account.


Do you have a personal Blog on the net?


Yes, it is attached to my FS account.  When I was studying in the states I was able to maintain a personal Blog. It was meant to document amun ma panumtuman ha mga waktu na nag happen para dih ku kalupahan.



With all your accomplishments, do you still have other unfulfilled dreams?


Definitely, but sometimes I still feel that I am a failure. When I was studying in Harvard and I had my 30th or 31st birthday, I felt sad. Mga friends ku from law school iban mga bagay ku they were doing better things and I was still studying. I felt like I have not accomplished anything yet. Although, I know that I have to take life in an easy manner, I know that there is always a big thing after a particular stage. About your question, I still have many dreams to fulfill.




Where do you see yourself ten years from now?


I think I will still be in the government. I have been thinking of going to the judiciary. But I like studying. If I have enough money or get a scholarship perhaps, I think I will do my PHD.




What advice can you give to the Tausug youth who aspire to be successful like you?


Muna muna have a dream. Subay awun ambition mu, amu in kabayaan mu.

And when you dream, dream big. Subay dakulah. Okay da isab in mag-dream sibih-sibih sah awun waktu dih kita mabut, sibih-sibih na in dream mu ampana simibih. Biyah sin kaibanan mag college hadja in kabayaan sakali high school da in maabut.  In marayaw mag dream kita big biyah sin kakuh mabaya aku magiskul pa Harvard, pasal pangarap ku. Daing sin batah-batah pa aku asal aku masub magbassa newspaper mataud magkabassa ku pasal sin Harvard, damikyan amu in mabayah tuud aku mag abugaw. Biyah empowered ba. biyah maka determine kaw sin kahalan bang makaiskul biyahadtu. So para kakuh have a vision of yourself and always dream big and bang awun na dream mu then you work hard to accomplish that dream.                          





During our interview with Atty. Edilwasif Baddiri