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Monday, February 9, 2015

A tragedy waiting to happen


COMMENTARY


‘Theirs is not to reason why— theirs is but to do and die!”
This seems to have been the motto of the Special Action Forces that perished in Maguindanao as they walked into no man’s land inhabited by all sorts of heavily armed warriors – famous for their acronyms – BIFF, MILF, Abu Sayyaf, with their competing claims for supremacy in Muslim Mindanao by force of arms. Committed to ideologies that clash with those of their non-Muslim neighbors, among themselves they cannot even to adopt a single shibboleth. Jihadists, separatists armed gangs live together in tenuous peace interrupted by fratricidal war.
A former Christian high official once commented cynically that one way to promote peace in Mindanao was to arm to the teeth all the different tribes—the Tausugs, Maguindanaos, Maranaos and Yakans which would inevitably lead to bloody confrontations (ridos etc) and for the republic to pick up the pieces.
In sum the poor SAFs walked into a veritable minefield, a lion’s den, lulled into a false sense of complacency by repeated assurances from our rather naive peace panel that the MILF, the biggest armed force in the area and now allegedly friendly to the republic under the ceasefire protocol of the peace process would insure safe passage for our soldiery in these treacherous lands.
This was a tragedy waiting to happen! What can you expect when a government allows antagonistic forces like the above to roam the countryside with heavy weapons? Did the government believe that these elements had suddenly turned a new leaf and use their high –powered weapons only use these to hunt wild boars? For decades administrations have tolerated this practice in Muslim lands even as they have been quick to lock-up the likes of Robin Padilla for keeping a couple of sidearms in the boot of his SUV without a license to carry.
Not only that, past administrations and notably this one, have given these armed groups like the MILF the license by implication for all kinds of weapons provided that at a point in time, without specifying exactly when, a decommissioning process would allow them to turn these over to duly constituted authorities.
Incidentally, by giving the MILF the status of a belligerent state, which in international law is a right given to combatants that hold territory, this incredibly ignorant government has in fact recognized the area controlled if not influenced by the MILF as theirs and turned it over to them for safekeeping—hence the absurd requirement under the peace processes for the GRP to first coordinate ( I say this means “ask permission” ) before entering “its” territory. This emboldened the groups in Maguidanao to claim the land and treat it as if they had title to it and must therefore secure and protect it from “intruders” which in the case of the recent tragedy happened to be the SAF.
Parenthetically if I cannot just shoot anyone who enters my garden, how can the Muslim perpetrators justify mowing down law enforcement officers who were just doing their duty in hot pursuit of an international terrorist. “We thought that they were out to attack us,” was the lame excuse of a Muslim “peace panelist.” Does he mean to say that if some law enforcement officers are anywhere near his property for whatever reasons that he has the right to mow them down with 50 caliber machine guns?
Finally what business had the MILF in giving shelter to high profile terrorists responsible among other things for the Bali bombing and other atrocities? How can they just casually admit that terrorist groups like the Abu Sayyaf and the BIFF – two notorious terrorist elements roam around their area of responsibility with impunity?
The bigger question then is if the MILF is in charge of the Bangsamoro sub-state will they be able to handle the peace and order situation in the area?

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