Thursday, March 5, 2015

P-Noy’s bloody folly

By Perry Diaz
SAF-justice-for-SAF-44In the four and a half years that President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III had been in power, nothing had come closer to torpedoing his administration than the Mamasapano Massacre, which killed 44 members of the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP). One month after the heinous slaughter of the elite commandos, calls for P-Noy’s resignation continue to grow.
At the center of the controversy is the question: Who is responsible for the deaths of the “Fallen 44,” as the slain police officers have come to be known? And this was where finger-pointing had obfuscated the truth where lies were allegedly manufactured to absolve those who were responsible for one of the worst – if not the worst – massacres in the nation’s history.
And just looking at all the finger-pointing makes you cry… or laugh. It was a tragic comedy or comedic tragedy, depending on how you view this sad episode. Indeed, it had happened so often in the past that to assuage our pain and frustration, we brush it off as if it was just another incident — just like the Maguindanao Massacre, if you still remember it — that would be forgotten in time.
Does that mean that Filipinos have a short memory? On the contrary, we’re a people that don’t forget anything, particularly those that hurt our feelings. We call this “sama ng loob,” which we take to the grave. Sometimes I wonder if we’re too forgiving to a fault.
Bahala na
SAF-body-bagWhy then do wechoose to forget it? The answer is as simple — and common — as yawning when one is having a siesta:“Bahala na.”Yep, “bahala na”is what we say when we’re unable or refuse to solve a problem – we just forget about it and say“bahala na” — come what may.
And when we say “bahala na,” it’s tantamount to absolving – or forgiving — the guilty, whoever they may be, which begs the question: Would the bereaved families of the “Fallen 44” forgive those who were responsible for the deaths of their loved ones? They are probably aware of the futility of punishing the guilty in our judicial system. So, why go after the guilty then when nothing would come out of it? It is easier to say, “Bahala na. Ang dios na ang magpaparusa sa kanila” (Come what may. God will punish them), and get on with our lives hoping that it wouldn’t happen again.
People power
Anti-pork-barrel-rally-Cebu-credit-Tonee-DespojoWhile many believe that “P-Noy” was responsible for the murderous rampage in Mamasapano in the wee hours of January 25, 2015, it surprised no one that the people did not react like the way they did in 1986 when their collective angst against the Marcos dictatorship ignited the EDSA “people power” revolution. Nor did they vent their anger the way they did in 2001 when a sham people power revolution — EDSA II – engineered by then Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ousted then-President Joseph “Erap” Estrada from power.
It was a bitter lesson learned and since then the people have become wary of starting another people power revolution. And this explains why P-Noy has managed to survive attempts to oust him by similar methods.
The scandals involving the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) – or pork barrel — and Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which the Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional, merely generated token demonstrations against P-Noy. It’s a sign that the people are numb – too numb — of the chronic corruption in government. They simply don’t care anymore…“bahala na.”
Stand down
MILF rebels
MILF rebels
But the Mamasapano Massacre was not your run-of-the-mill encounter in the rebel-infested Mindanao. The heinous slaughter spilled the blood of 44 police commandos who were left to fend for themselves when their calls for reinforcement were ignored by the military unit that was based only a kilometer away. The military command claimed that they were ordered to stand down. As it turned out, it was P-Noy no less who ordered them to stand down.
The question is: Why did P-Noy order the military to stand down and leave the SAF commandos at the mercy of the Muslim rebels? One reason that has gained traction was that P-Noy didn’t want to jeopardize the establishment of the autonomous Bangsamoro political entity, which the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation From (MILF) had agreed to when they signed the historic Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro in March 2014.
On September 10, 2014, P-Noy submitted to Congress the draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which would provide for the basic structure of the Bangsamoro autonomous government. It would supersede the existing Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Price of peace
Mamasapano-Maguindanao-mapAs a result of P-Noy’s bloody folly, the approval of BBL by the Philippine Congress is threatened. The day after the massacre, the Philippine Constitutional Association (Philconsa) released a 75-page position paper claiming that BBL bill was flawed and cluttered with unconstitutional experimental features to replace the failed ARMM.
At the end of the day, P-Noy has to come to terms with the complexities of peace-making in Mindanao. He cannot achieve peace in the region unless he makes peace with all the players in the conflict. He has to bring the two other groups — Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) – to the table with the MILF to discuss peace — and prosperity — for the Filipino Muslims in Mindanao. That is the price of peace.
If he could do that, then he is worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize, a dream that had eluded him since ascending into the presidency. Otherwise, he might as well just say, “bahala na.”

No comments: