What has happened to our country these days? Filipinos killing Filipinos! The recent killings of 19 soldiers in the southern part of the Philippines in the province of Basilan proved that the long war between the state and the rebels are still unresolved. It tells us that while there is politics being played by our leaders, our poor soldiers are shedding blood and are dying fighting and shielding themselves while awaiting for the result of the years long of peace talks. Peace talks that seem to be endless and are changing constantly as the terms of office of the Presidents end. Different politicians believe and undertake different processes. As a result we are going nowhere, the conflict continues.
Undeniably, this is a very sensitive and pressing issue because one mistake can lead to the deaths of many. Our poor brethren in Mindanao seem to pay for the price of this war. Bombings everywhere, bloody clashes, lawlessness and violence happen almost so often. I am afraid we are beginning to lose what we tried to carefully avoid in the past, a failed peace process.
While Pnoy cries for all out justice because he believes it is sober and fair and within the bounds of law and leads to lasting peace, and all out war is indiscriminate and borne out of anger, he must also understand, that the state must at all times be superior above all its subjects within its territory and it does not exempt the MILF. While there is an on going peace process, which is extremely important and healthy, the government should not lost control over its territory. It must exercise control at all times and the way things are turning out right now, that control is threatened. I am not sure anymore if this is what we desire for a strong government.
The best and most healthy thing and is very urgent at this point in time, if the MILF is really sincere about the peace process, is it should help the government give justice to its victims by turning in, their perpetrator comrades to the government for prosecution. Justice should be served. It is the prime duty of the state to impose peace and order among communities and while there are others who continuously defy the rule of law, should be brought before the law. It is not a matter of whether you call it a war or not. It’s just a term used, but it is matter of bringing in justice to every citizen. Even the monetary cost like what Secretary Ging Deles, head of the office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process attempted to justify over media to be very costly, to me was a desperate move to deceive the general opinion and persuade the Filipino people to chose the silent path and not act at all. I still believe that we can only attain justice if there is general peace.
Whenever there is a diminished control over some parts of our territory, there is the danger of becoming a failed state and this administration should clear its mind and focus on how to attain its goal of peace without wasting more lives of its people.
I feel for the soldiers who died because while I understand the danger that being the protector of peace and order, they are pretty aware that there chosen career constantly plays hide and seek with “Kamatayan”, in the name of the country they are serving and have sworn to protect. Recently, 19 of them and even more, did the ultimate sacrifice by dying so that we can live peacefully. I hope there deaths will never go to waste.
I must admit I was impressed to hear that our President Pnoy on a one on one talk met with MILF Chair Al Haj Murad in Tokyo on August 5, 2011, to find peaceful solution to the armed conflict in Mindanao. What I and most Filipinos did not know, is that meeting had cost our government which is from our money 5 Million pesos for their so called Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute, a term no one ever heard before. But even so, I don’t think this is right. We have no business extending financial aid to a rebel group at whatever cost. It was never announced to the media until it came out in one of the news papers and not long later, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda confirmed that the President has authorized the release of that 5 Million pesos.
Only 2 months later, the MILF in a bloody clash killed, hacked and mutilated 19 soldiers who did not even realize they were going to die that night since they were supposed to go on a scuba diving training but was given a short notice about a new mission. Is not it sad? Is not it frustrating and disappointing? I wonder how the government and its negotiators feel about it?
These issues are urgent, sensitive and very important. It calls for serious attention and careful planning. We don’t have much luxury of time because lives are cut off everyday. Action is needed now. We need a straight forward-justice driven government.