Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Forget peace, wage just war: Philippines vs MILF

This is from the Tribune.
This editorial no doubt captures the feeling of many opposed to negotiations with the MILF. It really seems from what I have read that there is widespread opposition to the agreement and this opposition is strengthened by actions of some factions within the MILF who have created havoc when they have taken over some local areas of late.
The Tribune's tone is always rather shrill and especially strident in its criticism of the Arroyo government.

Forget peace, wage just war
EDITORIAL
08/21/2008
Muslim secessionist rebels have lost the war, amid too many unjust battles they fought over their control of the so-called ancestral domain.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leaders and fighters have proved all too clearly, their intention of establishing an independent Islamic state within the Philippine territory, by armed force, if they can’t get this from government, through peaceful means. But once done, they will invade the whole of Mindanao and Palawan and control both regions under their independent Islamic state.
It is most stupid for the MILF to claim that the initialed Memorandum of Agreement is a “done deal” as even this rebel group knows that nothing in that MoA can be implemented without congressional action that will moreover have to be ratified by the Filipino people — including the Muslims — who now see these Moro rebels as terrorists out to kill, burn and loot to force government into getting what they demand.
They lost the battle for the hearts and minds of the Filipino people, Christians and Muslims alike, in their bid for their claimed ancestral domain, and lost whatever little trust and goodwill they had before their terrorist attacks.
Even those bleeding hearts that cry for negotiated peace cannot be expected to support the so-called Bangsamoro state proposal — not after the monstrous attacks staged by the MILF commanders and their fighters on civilians, some of whom were even hacked to death.
Who, in his right mind, would accept the excuse of the MILF that its fighters attacked these villages and innocent civilians, both Christians and Muslims because they were angry over the collapse of the MoA on ancestral domain or that the commanders did it on their own?
The MILF leadership just proved it can’t control its commanders. Worse, it proved too that if the MILF leaders don’t get what they want, they will loot, burn homes, kill unarmed civilians to get what they want. Who is to trust the MILF today?
It will be extremely difficult for the Arroyo government to even resume peace talks with these Islamic terrorists, as MalacaƱang will definitely lose military and Gloria Arroyo’s Mindanao-Palawan local executives’ support, along with the general public’s support, something she cannot afford to lose completely in one blow, as it would be the end of her, and her regime.
Why negotiate with an armed rebel group that admits it has no control over its commanders and fighters? Why negotiate with this secessionist group that claims it represents the Muslim population, when clearly it is an empty claim? The MILF certainly does not represent the Moro National Liberation Front, nor the many Muslim Filipinos in the country.
Even if Gloria will not admit it, it was a huge mistake on her part to coddle the MILF and to engage in a general peace agreement in 2001, shortly after she grabbed power from then sitting President Joseph Estrada, granting the Muslim rebels the opening for their claim of ancestral domain, along with Gloria’s nod for the MILF to exercise control over territories, calling these the MILF-controlled areas, complete with the MILF armed force that will police these areas.
Estrada and his military, launching an all-out offensive against the MILF in 2000, succeeded in recapturing the government camps that the MILF controlled and used to train and recruit fighters. The MILF as a force was degraded and on the run, with its leader Hashim Salamat, already hiding out in a Muslim state.
But Gloria allowed the MILF back and in the past seven years, coddled the armed group so much that she gave them even more than what its leaders had bargained for — and all because she, her coup plotters and the MILF leaders were allies in toppling the Estrada government, and no doubt, having succeeded, she rewarded the MILF with that pledge of “freedom” and an ancestral domain given in an accord signed and sealed in Tripoli, Libya in 2001.
Today’s state of affairs between the Gloria government and the MILF has deteriorated and there is no choice but to wage an all-out war against the MILF.
It is clear that Estrada made the right move against the MILF in 2001 and Gloria the wrong move in 2001 in coddling these Islamic terrorists.

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