make peace, not war
in trying to grasp what’s been happening in zamboanga since monday, most overwhelming is the sense that we’re not getting enough information, we ‘re not getting hard facts, about this war raging anew between the AFP and the MNLF, and we are expected to simply trust that the president knows what he’s doing, and that what he’s doing will redound to the good of nation.
but how can war be good? how can killings be good? how can the suffering, the terror, of civilians caught in the crossfire, the evacuations, the burning of their homes, be good? surely there were, are, ways of resolving the conflict other than by bloodshed.
the MNLF says it was government forces that fired the first shot. if true, then what defense secretary gazmin means when he says that the MNLF started it must be in terms of the MNLF forces being armed, and suspected of sinister motives connected with leader nur misuari’s august declaration of bangsamoro independence, when they started gathering in those seaside barangays for a protest march the next day monday.
understandably, it must all have been perceived as an imminent MNLF attempt to take over those areas, which would establish it as still a force to be reckoned with, no matter how small, rather than as a spent force. something that the aquino admin couldn’t allow, it is said, as it would be disruptive of the said-to-be nearly-concluded bangsamoro deal with the larger MILF.
and so it would seem that because the rebels were armed, government was justified in engaging them in a firefight, never mind that they were embedded among unarmed civilians, maybe some of them old friends and neighbors back in the old days in sulu, unfortunately all perceived as unwilling hostages by government?
i wonder how it started. was there an attempt at communications first? like, maybe, what’s this all about, let’s talk, walang armas armas, but the rebels refused to talk or lay down their arms? or did the AFP just start shooting because that was the order from on high?
five days later when the president flew to zamboanga himself, i thought we’d finally see a ceasefire. alas, tila lalong nagkabanatan. this, the day after benhur luy testified in the senate, made it easier to believe speculation that the zamboanga war was meant to distract from the pork barrel scam rocking imperial manila. but another 3 days later, it seemed like the reverse was true: that the cases filed vs enrile revilla estrada et al in manila were meant to distract from the zamboanga war na naglevel-up na, air strikes na, grabe.
puwede namang nagkataon lang ang pagkakasabaysabay. synchronicity. meaning, magkasimbigat ang muslim mindanao problem at ang pork barrel problem. the roots of the mindanao problem are poverty-related, the fruits of the pork barrel problem are poverty-related. ang lahat ay kabitkabit. as i’ve said in a previous blog:
the bangsamoro people deserve autonomy, but only as much autonomy as every other local government unit deserves and isn’t getting either in luzon, the visayas, and other parts of mindanao. poverty, along with landlessness and joblessness, is a nationwide affliction, and it is the fault not of the moros and other rural and urban poor who make up, what, maybe 70 %, maybe 80? of the population, rather it is the fault of imperial manila, of a central government that is loathe to share its considerable powers and resources with local governments, despite theLocal Government Code of 1991 that mandates decentralization, devolution, and autonomy, complete with implementing rules and regulations.
re the current military operation vs the MNLF, this from tony la vina makes a lot of sense.
I was always uncomfortable with the dichotomy between the peace processes we have pursued in Mindanao. I have come to the conclusion that the bilateral approach to negotiations must be replaced by a quad or quintet approach so that everyone is brought to the same table, including the MNLF and other groups with legitimate interests (Lumads or indigenous peoples of Mindanao for example as well as local governments of affected areas).
for now, we beg that a ceasefire be declared and implemented, now na. please, mr. president, make peace, not war.
p.s. to those in social media who are so quick to condemn nur misuari and the MNLF without any sense of the history of the bangsamoro struggle and government response over the decades, i beg you, magbasa muna, find the time, please, or forever keep your silence.
p.p.s. to nur misuari. time to write a no-holds-barred memoir, but nothing hagiographic please.