Sunday, August 31, 2008



By Erick San Juan

How come we never tire in doing a bum steer? The perceived reason why millions of Filipinos no longer trust President Gloria Macapagal – Arroyo is because of the series of these bum steers she had made earlier – a stigma.

For the sake of peace and understanding between and among compatriots, it is about time that our leaders wake up to the reality that we are in an era when truth must be allowed to reign.

The problem is: here are new instances when some military and civil officials, in a bid to show us that they are hard-working and efficient (but in reality, are just trying to ingratiate themselves to the powers that be) - more often than not - end up with their feet in their mouths.

Almost just as soon as the military, using heavy artillery and aerial fire-power, “engaged” the rag-tag (but better equipped, better funded and better psyched) band of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) under Amir Ombra Kato in North Cotabato, government troops announced that they have virtually “cornered” the renegades. No more escape routes.

Ditto in Lanao del Norte, where the marauding band of Commander Bravo pillaged not just the crossroad town of Kolambugan, but also the municipalities of Maigo, Bacolod, Kauswagan and Tapayan, including the historical barrio of Tacub, Kauswagan town, a village where, in November 1971, about 50 Moslem voters hitching a ride in three logging trucks to their polling place, were massacred. This place is adjacent to Barangay Timoga, Iligan City, where the erstwhile presidential teenaged daughter Gloria Macaraeg-Macapagal was raised by her maternal grandmother, when the late President (then a congressman of Pampanga) was still keeping away from the preying eyes of the public.

In both instances, the military expended several million pesos worth of munitions by firing hundreds of rounds from its 105mm howitzers, 60mm and 80mm mortars and rockets from OV-10 bombers and attack helicopters.

As the battle raged, there were declarations from the military ground commanders that they have sealed off all of Bravo’s and Kato’s possible escape routes. By all and every means, they meant that there was no way that these heartless and mindless marauders can evade the dragnet laid out for them.

But, how come they are still on the loose? What happened? How come we got word that Kato has been sighted in an island near Labuan, while Bravo had landed in Sandakan, North Borneo? Accordingly, they arrived with their respective bodyguards two days apart. Our latest information is that these bandits have disappeared and took sanctuary in some islands that were once a territory of the Sultanate of Sulu.

But, unlike in those communities, the marauders who siege Maitum, Sarangani, simply exited by marching towards the nearby forest after they robbed and killed some denizens and ransacked stores of food and pharmacies of drugs and cure. They allegedly headed towards the direction of adjacent Sultan Kudarat, South and North Cotabatos and got lost under the thick canopies.

Although it is highly laudable for the government to have adopted a position of not talking to the MILF unless Bravo and Kato are surrendered, we can not help raising our eyebrows over that action, considering the claims that Gloria’s minions actually designed the peace-talks in such a way that it will end up in this grand double-cross.

We are equally intrigued by the ascent of Hadji Murad as Chair of the MILF, following the demise of Salamat Hashim. We are wondering who made it possible for Murad to assume the MILF’s baton. Surely, some unseen hands are also manipulating the day-to-day affairs of this shadowy break-away band that earlier disserted the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). We can only recall the fact that while Salamat was dying, the names he had been mentioning as his would-be successors are Alim Abdul Mimbantas, then the MILF’s Interior vice chair and Alim Omar Pasigan.

From out of the blue came in Murad, who is better known to be chummy-chummy with the late Fr. Jose Blanco, SJ, then the father provincial of the Society of Jesus in the Philippines and later with Soc-dems, Fr. Romeo “Archie” Intengan and National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales. In the first place, the Philippine government should have never dealt with this shadowy group of bandits.

Is it true that the battle for the control of Sabah has already been achieved by the Malaysian government in time for their national day? The Philippine administration allegedly authorized the establishment of a Philippine Consular Office in Sabah in disguise as facilitating the regularization of undocumented Filipino workers and migrants.

(Translation-it is a legitimate signal of surrendering our claim to the oil rich Sabah).

Oh,What a nightmare!

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