The Price of Political Stupidity
By Erick San Juan
More than just getting into some deals that would make the citizens of Timor Liste more proficient in the command of the English language, the visit to Manila by Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta would provide him a glimpse of what the late Jesuit Fr. Jose Blanco (SJ) and his Jesuit cohorts did (in reverse) to Dili. Unlike in East Timor , where majority of the people were Indonesians, yet they were subdued by the Catholic minority, who were descendants of Portuguese conquistadores.
In the Philippines ’ – areas of conflict – the once dominant Islamic population has since then become a minority, due to the unceasing migration of hard-working settlers from the north.
And yet, just like what they had in Timor Liste, here is another model of a minority, in the guise of having an ancestral domain birth-right, which they have actually lost by reason of sale or commerce, are trying to lord it over.
There is little doubt that the balkanized south has virtually become a virtual powder keg. It is ready for the big bang. In fact, it has made minor explosions here and there – in Aleosan, Midsayap, Libungan and Pikit. In the next few days see that the shooting war will spread to neighboring towns of Buldon, Alamada, Pagalungan, Carmen, Kiaga and before it begins crossing into the towns of Damulog, Kadingilan both in Bukidnon and the Irananon territory of Wao and Bumbaran in Lanao del Sur. In no time at all, trouble will be all over the place. And the only way to stall murder and attacks between and among brothers would require the deployment in strategic positions, of massive amount of warm bodies that are all in combat mode. Otherwise, the dye is cast.
In fact, as government training aircrafts rain rebel positions with rocket fire and a frequent staccato of automatic gunfire, the count for casualties is on. Rounds of 105 millimeter howitzer fire, which cost a couple of hundred thousand pesos per round, have started raining on the separatists’ positions. On the other hand, the best that the separatists could do to respond is to mount sniper fire that keeps government troops burrowed in trenches. Meanwhile, innocent men women and children go scampering for safety at every possible evacuation centers, which could soon be plagued with hunger and diseases.
It would be easy to spot the indications that the civil strife is getting to be bothersome, because the peoples’ anxiety and curses are bound to trigger mass evacuations, while the men in every community would strive to arm themselves even just with machetes if not homemade guns and start establishing defensive positions - foxholes.
Unlike in the past, the bloody scenario that is likely to escalate into civil war proportions that would affect the whole island of Mindanao and at times, some other areas in Luzon would no longer require allegations of any irregularities in today’s elections for the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao. The series of carnage, as programmed and perpetuated by war freak Moros, will inevitably erupt anytime in the predominantly Christian areas of the southern islands, in a bid to force the establishment of an ancestral domain and a regional armed force for the Moro homeland, even in areas where the Islamic population is a settled minority.
In fact, there have been reports of massive troop build-up and movements being carried out by a well-armed, but ill trained units of the Mindanao Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in most of the old - the original - provinces of Lanao and Cotabato and in isolated areas of the Zamboanga peninsula, Basilan, Bukidnon, Davao and southern Palawan .
The Christian migrants in the areas affected would never take it lying down, any form of transgressions upon their rights, by whoever, anytime. Maybe short of military hard wares, but Mindanao ’s Christian population are never wanting in guts, tactics and the will to fight under the most trying situation.
From here on, finding the proverbial road to paradise – by anyone’s standards – would now be like looking of a needle in a heap of hay stalks. Poor Pinoys, we had our chance but we blew it! We could have ended all talks with the Moros after the government through then President Fidel Ramos entered into and secured a peace pact with Nur Misuari’s Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). We strayed into entertaining a small inconsequential break-away group of adventurous attention-seekers. This is what we get.
Lastly, beware of a faked spill over in the metropolis and possible pocket attacks by the NPA’s encircling mega Manila believing to get the center soon while the AFP and the PNP are fighting so many fronts. SCARY INDEED!