Tuesday, August 19, 2008

If it has to be war...

...let's go about it the right way.
  1. Those responsible for getting us into this predicament cannot be the same ones to lead us out of it. At the very least, no one deserves to die just to further their agenda. In the UK, for example, Neville Chamberlain had to be replaced by Winston Churchill.
  2. Related to this, we need to strengthen the Philippine Military by purging it of officers who acted as hired bodyguards of the present leadership and reinstate those who embody its true ideals and know how to fight.
  3. Instead of relying on private armies, vigilante groups, all those fighting on the government side should be regularized. This is to prevent the problem of having to deal with private warlord armies in the aftermath.
  4. Any conflict would not be isolated to Mindanao, so prepare for a general mobilization. Consider conscription.
  5. My fellow bloggers seem to be confident that the MILF does not represent the Muslim people and are no more than bandits. I'm not so sure but even granting that premise, the conduct of the war should be such that we take care not to make this a generalized Christian vs. Muslim conflict. It will be difficult to do this once bombs start going off in Manila, but the Government, Media and Civil Society groups (Secular, Christian and Muslim) should prepare for this. If necessary, laws against Hate Speech must be promulgated.
I'll add to the list if i think of anything else. Feel free to contribute in the comments section.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

what have written sounds like obfuscation to me ---- can't stop them, but maybe slow them down long enough to give the MILF better time to organize better and to consolidate its positions.

What you advocate is equivalent to allowing the MILF to burn villages and do kidnap-for-ransom and in the meanwhile but stopping the govt-philippine military and police from responding while a plebiscite is conducted on how to conduct anti-MILF police action.

Thank goodness the constitution only gives you one vote.

By the way, are you born-in-Surigao now blogging from Kuala Lumpur?

cvj said...

Hi Anonymous, in what i wrote above, did i say anything about letting the MILF burn villages? And where above did i even talk about having a plebiscite? Are you even responding to what i said or what you think i said? Please read my post again.

stuart-santiago said...

hi cvj, rather than post a comment sa fv on your exchange with a blogger about the poor, i decided to hop over here instead. and tell you that i am amazed at your patience and just glad that you are out there sparring with and taking on the likes of b. more power to you!

cvj said...

Thanks Angela, much appreciated:-)

manuelbuencamino said...

cvj,

Yes. Let's not get caught up in another Muslim-Christian war. We have to treat this problem like we do any other rebellion.

Your other points are on the mark too.

cvj said...

Thanks MB. For the long term, i think the key to extinguishing the rebellion while keeping a unified state framework is for the Central government to implement genuine land reform to all rural families in the affected area with matching support services. After all, the real fight has always been with the Oligarchs (whether Christian or Muslim) who are responsible for keeping our Society unequal.

This, plus declaring the entire Mindanao a free port (i.e. free trade zone) and let the Customs inspect only for weapons and illegal drugs.

J said...

Great points, cvj.

I agree most especially that this shouldn't be between Muslims and Christians.

It should be about Filipinos and rebels, peace-loving people and bandits.

And yes, there must be genuine efforts to develop Mindanao. Without a doubt, Manila had failed in a lot of aspects. But I have to say that there's an effort to integrate our fellow Muslims to the society, too. And that must be sustained.

However, I maintain that to develop Mindanao and to address the Filipino Muslims'genuine grievances, the MILF has to be disarmed.

War is not inherently bad. If done for the right reasons and in the right way.

cvj said...

Hi J, thanks. What i'm concerned with is the rhetoric that calls for annihilation. Yes, we can go about killing off the members of the MILF but is this equivalent to annihilating the rebellion itself, or could the process of annihilation allow it come back in another, more virulent form?

J said...

cvj,

Well not if there's efforts to reinforce Muslim integration. Quite frankly I believe the efforts of the GRP to this end is under-rated because of the media zooming in on the MILF as if they do represent our Muslim Filipino brothers.

UP n student said...

One of the most pressing actions right now is regarding Commanders Bravo and Kato. Their actions -- village-burning, civilians murdered --- were not approved by the MILF central command and immediately after the village-burning, The MILF leadership reiterated their order --- the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) commanders and forces, particularly Commander Umbra Kato and Commander Bravo, to restraint from further engaging the government forces, in words and actions, which would adversely affect the peace process between the MILF and the government.

Kato and Bravo need to be separated from their commands. Whether they go directly to a Govt-of-Pinas jail, an MILF-central-headquarters jail, to a European hospital for a medical check-up or even to a fact-finding mission in Ethiopia —- it will help Kabalu and MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim if Kato and Bravo are separated from their commands.

cvj said...

J, perhaps. What are these efforts by GRP at integration and to what extent is the larger public involved?

UPn, i agree 100%.

J said...

cvj, we have encouraged, for instance, integrating Muslim culture bby encouraging food manufacturers to process Halal foods. e have made Eidil Ftr a holiday even though only a small percentage of the population are Muslims. We have established a government agency tasked to address Muslim greivances. The largest political party have integrated Muslims (Lakas NUCD-UMDP). We've had many government officials who are Muslims. The president of PLM is one.

But these gestures are trivialized because of the presence of the MILF.

J said...

Up n student, but how come Murad said they would defend Kato et al from government arrest?

I don't buy the MILF's line that they don't approve of Kato's actions. and even if they didn't approve of it, it shows the MILF doesn't have the capability to castigate its own and therefore bring peace once MOA is signed.

cvj said...

J, thanks for the explanation. You're right, but i think the key is still to address the problem of inequality as i mentioned to MB above (at August 21, 2008 12:01:00 AM). Back in 2005, i also mentioned the need to address inequality among provinces, particularly the case of Maguindanao which has the same ranking as Somalia in terms of the 2005 Human Development Index (about 50 countries below Manila in terms of ranking).

Anonymous said...

It Doesn’t Have To Be War

It is understandable that there will be charged emotions at this time especially with people who lost family, friends, and property in Mindanao. Let us allow them to air out their anguish and alleviate their sorrow. I believe it would be unthinkable for anyone of us to tell anyone of them to calm down, don’t overreact, this is just an isolated case of banditry and the police are after them already. He’ll be lucky not to get smacked on the noggin.

Of course talk about “all-out-war” and “total annihilation” will be there but then we also say “all-out-war on drugs” or “war against kalat, etc.” right? Conflict or even combative (some noncombatives also) always rear two heads, one superhuman, another savage. The former says “I am more than human, unstoppable, indomitable!” and the latter says “I am less than human, I will eat your brains!”
Of course, the main objective is to sow fear and condition the combatants…just look at football fans…Its just how it is…

Really, we are not seeing an all-out-war here in the genocidal sense of the way but a lot of fireworks thats working like a smokescreen to hide whats really going on, perhaps more wheeling and dealing? you and I will never know, but if the outcome involves a surgical strike to take Kato and Bravo in custody or death in an encounter, it’ll allow the MILF leadership to save face and the government to dismiss the whole thing as a police action, which is not so bad right?

Now the heavy stuff. Do we have anyone in the government right now who can address the real root causes of this age old conflict without the baggage of patronage and closet skeletons? Personally I would prefer we disarm the MILF, MNLF, NPA, and whatever groups out there that are not supposed to be armed, but are we sure they don’t need to protect themselves from lawless elements from within our government itself? I say, lets hear them out, what made them bear arms in the first place? If we resolve these issues, we may succeed in a genuine disarmament - we took away their reason to fight and open the floodgates of integration. I mean, why would a Moro refuse to be called a Filipino?

We may need to come up with leaders who can pull this through. Now the challenge of finding ones that people will trust, enemies and foes alike, is another story. One that you and I will have to hope for as we pray in our homes and wait out the war/police action/conflict/misunderstanding and see how this particular story will end.

cvj said...

Hi Anonymous, thanks for that. I saw your comment over at Manolo's a while back and i agree that it does not have to be war.

J said...

I never disagreed on you on that point, cvj. But to do all those reforms needed, there must be no MILF.

I hate it when people call those like me who call for war against MILF nuts. We all want peace, of course. But sometimes peace is earned through the hard way.

J said...

anonymous, I get where you're coming from. But we've reached out to these people for quite some time now. It is clear that the reason for the MILF to take up arms is their desire to be independent (for me, really, Im in favor of seccession if it is what the people there really want). They won't settle for anything less.

cvj said...

J, i think we have to do things in parallel. The MILF represent the idea of an Islamic State separate from the Philippines so even if you kill off the present generation of MILF fighters, i don't think we can do the same to the idea that they represent in which case, such struggle will continue in some form. So i don't think we can wait for the resolution of the conflict before instituting reforms. In fact, i think the reforms can help resolve (or at least minimize) the conflict.

I'm curious though, you mentioned (to Anonymous) that you're in favor of secession if that's what they really want, but at the same time you're against the MILF. How do reconcile those two views?

UP n student said...

to j: MILF Chairman Murad has not sent any reinforcements to Kato nor to Bravo. None of the other MILF commands have attacked any govt-Pinas military units.

Anonymous said...

j,
We haven't been talking to them, just gave their leaders money, and connived with them.
I for one am afraid of secession mostly because of family and friends still living in Mindanao. If we're complaining now in Manila about Gloria et al, wait till you see the MILF handle dissent.
Its a pretty scary prospect really...

J said...

cvj, I don't think there is this ideology in the first place. Especially when I saw how A LOT of Filipino Muslims turned out and voted in the recent ARMM elections. I think that majority of the Morors (I confirm this whenever I talk to a couple of Moro friends at school) believe they are Filipino. I think your fear that the MILF ideology will live on is at best a remote possibility. Especially if we encourage more education on Filipinism there. On the other hand, the presence of the MILF, and the US Institue of Peace, are the ones fueling seccesionist ideology.

I favor seccessionism if it is really the genuine desire of the Moro people. But it is not. It is merely the MILF's desires. And I know that the MILF does not represent the true aspirations of the people there.

And since, anonymous and UP n student, the MILF will not settle for anything less than independence, I think it's really useless to talk with them.

Besides, whats th point of talking with the MILF is we have already reached peace with MNLF? Does this mean that if we reach a deal with the MILF and another rebel group props out, we're going to talk to them again just so we could avoid confrontation? This is not what a strong republic ought to do.

The ARMM experiment never took off simply because of the MILF threat, which kept investors away. I say let us give ARMM a chance. And to do so, we would have to flex some muscles on the MILF.

cvj said...

J, thanks for providing info on the sentiments of your Muslim friends as that is an encouraging sign. My question is, if majority of the Filipino Muslims themselves are against the MILF, why is it that there is not much visible opposition to the MILF among the Muslims, at least from my vantage point? In Iraq, you have had the Anbar awakening to oppose Al Qaeda in Iraq. Why does the opposition to the BJE still look divided along religious-ethnic lines (e.g.the Ilagas, Pinol, Lobregat etc.)? While this may not of itself indicate support for the MILF's Islamic State and related ideology, perhaps Muslim Civil Society have some aspirations in common with the former? (These are not rhetorical questions btw, i really want to find out the answer.)

While i agree with you that the state of rebellion (or banditry if you will) discourages investments, i don't think we can blame the MILF as the primary reason for the lack of investments in ARMM. I would attribute the general lack of investments in the Philippines to lack of domestic demand which in turn is brought about by inequality.

If you had a Philippine President who bypassed the local Oligarchs (Muslim or otherwise) and addressed the welfare and livelihood concerns of Muslim masses, i think we'd be able to cut the Gordian knot of periodic unrest among the Moros.

Anonymous said...

The peace and order situation in Mindanao is significantly affecting investments in Mindanao. Saranggani has superb beaches some say might even be better than Boracay, the area is rich with history and tradition also, all the elements of a tourist attraction are there. The combination of wide open lowlands and highlands and the absence of typhoons make the area ideal for plantations. It wasn't a long time ago that the country supplied 80% of the world's carageenan, now its been hijacked by neighboring countries. The fresh fruits industry saw a big rise lately in international demand, Japan, Middle East, and even China. But just two weeks ago, 1 Dole plantation hangar was attacked and burned, before that, the hangar of Lapanday was staffed by unidentified gunmen, with the managers and expats inside (good thing no one got hurt).
But for the sad news, Del Monte, Dole, and even Uni Fruittie, three very big players in the global fresh fruits industry have initiated developing plantations in India where the cost of production is half of the RP and the government has power/water subsidy as incentives. This will mean 100,000 bxs of bananas/pineapples a year loss for us (roughly around 1,300mt), of course theres still another 100,000bxs left...but then again we lost our foothold on an industry that we excel in.
The muslims cannot overtly protest against the MILF for obvious reasons, but they're support for the ARMM elections inspite of the MILF threat should say something about it.

Anonymous said...

Sorry,let me correct the figures, thats supposed to be 200,000MT not boxes (total) and we stand to lose 100,000MT/annum.

HILLBLOGGER said...

Hi CVJ,

Excellent points you've got there.

Hope things are well with you.

cvj said...

Hi Anonymous (at 12:57:00 PM), thanks for providing the info on the ground. As i mentioned to J, i did agree that the peace and order situation discourages investments. Having said that, i think the manner in which Mindanao has been developing economically, which tends to exclude the majority (e.g. large plantations), has contributed to the rebellion. It's one of those vicious cycles.

cvj said...

Hi Anna, welcome back! Your presence in the blogosphere is sorely missed.

J said...

cvj, if you watch interviews with local townspeople there on TV, they do disown the MILF. And among those who protested the BJE were the heirs of the old Sultanates and Muslim imams. I wonder why you didn't know about that.

But you are right, the Philippine government and the oligarchy should also be blamed. But that doesn't change the fact that the MILF insurgence has for many years retarded the growth of Mindanao and deprived that experiment called the ARMM to take off.

I didn't say the MILF is the prime reason of Mindanao's retarded growth. What I've been saying is, in order for us to address the Mindanao problem, there MUST be no MILF.

cvj said...

J, you have to excuse my ignorance of the local townspeople disowning the MILF as i don't have access to Philippine TV here in Singapore. Thanks for relaying the news to me. Do keep them coming.

I agree that we're better off without the MILF. All i'm saying (and this goes back to the main theme of my post which i understand you've agreed with) is that the process of eliminating the MILF should not have the unintended effect of encouraging further rebellion. In this, i don't think our positions are really that far off.

J said...

cvj: yup. I think the first comment I posted here agrees to the main point this post is saying. :D

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