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An option to misery


Remember the time when kidnap-for-ransom elements of the Abu Sayyaf went on a rampage and hauled a number of foreign and local tourists from faraway Dos Palmas Resort in Palawan to Basilan? That was the most devastating event which placed this once placid and progressive island into an overnight place of horror and murder. Not a few thought that Basilan could not be in anyway be made into another haven of the Abu Sayyaf which in the year 2000 pounced on unsuspecting tourists in another resort in Sipadan Island of Malaysia and brought to Sulu where they were held for ransom. But the unexpected happened in far away Dos Palmas, this time with more bizarre act of barbarism. The Abu Sayyafs abused the women and decapitated a victim. Even as the military was closing in on them, they refused to yield the Rev. Martin Burnham, his wife Gracia and Deborah Yap a Filipino nurse. In the end, during a rescue mission, Martin and Deborah died.

The government did a clean up operations against the Abus Sayyaf terrorist group whose leaders had confirmed ties with Al Qaeda. It is a long process which included rehabilitation and community outreach program aided by a package of aid from the United States of America and Europe. Once more Basilan became a beckon for wary investors. News dispatches described how the new era of peace is helping the island province back to life. The islanders, Muslims and Christians alike were happy that normalcy was back and more than these roads and bridges were built and made travel easy and inexpensive, trade and commerce viable.

But this aura of security and prosperity seem to be short lived as the Abu Sayyafs and their confreres, the lawless elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, punctuated the momentum of progress with kidnapping and other acts of terrorism which consigns Basilan again to uncertainty and retrogression.
While there are victims of kidnappings some of whom suffered the fate of Sobero, the real sufferers of this endless iniquity are the Bangsamoro people. The Abu Sayyafs and the wayward members of the MILF in Basilan may behead a teacher for his or her inability to pay ransom, but hundreds, if not thousands of school children, majority of them Muslims and have nothing to do at all with the un-Islamic agenda of kidnappers, suffers in the consequence. Each time a victim is murdered hundreds of investors are lost and businesses are closed. The murdering band thinks this is a triumph, but no this is not. The Abu Sayyafs and the MILF succeeded only in shutting down employment opportunities for Bangsamoro people, closing down schools for their little children and subject everybody to constant fear and the penalty of death.

Certainly this is not the kind of living condition a family of peace wants to live with. But the option to put an end to the atrocities and the resultant miseries lies in the inhabitants of Basilan. They can nurture the criminals if they cannot live in an atmosphere of peace, or help the government expose and run after their tormentors.

By Menardo Wenceslao

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