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Can Kato survive in peace?


We surely appreciate the declaration of the  Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that they are prepared with several mechanisms to address the issues raised by an ex-MILF commander who broke away to form a separate armed group in Central Mindanao.

But that is merely one side of the coin.  Ameril Umbra Kato had obliquely took a separate course of action which demonstrate that none of what the MILF and the government peace negotiators are working on are acceptable to him. He is a war freak who thinks that peace is will not bring any rewards for him. So, how could the MILF ever think that there is still room to contain him.

Already Kato has organized a group called Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. These are made up of elements of the MILF who, like Kato, live by the gun and will die by the gun. The renegade commander of the Front thinks he has even become more invincible with the infusion of the fugitive members of the Ampatuan private armies. While they are said to be a very small group, they can be as troublesome as the pesky Abu Sayyaf.  By the looks of them they have all the makings of the terrorist group and it is not farfetched that they will ultimately have a tactical alliance, assuming of course that they do not have one yet. For now, the MILF is still wooing Kato and there is no guaranteeing that this commander will keep his fingers out of the trigger of the gun. There is very little time left before the resumption of the peace negotiation restarts later this month in Kuala Lumpur. If Kato had just a hint of rejoining the mainstream of the MILF, then there is reason to celebrate. But several months had elapsed, still Kato is not keen on deviating from his fighting mood.

We admire the stoic posture of the MILF in not giving up on Kato and we understand the government concern on the hard-liner commander who has all the means to trigger conflict anew. Remember that when he went on vicious and murderous rampage following the collapse of ancestral domain issue in 2008, the MILF failed to contain him.

Maybe it is about time that the MILF just forego with Kato and his men and go full speed ahead with the peace talks. We believe that Kato and his men will only start considering giving peace a chance when the gains of peace shall bear fruits.  The question is, can he survive the atmosphere of calm?

By Menardo Wenceslao

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