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An acid test for the MILF

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The talking does not match with the doing. The mainstream Moro Islamic Liberation Front professes to be in control of its combatants but not a few incidents of abominable crime like murder and kidnapping for ransom have been wantonly carried out by its members. The recent kidnapping of Filipino American citizens in Zamboanga by a group led by no less than the head of MILF’s Special Operations Group in Zamboanga again validates the apprehension that even if a peace accord will be signed by the MILF and the government it will merely be just a scrap of paper since several MILF factions are independently having different agendas. What is disturbing here is that like Commander Waning Abdulsalam who is the Chief of Zamboanga SOG, it is a known fact that these criminal elements in the front are having an open alliance with Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist organization.
As in the past, expect a disclaimer from the MILF hierarchy that these notorious bands are breakaway groups. The MILF, in effect, is indirectly telling us that they have nothing to do with what these notorious criminals are doing. Fine. But each time government troopers conduct hot pursuit operations against these suspects the MILF runs to the International Monitoring Teams to complain that the government forces are intruding into their territories. Worst, they fire at the peace keeping forces and declare later that the government forces failed to coordinate with them.  Their laughter is much louder than the cries of those who mourn in the wake of the victims of treachery and ambush.

There has been no violent objections to the proposal that stemmed from the peace negotiations for the MILF to be given a free reign of at least seven years in running the expanded Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. But given the inability of the MILF to rein in or deal with their wayward forces, not only is their capability to govern is placed in a cloud of doubt, their motive is likewise suspect

The salvation of the victims of kidnapping lies squarely in the hands of the MILF. Here stands the challenge of whether or not they can discipline or exact the necessary action against their errant forces. The MILF cannot go on with the mockery of dissociating themselves from these rogue elements but embracing them when they need numbers or assert their claims on territories.

In the light of the recent spate of kidnapping and threats on the lives of those who witnessed this despicable crime that has again placed Mindanao and the Philippines and the pendency of the peace talks, the MILF must now prove to all and sundry that they have the mettle and the quality to fairly and justly govern a wider autonomous territory peopled by Muslims, Lumads and Christians. For a starter let them, without aid of the government forces, rescue the abducted victims  and we will believe. Otherwise all these talks about peace and an autonomous sub-state is nothing but a grand zarzuela.

By Menardo Wenceslao




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