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The beasts of Basilan

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Blood is thicker than water. This is exemplified by the fact that while indeed leadership of the local terrorist organization Abu Sayyaf had been decimated, they remain to be a bestial force to be reckoned with because of kinship with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front operating in Basilan.

The government peace keeping force in the area is in the bind. They knew that kidnap victims held by the Abu Sayyaf for ransom, are held by the terrorist in territories which are either close or within the vicinity of the MILF camps. Military intelligence is certain of the locations of the kidnap-for-ransom victims and they launched rescue operations. They are just too aware that the Abu Sayyaf do not have that much manpower and munitions. They forgot to consider that the reason why the remnants of the terror group retreated in Al Barkah, Basilan was on account of the fact that many of them have relatives among the MILF forces that are operating there.

The MILF does not even hide the fact that their combatants mowed downed the government soldiers killing 12 of them on the spot, wounding 11 and possibly captured 10.  This is the same group that in the past decapitated 10 of the 14 marines they captured so we might as well give up our hopes of seeing those men alive in the hands of the MILF and Abu Sayyaf. The MILF even prided themselves, that there were no fatalities on their side.

This is madness and at the same time stupidity. Madness because the military pursued the KFR-cum terror group in an area where there are no demarcation lines that defines where they can only operate, and stupidity because it was apparent that there was no extreme cautiousness observed when they knew that in or out of the MILF territories the elements are hostile. It is likewise unthinkable that amidst the conditions of cessation of hostilities the MILF brazenly attacked the government forces just because they “strayed” into their territory! It is so easy to conjure that claim.

Whatever is the impact of this act of hostility on the peace talks is difficult to guess. What we are certain at this point is that this tragic event will further isolate the island province of Basilan. It is not only the loss of lives of our peace keeping force that we mourn here, we too will lament the negative impact of this repeated bloodbath on the island economy. In the end it is the inhabitants of Basilan who suffer because the scared investors will surely avoid the island like plague. The cycle of vicious crime and criminals will pervade shutting off the opportunities of the new generation of Muslim Filipinos to be competitive, gainfully employed and be at ease in the environment of peace. Unless lawlessness and ruthlessness are what the islanders sought after, it is about time that they should rethink and then decide whether they should give peace a chance and be part of the government campaign to rid Basilan of threats to peace and stability.

By Menardo Wenceslao




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