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Year 2011 had elapsed, still the kidnap-for-ransomsyndicates in areas of or adjacent to Moro Islamic Liberation Front territoriesare actively operating without letup. It is plainly incredulous to even thinkthat that the MILF field commanders are not aware of the existence of the KFRsyndicates as in every case of kidnapping that had been carried out, theirescape routes always end up in the MILF-held territories.

It therefore partakes of a classic tomfoolery forthe MILF to offer their assistance to the government in running after thesyndicate. As if that is not insulting enough, nothing came out of this offeras no suspects had been turned over and no victims recovered through theirefforts.  What is contemptible and incomprehensible is thatgovernment forces are prevented from pursuing the suspects.

This untenable condition will persist if the peaceaccord is not reached. Ergo, in the meanwhile the kidnap gangs are having theirholidays. An Australian national became the latest victim. His abductors havedemanded millions of pesos in ransom. We are losing in so many fronts becauseof this iniquity. We are losing face in the international community since wecannot deal with criminals and criminality in areas where secessionist frontsare. We are losing opportunities to develop the conflict areas and thereforedeny the communities and the employable youths their prospects of a stablefuture.

Secessionist struggle will never ever succeed in asovereign state where equal opportunities and freedom  areguaranteed. There might be lapses but these are isolated. Even the desire toestablish an autonomy is ensconced in our constitution for the regions that arepredominantly populated by Muslims. The autonomous government, in its infancy,may have some defects because those who held the power of governance thoughtthat the region is their fiefdom and they can do whatever they want with thebillions of pesos earmarked for the regional government. These anomalies willnot be there forever because many of those accountable are already facingprosecution. In short the supremacy of the law is eventually upheld.

Secessionism will not rev up progress and thereforewill not open opportunities. It will not bring peace and stability, insteadconflict and unending chaos. Only those who cannot live in peace are rewardedbecause in the state of belligerency which they want to propagate they are theauthority and they hold the purse. Those who want to live in peace and eke outa decent livelihood are in a constant state of fear and despair.

Unfortunately, however, this state of instabilityand chaos is perpetuated. Kidnapping is tolerated as if it has become a way oflife. Today it is an Australian national, tomorrow another victim. Even asimple wage earners like teachers have become targets of this organizedcriminal which found sanctuary in secessionist-held territories. The biggestloser here are the peaceful citizens, who even as they are either Muslims orChristians, have nothing to do at all with the futile struggle of thesecessionist fronts.

By Menardo Wenceslao

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