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A bleak future for the youth in Muslim Mindanao


There are a number of disturbing developments that has emerged amidst the lull in the peace negotiation between the Moro Islamic Development and the government. While the talks are in hiatus, foreign-trained and sponsored terrorist elements along with the kidnap-for-ransom syndicates have not actually ceased from victimizing helpless civilians. Al Qaeda clones, Jemaah Islamiyah and the vicious Abu Sayyaf elements may have been decimated but a few of those who survived police and military campaign remain to be a serious concern of the government. Domestic and foreign intelligence keeping watch and monitoring the movements and operations of these elements persistently tell us that the suspects have either sought sanctuary or move close to MILF territories. Because there is a ceasefire that has to be respected, our peacekeeping forces are prevented from pursuing the suspects due to the possibility of encountering hostile fire from the secessionist fronts. We have heard of not a few instances where the MILF announced that it will file a protest before the cessation of hostilities and ceasefire committee and the international monitoring teams. We expect that as the government forces will continue chasing terrorists and kidnappers, the MILF will not hesitate to raise the same protest.

So many victims of kidnappings have ended dead in the hands of the terrorists and the Pentagon gang. They have started kidnapping Muslim businessmen and professionals. Muslim and Christian traders have not resumed normal activities in the island provinces of Sulu and Basilan, in Maguindanao and Lanao provinces to include Cotabato City because of the continuing threats of these murderous groups. Schools have to be closed because teachers and innocent children are being kidnapped. If the MILF cannot help in stopping, if not eliminating these elements, the best thing that they can do is to deny them sanctuary in their territories. The Front should realize that what is happening in the Moro land today, where business is scared and teachers are killed, the ultimate victim in the end are the Filipino Muslim students who are deprive of an ideal atmosphere of learning and the young professional among them who cannot find gainful employment because internal conflict, terrorism and kidnapping are scaring away investors.

The nonchalance of the MILF and maybe some of our local leaders in Muslim Mindanao in the midst of these crippling uncertainties may serve their agenda but they too ought to consider that the one at stake here is the future of the next generation. We must remember that education and knowledge are the only remaining viable guarantees that the youth can rely on in a region where the land is getting scarce even for the warlords who still dream of having their own fiefdoms. Deprive them the opportunities to learn by abetting terrorism and kidnapping and you are effectively defeating their ability to compete.  Peace negotiations meant nothing if the MILF abets the growth and presence of threats to peace and freedom to seek education. What do the leaders of the Front want to prove? If educational institutions, businessmen, teachers and even school children have become targets of terrorists and kidnapping syndicates under their noses  it does not make sense why they speak of the future of the next generation when those of the present see no future at all.


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