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Sunday, 01 February 2015 12:06

MAMASAPANO, WHAT NEXT?



For those many  of us who are watching from the sidelines and from  a distance the  events unfolding, it's been an emotionally draining week due to the Mamasapano incident.    It's a mixture of shock, disbelief, anger, grief!  Many a tear has been shed. The  agony that struck the sensitivities of all Pinoys still lingers and will continue to linger.

So, where do we go from here?

That reminds me of  that favorite line of the Romans of yore that became the title of that old  movie "QUO VADIS", meaning "where to",  "where are we going" "what next". On this, I have a few thoughts of my own I wish to share.

 

FAMILIES -  For the families and loved ones  of those who died, it is still about grappling with the reality, accepting the painful loss. It is still denial to some. It is about recalling those last moments like the last phone call or the last "goodbye" or those last intimate moments.  It is also about how to  grapple  with  life without them. At this time, it is still grief and pain.  The human dimension of it all is replete with anecdotal vignettes that if recalled, told and re-told  help numb the pain  and give temporary solace to those grieving, shunting aside  for some fleeting moment about grim death and its concommitant pains. But then, for now, it's more about getting satisfactory answers for their question: "why this?"

 

MALACANANG -- For the palace,  it is about telling the angry and suspicious public what actually happened. It is about accountability for what has been perceived as a blunder, a big mistake,  a "faux pas", a seeming cover-up. It's about  bringing justice to all by punishing those responsible.

Many believe there's a cover-up story to evade accountability  even in  the highest level: the presidency. It is about stemming the tide of  anger and discontent that may lead to public disorder that can seriously undermine the stability of the  government. To some it is about President Aquino showing sincere compassion and owning up to his role and responsibility. It's about Citizen No. 1 having the integrity and moral courage to say "I'm sorry", if necessary.  It's about the public expectation that President Aquino stops his glib, insincere  and evasive posturings    and instead takes  full responsibility for what happened. Then and only then can he lead  in the  first step of healing a badly divided nation. Anything short of this will not be acceptable. Anything less  will not  mollify an already  angry and grieving nation.

 

CONGRESS -- As for Congress, it must learn from the lessons of the incident in crafting the law that will entrench the peace agreement by providing the necessary safeguards in the so-called BBL. It must give the mandate to an independent high level body which must look into  what actually  happened, sparing no one. Never mind  the never-ending congressional investigation. Political alignments will screw  things up. It will only bring more unnecessary agony and disbelief  to all.

Moreover, there is more urgent need now NOT  to rush the BBL entrenchment but allow a longer transition period to heal the wounds of distrust worsened and inflicted by this Mamasapano incident. The congressional hearings may have to await the report of that independent investigative body. Also, we need to give sufficient and reasonable time for the MILF to regain lost ground and show its capability to clear its area of the bad guys and do good governance. As of now, there is preponderance of anger against them and distrust. Moreover, it has to mature into a political party to be able to fairly compete with others who will also stake claim on the bangsamoro political leadership. To maintain the earlier  schedule as spelled out in the peace agreement, pre-Mamasapano, was  ill-advised. With the post Mamasapano scenario, it will spell doom.

 

MILF --  For the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, it is about accountability and taking  responsibility for  the carnage. Being now a recent partner and no longer operating outside the mainstream having signed a peace agreement with government, it assumed responsibilities  and must show  sincerety and capability.

The decisive steps taken to disarm is a timely positive move, unlike the earlier signs of hesitance and seeming resistance by its armed elements. It must now clearly prove that the trust it was accorded was well deserved and that government was not hoodwinked into a peace settlement.

Here are a few ponderables.

First, the MILF must first explain why its so-called "controlled areas" have become virtual sanctuaries of terrorists and criminals not only now but for as long as we can remember;  why    its armed elements  and communities  not only harbor the bad guys but even go to the extent of protecting and fighting and even killing government forces who were on a mission to take them out. This excuse about "lack of coordination" leading to a  "misencounter" to explain the carnage of 44 SAF commandos will not stick.  It's pure baloney! "Misencounters" are about friendly forces initially fighting by mistake. But it's NOT about  fighting for several hours, finishing them off, mutilating them and cannibalizing dead bodies of  our SAF commandos.    This is  "barbarism" pure and simple. And MILF cannot escape responsibility by blaming this on roque elements, the BIFF or other armed groups  with whom government has not signed a peace accord. The other bad guys  have nothing to explain. But the MILF, as our peace partners, must! And  MILF must take decisive steps. It must cleanse its areas of the bad guys. It must even try to haul in the other high value target who got away: the notorious bomber Basit Usman. At the very least, it should not stand in the way as government  forces scour its areas to flush out the bad guys. It must erase the doubts  and fears of many, triggered by  Mamasapano,  that the bangsamoro territory may eventually  become the impregnable  lair and hotbed of terrorists, local and  international.  This is MILF's proverbial litmus test that it must pass.

 

PEACE PROCESS --- Those working in the peace process must not lose its bearings inspite of the seemingly unsurmountable new obstacles in the way.Winning back the people's trust in the badly bruised  peace process is the call of the moment. We must disabuse the minds of many who call for war! There is no other route to the future but through sustainable peace through a peaceful settlement. We have seen how the violent past played out. We can understand for the moment the popular clamor of many that we annihilate the enemy; that we attack their camps, that we finish them off. If only this is a fool-proof solution, why not. But it is not!

 

WAR NOT AN OPTION -- For us who had  seen it close and clearly understand the nuances of the situation, going to war is never an option. It will not address a generational aspiration of the bangsamoro. Just ask the one million displaced and suffering civilians who were the victims of  so-called "collateral damage" of the 2000 war. They will tell you the true and unquantifiable  costs of war.

The agony of the nation and what we all go through with our fallen commandos of the infamous Mamasapano carnage must be avenged, by all meansthrough accountability and justice.

The casualties of this tragic event are  not only be the lives lost. The biggest casualty here is the peace process! Hence, we must all help to revive it, heal its deep wounds and resuscitate it. But an all-out war amongst Filipinos should  never be an option.

-30-

 
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Tuesday, 20 January 2015 06:23

PRESIDENT FRANCIS, ANYONE?

 

Last night, I had a dream.

The Philippines has turned federal and is one of the federated states of the Vatican. And its regions have also gone federal -- where the concentration of powers and resources are equitably dispersed and fairly allocated to the locals. The name of the President is Francis Bergoglio.

 

HONORABLES --- He has cleaned up the bureaucracy from corruption. No allies cling nor hide behind his priestly garb. No one is spared, not even his own KKKs ( kaSeminaryo, kaPari, at KaJesuita). Tinges of irregularity, whether small or significant, real or contrived, are not swept away or waved off. His officials take their name and honor seriously. Some take the honorable route of voluntarily dismounting to protect the presidency, ready to take the bullet.  His officials are so well loved and held in high esteem that when they figure in some close call accidents, like plane mishaps, everyone thanks the Lord for their safety and not say: "sayang bakit yan lang sinapit"  ( which, by the way, was the reaction of some when the Bombadier plane carrying some Malacanang officials overshot and nose-dived upon take-off at the Tacloban airport -- and which I find  unchristian and totally uncalled for.)

 

FEDERAL --- Being federal, the regions govern their own areas with the least intervention from the national capital. The locals determine and chart their own future and destiny.  Taxes are not all sent up to the national treasury and the concentration of power through patronage and dog lapping  is gone. Hence, no DAP or PDAF.

 

IN PERIPHERIES ---President Francis spends time not so much in Malacanang nor in imperial Manila  but in the "peripheries" like the calamity stricken areas of Tacloban, in the far-flung barangays.  He attends to the long-suffering and abandoned victims of the Zambo siege, the poor, the sick, the forgotten.  Whenever he wishes to meet with his constituents, millions voluntarily attend, braving the elements.  And  there is no "hakot".

 

BLAMING NO ONE -- His words are compassionate and soothing,  not carping or uncouth. He speaks from the heart and asks everyone to put Jesus in the center of everything. He assuages the sufferers by referring to Christ's own Calvary and crucifixion. He does not look back looking for some fall guy.  He  blames no one.   He reaches out to all -- Muslims, Lumads and those of other faiths -- for peace and unity.

 

NOT GOD's GIFT --- He sneaks out at night, not to cavort or "vroom" the streets but to visit and give solace to the street children, the orphans, the needy and the abandoned. He does not project himself as if he is God’s gift to mankind to reform. He exudes humility and godly grace.  He protects the family and even the unborn. He does not conjure ways to undermine the sanctity of life.

 

NOT BRATTY --He is so human just like you and I. His humanity shows he has a good sense of humor and breaks into some laughter - or even sheds tears -- with his people. His inimitable smile brings cheers and solace even to those who went through some tragedy. He is always on the move despite his age and not prone to ensconce himself moonying in solitude.     No he is not bratty.  Nor does he carp or engage in dry humor about his hair    when his bull cap   is blown away or his priestly cape perturbed by the wind.

 

NIGHTMARE! ---But ooooops.  Suddenly I lost my dream.  So I woke up to the real world. To my dismay, I woke up from a good dream to a real nightmare!  

---

 

 
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