Anne Curtis and the MILF

August 8, 2008 § Leave a comment

” If you have it, flaunt it.”–Anne Curtis, Philippine actress, when interviewed by TV Patrol after having been nominated as the Sexiest in this part of the world.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) did exactly that yesterday. They have arms, and lots of it, and they flaunted it by attacking barangays in North Cotabato. Former Congressman Lavina said, the MILF attacked them as early as 18 July, long before the expected signing of the MOA. So this incident, he says, is not a reaction to the botched signing last Tuesday. So, what was it?

What it is is muscle flexing. The MILF wants Filipinos to know that they are worthy of having a belligerent status. Under International law, belligerency means having the means and the power to fight an opposing force. The MILF was granted by this government a status of belligerency. That explains why the MILF was accorded equal status on the negotiating table. To sustain this status, the MILF needs to prove to the world that it has the armed capability to repulse any attack or conduct tactical maneuverings such as this one in North Cotabato. So, they flaunted it.

What the MILF does’nt realize is, they fell into a pathological trap set by this government. By allowing them to neutralize opposition, they are now being pictured as brutes or bullies. Or, more appropriately, bullies deprived of lollipops. That’s their image right now. 

So now, this attack puts them into a very dangerous and untenable situation. Should they push back, they’ll be portrayed by the international community as having weaker or lesser force. If they can’t claim what was allegedly theirs now, how can they do so when they sign the pact? Surely, the international community expects them to have enough force or firepower to neutralize those who’ll threaten their new state. If they can’t flaunt their powers now, they can’t do so even if they have their own government.

If they indeed stay, they risk meeting a tremendous force coming from the sponsored armed civilian groups by those politicians, caciques and landowners not only of North Cotabato but even as far as Negros (as what Sen. Mar Roxas reported in the Manila Times). North Cotabato will become a war magnet, attracting anti-Muslim forces from all over the country. Surely, if that happens, that would risk a national war of such magnitude as to ultimately cripple the entire country.

This is the situation that Gloria and the peace panel obviously did not anticipate. For them, it’s simple. When push comes to shove, they may need to declare Mindanao under a State of National Emergency, or worst, even suspend the writ of habeas corpus and ultimately martial rule. If that happens, that’ll be too late because by that time, the conflict has reached alarming proportions that no amount of state action is enough to regain peace and order.

AS OF THIS WRITING, the MILF has decided, to their best interest, to “reposition” their troops in North Cotabato.

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