Oppose the Mindanao War
August 20, 2008 § 11 Comments
There are two things why I’m campaigning to oppose the Mindanao War. First, this war would just weaken the entire Philippine economy, leading to more chaos and more misery for the people. It’s mistaken to think that this will just be isolated or contained in Mindanao. History has shown that a war in Mindanao always impact on the national economy. It destroyed the economy during the time of strongman Marcos and not even martial rule failed to quell the Bangsamoro rebellion. If Marcos fell to power due to a weakened Philippine state caused by the all-out war policy in Mindanao, Arroyo is sure to suffer a worse fate than him. And Arroyo is no Marcos.
And second, war will open the floodgates of more terrorist actions in that region and even spillover the rest of the country. Obviously, the tactic of hawks in Malacanang is simple–play wag the dog to neutralize public outrage against rising oil and food prices, then, escalate the conflict to flush out hard-core independence supporters within the MILF. Military strategists and even government are trying to split the MILF under the presumption that a splintered MILF would be weaker than its present state.
This explains why war-mongers from both the administration and opposition are calling for the prosecution of MILF Commanders Bravo and Umbra Kato. These two are strong supporters of the Bangsamoro independence movement. They are serious contenders to the post being held now by MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad, who’s being perceived now as a compromiser and a strong ally or supporter of the Arroyo peace overtures. If the MILF splits, the military and government forces hope to raze the MILF camps to the ground. A military coup d’grace, yes, but, as history has shown, it would likewise fail to permanently resolve the Bangsamoro Question. Why?
Should a split occur, it would just affect the top leadership of the MILF, but not the ground forces. Murad will just be isolated. The rest of the ground forces will continue the fight under a different or separate setup from the MILF top command. Their ranks will surely swell by the thousands since as things stand today, they have assumed a higher moral ground than Murad.
The failure of Murad to conclude a peace agreement with the government is a sure sign for the Bangsamoro to really go all-out for war. Should Murad lose credibility, he risks losing power in the MILF. If he loses power, government and even the US government risks losing an ally within the ranks of the secessionist group. If they lose Murad, there is no more avenue for talks. It would permanently end all peace talks because surely, there’s no one in the new MILF group who’ll be willing to talk peace with the government.
If the government succeeds in splitting the MILF, its ground forces will just revert from a regular army formation (which is easier to control) to a guerilla setup. A guerilla war is more costly for government and the military than fighting a regular army. Yes, probably, the military will succeed in occupying rebel camps. That’s good for propaganda. But, ultimately, it stands to lose the entire war because the AFP is still not capable of defeating guerilla forces. Look at the way they conducted themselves against the NPAs.
A guerilla war in Mindanao will lead to the humiliating defeat of the Philippine government.
As I’ve written in previous posts, this MOA is the only acceptable accord between the GRP and the MILF. Should this fail and government continue its war plan and strategy of not signing the MOA on ancestral domain, it lay open for the Bangsamoro the possibility of just waging war to claim what they think is rightfully theirs. If this happens, expect a full-scale and long-drawn out war. A long war would drain government resources and paralyze the entire Mindanao economy. A paralyzed Mindanao economy would surely affect the national economy, thereby, erasing all economic gains we already got since 2001.
Should the Mindanao conflict turn into a full-scale war, it risks turning the entire Mindanao into a veritable regional flashpoint. A flashpoint scenario is what the US is trying to avoid because it would attract terrorist groups from all over the Asia-Pacific region, becoming a magnet for more terror attacks. This early, the MILF is perceiving this as a war of attrition and a moral war since they see themselves as having been double talked by government in the peace talks. A moral war is more dangerous than any war because it risks attracting sympathizers from within and from outside Mindanao.
If this war turns into a war of independence, that would be a signal for Jemaah Islamiya fighters to lend support. If they give support, that would eventually turn Mindanao into a regional battlefield, serving as a magnet for terrorist fighters from all over the Asia-Pacific region. What Southern Thailand fighters failed to accomplish, the Bangsamoro fighters are sure and expected to succeed.
We risk disruption of thousands of lives there. We are sure to lose more lives from this war, possibly more than what we lost during the Bangsamoro rebellion of the 70’s.
We also risk fragmenting the entire AFP. This early, demoralization has crept in the military ranks, as casualties mount, as senior and junior officers lose their lives and as more soldiers see their comrades fall by the hundreds.
And we are seeing a human catastrophe in the making. Government is not capable of solving a swelling number of displaced families. War will surely drain government resources. Right now, we are seeing a 15 billion budget deficit. This will definitely rise as government devote its resources in Mindanao. How much does war cost? In the time of Erap, government spent 1 billion everyday. Do we have enough resources to sustain an all-out war? Do we have the money to fund an anti-guerilla war?
In this war, as I’ve said in previous entries, the entire Filipino People is sure to lose everything.