Oppose the Mindanao War

August 20, 2008 § 11 Comments

War is a riskier proposition than peace

War is a riskier proposition than peace

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.

Malacanang is foolish if they think they'll win this war by splitting the MILF

Malacanang is foolish if they think they

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.

It's the people who suffer not the senator war-mongers


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.


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§ 11 Responses to Oppose the Mindanao War

  • […] On a more philosophical note, two entries discuss A Just War | Filipino Voices and A Just War: Road to A Just Peace | Filipino Voices (what is a “Just War”? See Just War – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). The voices raised against war are few and far between, see: Oppose the Mindanao War « Pinoy Observer […]

  • […] On a more philosophical note, two entries discuss A Just War | Filipino Voices and A Just War: Road to A Just Peace | Filipino Voices (what is a “Just War”? See Just War – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). The voices raised against war are few and far between, see: Oppose the Mindanao War « Pinoy Observer […]

  • andre varon says:

    While I respect your experience as a professor of history and as a journalist, I could not keep myself from responding to your view that boils down to this- agree to the MOA and give up a chunk of Mindanao because failing to do so would make the MILF mad and a war with them would surely topple the current government and would severely affect the national economy.
    This debilitating fear of the MILF seems to casually set aside the fact that we have been in a war with the MILF ever since I could remember and we are still here. It may have been a factor in the eventual removal of Marcos from power but to credit it with his demise is absurd.
    Yet this is not even the most important thing to consider. How about those who do not want to be under Bangsamoro rule, whose lives would be drastically altered by the MOA?
    I would rather ask America to help wipe out the MIILF as a group than turn additional land to these terrorists. ARMM is not being governed well. Why do they have to ask for more on their plate?
    You have your opinion, sir, but as for me, I would rather not throw any more pearls to those MILF pigs

  • Rey Pasigna says:

    so what do you think should we do to those victms of atrocities of these so called revolutionaries. Killing innocent civilians, mutilating their bodies, burning houses, churches, etc… and the the govt wil not do anything. justice has to be served at any cost. Put yourself in these peoples shoes How would you feel. I have relatives who died in that MILF raid in North Cotabato. How about that Lt. Col,\. Benitez who was beaten nd killled by these criminals?The only language these people understand is force. The governmnet cannot and should not continue thi policy of appeasement. What hapened when we gve them autonomy?? Now they want another or expand the autonomous region Whats next the whole of Mindanao? We should not advocate the policy that would lead to the dismemberment of the Repub;ic.

  • unknown says:

    I oppose the war. Why? Because it just like stepping in each others foot. I think the government should compromise. To those agree to this all-out-war of the government, read the history of Mindanao and just don’t whine and write negatively about MILF. Know what they believe in.

    I know some MILF commanders burned and killed villages. We should condemn it. But in my opinion, the government should countered it with maximum tolerance. History tells us that war is a never ending cycle. It just didnt do the whole Philippines good when they reciprocated it with guns.

    I dont mind the ancestral domain because from the very beginning, Mindanao is “not” Philippines. Philippines just “assumed” that Mindanao is part of the Philippines and invited Visayas and Luzon to live in Mindanao. And Muslim leaders? Its just a stereotype that Muslims are warfreaks. Not all of them. There are also great muslim leaders on the world and I know a lot of MILF leaders are pretty brilliant (we just assume that they are all the same).

    I am from Davao and Im not a muslim. But I do hope that all of us read about the history of this mindanao conflict. We should see the bigger picture and be proactive.

  • Rius Valle says:

    To those who don’t understand: understanding means to stand under. Before you speak out loud about your ideas and opinions, please understand the situation first. Have you even went to the war thorn areas and ask the fellow moros about what really is happening? You are talking too much and still don’t know what you are saying. You are speaking as if you have been there – feeling what the moro people are feeling, seeing what they saw and hear what they hear. you cant really just judge the book by its cover. what you see in t.v, what you hear in radios, and what you have read in the newspaper is far from what is reality. I have been there. And i have felt, saw and heard the cry of the people. The cry of wanting peace. Lets not be passive in viewing things. Because your life is indeed connected to other peoples lives, you are a part of the whole. And somehow, maybe not now, you will be affected by this conflict.
    They say, history repeat itself. Then lets credit what the history have said.
    We must take lessons from the dead and lets not repeat the mistakes of the past.I am also not a muslim, but i have understand them.
    Dont let your feelings affect your judgement!
    They are not Pigs! They are just victims of the Bigger Problem.

  • fine points. however, let me just say that I’m all for peace. I hate war. I’ve seen it up close and personal. During Erap’s time, I was assigned in Maguindanao, Basilan and Sulu. I don’t pity both the soldiers and the rebels. They’re just doing what they’re supposed to do.

    I pity the children, those whose mothers died for getting caught in the fighting.

    I shed a tear for those widows who lost their husbands due to this cruel war.

    I am concerned about the old people who lived long only to die slowly due to hunger, starvation and disease.

    Let us go back, talk peace and resolve whatever problems we have.

    Or, if that is really not possible, then, I call upon both the AFP and the MILF—Fight and just give it your all for a week. Magpatayan kayo. Afterwards, bahala na kayo. Pag malamig na ulo ninyong dalawang groups, then, go back and talk peace.

  • andre varon says:

    Who wouldn’t rather have peace? No one here seems to be advocating violence as an end. I won’t be personally affected if it’s finally decided that the MOA would be implemented. But how about those not wanting to be under the bangsamoro rule, for one reason or another? Don’t they get to have a say in all this? I am sure they would rather have peace but may have to weigh its worth with the cost which is coming under the governance of bangsamoro.
    Mr. Rius Valle, I am sorry to say I have not been to any “WAR THORN” area because I believe there no such thing unless you are talking about the place where brer rabbit lives.
    I can’t say that I have experienced war first hand, but I have smelled burned flesh, I have seen gore and guts, I have had blood and shit on me, I have heard the cries and whimpers of those in agony, and the sigh at death’s touch. It’s not pretty. War should be the last resort, I get it and agree with you on that point.
    Also, I have the right to call them pigs for letting the Abu Sayyaf run around their neighborhood and letting them massacre all those people. They also let some MILF commanders off the hook when they go violently crazy. If it can’t control their forces now, what does it say about the future peace of folks living under their rule?

  • rpasigna says:

    sometimes war is used as an instrument to attain peace!!!

  • rpasigna says:


  • rpasigna says:


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