Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Reasons for rejecting Amnesty for the Abu Sayyaf (Part One)

In an atmosphere of hate and anger, all peaceful solutions proposed to resolve conflict will be seen as foolish and even criminally wrong.

The release of Abu Sayyaf kidnapping victim Eugenio Vagni last week was tainted with the usual doubt and cynicism.

News reporters present at the Press Conference at the Philippine National Red Cross found it necessary to ask if any kind of financial inducement was given to the Abu Sayyaf in exchange for Vagni's release.

Among those present to answer the question were Philippine National Red Cross Chairman and Senator Richard J. Gordon, Italian businessman Armando da Rossi, and Sulu Vice Governor Lady Anne Sahidulla.

Gordon said that as far as he knew, no ransom was exchanged for Vagni's release; Da Rossi made the same denial; and Sulu Vice Governor Sahidulla said that P50,000 was given to the Abu Sayyaf Group as some sort of good will token.

At some point during the press conference, Gordon was heard as saying that Sulu should now be bombarded with all out peace and development measures -- including amnesty for Abu Sayyaf Members who had signified their intent to return to the fold of the law.

In the context of hate and anger, such pronouncements become hot targets for negative publicity because it runs against the more powerful and common sentiment of the moment. After being stripped of all euphemisms, what most people (who are not in Sulu or Basilan) have on their minds is to kill all members of the Abu Sayyaf Group and make them answer for their crimes.

Naturally, your accurate, fair, objective and impartial Philippine journalists looked for the odd man out in the statement and newspapers EXPLODED with AMNESTY FOR THE ABU SAYYAF on its frontpages. It was the perfect MAN BITES DOG story, it was NEWS.

Peace and development for Sulu and Basilan, after all, had been the mantra for the last twenty years as a means to temper, defuse or neutralize secessionist statements from Muslim radicals in Mindanao.

Then again, of course, we haven't even considered the possibility that people are going to ride on the TOTAL WAR sentiment in a bid to brown nose their way into the Presidency.

Anyway, as far as peace and development is concerned, especially when considered by the common mind and under the cloud of public indignation, should come after the Abu Sayyaf has been eradicated.

But didn't the military declare the neutralization of the Abu Sayyaf Group several times already?
If that were the case, peace and development efforts should have been immediately stepped up during the times when it was declared that the Abu Sayyaf Group was neutralized. However, Sulu, Basilan, and other provinces of ARMM continued to remain backward and no such development efforts pushed forward during the times when the Abu Sayyaf Group was supposed to have been neutralized.

What most people realize is that the Commission on Audit, at a Senate Hearing on the ARMM Polls, admitted that they dared not venture into ARMM for fear that their agents would end up beheaded. The Commission on Audit, regardless of what can be said about its inutility in preventing graft and corruption, still has some effect in making sure that the money released for government services actually happens -- at least, a certain percentage of it will. Can you imagine what happens when the COA is completely unable to do its job?

For all we know, the national government may have been releasing hundreds of millions of pesos for development projects in ARMM. But in the end, was only assuming that the money was indeed going to the projects they were supposed to go to.

Remember the time when former MNLF head honcho and former ARMM Governor Nur Misuari was found to have a huge sum of unliquidated government funds? In common parlance, unliquidated government funds means that a government agency released money for some purpose or other (like buying asphalt for roads) but the agency cannot produce proof (like a receipt) that the money really went to where it was supposed to go. That is what happens when the COA cannot do its job.

Before Gordon even hinted at AMNESTY FOR THE ABU SAYYAF he was already saying that the COA should do its job in SULU, BASILAN, and OTHER ARMM provinces. But that didn't land in the newspapers, of course not, why should it?

What would have landed in the newspapers would be a story relating how a COA agent was beheaded and made to eat receipts in some conflicted area in Mindanao. Now THAT is news.

As far as 'all out offensives' against the Abu Sayyaf Group is concerned, the national government cannot claim to be successful and will never claim to be successful.

Remember the time when the government launched an all out offensive against the Abu Sayyaf when they beheaded 14 marines in Basilan? Zip.

The problem with the Abu Sayyaf and all other Muslim groups is this: When they put their guns down and strip off their battle uniforms, they look like any other person in Mindanao.

You'd be surprised that the Abu Sayyaf and MILF have day jobs. When they're not fighting with the military or doing some other thing, they're actually in market places selling produce or driving tricylces or even selling DVDs.


(End of part One)


betterphilippines said...

this you will love if you haven't seen it yet.


Admin said...

I've already seen so many potshots against the Roxas ads that I suspect it may have been crafted to gain popularity by attracting potshots.

Ang yardstick yata nila is that the more revolting it is to the thinking members of the Filipino voting population, the better the commercial is.

betterphilippines said...

you're probably right. naisip ko din yan a few moments after i sent you the link.

his new ad is really revolting. bleeeek raaaaarffff arrrrgggghhhhh.

excuse me.

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