Maguindanao widow speaks out vs BBL
GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) - February 20, 2015 - 12:00am

READERS REACT to various offshoots of the Mamasapano inquiries:

Jess Paragas, Cabanatuan City: “Sly, sly Malacañang! First it makes senators abruptly end their probe of the debacle, since it was starting to pin blame on P-Noy. Then, when media shifted attention to Malacañang, P-Noy’s spokesmen referred their queries to the ended Senate inquiry.”

Lilia Balian: “Are those leftist congressmen paranoid? They think that Malacañang stopped the Senate and House inquiries just because they were beginning to unearth P-Noy’s indecision to rescue the SAF, and the US lead role in the raid. No, I’m just being sarcastic.”

Luis Antonio Gutierrez: “Where is that SAF survivor who claimed to have hidden in the water lilies and slew seven of the heavily armed enemy with just a knife. Either he is a hero to be hailed, or a deserter with a tall tale.”

Ben Hur Ong: “If the PNP is civilian, why do they address each other by military titles like ‘general’ or ‘colonel’?

On corruption in local governments:

Dioscoro R. Pacis: “Sir, as senators resume hearings on VP Binay’s alleged corruption, please go on exposing graft in local governments. The totals could be higher than the congressional and presidential pork barrels. While a local official in Metro Manila for six years, I witnessed overpricing, bid rigging, ghost projects and purchases, payroll padding — all with connivance of state auditors. It happens in city and barangay halls. Endemic corruption makes us forever Third World.”

* * *

A longtime Muslim friend in Cotabato City wrote right after the Mamasapano massacre of 44 police commandos by Moro separatists. A widow, she hails from a political clan in Maguindanao province where the Jan. 25 firefight also claimed the lives of 18 rebels and four civilians, two of them pre-teens. In sharing “these various experiences of Cotabato citizens,” she requests anonymity, for obvious reasons:

“Along the national highway from our city to Davao is a junction, municipality of Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao. Right turn leads to Davao City; left to the municipality of Parang, Maguindanao, onto Lanao del Sur and Cagayan de Oro. There is a checkpoint at the junction. It is manned by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, whose fatigues are the same color and almost identical pattern as the Philippine Army’s.

“There are no AFP or PNP men at the checkpoint. Not far from the junction is Darapanan, the MILF’s largest sanctuary.

“The firearms used against the SAF were Barrett sniper rifles, fired from treetops by highly-trained rebels. Those are .50 caliber, as MILF vice chairman Gadzali Jaafar said, that’s why the commandos’ skulls were crushed.

“The PNP regional director for the ARMM retired last Nov. There is just an officer-in-charge with very limited functions, and cannot order augmentation troops in an emergency – just like the situation at the PNP national level. The O-I-C could only order the retrieval of the SAF fatalities.

“Cotabato citizens lament that all the government peace negotiators are not from Mindanao. Their families do not reside here. They did not think of the consequences of establishing the Bangsamoro sub-state for the MILF. They thought only of themselves. We ask where Secretary Ging Deles was during the massacre.

“At a restaurant recently a group of diners ordered fried chicken and waited for it to be readied. Then some burly men walked in and also ordered fried chicken, just as the first order was being brought out of the kitchen. The second group demanded that the platter be served to them, as they were ‘from the Bangsamoro.’ They even threatened to hurt the waiter for arguing that the first group naturally had priority.

“Several times when there were traffic buildups, goony motorists would counter-flow the opposite lane, honking horns and yelling, ‘Give way, we’re from Bangsamoro.’

“In the history of the ARMM, twice we citizens of Cotabato were asked if we wanted to join, and twice we voted no. In case we vote no a third time, what will the MILF do under the Bangsamoro Basic Law?”

* * *

The answer to that question might lie somewhere between the lines of MILF chief peace panelist Mohagher Iqbal’s recent letter to the Congress of the Philippines:

“The MILF is a revolutionary organization. While we may have signed a peace agreement with the Philippine Government after 18 years of intermittent war and negotiations, that peace agreement has yet to be implemented. Until the peace agreement is fully implemented, we will remain to be a revolutionary organization.”

* * *

Stage artists are having a grand time watching each other’s plays, and aficionados like they’re switching channels – in the first ever unified festival of Philippine visual and performing arts. Midway into the 18-day “Fringe Manila,” Feb. 12-Mar. 1, are still hundreds of plays, musicales, dance, comedy, improv, exhibits, and pop-up performances all over the big city, mostly by new artists and troupes.

Mark on your calendars two entries of Toff de Venecia’s Sandbox Collective:

• The off-Broadway musicale “Boy in the Bathroom,” CCP Huseng Batute Theater, Feb. 21, 5:30 p.m.; and

• “The Pillow Man,” a multimedia staged reading, also at CCP Huseng Batute Theater, Feb. 20 and 24, 8 p.m.

(Sorry if you missed the new musicale “F(r)iction” yesterday.)

There’s also “Arbol de Fuego,” a tragicomedy full of sarcasm and humor, led by Cherie Gil, Bembol Roco and Urian best actress Angeli Bayani. The PETA (Philippine Education Theater Association) adaptation of Anton Chekov’s “Cherry Orchard” raises curtains tonight at 8 p.m. More performances Fridays to Sundays, 3 and 8 p.m., at the PETA Theater Center, #5 Eymard Drive, New Manila, Quezon City; tel. nos. (02) 7256244 or (0917) 5765400; or contact Ticket World at, (02) 8919999.

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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).

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