For history’s sake, keep the AFP museum open

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila - The Philippine Star

Remember the old saying by George Santayana…“Those who do not remember the past is doomed to repeat them.” This was the quotation that came to my mind after watching ANC news with David Celdran yesterday about the imminent closure of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Museum because it could not pay its power bill worth P1.347 million. This facility is run by my cousin, former Police General Rufino Iba, Jr. who told me of the many rare artifacts, many of them military artifacts that are available for people to see when they visit the AFP Museum.

The Philippine Military has a glorious past… especially when you include the Filipinos fighting the Americans (including the Moro Wars) at the time of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, which our historians dub as the Philippine American War, while the Americans call it the Philippine Insurrection. I dare you visit the Iwo Jima monument in Arlington Cemetery where on its side is emblazoned the “Philippine Insurrection.” Pundits of history after all, say, “History is written by the victors.”

But I dare say that the next Philippine President whoever he or she would be should force the Americans to change this part of our common history and tell the truth about our wars, first against our Spanish colonizers then against the Americans who took over the Philippines from Spain. Then there is always the still unfinished case of the Bells of Balangiga, which today has never been returned to Samar. Again, the Aquino regime literally “invited” the Americans back to their former US bases here…without even resolving the issue of the return of the Bells of Balangiga. If indeed America is a friend of the Philippines, they must make that small gesture to return the Bells of Balangiga for the massacre of Filipinos in Samar in September 1901.

With this piece, I urge the Aquino Regime to salvage and come up with the money to keep the AFP afloat so that history and the artifacts inside would be preserved. Perhaps Malacañang doesn’t know that since the movie “Heneral Luna” was shown months back… Filipinos are now waking up to what happened in those years in our history.

Last December we just launched our coffee table book “War in Cebu” and it was perhaps the most successful book launch ever to happen in Cebu and the University Press of USC said that the first edition is now almost sold out. This means… our people want to keep our history preserved and that’s what President Aquino should be doing.

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Speaking of Philippine history… someday the infamous Mamasapano massacre should also be featured in the AFP Museum. Well, last Tuesday evening I watched Lynda Jumila interview Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, chief negotiator for the Philippine Government and  Mohagher Iqbal, chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Peace Panel and Government Peace Panel (over the phone) on what happened to the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Clearly Prof. Coronel-Ferrer and Iqbal blamed Congress for the death of the BBL and in fairness to Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (who supported the BBL) he too admitted that there were unconstitutional provisions in the BBL, which is why they came up with their version, the Basic Law on the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR), which the two rabid pro BBL Iqbal and Ferrer said that the MILF rejected. In short those two idiots wanted the entire BBL that Malaysia was pushing to become a law of the Philippines. This is why many Filipinos dub them as “traitors!” Someone even suggested that P-Noy did not push hard enough for the BBL!

In fairness to P-Noy… the BBL was the backbone program of his administration and Rep. Rodriguez pointed to the 52 hearings on the BBL, but alas… the BBL on its own is just unacceptable to the Filipino people represented by their Congressmen and women. More than anything… how many times did P-Noy call his allies in Congress to push for the BBL, but in the end they just couldn’t sell this to the Filipino people.

Now what is left is the blame game. Shame on you Prof. Ferrer and your pal Iqbal for selling to the Filipino nation the BBL based on the false promise of peace because you excluded the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). Even the ordinary man on the street believes that a peace agreement with only one group of Muslims would not usher any peace in Mindanao. This is not to mention the many armed groups like the New People’s Army (NPA) that continually fight the military in Mindanao and elsewhere.

Meanwhile former Department of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said that the Mamasapano reinvestigation backfired on Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile. While I agree that he should have presented that audiotape, he was able to pin the President’s role on Mamasapano. But all THE panelists agree that it was the Mamasapano massacre that killed the BBL.

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