Buying new guns for ex-MILF a serious mistake
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - September 10, 2019 - 12:00am

The people living in Luzon most probably did not feel anything about what happened last week when Muslim rebels in Mindanao began handing over their guns to independent foreign monitors last Saturday, as part of a peace treaty aimed at ending a decades-long separatist insurgency that has left about 150,000 people dead. This means that a thousand Muslim rebels including the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country’s largest rebel force, turned over 940 weapons, representing a symbolic step toward retiring some 40,000 armed Muslim rebels, roaming in Mindanao.

Of course we understand that the disarmament will take time to make an impact in a place where violence is an almost daily threat, this is why it is a step in the right direction, especially with the creation of the Bangsa Moro Law. However, last Saturday, just hours before President Rodrigo Duterte was to witness the decommissioning ceremony some 40 kilometers (25 miles) away in Sultan Kudarat, a  bomb hidden in a parked motorcycle exploded near a public market in Isulan town. I saw the video of that horrifying incident that was sent to me on my messenger, which should never have happened… but unfortunately it did.

This is why I was aghast to read the front page news in yesterday’s Philippine STAR when we learned that Pres. Duterte promised to buy new and better firearms for former MILF combatants who surrendered the 940 weapons during a decommissioning ceremony in Maguindanao last Saturday afternoon. In the first place, the 940 surrendered firearms are merely the beginning of what the MILF has surrendered, which means that there are more firearms yet to be surrendered.

Unlike in the past, these firearms were personal weapons of each Muslim rebels, but if the purpose for Pres. Duterte is to replace their surrendered firearms with new ones, then let me say it here that the President is making a serious mistake… especially that he only has three more years to go as President of this country. What if the next President is someone whom the MILF does not trust… will these new firearms be used to wage violence in Mindanao once again? I most certainly hope not!

At this point, I would like to exhort Pres. Duterte to come up with a program where the MILF can help the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) fight side-by-side each other, but only if there are violent skirmishes that need to be neutralized. But the President would certainly be making the biggest mistake of his Presidency if he replaces those surrendered firearms with new ones, especially when they are use against the AFP, then all these efforts for peace would be naught!

We know well enough that about a third of MILF combatants and their weapons are to be retired in the first phase of the decommissioning process. As Pres. Duterte peace adviser Carlito Galvez said, “In order to have an enduring peace, we have to change the mindset of the people.” He said that each retired fighter would receive a P1 million worth of cash, scholarships, health insurance, and training to become productive civilians. This for me is far more important than giving these Muslim rebels new weapons because that would mean keeping life in status quo.

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On a very positive news, we learned that a Manila court has issued a warrant for the arrest of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria Sison and 30 other leftist leaders in connection with the “Inopacan massacre” and the subsequent discovery of mass graves in Leyte in 2006. This arrest warrant was issued last Aug. 28, by Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 32 Judge Thelma Bunly-Medina who also ordered the arrest of Rodolfo Salas alias Ka Bilog, Leo Velasco, Jose Luneta, Geronimo Pasetes, Prudencio Calubid and Luis Jalandoni. Of course, Joma Sison denied these allegations.

The infamous Inopacan massacre happened when the CPP/NPA rebel groups held a horrific purging of its comrades fighting the government where 67 members of the CPP/NPA were killed and hastily buried in a shallow grave in Inopacan, Leyte. Back then our anti-communist groups in Cebu which is just across Inopacan, Leyte learned why the CPP conducted a deadly purge.

Apparently the top CPP leadership suspected that their own NPA forces were inflitrated by the intelligence arm of the AFP, hence the quickest way to solve their internal security breach was to kill its members.

Today, the skeletal remains of 67 dead NPAs in Inopacan cry out for justice. It’s been 13 years since the mass graves in Inopacan were exhumed and we only have the cries of the families who lost their sons in the evil that the CPP/NPA has been selling to our people. Justice has eluded our people!

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Email: vsbobita@mozcom.com or vsbobita@gmail.com

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