EDITORIAL - Waking up to new realities

Felix Manuel - The Freeman
EDITORIAL - Waking up to new realities

The communist ambush of a police team responding to an alarm in the mountains of Guihulngan City in Negros Oriental last Friday and the resulting high death toll of seven officers killed, including the police chief, reinforces a growing belief that security forces in the country have not fully appreciated just how changed the landscape in which they operate has become.

These are no longer times when law enforcers can come rushing, sirens wailing, and burst onto a scene, guns drawn, and cry freeze, police! It is only in the movies that such a type of action can still be seen. And even then, there are newer genres of movies that introduce a more realistic depiction of just how dangerous the world has become.

Interestingly, the Guihulngan massacre nearly reflects perfectly the scenario that precipitated what has now come to be known as the ongoing Marawi crisis. That crisis started when law enforcers, totally oblivious and completely uncomprehending the new security situation, traipsed into unchecked terrain as if walking into the park, aiming to serve a warrant on a terrorist commander.

In both the Marawi precursor and the Guihulngan incident, it never occurred to our hapless security forces to take security precautions. And why would they? It never crossed their minds that the environment has changed. It never dawned on them that the rules of engagement have changed in a way that rules no longer apply. The total lack of understanding is frighteningly institutional. It runs from the top and all the way down to the bottom.

It is despairingly frustrating to realize that in both Marawi and Guihulngan, the government walked right into a trap with disastrous consequences. It is very despairingly frustrating because the global security evolution did not happen only yesterday. For a country that is so media savvy and attuned to global developments, it would seem as if the words terrorism and treachery have not yet been invented.

The times no longer call for knocking on the door brandishing a badge. When the enemy is already in the kitchen having coffee, even kicking in the door will not do anymore. You have to sneak in through the upstairs window and catch the enemy by surprise, not the other way around. We are at war with enemies that do not show themselves. That is the new reality to which we must adjust.

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