Aggressive measures

Anthony Chua

She envisioned a peaceful Mindanao. Yet at present what Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is seeing are acts of terrorism being committed in North Cotabato, Lanao del Norte and Sarangani provinces. The ruthless attacks, led by two Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) commanders, Ombra Kato and Abdulla Macapaar alias Commander Bravo, has killed and injured many; displaced thousands; and terrorized millions.

The aggression of the rogue commanders apparently started after being disappointed by the suspension of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on ancestral domain signing of the government panel. The Supreme Court (SC) issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) halting the official signing of the MOA between the government panel and MILF on August 4 in Kuala Lumpur. On the belief that the initialing of the MOA by the negotiators on both the government and MILF panel is already a “done deal,” the two aggressive MILF commanders deemed the SC’s TRO as Arroyo’s betrayal to the peace talks and declared what Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Alexander Yano dubbed “a virtual declaration of war.”

Now that a couple of MILF mavericks, whom the group’s top officers are refusing to surrender to the government, are on a rampage in Mindanao, it is but expected that Arroyo would “defend every inch of Philippine territory.”

An aggression of one that has been retaliated by another means war. And as what is always happening in wars, the sad thing is millions of peace loving Filipinos, whether Christians or Muslims, are suffering from these atrocities.

No one in his sane mind wants to wage war. Yet humans succumb to aggression when their rights and desires have been taken away from them by others or by circumstances. In the case of MILF, their struggle for ancestral domain in several parts of Mindanao has long been deprived from them by the Philippine government. A solution, the shift towards federalism proposed by Sen. Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. via resolution and by Rep. Rufus Rodriguez via House bill, had been up for grabs until it has been attempted to be “hijacked” by Arroyo in her bid to seal a lasting peace to Mindanao and, according to her critics, to extend her term.

Now that majority of legislators have withdrawn their support for federalism through Charter change and MOA on ancestral domain suspended, what else would Arroyo plan to do? Given her worsening approval ratings, as evidenced by the growing suspicions of extending her term by virtually all sectors of the Philippine society, and her desperation to cling (for life if possible) to Malacanang, the sanctuary that gives her immunity from lawsuits; it is but expected of her to use aggressive measures to stay in power as Chief Executive.

Whether she’ll do it by force (such as declaration of Martial Law) or whatever is still remains to be seen. But we are still hopeful she’ll have the Filipina’s hiya and delicadeza in her to follow the footprints of the former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, who, despite his influence and might, was forced to resign because of pressures for impeachment and plunging popularity.

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