ROUGH CUTS| A possible win-win solution

WHAT is this we hear about a young recruit of Davao City’s Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) unit of the 911 emergency response group who got drowned while undergoing training in the waters off Talomo?

     According to reports we received from reliable sources the victim was on routine swimming practice to improve his skills in water rescue in case of emergency at sea or in the city’s major rivers. In fact during that training round the recruit was with a close relative of his as well as other members of the rescue team.

     Unfortunately, with a stroke of bad luck, the recruit disappeared from the view of his training companions. Efforts to find him proved futile, according to our sources. Some hours later the victim’s lifeless body was fished out of the water along the shoreline also in Talomo.

     Well, accidents happen in the most unexpected places and time, and even with the presence of some people who we think, are in a better position to prevent such accident from happening.

     Ironically, in the case of the USAR trainee, he was in the company of people who are honed up to undertake rescue operation – members of the city’s widely acknowledged 911.

     We were told that as of last Sunday the body of the drowned USAR member was still unburied with his wake at his parents’ residence in Talandang, Tugbok district.

     As to what really happened we’ll just leave it to the city’s 911 and the parents either to disclose to the public or keep it to themselves. At least we know that employees of Central 911 have been visiting the residence of the victim to condole with his family. We hope the parents of the unfortunate recruit will find peace in the thought that their son died doing something that could have helped rescue his fellow Davaoenos in times of calamities.


     In a hearing conducted by two commissioners of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) last week, Lumad datus or leaders of the indigenous people (IP) from Talaingod, Davao del Norte wanted a signed manifesto by the military to be witnessed by no less than Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte that the soldiers leave the IP communities.

     The datus also want included in the manifesto a commitment by the military to disband the armed group Alamara, which they contend, is a creation of the armed forces to help in their fight against insurgents believed to be having their base in the hinterlands.

     Personally, we believe that only one of the two demands is easily doable. That is, the disbandment of the paramilitary group because being a military creation it can also be undone by simple order from the higher authorities. The military superiors can just ask them to report to the nearest camp and disarm them. In the process however, the creator of the group will also be putting the lives of the paramilitary members in danger. They become fair game to the rebels and the families of those they have wronged.

This is the aspect that the military will have to reckon with should they agree to the call of the lumad leaders.

     And why are we saying that for the aoldiers to leave the lumad communities as demanded by its leaders is one difficult task to do or cannot be done at all? We all know that the military is duty-bound to be where the interest of the state is perceived to be in danger. It is provided in our Constitution. Thus, to agree with the Lumad leaders’ demand would be like going against a constitutionally-mandated responsibility. It is like surrendering part of a country’s territory to an internal enemy without putting up a fight.

     But of course we are not saying that it cannot be done if the intention really is to attain peace for the people living in the IP communities. But in so doing, some compromises should have to be entered into. Perhaps the military can make its counter proposal. And it would be for the rebels to be made a party to the manifesto; that the military demand from the datus to ask the rebels to commit to leave the lumad communities simultaneous with the departure of the soldiers assigned in the area and the dismantling of the paramilitary group.

     Now the question is: Will the lumad leaders and their militant support groups be willing to convince the rebel leaders in that area to be part of the manifesto, sign it and then leave the place as well?

     Well, if they have that courage to demand from the military to leave their communities, then there is no reason they cannot ask the rebels to do the same if it is peace they want to reign in the uplands.

     For us, making the rebels a party to the manifesto may be the most fair and probably the only win-win solution to the problem that is bedeviling the lumads not only in Talaingod but in all other areas in the Davao region.

     Maybe the CHR through its regional office in Davao City can explore the viability of the lumad datus’ proposal but also discuss with the lumad leaders the expansion of coverage of the manifesto to include the rebels as well.

Posted in Opinion