ROUGH CUTS| Gov’t-MILF peace initiative put to acid test

THIS is the problem with us Filipinos. We are so fond of coining words just to be able to come up with unique description of certain objects or characteristics.

Take the case of our international beauty contestants. During the just ended Miss Universe beauty tilt held in Florida, United States of America, our innovative bet handlers use “bomb walk” to describe the way our contestant Mary Jean “MJ” Lastimosa walks on the ramp.

Some two years back we also had another beauty tilt entry, Shamcey Supsup from General Santos City whose style of walking on the ramp was termed by her handlers with the help of the media, the “tsunami” walk.

Personally, there is nothing wrong with this. However, we believe that coining certain descriptions heightens people’s expectation. Thus, when our bet doesn’t make it to the top five we tend to suffer bigger frustration.

Perhaps it would be much better that coming up with impressions that will help win a beauty contest better be left to the pageant judges. We must learn not to pre-empt them. That was what I observed when our contestant to the Miss World 2013 contest Ms. Megan Young brought home the crown.

–ooOoo–

     It appears that the initial successes of the administration of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III in forging a final peace agreement with the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is being put to its acid test with the bloodiest ever ambush of a large group of policemen belonging to the Special Action Force (SAF). The ambush which was admitted by both the MILF and its break-away faction called the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) last Sunday resulted to the death of 44 policemen member of the SAF and the wounding of eleven others. The SAF was to serve arrest warrants on two alleged members of the Jeemah Islamiya that have ties with the Al Kaida group of Osama Ben Ladin, a known funder of terrorist activities worldwide during his lifetime. The SAF’s valued targets were Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan; and Basit Usman. The high value targets carry 5 million dollars each for their heads from the United States government.

There are conflicting versions on the bloody attack. The government’s claim is that the close to 400 –member SAF were attacked first by the BIFF and when the policemen were trying to maneuver out of the deadly trap they reportedly waylaid themselves to MILF-controlled area in the municipality of Mamasapano in Maguindanao Province. That was when the MILF armed group attacked the SAF.

The version of the Moro group however, puts the blame on the absence of coordination by the SAF arrest warrant servers with the MILF. And since there was no prior advice from the government of the SAF operation, the MILF armed elements took it as an attack on their territory. Thus, they went into defensive position and fired without let-up from morning until late afternoon.

The question now is, if the claim of the MILF that the SAF did not coordinate with them, what could have goaded the SAF to go against agreed protocols under the peace agreement? On the part of the PNP top leadership, how come they claim that the “operation did not reach the higher police command”? And why can both the police executives and DILG’s Secretary Mar Roxas not answer a question from the media who was the SAF’s ground commander of the arrest warrant serving team of 400?

If that was really the situation, from whom did the SAF get their order to serve the arrest warrant? Who decided on the number of participating policemen?

And if indeed the high officials of the DILG and the police don’t have any iota of idea who led the operation, then the SAF operates on its own. It is also possible that they are getting the order from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). After all, who can possibly say no to a bounty money of roughly P215 million or a total of over half a billion in Philippine peso for the two wanted persons?

Meanwhile, what is the government’s move so that the peace initiative will remain on course? There are now snowballing calls for the suspension of activities relative to the peace efforts. The first victim is the ongoing conduct of public consultations on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that will govern the creation of a Bangsamoro Entity.

With the Mamasapano massacre we know a serious strain is created between the government and the MILF. It would take the best of minds and high negotiating expertise from both parties to slowly mend the damaged relations.

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Posted in Opinion