ROUGH CUTS|Mercenaries to fight Abu Sayyaf?

DURING last Monday’s flag ceremony at the Davao city hall grounds Mayor Inday Sara Duterte-Carpio asked local government department heads to be loyal not necessarily to her but to their job.

What humility it is for the chief executive of Davao City. But it would seem that the mayor has a different message there. So the gentlemen and ladies heading the different departments of City Hall must have to surf for the message hidden behind such statement.

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Aside from the 14 dead and the 70 wounded in that Friday night bombing at the Davao City’s night market at Roxas Ave. there are other casualties that came about as its aftermath. The major one of course is the reputation of the city as one of the safest places in the world to live. Another is the sudden slump in the economy of the city due to the self-imposed restraint of the people from going out.

And still another is the relief of the heads of law enforcement authorities including the chief of the newly created Office of Public Safety and Security (OPSS) of the city government.

The relief was requested by Mayor Sara because, according to her, after that bloody Friday attack she felt she cannot work with the concerned officials as she has already a strained relationship with them.

The officials concerned are the city police director, the commanding officer of the military’s Task Force Davao (TFD), and chief of the OPSS.

Mayor Sara has already a name of the person who would replace the current OPSS chief and she is expecting a short list of police officers from Director General Ronald dela Rosa for her to choose as replacement of the current city director.

Well, we cannot blame the mayor if she has demanded for the heads of the officials concerned. After all, there were already warnings issued of possible terrorist attacks in the city. The warnings emanated from both the police and military authorities and these came out as major stories in both the local and national newspapers, as well as in radio and television news.

The police and the military authorities also advised the public days before the bombing incident that they were placing the city on heigthened alert level.

Perhaps the mayor felt that they were not doing their best because the terrorists were able to penetrate the city and caught the security authorities off-guard by exploding their deadly baggage right in the middle of unsuspecting civilians just enjoying their Friday night with their friends and/or family members.

And we have no doubt that such relief demanded by the mayor could mean a blot in the leadership of the security forces whose jurisdiction covers the entire City of Davao.

We can only hope that police and military investigators working on the bomb attack will be able to identify the attackers, arrest them, file the necessary charges and get a court conviction. Producing such result could be the concerned security leaders’ best shot at redemption.

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If the report quoting Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol saying that President Rodrigo Duterte is contemplating hiring the services of “Gurkhas.” the Nepalese elite group of soldiers believed to be the fiercest in the world, as mercenaries to help in the fight against the dreaded Abu Sayyaf terrorists, then at this very moment we are registering our very strong objection to the plan. We believe that it is the worst insult to the Filipino soldiers and a clear affirmation to the government’s inability to meet head-on the challenge posed by the Abu Sayyaf and its supporters that include the now dreaded Maute group in Lanao del Sur.

Other than that, it is our belief that hiring mercenaries to fight a battle that solely is the Philippine government’s responsibility will further escalate the fighting in terms of area and savagery. The proposed mercenaries are not Filipinos and they have no idea who the Abu Sayyaf members are. Perhaps, all they know about the terrorist group is that it is composed of Muslim extremists. So, in all likelihood the mercenaries would consider every Muslim speaking person in areas they would be assigned to do their contracted job as fair game.

Such a plan therefore, if adopted, could be the President’s worst decision ever to be made. It could be the worst tactical mistake that he may not be able to correct even after the end of his term.

But of course, this report of the President’s alleged plan is second hand information; something that is hardly of value until confirmed by the President himself who was merely quoted by his Agriculture secretary.

We hope that this report is far from the truth.

Posted in Opinion