PNoy and the Philippine Armed Forces both stunned by the MILF

Someone from a public forum was disappointed that I did not have an opinion readily available for him about the situation in Mindanao. He wrote to me:

Hi Ilda. It’s rather odd that you did not have the time for this issue that’s been in the news for over a week, and in fact, this is one of the biggest issue facing our country today. But i understand. We are all busy

Although it is true that I have been busy, part of the reason I was reluctant to put my two cents in regarding how President Noynoy Aquino (PNoy) is handling the deaths of 19 members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the hands of Muslim rebels in Basilan is because I did not want to be a part of all the loose talk that has been going around lately.

How long will they remain focused on the mandate?

I mean, I am all for pointing out what is wrong with how our government handles public affairs but I think that there are times when some people, including commentators need to just shut up. For one thing, the airwaves are rife with speculation that the soldiers are becoming demoralized over PNoy’s decision not to go on an all-out war against the Muslim rebels who are said to be part of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). And another thing, the situation in Mindanao is so fragile that just about any (conspiracy) theory coming from the public can only provoke a breakdown in the peace process. Surprisingly, it was someone from the MILF who actually spoke with some sense. To quote a report from Philstar.com:

Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF vice chairman for military affairs, said government officials who are not in any way involved in resolving the security problems in Mindanao should stop issuing provocative and inflammatory statements that could inflame the situation.

In my opinion, and this is coming from a long time critic of the incumbent President, any criticism directed towards PNoy at this particular time would 1) not help the relatives of the dead soldiers who are in mourning and 2) not help the AFP with their mission. Indeed, AFP chief Gen. Eduardo Oban had been quoted as saying that they remain “focused” on their “mandate”. To wit:

“But definitely, we are focused on our mandate. We’d like to assure everybody that we remain focused on our mandate. We have job to accomplish.”

Although this talk about the military being demoralized has been heavily denied by Oban, let’s face it; when we talk about being demoralized, we’re not just talking about people from the Philippine military. We can also include quite a growing number of civilians as well who have been disappointed with PNoy since Day One and who are now even more disappointed that the President’s mandate went the opposite way of what they were expecting after the unnecessary deaths of young soldiers. I wrote “unnecessary” because there was supposed to be a cease-fire agreement between the AFP and the MILF especially after PNoy’s “secret” meeting with the MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad in Tokyo, Japan last August of this year.

What do I know about going to war? Not a lot. Most of what I know are bits and pieces from news items and Hollywood movies I’ve seen. I know nothing about the terrain in Mindanao that the foot soldiers of the AFP would be forced to map out. I know nothing about the real fighting capacity of our soldiers. Are they fully equipped? Are they prepared enough? It has become apparent during the ambush that the military is at a disadvantage when they go into unfamiliar surroundings. In short, they may be ill-prepared. So it would be silly of me to encourage the military to go on an all-out war just to “wipe out” those who were responsible for the ambush of the soldiers.

But it seems to me like there are so many civilians who have become “experts” on war lately. They sound like they know more than the average Army general about how the military should deal with the Muslim rebels in Mindanao. It’s as if going after the rebels were as easy as playing a video game where you can go in and out of battle unscathed. Unfortunately, that is not the case. There is no Hollywood ending in real life especially when civilians are caught in the cross fire during fighting.

There are also conspiracy theories going around that PNoy helped arm the MILF when he handed them a P5-million cheque. Although I do not agree with that move especially the part where they defended it by claiming it was GMA who committed to giving the funds in 2008 to begin with, I doubt that ammunition bought with that money could fund an all-out assault. So to me, the theory that P5-million is enough to arm the rebels seems illogical. And even if its true that the rebels used the money to arm themselves, the military can probably rest assured that their enemy’s ammunition can’t last for long.

Funnily enough, former rogue military man Senator Antonio Trillanes is now seemingly provoking the military into destabilizing PNoy’s administration. He may be acting like he doesn’t condone rumors of a coup d’ etat, but he is also helping spread the rumor that morale in the military is low at the moment. Obviously, Trillanes is one who is either exaggerating or is talking out of experience being “demoralized”. It was PNoy who pardoned Trillanes and let him out of prison despite his role in the plot to overthrow former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA). It would be really ironic if Trillanes is eventually found to be behind all these alleged “destabilization” activities.

Now some people might get this misguided idea that just because I am a staunch critic of PNoy, it means that I long to see the day when a coup d’ etat or a “people power” would finally overthrow him. Quite the contrary, I want PNoy to finish his term. Once PNoy finishes his term, there would be no chance of his supporters claiming that his plans were aborted; and no chance of them trying to reclaim his position again a la Erap. Once PNoy finishes his term, it would finally prove to everyone once and for all what he is all about. Now I am not being critical of PNoy. As someone once put it, I am just stating the obvious.

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Post Author: Ilda

In life, things are not always what they seem.