All-out war Philippines: Kill ’em all and let God sort them out

So, we are told, there’s three groups to consider: the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). Three different acronyms, yes. But are they really three different groups of people? We seem to have fixated on the acronyms but not really thought through and understood what differentiates these three terrorist bands.

bangsamoro_basic_lawCould it be that the so-called “experts” on Mindanao and its terrorist infestation know too much detail for the national good? Sometimes it is better to approach the issue with a child-like mind, see. Outsiders looking into this nightmarish national crisis, only see a bunch of bad men who happen to be Islamic in creed running around Mindanao carrying guns and shooting at people.

And so there really is only one common denominator across the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the BIFF, and the ASG:

Islamic terrorism.

Indeed, the Philippine Army which is now under orders to wage an “all-out war” against the latter two have highlighted a fundamental fear along these lines…

The military fears Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) might mingle with Moro Islamic Liberation Front members to elude pursuing Philippine Army troopers in Central Mindanao.

Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines public affairs office, said one of the challenges in the all-out offensive against the BIFF was the possibility both rebel groups might reunite. The BIFF is a breakaway group of the [Moro Islamic Liberation Front] which is nearing a peace agreement with the government.

In short, the Philippines and its people, from a military perspective, have only one strategic enemy — bad armed men who kill people in an organised manner in the name of Islam.

But ask the “experts” and they will insist that there are really three different people of those sorts, one of which, namely the the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, is supposedly “friendly” with the Philippine government and therefore supposedly worth sparing in an “all-out war”. So we should then ask the next obvious question:

How exactly is the Moro Islamic Liberation Front different from the BIFF and the ASG?

When you are a soldier looking through the sights of your gun, it is highly unlikely you’d be too fussed about who is who. You just shoot someone coming at you with a gun — or a kris.

To the experts armed with their PhDs, however, the following definitions matter so much that they have all but fixated on these dubious political constructs:

Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG): Armed Islamic militants with strong ties to Indonesian terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah and al Qaeda from which it allegedly receives funding. Early members were recruits from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Moro Islamic Liberation Front: Breakaway group of armed Islamic militants from the (now-moderate) MNLF and allegedly has elements in its ranks trained by Jemaah Islamiya. They are blamed for various terrorist activites including the bombing of Davao Airport in 2003 and violating a ceasefire agreement fighting alongside the ASG resulting in 23 deaths in Maguindanao in 2005.

Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF): Armed Islamic militants that formed a breakway group from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front after the latter began negotiating with the Philippine government.

So can you actually see that “difference” the “experts” say exists between these three groups?

What seems to be more evident is that there are more similarities between the three than the imaginary “differences” our “experts” routinely use to muddle the national “debate”. If you look through the above stocktake, there really are only a handful of words and names that are common across the three. I’ve already mentioned two of them earlier. Suffice to say, the message is pretty clear. They are the same type of dog each with different shapes of spots.

Pity our armed forces then. As if nothing’s been learned following the savage massacre of 44 members of the Philippine police’s Special Action Force team, the Army is now being sent out to categorise the enemy before shooting them.

I don’t think so.

We will recall words of military wisdom used in many such conflicts in the past:

Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.

“Kill them. For the Lord knows those that are His own.” More succinctly:

Kill ’em all and let God sort them out.

Politically incorrect? Perhaps. But put yourself in the enemy’s combat tsinelas for a minute and think of it again. You will likely find this command will makes a lot more sense from that perspective — as 44 dead SAF officers and thousands more of our boys before them who died fighting these terrorists now know. Any strategist worth their salt will tell you that an important part of winning a war is thinking like the enemy. Perhaps it’s time the real experts in this crisis lead the way and leave the opinions of a bunch of school girls out of it.

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51 Comments on “All-out war Philippines: Kill ’em all and let God sort them out”

  1. If we apply that ‘kill them all’ solution, then the gov’t should gear themselves up for a long, bloody and probably an unpopular war. I will state my reasons why:

    First, these people don’t have uniforms thus you can’t tell which who to shoot and not to shoot. Also, civilians can be caught in a crossfire and the irony would be that the gov’t will be their to these groups biggest recruiter.

    Second, they knew the battlefield more than our military since the fighting at their backyard. Guerilla warfare is more favorable to those who know the place of conflict better.

    Third, it’s a waste of gov’t resources. The gov’t will spend millions and even billions in this war and the gains will be little since they don’t fight a conventional way unlike the military.

    Fourth, the war would become a recruitment ground for int’l jihadists. We would face the same situation similar to Afghanistan towards the end of the Cold War. The USSR invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and they had the same that I stated above and it unpopular. Jihadists for all over the world and from all walks of life flock to Afghanistan to fight the ungodly communists. This was the same war that made Osama bin Laden. A war in Mindanao would probably produce another Osama bin Laden.

    Fifth, it would be an unpopular war. For a war to succeed the whole population must overwhelmingly support it and I don’t see it right now. It will divide the country into various factions not just Muslims vs. Christians. The US lost the Vietnam War because it was unpopular to it’s people.

    1. The use of that phrase in this article is more as a device to punctuate the real point of this piece: that all of these “groups” are essentially the same and, therefore, any strategy to deal with them (of which “all-out war” is but one option) should jump off from that reality.

      As we can see now, the unnecessary complications of this issue and the accompanying waste in time and resources that result from it are all rooted in the flawed notion that there are three different groups to deal with. The fact is, there really is just one enemy. If the Army (or, for that matter, any entity or agency — civilian or military — that wants to dabble in Mindanao solutioneering) were given instructions to regard their mission as one dealing with just one enemy, then they will likely be more effective.

      1. Yes all 3 of them are Islamic separatists but have different approaches. We have to be pragmatic in dealing with them. We should deal with them one at a time.

        Dealing all of them as one enemy like sitting on a tinder box. All of the problems that I stated in my previous comment would come true. We would no longer fight a war against terrorism but we would be fighting a war of independence in Eastern Mindanao.

        1. Deal with them separately? If you fall for that nonsense, New breakaway groups will form again and again and again.. And what makes u think that majority of the people there wants independence? Only those carrying guns want that so they can rule.. Civilians will always be casualties as long as these terrorists groups are strong.. I say, push them to deepest recesses of the jungle if they don’t want to surrender their ammo and live peacefully..

        2. @BULUTONGBOY:

          Dealing with them on at a time is better. It’s a great waste of men and ammunition if we deal all 3 of them simultaneously at least in an open and conventional war.

          In the Vietnam War, the US are not dealing with one enemy. They are fighting the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army (NVA). The US spends billions of dollars with little gain.

          If you really want to eliminate all them, then it should be done in clandestine and black ops operations and not in a conventional war.

        3. Eastern Mindanao? Thats CARAGA & Compostella Valley!
          But I do agree, if BBL gets passed then the GRP would have to deal with the Lumads/ Bisaya’s of Mindanao!

      2. Mr Benign0, I just want to point out that while I agree insofar as all terrorists in our country are just terrorists, and should be treated as such, we certainly can neither treat them all the same way or “kill them all”, as Joseph Estrada will readily demonstrate. You seem upset that the wars in Mindanao have gone on so long due to the inefficiency of our government(s). Just as we are again seeing with the current administration, the problem has always had to do with a lack of understanding of the situation and/or mishandling of it, rather than a case of understanding it too well, something I don’t believe anyone will accuse PNoy of. Also, to clarify your statements regarding uniformed services, please be informed that they conduct their operations separately from sociologists and historians, whom you have dismissed as mere “experts” but whose expertise is needed to ensure such situations don’t repeat when the dust has cleared. And the salt-worthy strategists you mentioned that plan military operations surely see the value in knowing one’s enemy.

        1. Since Magellan landed in Cebu and was killed by Lapu Lapu, war started and until now it is still alive and well. This war have been going several century. From the Spaniard, American, Japanese and now AFP and MILF and other Muslim Group. Why they go to war? What is the root of the problem?
          Answer: FREEDOM a man right to live his life as he choose. DUTERTE solution is FEDERAL form of Government.
          Give Mindanao to run their own lives under one nation and one flag.

    2. Aren’t we already at war? This conflict has existed past 3 presidential terms and there is no end at sight, primarily because the govt allows them to recuperate their losses and regroup. I am aware that war sounds harsh. War will always be harsh and bloody and people will die but it exists because we are being attacked. The BIFF, MILF and others are making fools of our govt, pointing to each other saying that the other group killed our soldiers, and our Pnoy is actually letting them do it. They are pushing us against the wall, why should we not fight back?
      And I agree with benignO that part of the reason we are having a hard time containing them is because of their so called “differences”. I believe (inclusive of all my naivete) that the real cause of all this is money. The govt favors one group with a few billion pesos so the other group separates etc etc, a tale as old as time. This is not about Islam. Just like ISIS or Daech, this is about power (forming a Caliphate as they say) and money and the most materialistic of causes which can only be achieved through war and death.
      The fact that our soldiers had to get a ceasefire order to enter OUR COUNTRY’s territory is telling. They are already fighting us. I don’t think we have a choice but to defend ourselves.

    3. @Anton/Mac: The onus was on the MILF to first prove that their goals as a community (or at least the community they presume to “represent”) could not be achieved under the current system provided by the national framework already in place and enshrined in the Constitution. Under the current secular common-law system, imperfect as that may be, any community bowing to whatever reasonable ethically-sound religious faith can, in principle, prosper under Philippine law and the governance system in place.

      So the failure of the civilian authorities in this case was to apply an approach to dealing with these crooks in a manner that puts the primacy of the current system first and the grievances of the minorities they represent a distant second. The framework should have been around clear points describing reasons WHY Pinoy muslims cannot achieve their goals under the current system in place.

      That would have put to question why they were bearing arms to begin with. Because the then-hypothetical solution will have involved some change and legislation to implement a new governance approach, the reasons required would have to be systemic in nature (i.e. systemic reasons why Muslims cannot work with the current system as it stands) rather than political/historical reasons supposedly leading to their armed movement and justifying its continued existence.

      Framed this way, the debate would likely have been more straightforward — that whatever the historical reasons the existence of armed bandits cannot be tolerated even as any “peace” deal was discussed.

  2. I will say something I have been saying since 4Q of 2012. There are so many moving parts in that conflict I have no idea why government seems to think a piece of paper will achieve blanket peace. Oh yeah it is all about the perception of doing something. Or in Aquino’s case the perception he can do something. His law making ability in the Senate and Congress speaks for itself. And this Einstein will somehow get everybody to lay down their guns catapulting him to the dais in Oslo??

    Noynoy in a “level” playing field can’t even distinguish himself among other trapos and artistas and con artists and yet has his sights on the Nobel Peace Prize?? Sorry fooling a baduy population is one thing. Making epal the Nobel Peace Prize for your own perverted insecurity is another thing. Specially when it is your blood not being left on the battlefield.

  3. These terrorists move in synergy. To put it simply, when 1 armed group goes to war, all other armed groups( including privitized armed group) go to war AGAINST the government. This is Mindanao! They are all relatives in the name of Allah.

    1. “This is Mindanao! They are all relatives in the name of Allah.”

      you might want to change your terms here. Mindanao, really? Isn’t that too big of a word to be used in a phrase with that limited scope? Not all people in Mindanao are Muslims. And it’s really really really annoying that when there are NEWS or comments about what happened in Mamasapano, Maguindanao (which is a mere part of Mindanao, if you don’t know) people tend to generalize. They generalize all the time..all the DAMN time.

      1. Correct. I’m from Mindanao and a Christian. I can confidently tell anyone that Muslims are a minority even in Mindanao. I favor the other minority, the Lumads, who have contributed more to this country than the Muslims have by quietly toiling in their rice fields, producing a vastly significant portion of the rice the people of this country need.

    2. Jelly is right. Don’t generalize.
      Idiots come in all shapes, sizes, religions, and regions.
      Put Palparan in charge. he’ll clean up this mess.

    3. “This is Mindanao! They are all relatives in the name of Allah.”

      Really? Do actually buy that reason? I mean come on that’s exactly the type of mentality the Colonizers want to plant with in our people so we can go on and kill each other while they slowly extort our resources and get rich out of WAR. I say take religion, race and ethnicity out of the picture for a moment and remind yourself that we are all human. Except for those who kill in the name of a theory which I even doubt is even real.

  4. Well, I think it probably IS a good idea not to take on all three groups at the same time. But I also agree with you that they’d be foolish to trust any of the three groups so shouldn’t work with any in reality. But if they can create the illusion of working with the MILF without compromising themselves that could be a plan.

  5. the newspapers says, the AFP kills that much, the BIFF kills that much….where is the body? show us the casualties to proved there’s really fighting out there.

  6. It seems most people have forgotten that what these Muslim extremists want is an independent nation of their own. That I believe is still their main goal in Mindanao.

    1. And they want to put up their barbaric Shariah court system to rule over the whole island despite the fact that Muslims are a minority even in Mindanao.

      1. If that’s the case, shouldn’t they just piss off to Indonesia or Brunei to live in their dream Islamic State? Or are they such lazy scum those countries won’t even take them in as refugees.

  7. It sucks being a Philippine military soldier. You are only fighting just so you can get a better future but the reality is that you are fighting for a government that is known to be corrupt and the benefits aren’t that great. Added to that, the government has made it clear you are EXPENDABLE considering that the dead 44 SAF was never given justice in any way shape or form by the government that sent them to their deaths.

    This decision “for peace” will definitely haunt this government and the next president will blame it on Noynoy just like all the past ones. While Mindanao is annexed by the very people they sought peace with.

    If there is one sport the Philippines never fails at and that is shooting themselves in the foot. In fact, all shots have never missed the foot once.

  8. MILF, BIFF, Abu Sayaff Group, etc…they are all the same. They Are Islamic Radicals and Terrorists, bent on imposing their Rule on Mindanao…they are the minorities. Since, there are many Tribes and Creeds in Mindanao. However, they are also affiliated to Al Queda, ISIS and other Islamic Radical organization.
    They want a Caliphate in Mindanao, with Sharia Law ruling its people.

    Sri Lanka military had defeated the Tamil Tigers, easily; a few years back. The Russian military had dealt a fatal defeat on the Checkniyan Rebels, also.

    So, there are strategies and tactics, to win against these people. Civilian casualties cannot be avoided. These Jihadists hide behind civilians; mingle themselves with civilians, when fighting their war.

    The idea of Aquino to classify the enemies, in the battlefield, is an INSANE idea…coming from an insane man.

    Maybe, Aquino wants to “Color Code”, the Islamic Radicals. MILF can be colored “Yellow”;BIFF can be colored “Yellow Green”; Abu Sayaff, with “Yellow Orange”…MILF, will have their fighters :”Aquino’s MILF” tatooed on their foreheads…

    Why is Aquino , very much interested in protecting the MILF? Money is the answer….our taxpayers’ money….this is how corrupt Aquino is…

    1. “Whom the Gods wants to Destroy….they made them first Insane”…they usually say…
      Aquino is Insane…

    2. MILF is cuddled by Malaysia and we all know how close the Cojuangco-Aquino’s to the Malaysians! Sad to say but they are our own 5th column!

  9. I feel bad for the fact that the majority of my Muslim friends are often uneasy in public because of these terrorists / secessionists who wave the flag of Islam.

    Why can’t we just label them all as “terrorists / secessionists” and wipe them out? It will be unpopular, yes, but then we can’t really expect to have much progress being done when you have a bunch of armed guys running amok in your backyard.

    If they want to live under a Caliphate, go somewhere else.

    1. These terrorists want to claim their own land and put it under Shariah law because they believe its for the good of all in the land. And as history has proven time and time again, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

      Doesn’t help most of these terrorists are just blind and uneducated fanatics.

      In fact, the Philippine military should use Jihawg bullets to scare these extremists. (Muslim “eating” pork = instant Hell)

  10. Firstoff, there is no popular war, there are only infamous ones. No one says fondly of any memory of any war, at least majority of normal, peace loving human beings.

    That being said, sometimes it is necessary. To make a stand, a point, to cease a minority making the majority irrelevant, and yes, to make peace. Ask any war photojournalist and they will say the best and the worst of people come out during one, and it is in this rising that people are forced into a quandary wherein they have to figure out, which is the best way to have a life, to be more than survival. Harsh for sure but we’ve been racing towards it with all the crap being thrown at us.

    Its been near 2 decades of this. No time like the present to DECIDE, and finally, to ACT.

    1. On the flip side, do we let 20 years of atrocity in the name of whatever their ideology is just because we don’t know the cost of war? Or because we’re scared shitless to move?

      How about protecting the rest people we are ALLOWING these guys to terrorize because of failure to act? Because that’s what’s happening. It’s a question of what’s more important, is it the minority bully who has the loudest voice and better arms, or the majority that actually means something to the nation, the one that is part of us.

      And, on a personal note, soldiers CHOOSE to protect, not to cower. Intelligent battle is part of that. Half of my relatives are in the armies of the North and they are SEETHING because the entire army is held back from doing what is right, arms or not. So it’s not that I speak out of turn.

    2. Presidente Emilio:

      How did this Catapang, become a General?
      He is afraid to lead and fight? Kissing the Ass of a coward like Aquino; can appoint a coward like Catapang, as General. U.S. Gen. George Patton, would had put a bullet, on this Yellow belly’s coward head…

      1. To be honest, I think Catapang’s choice of words in that statement are outright bad.

        But I’m pretty sure the AFP are prepared for any eventuality (well, they should be). But the question is: are we united enough to support their backs till the end? O baka ningas-kugon na naman tayo…

        Remember that it isn’t people like us who live at the comfort of our homes who will bear the scars of war, it’s our soldiers on the field. Heck, the survivor of Mamasapano (himself a native of Mindanao) is now clamoring for peace because he knew it isn’t the people of Luzon and Visayas who will have to run away from their homes when the guns roar all over again.

        I think what Catapang wants to convey is: “Huwag ninyo kami pangunahan. Let us do our jobs in our own way, and our pace.”

        On another angle, Catapang might not have any other choice but suppor Noynoy’s stance. Afterall, he won’t repeat the same mistake SAF did: disobeying the chain of command.

  11. To all those inviting for war, please enlist your self to the AFP & PNP and for your information the battleground when war will errup is no longger in the areas of Muslims but to the areas of those who are calling for war. Be ready your self!

  12. We want peace. But, the two practical pillars of democracy are cooperation and conflict. The two will always be present. So, peace is not the elimination of conflict, but the management of it. There are times when war is needed, and we know it when we see it. When we see it, we will not be true to ourselves if we refuse to see it to avoid it. That will not bring true peace. We want true peace, not an artificial peace for that brings more suffering, nor a cheap peace that in the long run costs more. (Though, BBL is not cheap at a price tag of 75B. Which means that in the final reckoning, the final costs will be five, ten times that for BBL is all about short-cuts, all things that are cheap in principles.)

    We have to think. Above kind of mentality can’t come from people who are so used to mediocrity and from leaders who perpetuate this mediocrity for their personal ends.

  13. This problem should have been settled during Pres. Eraps term if he was able to finish it! But instead he got “People Powered” out of office! And now were back to square one again!
    There is no good, moderate & bad rebel/ terrorists! There just rebels/ terrorists plain and simple!
    As long our government/people “trying” to distinguish these alphabet groups from one another then its policies are flawed to begin with!

  14. To be honest, I think Catapang’s choice of words in that statement are outright bad.

    But I’m pretty sure the AFP are prepared for any eventuality (well, they should be). But the question is: are we united enough to support their backs till the end? O baka ningas-kugon na naman tayo…

    Remember that it isn’t people like us who live at the comfort of our homes who will bear the scars of war, it’s our soldiers on the field. Heck, the survivor of Mamasapano (himself a native of Mindanao) is now clamoring for peace because he knew it isn’t the people of Luzon and Visayas who will have to run away from their homes when the guns roar all over again.

    I think what Catapang wants to convey is: “Huwag ninyo kami pangunahan. Let us do our jobs in our own way, and our pace.”

    On another angle, Catapang might not have any other choice but suppor Noynoy’s stance. Afterall, he won’t repeat the same mistake SAF did: disobeying the chain of command.

  15. Tama lang mamatay mga BIFF at MILF na yan ginagago nila si Allah dahil binibigyan nila ng maling reputasyon ng mga muslim.

  16. The true soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the true soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.

  17. In 1972, there was only MNLF. More than 40 years come by with wars, ceasefires and unattainable peace, there are now MILF, Abu Sayyaf, BIFF, and after the stalling of the peace agreement, JIM (justice Islamic Movement). If were we to continue this war, then more armed splinter groups are gonna keep being created, producing misery for some people in Southern Mindanao.

  18. It’s a trap, as you can analyze the situation, they are desperate for support unlike before when Khadaffi of Libya supports their terroristic way by funding the Abu Sayyaf w/c formed in honor of his son Saif. Also Malaysia as a mediator has also some fear if this 3 groups unite as one and turned on them to claim Sabah and be their homeland. If BBL is passed theres a lot of money allocated to them by the government in exchanged of illusory peace and addressing their grievances. Just like a ransom in a big picture.

  19. Why do we need to categorize this hudloms where in fact they are just like human life: 4 in the morning, 2 in the afternoon and 3 in the evening.. They are fucking same idiots paid to sabotage our countrys economy, better ask why. Do malaysia keeps on intervening in the settlement. Mnfl-milf-biff whats greed could create after all?

  20. Do NOT involve God in this. Whatever action humans do has to be sorted out by them(our)selves. ” Kill ’em all and let God sort them out”. WHAT???? Leave God at peace and we, the beings of peace and realise this and do peaceful actions. Whatever is happening within and without us all, let’s realise WHO we really are – peaceful beings! God has NOTHING TO DO WITH what’s happening in us all. WE’RE all responsible for what’s happening IN the world. We are ALL accountable for EVERYTHING that’s happening – LITERALLY Everything.
    _ _ _ _ _ _
    Ross Galán, Ph. D.
    NLP Spiritual Life Coach

    1. Humans aren’t peaceful beings. Everything human society is today — our key technologies, politics, geography, and national characters — were all shaped by war.

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