The Philippines does not negotiate with terrorists. Or so we are told following the miraculous “rescue” of two German hostages Stefan Viktor Okonek and Henrike Dielen held by the Islamic terrorist group Abu Sayyaf. According to Abu Sayyaf spokesman Abu Rami, the ransom they demanded was paid. According to the Philippine Government no such ransom exchanged hands. According to Armed Force of the Philippines (AFP) mouthpiece Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, the two hostages were released by the Abu Sayyaf under pressure from “intensified law enforcement operations.”
Who to believe?
That’s a tough call to make. Both the Abu Sayyaf and the Philippine Government are world-renowned for the banality of the respective forms of banditry, deception, and treason they routinely perpetrate against the Filipino people. One thing is certain though, there are still 11 people kept hostage by the Abu Sayyaf. The question therefore is: What was so special about the two Germans?
Seeing the way Filipinos routinely find something special about crimes involving not just foreign nationals but foreign nationals of affluent nations, this sort of baffling outcome does not really surprise. Quite fortunate for Okonek and Dielen, their backers showed the money — 250 million pesos of it depending on who you ask. Interesting enough, on another front, Filipinos are also investing a lot of precious capital on another incident involving a foreign power, the death of transgender Jeffrey Laude allegedly by the hand of US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton. Unfortunately for Laude’s family, his backers only have noisy “activism” coming from a largely-discredited political subculture and a publicity-hungry attack lawyer to invest in his case.
One obvious thing the Jeffrey Laude circus and the German angle in the Abu Sayyaf case have in common is lots of Philippine media mileage. The less-obvious thing in common between the two is the institutionalised hypocrisy of Philippine society. I explored the hypocrisy underpinnings of the Jerffrey Laude case in my previous article The hypocrisy in Filipinos’ anger towards US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton where I wrote…
So I find it quite rich that the Philippines’ noisiest “activists” have suddenly latched on to this recent circus like the barnacles that they are. If I were a parent of a victim of an unreported, uninvestigated, and, therefore, unresolved crime, the bigger outrage for me would be why the vast majority of crimes in the Philippines do not attract this sort of mass indignation.
Perhaps it is because Pemberton is an American.
In the case of the two German hostages “rescued” from the Abu Sayyaf, the hypocrisy is way more straightforward. The Philippine Government insists that it “does not negotiate with terrorists”. Yet, a big chunk of the Mindanao economy is stimulated by ransom money collected by its well-entrenched community of terrorists and criminals. Worse, some of that money is used to buy goods and weapons stolen from the Philippine military by some of its enterprising officers. More subtle still is the awesome resources poured into the “operation”. According to the AFP, it consisted of a “massive deployment of troops and tracker dog teams”. One wonders about the plight of the thousands of ordinary Filipinos who had fallen victim to these criminal elements over the decades successive Philippine governments had neglected to establish law and order in Mindanao. Was the same sort of awesome power deployed to save their lives?
Funny enough, the current government of Philippine President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III, rather than take full accountability for crushing the insurgency and wanton criminality in Mindanao had, instead, gone to bed with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), another such terrorist group with a long history of violence in the region, to create a so-called Bangsamoro state within the Philippines, effectively palming off the required police and military work to do the tough job to our “Muslim brothers”.
The irony that simply flies over the pointed heads of most Filipinos is how, despite what they’d like to believe is their tight “vigilance” over matters that supposedly undermine the Philippines’ beloved “sovereignty”, big chunks of the Philippines’ national assets have been steadily slipping away nonetheless, perhaps forever beyond their reach. While “activists” wave their fists in support of Jeffrey Laude, China is quietly annexing the disputed oil-rich islands off Palawan in the “West Philippine Sea”. And, thanks to the “help” of the Malaysian government in brokering the whole Bangsamoro deal, the Philippines’ claim to the state of Sabah is likely now all but over.
Nice work, Pinoys. Chalk up another fistful of wins for the wrong arguments.
[Photo courtesy Yahoo! News Philippines.]
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