According to official statements, soldiers, some of whom are training for scuba courses in the army special forces, were sent to strike at a bandit group suspected of beheading members of the Philippine Marines (a couple of years ago) and kidnapping local residents. The problem is, they encountered members of the bandit group (Abu Sayaff) augmented by members of a rebel group (MILF). In the firefight, about 18 soldiers perished and a few missing.
According to a statement by a surviving soldier, the enemies were in position and waiting for them in ambush. The whole place has also been evacuated and very quiet. Another survivor also claims to have seen some of his colleagues ran out of ammo captured alive. They later on turned up dead.
MILF’s statement, however says that the military bombarded their positions with 105mm howitzers before launching an attack in their government recognized territory. They claimed to have simply fought back.
The military statement however claims that the site of the encounter was 4 kilometers short of the rebel territory.
MY TAKE ON THIS:
Various media units have claimed that in the area where the gunfight happened, there is a creek separating the MILF territory and the areas infested by the bandit groups. And whenever an encounter between government people and the bandits occur, the MILF crosses the river and helps the bandits fight the government troopers. A lot of MILF rebels are said to be relatives of the bandits.
SHOULD THE GOVERNMENT DECLARE AN ALL OUT WAR?
A lot of people are now calling for the end of the ongoing ceasefire and declaring an all out war against the MILF. The call is reminiscent of the Estrada administrations move that brought the MILF to crumble within a few days. What happened was very humbling for the MILF with their several years of boisterous and arrogant pronouncements of strength.
However, we should never forget that the Estrada action resulted to about a million refugees, as claimed by Ex President Fidel Ramos. It also failed to completely wipe out the rebellion. That would have taken much much longer, resulted to more refugees, more dead soldiers, lots of money spent, etc.
We should properly investigate the incidents and amend the terms of the existing ceasefire. Rebels should be mandated to make sure that no bandit is allowed within ten miles of their camps. They should be made to outlaw preparations for war like the building of weapons factories like the ones found by attacking soldiers in Camp Abubakar.
They MILF should be made to swear that they will report lawless elements that try to approach them and turn over any rebel with a warrant for a criminal offense unrelated to rebellion like kidnapping of civilians. For the meantime, the rebels should also be made to sit tightly in their camps as the military vigorously runs after the perpetrators of last week’s firefight.
The military leadership, on the other hand, should be made accountable for the loss of soldiers lives. With so many resources on their side, it is unforgivable for them to lose in combat.
Lastly, the public should refrain from being the cause of war. Hawks among the government and military can stage “massacres” of some of our soldiers and/or civilians in order to provoke the population into forcing the government leadership into calling for an all out war.
Let’s continue our path towards peace but always be on guard for war.