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Saturday, 25 July 2015 10:54

BEHIND  THE  LINES

BY BOB JALDON

San Jose, CA. — The frustrated bombing of Puericulture Center or someplace near it. The successful bombing of a massage parlor on San Jose rd. that killed one and injured eight others. Last month, people were bracing for ‘attacks’ on humans and establishments, even a repeat of the 2013 outrage that sent Zamboanga back in time. Who’s to blame for these atrocities? Naturally, they’ll say it is the handiwork of terrorists. Who else? I’ve written that Zamboanga is right in the middle of terrifying outbreaks — the MNLF in the near south and the ARMM and the MILF in the far north. The police will say that last Wednesday night’s incident could be the making of the Abu Sayyaf who are being hunted down in Sulu — just to divert the attention of the military. Maybe.

Veering away from the latest setback in Zamboanga, Malacanang is hopeful that before the State-of-the-Nation Address of President Aquino, the Bangsamoro Basic Law shall have been passed by Congress and ready for enactment. It’s not clear whether the same frailties of the proposed law pointed out by our beloved Congressman Celso L. Lobregat will be taken into serious consideration and refined by the authors of the bill to avoid a constitutional challenge in the Supreme Court and, thereby, lengthen the peace process and unsteady the recipients. The proposed law, that will repeal the law that created the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will, accordingly, stimulate growth in some war-torn, terror-choked parts of Mindanao. Still the sticky issue remains: will the great forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) give up their deadly weapons and live in near-perfect harmony and peace with their brethren and Christians?

I long for peace in Zamboanga. My grandfather and his small but brave guerrilla unit of heroes fought gallantly against the mighty Japanese imperial army for liberty and freedom, peace and democracy. They hated war, any kind of war. We cry for help every time we’re bombed. We chatter in fear whenever a kidnapping happens. The wealthy have houses in either Manila or Cebu, some even as far as North America just in case the situation in Zamboanga gets too sour. This epidemic we call fear must be stopped with the sincere and dedicated collaboration of the police and law enforcers.

When, not if, the well-intentioned new ARMM comes to fruition after its ratification by the people in the concerned cities and provinces, how long do you think that mantle of peace will last? The trouble-makers will be around to disrupt the regional elections. Yes, there will be international election observers (they’ve always been around), but to what end? Is there a survey by SWS or Pulse Asia showing that people of Mindanao are pinning their hopes for peace on the ARMM and it’s democratically-instituted special form of government?

Madre mia. People of my time have felt the pains of bitterness and belligerence. I have covered countless of gruesome incidents and aftermath of terrorism as a defense and police reporter. So did Erbie Fabian when he was a famous reporter, anchor and TV host, and hordes of other reporters. It’s distasteful! The ruthlessness exercised by the terrorists in grenade and bomb attacks of bazaars, restaurants and moviehouses that killed dozens of people altogether and wounding others were utterly sickening. Unless the government drives the faces of the so-called freedom fighters, Abu Sayyaf and other vicious bandits to the mud, there will never be peace in Mindanao.

It’s a cycle. Marcos divided the spoils by creating two autonomous regions, one each for Region 9 and Region 12. They had their own “parliaments” and and their own budgets. Cory Aquino and her congress created the ARMM and by virtue of the outcome of plebiscite made Cotabato city the seat of power of the ARMM. President Ramos closed out a ceasefire agreement with the MNLF and called it the Final Peace Agreement of 1996. ERAP had his own interpretation of peace by going on a full-scale war against the MILF. PNoy is presenting his peace plate to the MILF. What of the MNLF? Perhaps, the next president can create a government for them. FEM did it. Why can’t MAR (ooops) do it?