Kato – the man to watch PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 08 October 2011 15:09

By MENARDO WENCESLAO

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front has finally disowned the notorious Umbra Kato. This announcement is actually after the fact because Kato had earlier severed ties with the mainstream MILF and had set-up his own secessionist front, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. Actually, it was just a matter of time for the MILF to cut the umbilical cord that link Kato to the Front.  It is crafting a peace agreement with the government and it was ridiculous to entertain the idea of having a meaningful pact when one of its ground commanders is committed to ignore that anyway.

Kato refuses to abide by the policies of the MILF under the leadership of Chairman Al Haj Murad Ibrahim claiming that the latter is not pursuing the aspiration of the Moro people along the path of MILF founder Hashim Salamat.  It appears however that Kato has his own interpretation of what the late MILF Chairman aspired for. Salamat, after a long struggle and before he died, wrote a letter to then US Pres. George W. Bush to intervene in the southern conflict and to bring peace to Mindanao. We are not privy to that letter but having written that personal letter to the US president it is safe to presume that all that the late chairman wants was to end the conflict and for peace to settle in the region. If Hashim wants to pursue arms struggle, he knew that the US should be the last country to go to.

It is obvious that that the expelled leader of the MILF has his own separate agenda and this will bear watching. While Kato is insisting that no less than an independence is acceptable to him, the fact is he is a fugitive of the law having committed carnage of innocent civilians when the issue of a proposed Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain was questioned before the Supreme Court. Kato had surrounded himself with a few of his loyalists and fugitive members of the private army of Andal Ampatuan who is facing multiple murder charges. They need each other company. That they pledge to fight and die for Kato is irrelevant because with the heinous crimes they had committed,  the law will have to deal with them with no hindrance from the MILF. This is the implication when the MILF expelled Kato and his men as they will no longer be protected by the ceasefire agreement.

That seems to be the “good news”. The bad news is that Kato might go berserk, pursue an alliance with Jemaah Islamiyah and unleash his war dogs. We have known that terrorists actually knows no religion and like Kato can go on a rampage of killing innocent civilians – Muslims and Christians alike. We hope that the government forces and the MILF can address this looming problem although it is fast becoming extinct. — MW