BEHIND THE LINES: When I’m 64? PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 27 October 2011 14:33

BY BOB JALDON

Joseph Estrada swept the rebels with rapidity during his short rule as president. The people took much pride at his success as commander-in-chief in flattening a rebel camp in 2000. It brought peace and tranquility in that part of Mindanao where for years the people suffered in anguish and fear. Eleven years later, the marauders have come back after the government gave them time to regroup, recruit and rearm. Mindanao is once again crippled with fear as evil forces, denounced as breakaway members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, bombed and burned some communities in North Cotabato and Zamboanga Sibugay and killed soldiers in a fierce firefight in Basilan over the weekend. President Aquino will not use the might of the military to run after them — at least not yet — until the reports become clear as to who the real perpetrators were. Wives, sons and daughters of those who perished are left weeping until the injuries are avenged. Meanwhile, we, the civilians are left to quiver in fright knowing that the violence will not stop.

To quiet the apprehensions of the people, P-Noy has declared that the criminals and their cohorts will have their day with the police and military. But, when? The government has declared a ceasefire with the rebels, but fully aware that there are Brutuses and Cassiuses amongst them. P-Noy sneaked out of the country to meet with the MILF leaders in Japan with a message that all rancor must end. Yet, the guns of the enemies continue to blaze mercilessly and with impunity. Still, we pin our hopes on our troops – that they may march together to redeem their fallen comrades and free, once and for all, the civilians from harm and danger. Question is, will P-Noy allow it?
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Now, you see why there are no investments in Mindanao although we may be the eighth region in the world with vast, untapped natural resources. We have long suffered the pangs of war since Ferdinand E. Marcos subjected us to military rule in 1972. Thousands of lives have been lost in this conflict that seems to have no end. We live in constant consternation knowing that at any given time a deadly bomb would explode somewhere; that the enemies to peace will retaliate on hapless civilians when a military operation is launched against them. We are the greatest losers. If we follow the heels of the great Thomas Jefferson that force cannot give right, then what must be done to make things right? The government seems reluctant to declare an all-out war against the terrorists because it is perceived to be a wrong move. Going to war will require millions of pesos for ammunition and provisions for the soldiers. “Uncle Sam” won’t come to the rescue because we are fighting an internal war that does not need  foreign intervention.

I see P-Noy’s point. He has no intention of widening this war. But he cannot accept a counterfeit solution to this long and deadly struggle and call it peace if the enemies to humanity continue to ransack our villages and ambush our soldiers and then scamper to this animal they call “area of temporary stay” for shelter. No one can foretell the outcome of an eventual settlement of this conflict because as things stand, there is nothing to hope for.

Still, we like to think that someday there will be peace. It will come because we are willing to work for it, and to sacrifice for it. Thousands have died for it. We are all witnesses to the pains that war has inflicted. This must come to an end. In time, Mindanao will be a stronger region and a land, as promised, of greater opportunity and fulfillment. I was 18 years old when martial law was declared. I am now 58. May be, when I’m 64?