Listen to Erap and lose Mindanao
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-08-26
There are very real prospects that the current Southern conflict can result in the Balkanization of Mindanao, a civil war (with the US and China using Filipinos as proxies) or even a re-imposition of martial law. The last thing we need is former President and convicted plunderer Joseph “Erap” Estrada egging us to go on an all-out war against the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front).

Estrada and his media hacks have been going to town lately in trying to peddle this bovine ordure that during his term Estrada defeated the MILF when the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) captured Camp Abubakar. The truth is the AFP merely captured the MILF camp but did not really incapacitate the MILF. To make matters worse, Estrada further heightened animosities between Christians and Muslims by feasting on lechon (roast pork) with the soldiers and officers in the captured Muslim camp.

But the MILF was far from finished. If the MILF was finished, then it must be SURRENDER not a peace settlement we must be negotiating.

The truth is: The MILF may even end up winning their independence — with the support of the US and its allies — just like the Muslim Albanians won their independence in Kosovo with the support and recognition of the US and its allies.

That will be worse for the country than the dubious terms and conditions of the largely unpopular MoA-AD on the BJE. That will forever sever the links between Christian and Muslim Filipinos other than the complete loss of the minerals and oil and gas reserves of the area.

Filipinos who are easily led into a hating frenzy by those who promote an all-out war do not understand the realities confronting us. A US-supported MILF can wage a war that we can hardly afford to fight — especially if there is no superpower to support us. In order for the MILF to win their independent state, they do not need to defeat the AFP in the battlefields of Mindanao but merely make the government collapse from the weight of the cost of an all-out war.

Barely surviving the food and gas price crises, an all-out war is the last thing we need. Even Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) who I suspect (as discussed in a previous column) to have dangerous suicidal tendencies is wise to announce that the government is not going on an all-out war. Let’s pray that she keeps her word!

The MILF is a rebellion that is being waged via guerilla warfare. In a guerilla war, the rebels do not really hold territory. What guerilla warfare does is to harass the government into submission. When guerilla camps are overrun, they simply relocate to another base from which they continue to launch disruptive and destructive attacks against government operations and infrastructure.

It is when countries are at war where territories are held and defended, just as what was seen in the Iraq‑Iran War over two decades ago. For Estrada to claim that they have scored a decisive victory against the MILF — that would mean that they significantly incapacitated the Muslim rebels from doing further damage and disruption. We all know that such was not the case.

All this tall tale of a mythical victory takes credence only because of the Information Gap — the very foundation of the Wealth Gap that is fomenting a social explosion in our country. Estrada thrives on movie make-believe. Estrada is all about illusion — that he is a man of the masses, their savior.

During his term as president, he worsened an economy that was already reeling from the effects of the Asian Currency Crisis by his own version of crony capitalism. The BW stock scandal of his crony made the Philippine stock market plunge. His cronies and relatives were the topic of scandals, of men and women going around government agencies like vultures searching for carrion.

Khaled Musa, deputy chairman of the MILF committee on information, reacted to Estrada’s call for another all-out war. He told Luwaran, the MILF website, that it is pointless to argue with Estrada, whom he said is “a convicted criminal, a plunderer and aging womanizer.”

“Estrada has no more moral authority to speak on any national issues, saying that aside from being a convicted criminal — only conditionally pardoned — he proved during his presidency that he had no brain to run this country,” Musa added.

In an all-out war, there will be a tendency for both sides to commit atrocities. The AFP is not unknown to exact the eye-for-an-eye treatment (especially when their comrades are butchered or beheaded) that has made the Middle East a living hell for Israelis and their neighbors.

With the US and its allies largely suspected to be promoting the BJE for its geopolitical interests, expect a worldwide propaganda campaign to emphasize the atrocities of our AFP. The objective will be to justify the entry of their so-called “Peacekeeping Troops” which is exactly what they did in mineral and oil rich Kosovo and East Timor.

Unless Filipinos can stomach what the Vietnamese underwent in defeating the US, we should not be talking about all-out war or listening to disillusioned mythmakers weaving fairy tales about battlefield victories.

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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