**To my readers, I have to apologize for not posting as much these days. Work caught up with me and there’s been a lot happening in this side of the world where I live. So please, please bear with me. I’m going to post travel blogs soon as summer is fast approaching in the Philippines. Abangan. 🙂
I just have to pen down my feelings and ask this question: Is it worth it? Is the lives of the 44 PNP-SAF troopers who perished in the Mamasapano carnage worth exchanging for peace? Children lost their fathers, wives lost their husbands and parents lost their sons… So now I am asking, is it worth it?
While it maybe true that I really don’t know the horrors of war since I grew up in Manila and not in Mindanao, I guess I’ve seen and heard enough. Growing up, I’ve seen enough in the news – the 1975 Martial Law, 1986 EDSA Revolt (I am in fact an EDSA revolution baby), the countless coups during former President Cory Aquino, I have friends displaced by the war of territory between Muslims and Christians in Mindanao. They came to a point where they were forced to flee their houses, go to Manila and struggle to survive here. Why else do you think there are so many Muslim brothers and sisters living here in the city? They wanted a way out of the war, they’re having none of it. War is also a reason why despite Mindanao having an abundance of natural resources, still remains to be the most “poverty-stricken” island in the Philippines to this day. So forgive me, especially those who were saying we Manilenos don’t know a thing or two about the war, if I can’t help it but say my piece about this recent Mamasapano carnage. I just refuse to keep mum and say nothing when I see mothers & wives weeping, children now orphaned by their fathers, standing beside the caskets. Some of them were even too young to know what’s going on. That broke my heart knowing that these young ones were stripped off the chance to get to know their fathers and growing up will never be normal. I grieve and I weep with them. Again, I ask, is it worth it?
By now I know many of you have heard the news of the 44 PNP-SAF soldiers who were massacred in MILF territory in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. The news were all over the TV – CNN, Bloomberg, Al Jazeera, and online, repeated in all possible writing angles but not one news was able to answer the questions: What happened? What went wrong? Who ordered this mission. Then as days progressed, it became clear; the chain of command was broken and that sent this 44 men to their final mission, losing their lives in the process.
The fallen 44 PNP-SAF elite troopers who sacrificed their lives for the country & its people. (Photo credits to Rappler)
Heart-breaking. You know at first, I understood that this is part of their job as law enforcers but what’s infuriating to know was that this mission was sanctioned by the still suspended PNP Gen. Alan Purisima and that he was directly reporting to the President of the republic. These two opted not to divulge the mission to PNP OIC Gen. Leonardo Espina and DILG Chief Mar Roxas. The question is, why? The latter names should be the first one to know if there’ll be commissioned police operations of any type. And why would you let someone who is currently on suspension to lead such sensitive operation? The President opted to go on national television to explain. Unfortunately his explanation was not enough. It yielded more questions rather than answers said with no remorse at all and not acknowledging he is responsible (coz after all he gave it a go). This is insane. This is just purely unacceptable.
Now, 44 is dead and 44 families were left without the support of their loved one who perished. Ano na ang gagawin natin sa kanila? How would they live? How would they survive? Paano na? And let us not forget the 14 SAF members severely injured with little hopes of ever going back to their jobs and earn keep for their families. Paano na sila ngayon, Ginoong Pangulo?
I wanted peace, just like everybody else. But how can there be peace without justice? How can there be assurance if questions are not answered? How can we all move forward if there’s no trust at all. Don’t get me wrong, I still am for the signing of the peace agreement but on the following conditions: First, let’s resolve and give justice first to the fallen 44. Let’s answer first the how and why they end up dead and let all those responsible be tried and convicted by Philippine Law. Second, And this is a brave challenge to the MILF, show us your provisions, put it in words to be signed too in the agreement, on what you intend to do with other rogue Muslim rebels in Mindanao coz clearly, not every Muslim is on the same page as the MILF are. Walang taguan, walang lihiman. Every cards laid on the table. No more intelligence reports of terrorists being harbored and cared for in your area. No more news of hidden firearm plants. No more senseless killing, no more retaliating. Ako po ay nanawagan, nakikiusap. We demand accountability, not just to the Philippine government, but also to the MILF. There should be accountability on both parties – be it with the President who went out of his way to break the chain of command and went on with the operations, with the troops who did not heed the order to cease and desist when the ceasefire committees ordered them to, or the ground commanders who failed to control his men in the area. I don’t want to hear another statement saying they cannot be held responsible for this. If not them, then who is responsible? Us? Just infuriating.
Sa labanan po ng teritoryo ng mga Muslim at Kristiyano, wala pong panalo. We too wanted peace. Who wouldn’t? Would you want tanks & firefights marauding your area? Killing dozens of people, Muslims and Christians alike? I’m having none of it.
Photo credits to Rappler.
Photo credits to Philippine Daily Inquirer
There’s no easy way towards peace and the carnage in Mamasapano will always be a dim reminder of that. But I would pray every day that little by little, everything will come into light and be resolved. Everyday I would keep on hoping that the fallen 44 did not and will not die in vain coz we are at least a small step towards peace. Come 2016, I would try my best to elect proper people who can do things right, who would be man or woman enough to accept and acknowledge their failures, and brave enough to continue fighting for peace. I hope to see that day where no more wives and mothers weeping, no more children left orphaned by unfortunate circumstances of war, no more nation mourning for their fallen sons.
To the fallen 44 of PNP-SAF group, gone but never forgotten. My thoughts and prayers goes to you and your family at this trying times. I know how hard it is for a family left by their breadwinners. My Lolo was once a law enforcer and he too died early while doing his duty for this country. He orphaned my mother and 4 other siblings. All of them were left to the care of my Lola who was a plain housewife, therefore forced to accept laundry and house help jobs to feed the family. Mahirap. Sobrang hirap that not all siblings of my mother were able to go to school, there’s not enough food on the table, not all needs are met. I know the feeling of dreams broken because the head of the family was taken away from you. And sad too that I was deprived of the chance to meet & play with my Lolo. But be assured that in my own little way, your invaluable contribution will not be forgotten and shall always be honored. Respect and salute to each and everyone of you. You did us all proud, putting country first above everything else. and with that, MARAMING MARAMING SALAMAT PO. Rest well and afe travels to heaven, my brothers… Salute!
It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it. – Eleanor Roosevelt