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Does MILF leadership want peace or power?

/ 12:22 AM February 13, 2015

The gunman who, as shown in a video clip, brutally executed a wounded Special Action Force commando as he lay helpless on the ground should be identified and hunted and made to pay for his atrocity. And the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which is purportedly in peace negotiations with the government, should hand him over to the authorities as a sign of sincerity. He should be given his day in court and punished for the crime he committed. We cannot let such brutality go unpunished. It is against the rules of war and human decency, and is a violation of the International Declaration of Human Rights.

Maybe Moro rebels and guerrillas cannot be expected to know the rules of war or the Declaration of Human Rights, but they should be taught about these right now by the MILF.

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That six-minute video clip is really painful and revolting to watch. It shows a gunman in rubber sandals mercilessly shooting at close range a wounded SAF commando twice—once in the chest, near the neck, and once in the head—as he lay on the ground. The gunman must have taken the video himself or had another gunman do it. Then he arrogantly uploaded it in the Internet to show the world what they do to enemies. Whoever he is, he is an animal and should be punished.

Many people are asking: How sincere is the MILF? Can it be trusted?

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The MILF is in peace talks with the government and yet it continues to recruit young men to be fighters, according to reports. It harbors international terrorists within or near its camp. It is unbelievable that it did not know of the presence of Marwan and Usman just 500 meters from its camp in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. If it is sincere, it should have handed these terrorists to the authorities that are hunting them for crimes committed against the people.

The peace negotiators of the MILF continue to snub the Senate and House hearings of the Mamasapano gun battle. They have been invited to the hearings to present the side of the MILF but, like Vice President Jejomar Binay, they have refused to show up. Is that a sign of guilt, as in Binay’s case? (This column was written before MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal attended the Senate hearing on Thursday.—Ed.)

Not only that, its chief negotiator arrogantly stated that the MILF will not accept a “watered down” version of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), and that if it violates the Constitution, then the latter should be amended. Such arrogance, such insincerity.

Another question: Is the MILF leadership in control of its men on the ground? Assuming that MILF leaders did not order the butchery of the wounded SAF cops, will they ever surrender the murderers to the government to show their sincerity? Or do they have no control over their men?

Medico-legal findings on the slain policemen show that those who were wounded only in the legs were then shot several times in the chest and head to finish them off. Any way you look at it, that should not be tolerated. The acting Philippine National Police chief, Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, cried at the House hearing last Wednesday as he revealed the medico-legal report.

I am sure that the people of Mindanao as a whole want peace. They have suffered enough through the long years of fighting. But do their leaders and negotiators really want peace? Or do they only want power?

The BBL that would give birth to an autonomous Bangsamoro enclave can be passed quickly if the MILF negotiators agree to remove provisions that violate the Constitution instead of threatening the government that it would not accept a “watered down” law. In effect, it is telling Congress: You better pass our version or else.

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Or else what? Go back to war? Do the Mindanao people want that?

I agree with Rep. Bai Sandra Sema of Maguindanao, a Muslim. Almost in tears and her voice cracking last Wednesday, she appealed that peace be given a chance, and that the controversial video clip not be shown on television as it would fan Christian-Muslim “hatred.”

Sema also said she has experienced what it is to be caught in the middle of a war in Mindanao. Every time she heard a helicopter, she said, she became very scared. That is true of most of Mindanao people, she said.

But I repeat my question: Does the MILF leadership want peace or power?

* * *

Members of the House of Representatives better get their act together in the hearings on the Mamasapano massacre. Last Wednesday’s initial hearing was bedlam. Ang gulo! Ang ingay! So disorderly and noisy!

Everyone wanted to talk at the same time. Each of them wanted to grandstand, to get his five minutes of fame on TV. I half-expected them to fight over the microphones. And the two committee chairs, Rep. Jeffrey Ferrer and Rep. Jim Hataman-Salliman, seemed unable to control their colleagues.

And when the lawmakers got to ask their questions, they were repetitious, inane and downright stupid. Many of the questions had already been asked and answered in the Senate hearings.

And they argued and debated endlessly over the most trivial things, thus wasting valuable time.

The House has to do better at its next hearing.

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TAGS: Bai Sandra Sema, International Declaration of Human Rights, Jeffrey Ferrer, Jejomar Binay, Jim Hataman-Salliman, Leonardo Espina, Mamasapano, mohagher Iqbal, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Special Action Force
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