• Do we want to defeat the enemy or win a debate?

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    It is exasperating the way DILG Secretary Mar Roxas responds to the killing of seven policemen in Cagayan on May 27.

    Mr. Roxas condemns “the savagery of the attack,” which, he says, “has no place in our society.” His beef is, Communist rebels use land mines, weapons prohibited under international law. Then the guy makes a big to-do about the Ottawa Treaty, containing that law, being ratified by 161 countries, including the Philippines.

    Did we hear it right? Mr. Roxas wants the enemy to play by the rules?

    The guy is crazy. The NPAs are not bound by any law, international or local. Taking up arms against duly constituted authority is already a crime, one so serious that courts routinely deny the accused bail for his or her temporary release. It doesn’t matter how you kill or maim soldiers or policemen, fair or foul. It’s all par for the course.

    The government wants to win a debate rather than defeat the enemy. No wonder we always lose in the battlefield.

    Just a few days ago, seven Marines were killed in another ambush, this time in Patikul, Sulu, lair of Abu Sayyaf bandits. The kidnap-for-ransom gang, on May 27 at dawn, fired upon government troopers, who it was reported were on “a test mission.” It is not clear what that government-speak means, but it resulted in the death of seven Marines, including a fresh PMA graduate, 2nd Lt. Alfredo Lorin VI, and the wounding of seven others.

    President Aquino must be getting tired attending wakes of soldiers and policemen killed in action.

    The debate is still raging, whether these fine young men—the average age is 25—lost their lives in an ambush or in a chance encounter. Those on the ground maintain it was an encounter. To admit it was an ambush would reflect badly on the leadership. It would signify, as it did many times in the past, criminal incompetence.

    To a public inured to reports of government losses in the battlefield, there couldn’t be any other explanation.

    The people, a while back, were treated to a spectacle of generals being investigated in the Senate for diverting AFP funds to their personal accounts. The billions of pesos lost to graft and corruption was intended, apart from the purchase of weapons and equipment, to finance intelligence gathering.

    Many former PNP chiefs, if not all, are also facing charges for dissipating funds meant for police operation.

    If the AFP and the PNP had used the funds for their intended purpose, there wouldn’t be so many soldiers killed in ambuscades. Hell, we would have ended the insurgency a long time ago.

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