Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has warned that unless the national government could come up with a back-up plan to prevent the collapse of the peace process, Central Mindanao faced the grim prospect of renewed bloody hostilities.
“Let this be a fair warning to our national leaders. The indicators of an eruption of violence in the Central Mindanao area are becoming very evident,” he said in Dipolog City on Monday.
Duterte noted that while almost everybody is busy trying to pin down President Benigno Aquino 3rd for his role in a disastrous police operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, where 44 Special Action Force commandos were killed by members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, “nobody is minding the store.”
In a statement, he said if the national government fails to come up with Plan B for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which is expected to be rejected by Congress and the Senate because of the Mamasapano carnage, the whole peace process will collapse and there will be resumption of hostilities in Central Mindanao.
Earlier, there were reports that Christian vigilante groups are already arming themselves in preparation for expected rampage of Muslim rebel groups.
The situation, however, may no longer be the same as in the 1970s when the rebel groups were equipped with World War II vintage guns. Today, the MILF and the BIFF possess sophisticated weaponry that could match the firepower of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
In the bloody Mamasapano clash, for example, the MILF and BIFF seized modern and heavy armaments including 90RRs and M-60 machineguns with night vision scopes from the fallen SAF commandos.
“The people involved in the televised investigation of the Mamasapano incident may not really care, but we who live in Mindanao and who have experienced the horrors of the conflict are getting scared,” Duterte said.
“Remember that if there is a breakdown in the peace negotiations, we in Mindanao will be the first ones who will suffer and it is sad that nobody in Manila seems to realize this,” he added.
“Everybody wants to join the television show but nobody is even thinking of what the government would do in case violence erupts again,” Duterte said.
Earlier, the Davao City mayor called on the President to step up and take full responsibility for what happened in Mamasapano to end the blame game, which has caused cracks in relations between Philippine National Police and the AFP.
Duterte said the President should regain control of the situation and come up with a security plan to address the expected eruption of trouble in Central Mindanao.
“We have to prepare for the worst. Is government now prepared for that?” the city mayor asked.
Alongside ongoing congressional investigations, Duterte said, the national leadership must organize a task group, which would draft a plan of action to handle the feared resumption of hostilities in Central Mindanao.
He and his group are in Dipolog City as part of their advocacy for a shift to a federal parliamentary form of government from the current unitary presidential form.
Duterte maintains that a federal state for the Bangsamoro and federal states for the other areas of the country is the best option to a failed Bangsamoro Basic Law.
Earlier, he spoke before students at the Negros Oriental State University and the Silliman University in Dumaguete City about the merits of federalism.