• All-out war will not solve Sayyaf crisis

    ENDING THE CONFLICT  Armed Forces Chief General Gregorio Catapang and Western Mindanao Command Chief General Rustico Guerrero discuss the long-running Muslim conflict in Mindanao with Governor Mujiv Hataman and some of Basilan municipal mayors during a closed-door meeting recently at a military base in Zamboanga City. PHOTO BY AL JACINTO

    Armed Forces Chief General Gregorio Catapang and Western Mindanao Command Chief General Rustico Guerrero discuss the long-running Muslim conflict in Mindanao with Governor Mujiv Hataman and some of Basilan municipal mayors during a closed-door meeting recently at a military base in Zamboanga City. PHOTO BY AL JACINTO

    ZAMBOANGA CITY: An influential Catholic bishop has expressed strong opposition to the government’s launch of an all-out war against the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan.

    Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad said a full-scale military offensive is not the solution and could even attract more recruits to the group, which has thrived on kidnapping and is believed to have received hefty ransoms.

    President Benigno Aquino 3rd has ordered the military to hunt down the Abu Sayyaf right after it released two elderly German captives in Sulu last month. The pursuit intensified after the group killed six soldiers in an ambush in Sumisip, Basilan on November 2.

    In a recent interview over Radyo Veritas, Jumoad said a solution that emphasizes force will not earn the government the trust and confidence of the rebels.

    “Those perpetrators or lawless elements, we can’t do anything about them, run after them . . . Finishing them all? I think that is not the solution because that will just add more problems. I think the government must act like a mother that will look for aid in order to win their trust and confidence to the calls of law,” he said.

    Extreme poverty from which most people in Mindanao suffer is at the root of the conflict, he said.

    “I have been in Basilan. It’s a vicious cycle. I think the approach should really be no longer through guns. I ask the government to really give more educational and livelihood programs to those areas, especially in Sumisip,” Jumoad said.

    The bishop said instead of an armed response, government officials should find ways to assure the rebels that Mindanaoans are not second-class citizens, and that they get education and have the means to support themselves and their children.

    Mujiv Hataman, the governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, earlier recommended an all-out war against the Abu Sayyaf.

    Mayors in Basilan, who are allies of Hataman, supported his call, but Basilan Gov. Jum Akbar, the head of the peace and order council, was silent about the proposed all-out military offensive.

    Hataman and the mayors met recently with Armed Forces chief General Gregorio Catapang and senior military commanders at the Western Mindanao Command headquarters where they discussed the offensive against the Abu Sayyaf.

    Among the mayors who are supporting Hataman are Indanan Daud of Maluso, Rose Furigay of Lamitan City, Jomar Maturan of Ungkaya Pukan, Jamar Mansur of Hadji Muhtaman, Gulam Hataman of Sumisip, Darussalam Lajid of Al-Barka, Talib Pawaki of Mohammad Adjul, Tong Istarul of Tipo-Tipo, Muctar Junaid of Tabuan-Lasa, Alih Sali of Akbar, Durie Kallahal of Tuburan and Rustam Ismael of Lantawan.

    Peace, not war
    Human rights group Suara Bangsamoro also warned that a full military assault could lead to civilian abuses, destruction of property, and massive displacement of people.

    Amira Lidasan, the group’s leader, has cautioned Hataman—whose elder brother Hadjiman Hataman-Salliman is the congressman of Basilan—against endorsing an all-out war against the Abu Sayyaf.

    “Such policy is prone to abuse of power by the authorities and would lead to more cases of human rights violations,” Lidasan said.

    She said previous offensives against the Abu Sayyaf had driven out scores of civilians from their homes. In 2000, the government ordered a massive military assault, backed by US military forces, against the Abu Sayyaf and the biggest casualties were civilians, while the Abu Sayyaf continued its criminal activities.

    Lidasan also accused Hataman of contradicting himself when two years ago he and the other governors in the autonomous region said “never again” to all-out war in dealing with rebels.

    She reminded Hataman that in the previous operations against the Abu Sayyaf, there were reports of military clashes with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels who are also in the mountains of Basilan.

    Rep. Francisco Ashley Acedillo also rejected Hataman’s proposal.

    “The government should go after the group to arrest, charge and jail them, but I do not favor an all-out war,” Acedillo said.

    “The civilians will eventually end up as the losers,” he said.


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    1. I am always at a loss how to really digest this line of thinking of these people who say that all-out military assault is the solution to this problem. Instead of talking nonsense like this, why not provide suggestions that could help eradicate these pests for good? Pay them in in exchange for peace? They will return to their old ways once those resources are already spent. It is like rewarding these people for their intransigence and lawlessness. As long as you have these idiots who already feel comfortable with how they earn their keep, you will never be able to reform them. Death is the best remedy to stop their greed. The government should go after those hardline bandits and eliminate them without mercy while trying to help out and improve the lot of those “soft targets”, Moros who are tempted to join these rascals but refuse to do so because they still have respect for law and order.

    2. Bishop with all due respect please be reminded that with your unsoilicited advice you are threading unfamiliar ground. Even if you have something like a doctorate degree in anti-terrorism under your robe. Leave the fight to the military. They certainly know their job better than you. Tend your flock instead that you know best how. Thank you.

    3. What a lot of BS this priest is talking about.
      A lot of people have suffered enough with the existence
      of these bandits, WIPE THEM PUT! If only for
      the sake of our soldiers who are dying for our sake.

    4. First abolish autonomous regions.One country,One nation and one people and that is Filipino.Then crush the terror groups MILF,MNLF,BIFF and ABU SAYAFF,this the only way to have a permanent peace.Not peace now with terrorist MILF,then want to seceed in the future then war again.

      • The one talking is like an angel by himself. You have noticed what is far away from you but not what is within you. When was metro Manila became heaven for the residence and visitors. Abu Sayyap did not represent the entire Moros. Besides, the problem is only a drop of water in the ocean compare it with what is happening everyday in metro Manila. Biases planted in the mind of every Christian Filipinos toward the Moros are the result and effect brought about by colonialism. It is just right for the Moros to ask not only for Autonomous Government but a separate State as well. In fact not all the Moros are supported of the foolish PEACE Agreement. It should be remembered that the MILF and MNLF did not surrender to the government of the Republic. In the near future the entire Mindanao would be in hill if ever the situation prevailing in the ground would be miscalculated. Silent does not mean the end. As long as there is still smoke coming out, the probability for a big fire is imminent. Majority of the MILF combatants are still holding their guns. BIFF is a thorn in Maguindanao. Misuari still committed to his Nobel Peace Award but may soon put it under his feet anyway.

    5. I don’t think if it is wise as hereby proposed to serve a warrant of arrest to people who know no law, even the basic law of nature they have defied. It will be as if we have put the welfare of this lawless criminals (NOT REBELS) above the welfare of our law enforcement group or the AFP.

      As to the the good Bishop’s proposal, I think that is good, but military operation must be along side. Abu Sayyaf leaders and to some extent members have tasted the luxury of easy money. They would rather do it again instead of going to farm or work for a decent living. Go for all out military operations against the criminals, but along side provide social services, and provide source of living to the communities that they may no longer see the Abu Sayaff and its criminal activities as their only hope of earning money. And should war proceed, all civilians must be secured ahead. Finally should government resort to all out war it must be a wipe it all decision; leave not a single root to recover. It has been the mistake of the government in the past, after weakening the group, the AFP stopped, which allowed them to rebound as they are once again today.

    6. i strongly disagree with this priest. i remember this saying i heard from a muslim friend when i met him in mindanao. he said, a good muslim is a sleeping muslim.

    7. PH military is right in their decision of an all out war with the dreaded bandits and terrorists. Any other way which has already been implemented likewise proved that civilians ended up as losers. This time wiping them out may put their barbaric activities to rest and bring peace to the region. Then the military can focus their attention to another lawless group the NPA’s.

    8. “FORTUNE FAVORS THE BRAVE!” a Latin Proverb. Examples all around the world should be our guide. In Syria, Irag, in the Ukraine, now a 1,500 Americans were deployed in Irag yesterday. We tried kids gloves with Abu-Syayat for years but up to now, the problem remains.The lessons of history tell us that war is necessary when the time has come. In america the native indians are now part of of a great nation as the west was won. It is hard and long, but appears to be the only solution. Lets’ give unto our government what is for the government to decide and unto god what is gods’

    9. this complainant do not seem to understand that in counter insurgency operations or war, there are or will always be collateral damaged. If we will not go after this terrorists in aggressive way like all out war they will continue their lucrative activity of kidnap for ransom and that includes the clergy. Abu Sayafs are animals and terrorists who do not believe in human rights. I say wipe them out by all means and at all costs. Sometimes we need to sacrifice in order to succeed.

    10. Yes, I think, what the Bishop of Basilan said, relative to an all out war against the ASG is not going to work. The perception that members of ASG are the same people that the government had agreed and signed peace with, most if not all were and still are members of the MNLF and MILF, they get in and out of these organizations depending upon the situation in the ground, It changes just like the weather. The hope of peace in the whole Mindanao can only be attained through the governance of the BANGSA MORO, with the cooperation of the MNLF, and among others in the area. Therefore it is incumbent upon the Philippine government and the BANGSA MORO to coordinate their peace plan, to give lasting peace to the people of Mindanao. God bless.

    11. Jumoad is a bad writer and his use of English is awful. This is not about finding only one solution. The Abus and MILF’s “Lost Comands” and lawlessness need a multi-pronged stolution. One cannot forget that 2nd Lt. Jun Corpuz was murdered and that the murderers have to be found, arrested, brought before the courts.

      There are the kidnappers — they have to found, arrested, brought before the courts.

      As the police/military action continues, then the community has to bring more job-creation opportunities to Basilan, Jolo, other areas of Mindanao. And CBCP has to be sure that under BBL, the CBCP will be allowed to open more elementary and high schools in Basilan and other areas of Mindanao. Baka the CBCP catholic schools become against Sharia or BBL technicalities…. that will not be correct.

      • If being a deprived poor is a valid reason for become a terrorist/bandit than most of the Filipinos then must be a legitimate terrorist. I can’t understand your reasoning behind this. Criminals, bandits and the like are for real, even you feed them with your hands still they will find a way to swallow your full arm. This has been a problem of our country ever since and the problem is with their minimal number compared with the strength of our military still they thrive.