From the Philippine Information Agency (Jun 9): Army helps out in humanitarian work
The Philippine Army personnel in Samar are busier after the focused security measures in the midterm elections.
Troops from the 63rd Infantry Battalion (IB) encountered New People’s Army (NPA) insurgents on June 4 in Barangay Poponton, Las Navas and Northern Samar. The clash resulted to the death of one state enemy and the recovery of two M16 rifles.
Members of the 43rd IB also recently engaged with the NPAs in a 15-minute firefight in Barangay Ligaya, Matuginao, Samar.
“Our mission and goal is to make the island of Samar a manageable conflict and development-ready area just like Biliran, Bohol, Leyte and Southern Leyte,” 8th ID Commanding Gen. Gerardo Layug said in a statement.
Meanwhile, during 8th ID’s anniversary, 32 officers and enlisted men donated blood through a bloodletting activity which generated 14,400 cc of blood. Dr Michieko Malou Modesto, Philippine National Red Cross Leyte Chapter head said that the collected blood will benefit the dependents of the donors in the region.
Army troops under the 8th ID also assisted in the renovation, repainting of facilities, repair of school furniture and declogging of drainages and canals in several schools in the province.
Meanwhile, the 43th IB distributed books and personal computers donated by a civic group Rotary Club to a school in Barangay Sto Niño, Gandara and two other schools in Gandara town.
“The 8th Infantry Division has evolved from doing purely military operations to performing non-military operations such as medical missions and humanitarian work,” Layug said.
Largely, it is about the imbalance or one-sided relationship between the Philippine state and the Bangsamoro people, the former as neo-colonizer and the latter as the colonized. It is also about extirpating or cleansing of the “dirt” within the Moro society and oneself, as in any society or individual. Our people have suffered much from this false sense of values, feudalism, and stains of ultra-materialism or worldliness. A change for the better, based on piety, mutual respect, parity of esteem, equality of peoples, and respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, is what underpins this agreed phrase.
Applied to the present Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which in every bit is an administrative region, it is not only about replacing it with a new Bangsamoro political entity, but even those powers granted to it by law should not and must not be offered at all in the current negotiation in order to give honesty to this agreed principle. The most sensible stance would be that those powers already granted to the ARMM by R.A. 9054 and other legislations should be delivered to the new entity. The only subject of negotiations are additional powers.
The ARMM has been offered to the MILF at least four times and each time it was offered, the MILF rejected it outright. The MILF is not in the negotiation for the ARMM. Thus, government negotiators are prudent enough to respect the MILF stance. Respect begets respect.
The ultimate aim of this 16-year old government-MILF negotiation is solving the Moro problem, set in proper perspective as Moro Question. This agenda of the peace talks was agreed by the parties as early as 1997 when they agreed to pursue peace instead of war. Thus, any political solution short of giving Moros genuine self-governance will not solve the Moro Question. It is like prescribing the wrong medicine to a serious illness.
The truth is that if the MILF accepts a sub-par political solution, it would only regret later. It would not only become irrelevant later but would be cursed by the people --- and more seriously, the problem goes on and on, perhaps with greater intensity as new more radical leaders emerge.
The MILF and government should wake up to this harsh reality --- and make the proper move. The MILF is faced with a serious challenge to accept a coopted solution or to stick to what really is the solution to the Moro Question. On the other hand, the government has to choose one of two options: give genuine autonomy to the Moros and face the future with ease and confidence or continue with its policy of containment but the future is bleak and full of uncertainties.