From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Dec 5): Sayyaf casualties climb to 11
THE Armed Forces of the Philippines continued its law enforcement operations in Basilan province Friday as the number of casualties in the side of the Abu Sayyaf group climbed to 11.
The military initially reported that the Abu Sayyaf bandits led by Nurhassan Jamiri and Firudji Indama have suffered three fatalities in a clash that broke out around 6:55 a.m. Thursday.
However, Army's 104th Infantry Brigade command chief Colonel Rolando Joselito Bautista said eight more Abu Sayyaf followers were reported wounded as the troops continue the law enforcement operations.
Bautista said one of the three slain Abu Sayyaf bandits was identified as Abdullah Kalitot, who faced nine counts of murder and with a monetary reward of P.5 million for his arrest.
Bautista said Kalitot, a follower of Jamiri, escaped from the Basilan provincial jail on December 31, 2010.
Bautista said the other slain Abu Sayyaf bandit was only identified as a certain Hidzran.
He said seven soldiers were wounded during the clash. They were taken to a military hospital for treatment.
As a rebel for more than four decades, I keep asking myself, “What lies ahead after we started a struggle that we never had the idea on how and when it would end itself. It is like travelling in the vast ocean without any land on sight. It is sheer conviction that we firmly believed in that once a struggle is started, it will move on and on until it concludes itself.
Today, after 17 long years of hard and exhausting bargaining in the negotiating table, the Parties first signed the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and then followed by the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). Now the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that translated into legal form the letter and spirit of the FAB is being deliberated in Congress. These in themselves are achievements of a lifetime that we, collectively, can be proud of.
The role of the civil society organizations (CSOs) in making these achievements happen, while I cannot exaggerate, is of common knowledge. For one, I am privy to it, because I dealt with them on countless occasions. They journeyed with us through thick and thin. They were there when their presence was most needed.
Of course, there are few exceptions that do not deserve to be classified as CSOs. But we will not deal with them here; it belongs to another category of discussion in some other time. Let us not spoil our day with this issue.
At this juncture, let me remind you that the role and responsibility of the CSOs have not ended with these achievements. We cannot simply sit on these laurels. We have to nurture these gains and build on them and proceed with fixed vision and purpose, because the road ahead is still plagued with complications. Let us remember that not everybody is happy with these successes and that change, which is an antidote to status quo, is sometimes not wholesome to some, because it snaps out privileges and conservatism.
I therefore call upon the CSOs to continue journeying with us to ensure that the BBL will not only pass Congress but will also be ratified during the plebiscite and, more importantly, must be implemented on the ground. Documents are documents; they are pieces of paper --- they will not implement themselves. They need the intervention of men and women, the sincere and the committed, to implement these agreements, or even the BBL. Many a good document, agreement, or even a set of laws lying dormant in filing cabinets, because people or leaders of men did not care about them; they were just relegated to the dustbin of history. We do not want the BBL to suffer the same fate, because it was meant to solve the Bangsamoro Problem, a problem that has run through decades or even centuries and at the expense of so many lives and billions worth of properties.
I am not a doomsayer – and will never ever be one – but I must tell you that if we fail to solve this problem through the passage and implementation of the BBL, I think the future will be very bleak. The MILF will suffer a fall-out and most probably new and more radical leaders will emerge from the horizon and carry on the torch of the struggle, whether via the legitimate way or through the improbity of a weird approach. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), while we have no love lost with the group, is borne out of the chaos and blood-letting in the Middle East, a courtesy of the Western Powers. This monster is eating the hands of those that created it, directly or indirectly.
It is on this reckoning that I urge and appeal to the CSOs to double your efforts and see to it that what we have started together; i.e., to plant the seed of peace, will continue to grow until everybody partakes of its fruit. The resolution of the problem through the BBL will undoubtedly redound to the benefits of not just the Bangsamoro people, the indigenous people, and the migrant settlers in the Bangsamoro territory, but also to Mindanao and the country as a whole. There is no need to overstress this point. Even right now, the country has already achieved 6.4 annual growth rate for 2014, thanks to the improving peace and order in Mindanao and the growing trust and confidence of the international community.
Specifically, I stress here that it is important for the CSOs to undertake, if possible, all of the following steps:
1. Institutionalize the participation of civil society in deliberations of the BBL in Congress;
2. The spirit of volunteerism must be upheld at all times. This virtue is considered as a defining characteristic of the organizations that constitute civil society;
3. Continue to bridge peoples, communities, and religious divides;
4. Help stabilize post-conflict zone through building new institutions, educational and health infrastructures;
5. Help build Bangsamoro capacity to increase its legitimacy;
6. Assist in developing rule of law systems and public administration;
7. Help capacitate the Bangsamoro to manage conflicts peacefully and promote socioeconomic development;
8. Help develop a civil society and private sector that can represent diverse interests and challenge the state peacefully; and
9. Finally, find diverse means to engage the Central Government through democratic and legitimate manner so that the excesses of the past including the repelling of laws that were oppressive and exploitative, like the Public Land Act No. 141 which once entitled a settler in Mindanao to apply for and own 24 hectares while a non-Christian tribe only four hectares, will never happen again. Let there be no seed of enmity once again sown in any part of Mindanao or elsewhere in the entire country.
Thank you and good day to all!