Saturday, October 3, 2015

MILF: Editorial -- Kidnapping a menace to society

Editorial posted to the MILF Website (Oct 3): Editorial -- Kidnapping a menace to society

Since May 2002, the MILF has been officially working with the Philippine government to eradicate or at least neutralize kidnapping in Mindanao.
This is through the mechanism of the Ad Hoc Joint Action (AHJAG) whose main task is “to interdict and isolate kidnap-for-ransom groups and other criminal gangs operating in or near MILF communities”. This partnership has yielded so many success stories, including the furlough of high Church personalities like Father Michael Sinnott, Father Luciano Benedetti, Father Giancarlo Bossi, and Father Giuseppe Pierantoni.

In Central Mindanao, kidnapping is deeply neutralized, but in Western Mindanao especially in the Zamboanga Peninsula, Basilan, and Sulu, it is rampant and is virtually becoming a thriving “industry”. The latest abduction involved two Canadians, a Norwegian and a Filipina in a resort hotel on Samal Island in Davao City on September 21. They were brought to Indanan, Sulu by Al-Habsi Misaya or Al-Bahil, an alleged Abu Sayyaf commander.

But kidnapping is not only happening in Mindanao. In Metropolitan Manila, the number of kidnapping cases is very much higher and is almost a daily occurrence, but mostly unheralded. The most distinctive difference is that here the kidnappers are not so-called Muslims or Moros. This is the reason that some (or few) media reporters don’t care much about them.

Kidnapping is indeed a menace to society. It has downgraded the category of human being into that of a simple commodity. It is like the slave-trading of the olden days. Therefore, it has to be opposed and defeated at all costs.

But for the MILF to do it alone, as one Filipino lawmaker suggested, is like asking for the moon to fall. It is an unfair proposition. First, kidnapping is a syndicate involving practically every sector of society. Sometimes, even the police, military, and elements of so-called rebel groups are linked to it.

Second, we don’t think the government can agree to that kind of arrangement where the MILF does it openly. Perhaps, if the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is enacted into law and the Bangsamoro Police is established, members thereof from the MILF can participate, because they have the legal personality already.

And third, we never claim that we have the strength and clout to do so effectively alone. Kidnappers are proved to be very tough group to deal with, because the only language they know or profess is the language of money. We are not aware if there are exceptions to this rule.

Of course, the MILF cares for the safety of the kidnapped victims. This is paramount. Therefore, helping them in any way fitted is not only doing service to humanity but it is a moral responsibility that God rewards in the day hereafter.

Ordinarily, however, no one will ever venture to help voluntarily, because it is a lose-lose engagement. Whether successful or not, those helping are prone to be suspected either as friends of the kidnappers or are eying for a portion of the ransom money.

However, after signing the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the AHJAG in 2002, the MILF has defied all odds and dangers and worked with the government in curbing kidnapping in Mindanao. Not doing its share of the responsibility is not an option for the MILF.

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