“Let us all pray that President Aquino will do his best to be successful in this negotiation with the MILF.”
by Ducky Paredes
The clash in Mamasapano was only the second since two soldiers and 18 Muslim gunmen were killed in a clash in Basilan in April 2014.
What brought it on when there was a sense that this country had finally come to a time when peace was possible between Islam and Christianity in the only Catholic country in Asia with the writing and probable ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law? Were we just talking to the wrong Muslims?
One who believes like our forefathers did that “a good Moro is a dead Moro” that came from the American colonizerts who said the same thing against their American Indian is Manila Mayor and former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada says: “You can never trust this MILF. That’s what I believe in.”
The former President waged an all-out war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) back in 2000.
The former commander-in-chief also doesn’t think much of the ongoing peace talks with the MILF, citing his own experience of how the group repeatedly did not keep its end of the deal.
“Peace talks, ceasefire…but killings continue, kidnappings continue. What else? We have exhausted all remedies to make peace with them for more than 40 years,” says Estrada.
Estrada recalled that during his campaign against the MILF, the military was able to capture most of the rebel group’s camps including Camp Abubakar which was the main stronghold of the MILF.
Estrada believes that there should be no compromise in preserving the country’s territorial integrity.
He said, “What happened to ARMM? we spent billions there but it was a big failure… We have only one government and one constitution to follow. What kind of government do we have if we can’t impose our own laws on our own land? That’s why we are left behind by our neighbors.”
Estrada also explains why he decided to wage war with the MILF and not the New People’s Army, despite the fact that the latter has been in the country longer.
“The NPA, their end-game is to overthrow the government. But this MILF, the secessionist movement, they want to dismember our country. It was my sworn duty to protect our country at all costs,” he said.
He also hopes that President Noynoy Aquino will succeed where other presidents had failed.
Estrada said, “Let us all pray that President Aquino will do his best to be successful in this negotiation with the MILF.”
* * *
Another former President , former General Fidel V. Ramos, who also served as both the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine Constabulary (forerunner of the PNP) , says that sustained development in Mindanao—starting with the commanders-in-chief of the AFP and PNP and unswerving determination that will result in a win-win for all.”
Other factors enumerated by Ramos are: inadequate confidence-building measures among the civilian-military-police stakeholders, poor lack of coordination, faulty written standard operating procedures and rules of engagement, slipshod monitoring of the existing “ceasefire,” lack of teamwork between maneuver and fire support elements, poor unit troop leadership, poor tactical intelligence, and lack of sincerity to pursue peace on the part of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
The Mamasapano incident was likened by Ramos to the infamous 1977 Patikul massacre which resulted in the death of 43 officer and men, including Army 1st Division (Tabak) Commander Brigadier-General Teodulo Bautista.
He noted that the “Patikul happening was not even a field encounter but the premeditated murder of AFP personnel while talking peace with Moro National Liberation Front rebel commander Usman Sali.
“These days there appears to be too much of a complacent, laid-back attitude on the part of high government officials, peace negotiators and even field commanders in regard to the ongoing peace process,” said Ramos, who is also known as the “Father of the SAF-AFP.”
“The advice of knowledgeable, experienced and battle-hardened retired AFP/PNP officers,” said Ramos, would have helped the peace panel in its negotiations.
* * *
Mrsnwhile, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao finally came face to face – in a basketball game in the United States.
The two boxing superstars were at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida to watch an NBA game between the Heat and the Milwaukee Bucks.
During a break, Mayweather came up to Pacquiao. They met at center court.
They had a “nice little talk” and swapped mobile phone numbers.
The fighters were both sitting courtside, directly across from one another. Mayweather went over to Pacquiao at halftime; the men shook hands and chatted briefly, then exchanged phone numbers.
“He gave his number to me and said we will communicate with each other,” said Pacquiao, adding that he had never before met Mayweather in person.
Asked to clarify if the exchange meant the two would negotiate directly about meeting in the ring, Pacquiao said “Yes.”.
This meeting opens the line of communication personally between Mayweather and Pacquiao, and should boost hopes that they will face each other on May 2 in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao and Mayweather tapped each on the shoulder as they parted.
Reading Pacquiao’s lips in a short video posted by Yahoo! Sports, he must have told Mayweather, “No problem.”
According to a close friend of Pacquiao, the meeting did not end there because later in the night, the two boxers met again.
Bernard Cloma, a close friend of Jinkee Pacquiao, told dzMM Teleradyo that Mayweather visited Pacquiao at the hotel where the Filipino was staying.
The two fighters had another chance to talk. No other details of the meeting were divulged.
It was reported that Mayweather asked Pacquiao that they “work this fight out among themselves – boxer to boxer.”
Mayweather said last month that he’s ready to make the fight happen May 2. Asked Tuesday if that date can finally be the one, Pacquiao – who has said it’s time to give boxing fans what they want – nodded and said “yes.”
When Mayweather said he wanted the May 2 fight to happen, he said Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum had been the main obstacle for it not coming together in the last five years. Mayweather repeated his old charges about Pacquiao not wanting to do blood tests prior to the fight for it not happening five years ago.
He also said he had no doubt that he could beat Pacquiao
# # # #