What’s happening in our country, Mr president? That’s one unforgettable question thrown by Emmanuel Pelaez, Vice President of the country, during the time of President Ferdinand E. Marcos. That’s one question the ordinary man in the street would like to ask in times like now, but coming from people who ought to know things, it was stupid.
Right now, to date, 57 bodies have been recovered in one of the most heinous, probably most gruesome, massacres of the modern time – the Maguindanao massacre in Mindanao. Half of them were members of the camp of the Mangudadatu, one ruling clan of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat provinces. The rest of them were media workers and innocent motorists who happened to be on route where a checkpoint was set up and where prime targets were being herded and, later, all of them massacred.
Where was government when everything happened? That is probably one very, very stupid question. Because since things came out, fingers everywhere have been pointing to the Ampatuan clan behind the massacre. The Ampatuans are THE government in that part of the country called Maguindanao province.
Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat are creation of government. They were cut from old Cotabato province which was then hot spots of Christian-Muslim conflict in the time of President Marcos. Creating the two new provinces gave Muslim Filipinos better chances at being at the helm of political power as old Cotabato in the whole had become dominant Christian. Today, both are controlled by people who are known very close to Malacañang palace. Government has depended on these local Muslim forces to maintain peace and order in the region. “Monsters reared by the state”, as some observers have put it.
All fingers pointing to the Ampatuan clan are indeed at this time allegations. But, for Department of Justice [DOJ] Agnes De Vanadera to say that the Ampatuans cannot be considered suspects I think is misplaced. Was not it better if she had called all those who have been pointing fingers and get into what those people are talking about, instead? Either she has been miss-projected [ABS-CBN Nov 25 evening news] or she must be out-of-place. Already her name was linked in the bungled MOA-AD, what ever was in it, where it was not Ed Kabalu and company to come out benefactors but the ARMM governorship that is incidentally, currently controlled by one of the Ampatuans.
Of course the Generals know everything going on in there all the time, or they ought not be generals. But as we can see the matter was politics and between politicians. Last time a General did what he believed was needed done, he ended up living with rebels in the hills. That’s General Jarque for messing with politics and politicians. He was the gallant hero of Operation Thunderbolt in Western Visayas until he stepped inside a political feud. [He searched and confiscated the arms belonging to one of the feuding party. He was charged with theft, plus illegal logging, and much later frustrated murder, as a result.]
The military has today ordered government issued firearms in Maguindanao province turned in. Now, that sounds like sense. Yes, just give that order Sire/ma’am!
Media reports show the Ampatuans and the Mangudadatus as former allies. Feud or Redo has also been mentioned. I don’t know how factual the latter is, but in Feud there is no such thing as justice that we know. In feud, the acts are the just and the justice part of it. A culture. The hen and the egg thing. There can only be punishment for any ‘wrongdoing’ for those caught in the act by now third-party intervention.
Have you been in a place where everybody qualified as bandits and thieves? Like, abduction and rape is not abduction and rape, because they are for the times the other side pillaged and burned or butchered? They are what they call justice. And everything is probably nowhere from the start of the conflict yet. To enter in there fancying the self as justice in shining armor, well, that may be make-believe. Whatever one does in there, half the people cannot agree with it. Political conflict at that level is usually split down to the grass-roots. Restoring sanity order is what it is, and they don’t come easy in such places.
Anyway, I smelled something like somebody had sworn and another had wanted him to eat his words. It looked like a miscalculation. I must be imagining the ways of warriors and wars. And we have that kind of reality in many places out there, folks.