Archive for the ‘Fr. Mercado’ Category

The MILF Have Been Suckered Into War:The "Peace Agreement" As A Trojan Horse

November 19, 2008


During the previous year or so the MILF have been charging the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) that the latter is not interested in peace citing the lack of progress in the peace talks and the near-impasse in the substantive portions of the agenda. Earlier this year the Malaysian peacekeepers of the International Monitoring Team notified Manila that it will not be renewing its peace-keeping chores saying practically the same reason cited by the MILF. Mindanao-based peace advocates shared the same lament. It even led to the resignation of some personalities connected with the peace process. Even the very respected Fr. Eliseo Mercado of the Notre Dame University in Cotabato City broadly hinted of government’s insincerity in the peace talks.

Suddenly, nearing the end of Gen. Esperon’s tour of duty as AFP Chief of Staff the talks suddenly accelerated. Gen. Esperon was appointed as the presidential adviser on the peace process right after retirement and, lo and behold, suddenly a “breakthrough” in the peace talks was announced. Soon after a signing of the “peace agreement” in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was announced.

When it became clear that the substantive portion of the agreement was about the “ancestral domain” and the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE), Christian politicians in three key localities in Mindanao made angry noises. Suddenly, there was major fighting in Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte and full-scale assault by the AFP followed. It was supposedly “to bring to justice” the commander of the BIAF (Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces) 102nd Base Command Abdulrahman Macapaar or Commander Bravo based in Lanao del Norte and Commander Ameril Umbra Kato of the 105th Base Command in North Cotabato who supposedly occupied 15 barangays.

Commander Bravo denied the charged atrocities in Kauswagan and pointed instead to the group of Alvin Canto as the perpetrators. This group immediately surrendered to the military after fighting started. Is this the same case as the “Polish” attack against Hitler’s Germany that started WWII?

Is Kato’s “occupation” true? For several years now the military has been charging Ustadz Kato with conniving with the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). Is there more than a coincidence here?

After nearly four months of war all of the MILF-BIAF’s base command including those in western ARMM have been attacked by the AFP saying it would continue until the MILF surrenders the wanted commanders, a demand that was surely rejected by the MILF. Contrary to my expectations nearly all of the MILF areas have been overrun by the AFP. Feeling victorious, the current AFP chief of staff probably slipped when he boasted that:
1. “What we did in 2000 was to symbolically occupy areas and raise the flag. We have not accounted for much of their capabilities and even firearms”, thereby directly criticizing Erap’s “all-out war” against the MILF.
2. “Our objective now is not just to occupy lands…but to degrade the capabilities of the forces involved”.
3. “We have not only occupied some of their traditional areas which means we have constricted their area of capability, their space to maneuver…we have inflicted considerable damage not only to personnel but to equipment of the different groups we are pursuing”.

All in the disguise of “bringing to justice…” Looks like Gen. Yano mastered the Bush art of “truth-stretching”. What was really the objective was “to change the realities on the ground”, as preparation for “new peace talks”.

Looking at other quarters, there seems to be moves to rehabilitate Nur Misuari of the MNLF. Maybe as a substitute sparring partner if the MILF does not report to the peace talks?

Looking back, the GRP’s “concessions” in the peace talks looked too good and magnificent to be true. Maybe it knows that it won’t pass Supreme Court review anyway. “The right hand giveth, the left hand giveth”. A pretext (atrocities kuno) to a full-scale war was found. The “peace agreement” turned out to be just a Trojan horse.

Gloria And Her Generals And The US Are Not Averse To War In Mindanao

September 6, 2008

Last month, Fr. Eliseo “Jun” Mercado, OMI, a highly respected peace advocate and honest broker trusted by all sides in Mindanao and also president of Notre Dame University in Cotabato City charged after the MOA-AD signing was TRO’d that the Philippine government was negotiating in bad faith since it knows it cannot deliver on its promises. He said, “So why sign if you cannot deliver? There may be another motive, and that motive could be charter change.” Fr. Mercado was involved off and on in the peace talks in both personal and official capacity so he probably knows more than the ordinary layman.

It has been said that Malacanang under the watch of Gloria is simply a confluence of different contending factions, each with its own agenda and its own turf. Maybe for Gloria and politicians of her ilk clinging on to power beyond 2010 was the agenda for the MOA-AD charade. Maybe they were betting they can ride through an MOA-AD referendum enough Charter change that will assure their hold of Malacanang after 2010, thus ensuring they will be free from suits and jail.

And, of course, any diversion from the constant barrage of criticism against her regime is good for her. And also good for her husband and his group of businessmen who are always under suspicion and accusation of machinations in government contracts.

For the generals and powerful ex-generals maybe the agenda was to sucker the MILF into war, a war where they will have additional technical advantage compared to the 2000 “all-out” war of Erap, courtesy of the US. This will probably include the combination of satellite imagery, sigint and GPS reckoning. And it is obvious they have more confidence of “winning” this war than that of 2000. Their advance is comprehensive, attacking all the MILF camps in all the provinces it is present.

For the US, who always feel they are “stakeholders” in the Philippines, any agreement that will result in the recognition of autonomous Muslim territories which can be the refuge of “Muslim terrorists” is simply a no-no. I will not be surprised if they are the ones who primarily sabotaged the peace process thru the likes of Ermita and Esperon. In this they might be using the AFP as surrogates. No wonder the US troops never left Zamboanga since 2002 and instead it increased three-fold. And everybody thought they were simply “visiting.”

Come to think of it, isn’t the presence of Ambassador Kenney in Kuala Lumpur an anomaly? The US has never been part of the peace process in the South unlike the OIC, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The Christian body politic cannot be charged with sabotage. After all they might have been left in the dark during the negotiations. Was this deliberate so that they will react with fury once they got wind of the terms of agreement? They can be manipulated by interested quarters especially if their perceived “rightful claims” are threatened. Are there people fanning the flames by pushing the resurgence of paramilitary groups?

To be fair to the Christians in Mindanao they do not want war either. It disrupts the economy, security becomes uncertain and they can become victims of bombings.

The peace process under the watch of Gloria is dead. It will be war from now but it does not mean that Gloria and her generals and the US are averse to it. They stand to gain from the war and weaken their “enemies” at the same time. In the end it will be the true stakeholders in Mindanao who are bound to lose.

Yes, It Seems The MILF Was Suckered Into War

September 1, 2008

Now, here comes the chief government peace adviser, Hermogenes Esperon, the just-retired AFP chief of staff saying that if negotiations resume, “the matter of DDR–demobilization, disarmament and rehabilitation–will immediately be tabled.” He added: “After discussing upfront the DDR, we can go addressing other matters including the aspirations of the group.” The GMA News said Esperon was referring to the MILF’s desire to give the Bangsamoro people their own territory.

Now, pardon me, isn’t that a call for a surrender? As in “Lay down your arms first and then we will talk”?

I thought the peace talks have been going on for the last 6 years. The Supreme Court issued a TRO (not yet an injunction, mind you) and the signing of the peace treaty was held in abeyance. Some fighting ensued (which happens yearly, anyway, or several times a year when tempers get hot) and now here comes the chief peace negotiator completely changing the framework of the talks!

Now I do not wonder why Malaysia as the IMT (International Monitoring Team) for the ceasefire wanted to withdraw earlier this year and undiplomatically charging that they doubt if the government really wants peace. Later Malaysia threatened not to sign up again as IMT when its term expired.

Now I understand why a highly-respected priest-peace advocate who is trusted by all contending forces in Mindanao, Fr. Eliseo Mercado of the Notre Dame University, personally withdrew from his position in the peace talks several years ago charging the government is not sincere in pursuing peace in Mindanao.

Everybody in Mindanao knows that the MILF is weaker now than they were in 2000 before Erap’s war. They lost territory and they lost their central base, the Camp Abubakar and several other satellite camps. Even the completion of the Narciso Ramos Highway [see my previous post] is proof that they have been weakened.

In the past and in recent days Erap has been quoted saying that if he was not deposed “the MILF will be wiped out by now”. Is this a case of the military’s slip showing through? That if they are “unleashed”, they can “crush” the MILF?

Is this the whole plot behind the “peace-signing”? That like Hitler a Polish “border incident” must first be created? Yes, I remember now. The Philippine-American War of 1899 started with a “shooting incident” in a bridge in San Juan.