Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Soldiers risk lives on the frontline


The killings by the suspected Abu Sayyaf Group, a faction of al-qaeda in southern Philippines, of more than 20 soldiers in Tipo-tipo, Basilan province recently was a tangible proof that peace would be far from being achieved in that part of the Philippines. This had prompted Philippine President Gloria Arroyo to order the military to declare an all-out war against the Abu Sayyaf bandits so that these killings and mutilations of soldiers could be stopped. Had the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) did the mutilations on some of the soldiers, the world would cry foul because it was agains the established provisions set forth under the Geneva Convention.

Here, there seems to be a confusion in so far as the on-going civil war in Mindanao is concerned. Why? Anybody can use his common sense. With the Abu Sayyaf declared as bandits and terrorist group by the government , they can just do whatever they want to do without violating any international laws. This is opposed to the religious ideology being pushed by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), whose only real motive is to establish an Islamic state in Mindanao. With a peace pact with the government, the MILF cannot just renege on its commitments to observe what was enshrined in the Geneva Convention. Because if they do, it would mean a clear violation of the Geneva accord.

Is this the reason why the Abu Sayyaf Group is being used to attack government forces because they are not answerable to any established international convention but to God for their misdeeds on earth. Hopefully, by the now the military is able to decipher this discrepancy in field operations knowing fully well the tactics that are now being used by the ASG. The recent firefight that killed many soldiers only showed how the civil war in Mindanao is being waged differently. From the looks of it, it appeared that the ASG members were the actual instigators of these atrocities.

But why would the ASG have enough courage to battle it out with government forces when they knew in advance that the soldiers have all the logistics they needed to quash any attempt to annihilate the enemies. However, it turned out the bandits were more equipped and prepared when it comes to an actual firefight.

Military strategists and experts couldn't believe to themselves that it wasn't the handiwork of the Abu Sayyaf alone. They have strong inkling that the MILF may have a hand in the ambush of the soldiers who were supposed to lend support to their comrades at the time of the actual firefight in Tipo-tipo, Basilan. Military officials have claimed in published reports that the MILF aided the ASG during the skirmishes which resulted in the deaths of soldiers. Well, the damage was done already. Now it would be time for the military to change its operational strategy against the extremist groups in Mindanao so as to avoid further casualties in the future. But no matter how sincere is the military in pushing through with its plans to effectively crush the extremist groups in Mindanao, it would be useless because proper logistics are not readily available when they are needed most.

Unless the government, especially the Department of National Defense (DND), will be honest enough to procure weapons and equipment that are truly for the purpose of war and protecting the soldiers on the ground, nothing fruitful will happen. As of now, there are reports that procurement for logistics was suspected to be in a mess, which will eventually trickle down to the disadvantage of the soldiers who are deployed for what is perceived as a long protracted war against the enemies.

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