This refers to an article “Donors pledge more aid for Mindanao” published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) on April 1. The donor agencies, including the World Bank (WB), must now realise that to attain genuine peace can never be solved by aid and donations.
Insurgency continues to exist because of deep-rooted injustice in our society. Of why insurgency and rebellion continued to be a cycle from one generation to another is because of the cycle of injustice itself.
What to do in a country where we cannot held accountable not a single elected official, military or police sponsoring Mindanao wars? Former President Estrada is in jail but not for the loss of lives and tremendous damage of his 2000 all-out-war.
Even the former chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Mr. Angelo Reyes, who commandeered the 2000 Camp Abubakar and 2003 Buliok offensives respectively is still with the government. He is our Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary.
Our president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, have likewise not been held accountable for the 2003 Buliok war.
Why should our chief executives, secretaries and military officials be different from other Asian dictators who were charged for crimes against humanity? Are those crimes they allegedly committed is justified by their immunity, if there’s any?
I call on the donor agencies to deeply reflect on this. Of why despite the many billions of pesos worth of rehabilitation and development program it already spent in Mindanao yet peace remains fragile. Is it worth to add on more funds for same purpose?
Those responsible must be prosecuted for crimes they committed, victims afforded with adequate compensation and rehabilitation–not merely post-war substandard housing and short-term livelihood programs. This will ensure safeguards for the people of Mindanao against future leaders of our country who are potential of sowing wars.
Unless this is ensured, any development or rehabilitation efforts in Mindanao may but will not lead to genuine peace. Instead, these is yet another instances wherein corruption and waste of resources is inevitable.
Perhaps, those people who think aid and donation is a solution to Mindanao problem haven’t had experienced for several occasions almost hit by bombs exploding nearby and see dead bodies of innocent civilians fallen to the ground. Well, I do.
If there are people in our country who longed for lasting and genuine peace in Mindanao they are those who lived there — the Mindanaons. Let their voice be heard.
Published on page A16 of the April 17, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer