A Time to Fight?August 18, 2008
Online news haven’t picked this out yet, but at least two municipalities in Lanao del Norte have been captured by Muslim MILF rebels.
Kolambugan’s Central School has been torched. Hostages, all of them Christian, have been lined up by the rebels to stand on the edge of the highway. Houses in Kauswagan are burning. People there are racing to the coasts for protection. A steady stream of refugees are being observed from the checkpoint to the city of Iligan. This is war.
People are now demanding retaliation. They are asking the mayor if they could take up arms. Gone is the docile air which characterized previous rebel incursions. In the past, the fighting was about ideology. Today, the people have realized that it is ultimately about land. They do not want anyone to take over what is rightfully theirs.
To his benefit, the mayor has called to seek the path of peace and not to panic. This advice, however, would only show a short term effect.
If your city is being bombed, would you not fight?
If your house is being burned, would you not fight?
If your friends, neighbors, and relatives are held up as hostage; would you not fight?
If your government has sold your land to rebels, would you not fight?
If it refuses to give air support several hours even a day after the fighting has erupted, would you not fight?
And if it has abandoned you to suffer in the hands of the rebels to teach you a lesson for protesting against a “peace treaty”, would you not fight?
The government should act now, or the people will. Whatever laws protecting rebels from the hands of civilians would be disregarded in favor of the law of self defense. During the Muslim uprising in the 1970s the military dutifully aided the loyal population against the rebels. In this current uprising, the government has dilly-dallied to perform its duty for the protection of its people. It took popular uproar to begin the military offensive against rebels occupying North Cotabato towns, and to think the rebels had been there for over a month! It remains to be seen how long the government would respond to this occupation.
The Vice Governor of North Cotabato may indeed be speaking the truth. The government may have abandoned us as fodder for the rebels. We know there is a time for peace, is it now the time to fight?
PS As of current report, there was a conference of Catholic priests in Kolambugan. One priest is said to have been captured and is being held hostage.
PPS As of current report, this priest has managed to hide along with 5 other priests. Several hostages, however, have been killed. The military has given the go signal for the civilians to be vigilant.