“If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace.” ~ John Lennon
The death of one person in any war is one too many. Losing 44 of the 392 elite PNP-SAF personnel involved in the operation to arrest two “high-value targets” is heartbreaking. You do not have to know these fallen cops personally for your heart to bleed. Many are grieving with some letting their emotions cloud prudence by calling for all-out war against the Moro rebels.
It would be a lie to say that the same thought did not cross my mind. Anger is such a strong emotion that tends to put logic aside. I have much respect for the people in the AFP and PNP. Many friends, several of them former teammates, have enlisted in those two institutions. Several of them are non-commissioned officers. Theirs is not an easy job, especially when you factor in issues of corruption not just in the military but in many government institutions as a whole. Protecting a country against lawlessness exacerbated by poverty and lack of development in some regions is a constant challenge. More so if they are sometimes ill-equipped to sustain operations more efficiently and effectively.
I too want justice, or at the very least, clear explanations and appropriate actions about what happened. Even before this clash happened, I could not understand what seems like a rush to sign a peace deal that appears to be flawed at the get-go. And recent events only put a lot of things into question.
Everyone wants peace. But some lines still need to be drawn to achieve whatever benefits the most people. And that should be the civilians, the people who do not resort to the use of violence to get what they want. They are the ones constantly caught in the war between rebels and government forces.
People who are calling for an all-out war against the rebels should pause for a while and imagine what it would be like for the civilians. It is not like these rebels live in isolated areas. Imagine how many lives will be lost in the process. Even soldiers whose duty is to protect this country even at the expense of their own lives need not die in such wars. How many people will be displaced? How many children will be killed or orphaned? And if there is one thing we should have learned by now, there are far too many abandoned or orphaned children growing up without proper care and support from our government.
Before we join calls to rush headlong into war, perhaps we should channel our energies in setting higher expectations from people who lead us. If there’s billions of money to be stolen from the government coffers, there should be enough to allocate for the development, social services, and other needs of people in the poorest municipalities and cities of Mindanao.
Directing our anger to the rebels alone do not honor the many lives of fallen heroes including innocent civilians that have been stolen by decades-long strife in Mindanao. If we want to make a difference, we should choose better leaders. Leaders with integrity and compassion to work for a more lasting peace.