News Flash

August 05, 2015, Wednesday
  • Malacanang sees nothing wrong with Pres. Aquino's unscheduled arrival in Tuesday's LP event in San Juan. 2 hours ago |
  • Central Mindanao and Davao region experience continuous heavy rains. 2 hours ago |
  • Floods submerge 12 towns in Maguindanao. 2 hours ago |
  • Cotabato City suspends classes in elementary schools & high schools for the second day due to bad weather. 2 hours ago |
  • 6 landslides hit Kidapawan, North Cotabato. 2 hours ago |
  • Typhoon with int'l name 'Soudelor' has entered PAR and is now called 'Hanna.' 2 hours ago |
  • Large areas in Caloocan & other parts of Metro Manila & Cavite to experience water interruptions from Aug. 10 to 13. 2 hours ago |
  • LRTA refutes speculations of a train fare increase. 2 hours ago |
  • Sen. Trillanes cites security risk as primary reason why his witnesses in bribery charge vs. 2 CA justices won’t be able to testify. 18 hours ago |
  • Sen. Trillanes says his witnesses in bribery charge vs. CA justices won’t be able to appear before the CA hearing. 18 hours ago |
  • Sen. Trillanes says he will appear before CA hearing on Aug. 14 to explain his bribery charge vs. 2 CA justices. 18 hours ago |
  • Trillanes ordered to appear at CA hearing on Aug. 14 at 2 pm & explain why he shouldn’t be cited for contempt for bribery allegations. 18 hours ago |
  • CA tells Sen. Trillanes to explain his allegation that 2 CA justices got P 25M each in bribes to stop Makati Mayor Binay’s suspension. 18 hours ago |
  • DMCI tells Supreme Court that Torre de Manila is outside the boundary of Rizal Park. 18 hours ago |
  • DMCI tells Supreme Court that it followed all ordinances, rules & guidelines in building Torre de Manila. 18 hours ago |
  • Comelec Commissioner Christian Lim says the poll body can adjust its calendar of activities & extend campaign period when there is election. 18 hours ago |
  • LTFRB sues 2 fixers who had long been loitering in the agency’s vicinity & offering fake franchise to applicants. 19 hours ago |
  • Sen. Chiz Escudero says Comelec should castigate candidates abusing election rules instead of extending the campaign period. 19 hours ago |
  • Sen. Jinggoy Estrada has been experiencing light-headedness and acid reflux. 19 hours ago |
  • Sen. Jinggoy Estrada will undergo medical check up at Cardinal Santos Medical Center from 6 pm Tuesday until Thursday. 19 hours ago |
  • Sandiganbayan grants Sen. Jinggoy Estrada’s request for a medical check up at Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan City. 19 hours ago |
  • PAGASA says frequent heavy rains in the afternoon in Metro Manila are just due to thunderstorms. 19 hours ago |
  • PAGASA says there is no weather disturbance currently affecting Metro Manila. 19 hours ago |
  • Typhoon ‘Soudelor’ is forecast to move west northwest at 20 kph. 19 hours ago |
  • Typhoon ‘Soudelor’ was located 1,770 kilometers east of Luzon at 2 pm on Tuesday. 19 hours ago |
  • Typhoon ‘Soudelor’ outside PAR has gustiness of up to 245 kph. 19 hours ago |
  • Typhoon ‘Soudelor’ outside PAR carries maximum sustained winds of up to 215 kph near the center. 19 hours ago |
  • Signal Number 3 may be raised over Cagayan when Typhoon ‘Soudelor’ enters PAR on Wednesday morning. 19 hours ago |
  • Batanes may experience Signal Number 4 when Typhoon ‘Soudelor’ (with local name ‘Hanna’) enters PAR on Wednesday morning. 19 hours ago |
  • Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos & Camsur Rep. Leni Robredo attend Liberal Party meeting in San Juan today with Mar Roxas. 19 hours ago |
  • Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos & Camsur Rep. Leni Robredo say no one has asked them to run as Roxas’ vice pres’l bet. 19 hours ago |
  • Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos says she may run for Congress but she has not made up her mind. 19 hours ago |
  • Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos says she is not eyeing the vice presidency. 19 hours ago |
  • Camsur Rep. Leni Robredo says she hopes Sen. Grace Poe will agree to become Roxas’ runningmate. 19 hours ago |
  • Camsur Rep. Leni Robredo says if ever she will seek a higher post, it may be the senate. 19 hours ago |
  • Camsur Rep. Leni Robredo says she has no plans of running for vice president. 19 hours ago |

The crisis in Zamboanga

By Bong Austero | Sep. 17, 2013 at 12:01am
The crisis in Zamboanga City, which started last week when about 200 armed men belonging to the Moro National Liberation Front took over five barangays and declared their quest for an independent Moro state, acquired a personal dimension when I learned that a colleague’s son was among those held hostage and used as human shield by the MNLF.  The boy is in Zamboanga City to study for his college degree and was living in a dormitory in one of the five barangays.  He is barely 17 years old.  As a result, we are monitoring the Zamboanga crisis with a little more concern than most - we’re not just praying for a quick resolution to the standoff, we’re also praying for the safety of the hostages.  Above all else, we are praying for lasting peace in Mindanao.

Unfortunately, it seems we compose a minority.  Most just want the crisis to end already.  I’ve been in several discussions where most everyone present expressed annoyance over this latest interruption of our supposed march to a better Philippines.  I can understand why and how business and industry tend to view the crisis as a nuisance that needs to be dealt with quickly and drastically; Zamboanga is the sixth largest city in the country and is a major component of the Mindanao economy.  The city has been virtually shut down since last week and the losses to business on a daily basis is staggering.

I’ve met people who seem to think that the Aquino administration is not being decisive enough, that the situation should be dealt with in a more resolute manner; in other words,  government should storm the five barangays in Zamboanga City with guns blazing and kill all the insurgents in one sweep.  My default reaction to this kind of assertion is to tell the person to stop watching too many action movies.  That kind of conflict resolution is only achieved with any level of success in the movies of Bruce Willis and Sylvestre Stallone.  But, alas, there seem to be too many people who subscribe to the “end it now,whatever it takes” course of action despite the fact that there are just too many civilian lives who could potentially become collateral damage and the fact that there is actually a wider context to the conflict.  The Zamboanga crisis has its roots on the decades-long problems of Mindanao.

Anyone who is still thinking straight should then easily figure out that the Zamboanga crisis is not going to be resolved with a purely military solution.  Government troops may, by some stroke of luck, be able to end the current standoff in Zamboanga, but it will not guarantee an end to the crisis.  As what happened in Syria, a totalitarian approach to end an uprising can have disastrous long-term consequences.  A purely military solution  increases the probability of expanding the crisis to other places in Mindanao.  As it is, there are now speculations that other breakaway groups of the MNLF and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front are preparing to get into the act to achieve visibility and consequently invite participation into the ongoing peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the MILF.

While it may seem as if the 200 armed insurgents in Zamboanga are mere recalcitrant renegades who are virtually a lost command, we must recognize that they are not isolated ideologically and religiously.  Nur Misuari and his men may have already been marginalized politically by the current government, but when push comes to shove, the larger context of the Mindanao struggle involves all muslims in Mindanao.  The protracted war in Mindanao has continued precisely because we have not been as successful in pursuing a more comprehensive approach to the problems.

Of course politics and the presence of too many breakaway groups have further muddled the issues but let is not forget that the problem in Mindanao is first of all economic and social.  Unless we are able to address the problems of poverty, discrimination, inequity, injustice, etc, crises such as the current one in Zamboanga will continue to recur.  Lest people have forgotten, the current crisis in Zamboanga is actually a repeat of a similar caper pulled by Nur Misuari in 2001 when he was ousted as chairman of the MNLF.  Back then, MNLF forces held hostage residents of several barangays until they were allowed to escape.

So while our soldiers are preparing to launch an annihilatory solution to the crisis in Zamboanga, let’s all remember that while we may be annoyed by having to witness the crisis in the comfort of our living rooms, millions of people in Mindanao actually live the crisis.  The crisis is complicated and there is more to it than meets the eye so let’s all be patient as the government search for more ways to bring permanent and lasting peace in Mindanao.
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