War a necessary evil: Never again Zamboanga City-A A +A
Meet the Countryside
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
WAR is sometimes a "necessary evil." But, it is still evil and it should be avoided at all cost. In the absence of war, we have peace where growth and development can prosper. In armed conflicts or violent hostilities – war, whether amongst political movements and local communities or between nations and allies, will always be more costly in terms of social disruptions and economic destructions.
On Monday, September 9, 2013, peace was shattered in Zamboanga City, when hundreds armed separatist Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) landed and tried to force their way to the port city centre. Valiant government forces held the surprise attack of the rogue MNLF faction to a “deadly stand-off.” The positioned government forces averted a possible worse scenario. In the first place, targeting the city and its civilians that they could not hold was a big mistake. The attack never had a chance to seize the city. So, what was the MNLF faction up to, then? And, at what price as well?
Various reports include the city schools, public offices and businesses closed; food, medicine, toiletries, and other basic needs supplies running out; thousands stranded as commercial flights and ferry services were suspended; and at least 60 people have been killed and 52 wounded. Thousands fled their homes as some were used as human shield and hundreds of houses were burned down to ashes. Who will be accountable for the damages and injuries? Who will shoulder the costs of rebuilding the lives of the thousands of civilian victims?
In disregarding the safety of civilians, the aggression apparently is intended to create fear. By all means, it is terrorism. We cannot be held captive by terrorism. And, thus, a truce is out of the question. Calls for a ceasefire were ill-advised, but a welcome development as it revealed the grandstanding and the ridiculous. This violent act cannot be condoned. We must win the war in Zamboanga City. This war against terror has to be clearly won; and, thus, fought swiftly to avoid exacerbation and protracted violence and more unnecessary victims or losses.
By Sunday, September 15, 2013, Philippine troops were supposedly closing in on the positions of the rogue MNLF faction and cutting off escape routes. This was confirmed by the Military that their troops were “pressing forward with our calibrated military response." This means the Philippine troops have turned the tide by the opportunities caused by the missteps of the invaders. For sure the invading troops are now exhausted; and they are not getting reinforcements.
The momentum is now with the government forces. In their counter-offensive, they have to be intrepid and fast to immediately end the war in Zamboanga City. They should use heavy force without let up and overpower the enemy to surrender. The government forces however must be at their best in avoiding massacres and atrocities. They must not allow attrition warfare. And, of course, they must “leave the opponent an opportunity to withdraw in order to not force them to act out of desperation” – Sun Tzu.
On behalf of the mainstream MNLF, when the invaders are cleared, the Philippine troops must shift its offense strategy to the political leadership of the rogue separatist MNLF faction. At the same time, stakeholders must altogether pursue the other non-violent means to end this war, once and for all. They may believe it, but this MNLF war of independence has never been feasible. Never again the war in Zamboanga City should repeat as well as wars elsewhere in the country.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 18, 2013.