Protracted war-A A +A
I have issues
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
WITH the rise of the evacuee count going up to 80,000 in Zamboanga City, it is certainly very easy to look at the perpetrators of this crisis as the absolute demons that must be purged, the calls for extermination and no-surrender seem to be the most popular sentiment, and it’s not hard to imagine why.
But should we really deal with insurgency in Zamboanga with a hard hammer? Or is there room for negotiation?
There are a number of trade-offs that will have to occur when the Philippine government chooses between two roads, the road of no-surrender is one perhaps that is closest to the proximity of achieving perceptive justice, perceptive in a sense that people need to see these rebels be put to their places, in jails, perhaps for most even attacked and destroyed to the last man, it makes perfect sense given that the visual destruction has one that carves deeply inside every Zamboangeño that has lost one’s homes and their peace throughout this long crisis.
But with this declaration the Philippine government will certainly have to endure this strife longer, there have been calls from Nur Misuari himself issuing a pre-condition for surrender, the safe passage of the remaining rebels inside Zamboanga, of course denial of this would mean that these rebels have no other choice but to fight it out to the last man. Certainly there have been slow defections happening as the numbers start watering down because of continuous combat military deployment, however this will take a toll on the city, and the remaining properties that have yet to be razed or peppered by bullets and mortar shots will have to be put at risk as well.
The Philippine army will test the strength of the remaining rebels, and this isn’t a test that comes quite easy, when the meager 200 of the royal special forces of the Sultan of Sulu invaded Lahad Datu in Sabah, the Malaysian army responded with an incredible amount of force, and it took them weeks to reduce the insurgency and force a surrender, the case could be made with the insurgents in Zamboanga right now, it has taken us weeks, and it will take a few more. Urban warfare is incredibly taxing, and the presence of civilians and properties can make it extremely hard for the AFP to just commit to a full-out offensive.
But if say we lean toward negotiations and give the remaining rebels the conditions they asked for, as in the similar case of 2001 where the forces loyal to Misuari were ordered to stand down after committing to invasion, then we may allow for the immediate re-entry of post-war reconstruction phase for the city of Zamboanga without any risk of protracted war and destruction, however doing this may run the risk of allowing some of the forces responsible for the destruction to get-away, and in many cases our ability to extract justice for the lives lost may be compromised.
The price that is being paid right now for this war is the price of human life; it is a high price to pay, but if we believe that justice can at least rectify this, and allow for the restoration of what was once a beautiful city and its people, the Philippine government will have to tread lightly, what is more important?
The Justice of vindication or the justice of restoration, this war teaches us that there is never an easy choice, and those who think it is are just blind by their versions of what is good and evil.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 19, 2013.