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Noynoy, the #Fallen44, and the $5-million bounty

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In the aftermath of the bungled mission to capture high-profile terrorist Zulkifli “Marwan” Abdhir, the Aquino government is now facing a morality crisis for failing to save the #Fallen44, the now famous dedicatory hashtag symbolizing the heroic 44 members of the Philippine National Police — Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) who were brutally massacred by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) last January 25 as they were attempting to capture Marwan who was found out to be hiding in Mamasapano, Maguindanáo Province. Recent reports have surfaced that Malacañán Palace, including the president himself, were aware of the PNP-SAF operation. But adding insult to injury, the president himself still insists on passing the divisive Bangsamoro Basic Law inspite of the obvious disrespect to the ceasefire ban on the part of the Muslim militants. Hence, his dilemma: an angry Filipino nation.

We are already aware of these infuriating facts. So let’s just tackle least talked about but pertinent (and intriguing) side issues relating to this second Maguindanáo Massacre which all concerned Filipinos ought to know. Let’s make this quick and straight to the point.

First off, where was the president on the day of the massacre? He was in Zamboanga City, just a few provinces away from Maguindanáo. Remember that on January 23 (Friday), a bomb placed inside a car exploded in Barrio Guiwan, Zamboanga City, leaving one person dead and more than 48 injured.

Two days later (January 25), President Noynoy Aquino and some of his staff visited the victim and the survivors of the blast. Something rare. If memory serves us correct, the president never did this in previous bombing incidents. Did he even care to visit the victims of another bombing in Maramag, Buquidnón (the real spelling of Bukidnon) last December 9? That bombing took more lives (11 dead, 43 injured) than the recent Zamboanga blast and was even caught on video, but the president was nowhere in sight in the aftermath. This leads us to ask what was special about that Zamboanga bombing which prompted the president to visit the victims?

Also, it is already made known to the public that Malacañán Palace was aware of the PNP-SAF mission. It appears that they have been planning for Marwan’s downfall for months (or perhaps even years). They even have a name for the operation: Oplan Exodus. But this should come as no surprise; take note that Marwan was no ordinary criminal. He’s on the list of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Most Wanted Terrorists. And since he’s included in that “prestigious” list, a $5-million bounty was placed on his head: that’s roughly ₱220,477,500!

It is hard to believe that everyone involved in Oplan Exodus, from the president himself down to the PNP-SAF frontliners, didn’t have the booty in mind. This is not to say that the $5-million reward was the sole motivator of the operation. Ending Marwan’s despicable deeds, of course, count the most; his bomb-making skills have killed hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of innocent lives. However, we cannot discount the glaring fact that $5 million is $5 million, even though there are rules that only the witness or the person who pinpointed the whereabouts of a wanted man can receive the booty. Ending terrorism still has its monetary benefits albeit under the table, and there’s nothing wrong with it.

It only becomes wrong when greed gets in the way.

We already heard the story of how the PNP-SAF, in the ensuing 11-hour “misencounter”, radioed the military for help because they had been overwhelmed by the (allegedly) combined forces of the MILF and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. But no help came. Later on, the military used the “ceasefire” clause as a cowardly excuse for snubbing the PNP-SAF’s call for help). Pretty strange, if not pretty dense.

A humorous but truthful meme circulating on Facebook.

To reiterate: President Aquino was in Mindanáo, at that precise moment when the PNP-SAF forces were being mercilessly obliterated one by one. It’s pretty mind-boggling for the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and one of the main architects of Oplan Exodus at that, not to know the dilemma being faced by the PNP-SAF forces in nearby Maguindanáo.

Was the military snub deliberate? Were their hands really tied by the ceasefire clause despite the obvious fact that the extremists were already violating it? Or better still, was the ceasefire clause simply used as an excuse to somehow enable the extremists to… get rid of the PNP-SAF forces? After all, once the PNP-SAF had arrested or killed Marwan, they would have divided the prize money among themselves.

Politicians remote-controlling the operation from afar (or from Zamboanga?) simply wouldn’t have none of it. The greed of some of these politicians are already common knowledge.

To make matters more confusing, another twist popped up: that Marwan’s death during the firefight could not yet be determined. Does that mean that Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmín’s (imaginary) informant will have to wait? We do know that the privacy of the informant should be respected and protected. But in the light of this huge money issue relating to the arrest of one of the world’s most dangerous cowards, a thorough investigation of Oplan Exodus’ architects is in the offing, especially since Uncle Sam’s troops seemed to have some sort of involvement (as always).

And on top of this all, why President Aquino’s continuous support for the passing of the Bangsamoro Basic Law when its main supporters, the MILF, have brazenly violated the peace talks by meddling in the arrest of a terrorist?

Pardon me, but I smell a rub out.

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Martial Law no more in Maguindanáo

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“In view of the accomplishments of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the habeas corpus under Proclamation 1959, the Cabinet has recommended the lifting of martial law and which the President has approved,” Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita announced earlier today.

Martial Law in Maguindanáo.

Finally, they’ve come to their senses: Martial Law has been lifted in non-rebellious Maguindanáo. It’s about time. There is really no state of rebellion in the province. Plain and simple. Martial Law may have been justified, say, if it was directed against MILF aggression. But the group has been quiet for a long time. So why place the province under military rule?

When an alleged coup d’état against the Arroyo Administration last 2006 was discovered by the military, the country was placed only under a state of emergency. But Arroyo could’ve easily placed the country –or at least Metro Manila where “much of the action” was planned out– under Martial Law no matter what her critics say about it. But she didn’t. On the other hand, Arroyo could’ve just placed Maguindanáo under a state of emergency instead of declaring Martial Law. But again, she didn’t. Which makes her political behavior more confusing and suspect.

Theories have been put forward about the Maguindanáo Martial Law debacle. Many legal experts say that if the province is placed under Martial Law, then the murder raps filed against the Maguindanáo Massacre suspects, the Ampatuan clan (particularly Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan, Jr.), will be relegated to rebellion. And it is said that punishment for rebellion is surprisingly lighter compared to murder. It is likely that it was the real motive. After all, the Ampatuan clan is an Arroyo ally. Arroyo has a debt of gratitude to the embattled Muslim clan. It’s not really doubtful that they collabarated against FPJ’s electoral downfall in ARMM, particularly in Maguindanáo, during the 2004 Philippine National Elections.

Even the manner the mayor of Datu Unsay was taken in by authorities from his posh mansion in Maguindanáo to the National Bureau of Investigation headquarters in Manila was tainted with “royal preference”. If the massacre was headed by an ordinary person, the “arrest” would have been different. It could’ve been nasty. Punches and curses could’ve been thrown here and there. There could’ve even been blood. But no, that wasn’t the way it happened with the mayor. And it only reveals how unequal justice is in this country.

Afterwards, the arresting party claimed that the chopper they used to bring the primary suspect to Luzón was attacked “from the ground” by gunfire from unknown assailants. They said that Mayor Ampatuan was shocked. It was hilarious, really; nobody up to now took their claim seriously. That incident even died as soon as it was revealed to the media. And I could be the only person writing about.

Based on the foregoing, it appears that there is an obvious attempt to exonerate Mayor Ampatuan to the public by making him appear to be the victim, the downtrodden, the oppressed. But they only made him more ridiculous and hated and laughable. Nobody bought the chopper shooting incident.

You see, folks, the majority of Filipinos may have been wallowing in poverty for decades. But that doesn’t mean that the Filipino people are stupid. They have been through a lot of hell, and much of that hell was from the original Martial Law of Marcos. We’ve learned our lesson in blood.

The Filipino people are not stupid like what Arroyo and her lackeys think they are.

Another ambush strengthens support for Martial Law in embattled Maguindanáo

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The newstory below sounds awfully familiar…

Convoy bearing massacre evidence ambushed

Suspected followers of the Ampatuan clan in Maguindanáo ambushed a military and police convoy Thursday night as it headed for General Santos City with evidence in the Nov. 23 massacre that the authorities collected in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanáo, police said.

Senior Supt. Willie Dangane, Cotabato City police director and deputy Task Force 12 Alpha, was on board a Toyota Altis police car with evidence recovered from the mansion of Andal Ampatuan Sr. in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanáo’s provincial capital, when three men standing at a road side opened fire with M-16 rifles at about 8 p.m.

With Dangane in the car was Chief Supt. Felicísimo Khu, chief of the Central Mindanáo police. Neither official was hurt in the firing. Inquirer.net

As of this writing, there is still no resolution over Arroyo’s questionable Martial Law declaration. It is still being debated in Congress.

But if we are to compare this sad current event to the first Martial Law imposed by ex-strongman Ferdinand Marcos, the abovementioned ambush on the military and police convoy in Maguindanáo would be questionable, too.

Remember what happened to then Minister of Defense Juan Ponce Enrile on the night of 22 September 1972? He was also “ambushed” on his way home to his posh Dasmariñas Village home in Macati City. According to government reports, it was perpetrated by “communist terrorists”. Fortunately for Enrile, he escaped unharmed. And ironically, he’s now the Senate President presiding over the first joint Congress (together with House Speaker Próspero Nograles) which discusses the validity of Martial Law in Maguindanáo.

Prior to the Enrile “attack”, communist insurgency and student left activism have been giving the dictator a lot of headache. So upon hearing of the “ambush”, an angry President Marcos called the attack on his Sancho Panza “the last straw”. He then proceeded to sign Proclamation 1081 placing the entire Philippines under military rule, officially (and more popularly) known as Martial Law.

What happened next was one of the darkest periods in Philippine History.

Years later, when the people rebelled against Marcos in the now famous 1986 People Power Revolution, the beans were spilled. Together with then Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen Fidel Ramos (who later on became the 12th President of the Philippines), Enrile admitted to members of the press that the 1972 ambush was fake — it was staged for the sole purpose of declaring Martial Law, a vile scheme to arrest all those who opposed Marcos’ rule! It turned out that Enrile and Ramos were part of the infamous and mysterious “Rolex 12”, the group of military advisers who had helped Marcos plan Martial Law.

Could it be possible that yesterday’s “ambush” against the military and the police carrying evidence against the Ampatuan clan is simply a ploy, a fake, a farcical tactic of the hated Arroyo regime? The dubious Martial Law imposed in Maguindanáo is in grave danger of being revoked by lawmakers. The modern “Rolex 12” surrounding La Petite Demoiselle will do anything to prove the legitimacy of Martial Law in Maguindanáo.

In the first place, why declare Martial Law just now? If veritable, the writ of habeas corpus should’ve been declared in Muslim Mindanáo a long time ago. Remember that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front has been wreaking havoc in that area. And before them, there was the Moro National Liberation Front. But never was Martial law imposed. Why?

Isn’t it that the Ampatuan clan helped Arroyo “win” in the controversial 2004 Philippine National Elections? Filipino hero and legend, Fernando Poe, Jr. lost heavily in Maguindanáo, the Ampatuan clan’s stronghold. And that election loss in the said province is something quite unthinkable even up to now since the King of Philippine Cinema is very popular all over Mindanáo.

Isn’t it that Maguindanáo is also at the center of the Hello Garci maelström?

It appears that the pieces of the puzzle are starting to show up one by one, creating a clearer picture of today’s corruption. The smoke is starting to clear. And Arroyo is having a hard time fanning the flames to cover up her fake presidential @$$.

These people who are bloody drunk with wealth in power — don’t they realize that they are not forever?

Desecrating the Philippine flag

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The Fourth Estate got too elated over Pacman’s systematic decimation of Miguel Cotto last November 15 that it failed to notice that a law was already being violated.

Many didn’t notice this, but the Philippine Daily Inquirer published a photo last November 17 showing a man unwittingly desecrating the Philippine flag at the expense of his admiration for Manny Pacquiáo(see below):

This action grossly violated the provisions of the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines (Republic Act No. 8491):

Section 34 of the Prohibited Acts;
f. To add any word, figure, mark, picture, design, drawings, advertisements or imprints of any nature on the flag;

But what if that guy holding the flag is a Filipino who’s already a US citizen — would he still be exempted from Republic Act 8491? Besides, the crime was done overseas — would it still matter?

Right now, what matters most is that our local leaders, particularly Senators Richard “The Dick” Gordon, “Candid” Juan Miguel Zubiri, and Francis “El Queso” Escudero, have proposed to “legally desecrate” the flag that has been known to us –and to our patriots who first hoisted it– as a symbol of our nationhood for more than a century already. The details of this “legal desecration” can be found in the provisions of Senate Bill 3307 which proposes to amend Republic Act 8491.

The bill seeks to add a ninth ray to our flag’s sun. With tons of national problems continuously disturbing our lives every day, why do our solons want to do such a thing?

In a statement, Gordon, who’s the most vocal on this latest move to make a graffiti out of our country’s beloved symbol, has this to say: “We are a country that has had a conflict with our Muslim brothers for the last so many decades. I think this is a big step toward reuniting our country, recognizing the contributions of our fellow countrymen, the Filipino Muslims. We should recognize their deeds in our country.”

He did not say, however, what those contributions were, if there were any at all. We’re speaking here in the context of Philippine historiography, something that the good senator is trying to imply especially when he mentioned that our country has been in conflict with Mindanáo Muslims for decades.

Well, not exactly decades, but for centuries. Or perhaps since the Fall of the Byzantine Empire. Or perhaps since their “prophet” Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullāh wrote these hate-filled passages in the Qur’an:

“Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Apostle, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” (S IX 29)

“O ye who believe! Fight the unbelievers who gird you about, and let them find firmness in you; and know that Allah is with those who fear Him.” (S IX 123)

“O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (For friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guided not a people unjust.” (S V 54)

(The People of the Book are the Christians; jizya, on the other hand, is the tribute.)

As you can see, lasting peace between Muslims and non-Muslims is nothing but a pie in the sky.

Here in the Philippines, the government has tried everything it can to break the dividing wall between Muslim Filipinos and non-Muslims, particularly Christians. But it is the Muslims who keep on distancing themselves. And with much bravado. We long for peace, but they take pride in war. Why? Just refer to their Qur’an.

And now they have the nerve to claim Mindanáo for themselves. This should not be a surprise anymore because Filipinos today do not know much about Philippine history…

Renowned US historian John Leddy Phelan’s monumental work, The Hispanization of the Philippines (University of Wisconsin Press, Menasha, WI, 1959), recounts the story of one of the processes of how our nation was built:

In various provinces of the Philippines native chieftains and freeman were assembled during the year 1599 in order to “elect” the Castilian king as their natural lord and sovereign. These election ceremonies were organized upon the urging of a royal cedula from Spain. The Filipinos based their voluntary submission on the contractual promise that the king and his new subjects would render each other certain services.

To reiterate, the Filipino identity is the product of the Filipino State that began to exist in Spanish on 24 June 1571. The Filipino State was founded together with Manila on that same date, with the government having Spanish as its official language.

As stated in Phelan’s book, the previously existing native ethnic states went into the Filipino State as co-founding members in 1599. They incorporated themselves with the Filipino State when they elected the Spanish King (Rey Felipe II) as their natural sovereign. This election was verified during a synod-plebiscite held also that year.

From that time on, and after forming part of the 1571 Filipino State, our pre-Hispanic ancestors also accepted Spanish as their official and national language with their respective native languages as auxiliary official languages. Thus, the previously autonomous Ethnic States that existed before 1599 were respectively the ones that belonged to the Tagalogs, Ilocanos, Pampangueños, Bicolanos, Visayans, Mindanáo Lumads, etc. including the Moro Sultanates of Joló and Maguindanáo.

Yes, even Mindanáo’s Muslim leaders had a deal with the Spanish monarchy.

Thus, before we go off topic here, adding a ninth ray to the sun will not be a solution that there will be everlasting peace between Christian Filipinos and Muslim Filipinos. This is not to say that we should continue hating the Muslims. No, of course not. It’s useless. Jesus Christ didn’t teach us to hate. But the tenets of Islam teach Muslims to hate: “O ye who believe! Fight the unbelievers who gird you about…

Sadly, their fundamentalism can never be denied.

Now, let us discuss what the symbols of the flag stand for. The white triangle stands for equality and fraternity. The blue field is for peace, truth, and justice. The red field for patriotism, and valor, and bravery. The stars are for Luzón, Visayas, and Mindanáo. And the eight rays of the sun represent the first eight provinces which declared themselves in a state of rebellion against Spain: Manila, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Écija, Bataán, Laguna, and Batangas (these provinces were then placed under martial law by the Spanish government).

Adding a ninth ray to the sun tarnishes the significance of the meaning of the other eight rays. What province does the ninth ray represent? And what if other groups ask to be represented in the flag as well? Besides, the Moros fought the Spaniards in order not for them to be assimilated to the Philippine government. Is that what you call a fight for freedom? Yes, it is. But they fought only for themselves, not for the whole country.

To put it more bluntly, they fought against the Philippine government during the Spanish times, like what they’re still doing to this very day. And then our politicians want to reward them something that they never did?

In another angle, Emmanuel Libre Osorio postulated in a column of his in Business Mirror (25 June 2009) that “until the ninth ray is added to the Philippine flag, the Philippines cannot be a truly national community. It is that simple and yet its truth has eluded many.” (Business Mirror).

Simple? Unbeknownst to Mr. Osorio, the Philippines has been a national community since 24 June 1571. And that was when Manila was founded and declared as the capital city of the Philippine Islands during the reign of the first Spanish Governor-General, El Adelantado Miguel López de Legazpi.

The Filipino State, therefore, was simultaneously founded with the founding of the City of Manila. Logically speaking, why should there be a capital city, seat of a central government with its laws, without a corresponding state to govern?

We should thus celebrate June 24 each year as the birthdate of our country, and not merely as Araw ng Maynilà.

In the same article, Mr. Osorio also implied that this clamor for a ninth ray has much weight in it because it has been raised numerous times in the past by people of influence and political significance: former Cagayán de Oro City, Misamis Oriental Mayor (and now Senator) Aquilino Pimentel, Jr.; two-time Speaker of the House of Representatives José B. Laurel, Jr., and; Carmen Guerrero-Nakpil, ex-chairperson of the National Historical Institute. But that is beside the point. Mr. Osorio is already using appeal to authority here. Even if, say, José Rizal were alive today and he’d also opt for a ninth ray, that doesn’t necessarily mean that their argument would be correct already. Einstein may have been a genius, but that didn’t make him infallible.

Mr. Osorio then asks: is the addition of the ninth ray a constitutional heresy?

What does the Constitution say?

Article XVI, Section 1 of the Constitution states: “The flag of the Philippines shall be red, white and blue, with a sun and three stars, as consecrated and honored by the people and recognized by law.”

The Constitution is silent on the number of rays.

But that silence doesn’t mean that we should allow creativity –or should I say POLITICAL WHIMSICALITY– to meddle with what Marcela Marino de Agoncillo, together with her daughter Lorenza and Rizal’s niece Delfina Herbosa de Natividad, toiled for in Hong Kong way back in 1897. The constitution is also silent with the color of the sun and even on the shape of the flag. It can be “silent” about so many other things regarding the attributes of our flag; all one needs is an imaginative mind. I’m sure Mr. Osorio doesn’t want to encourage “creativity” such as what that boxing fan did when he hoisted the Philippine flag last Sunday with a “PACQUIAO FOR PRESIDENT” lettering, does he? But if Mr. Osorio is cool with that, then God save the Philippine flag and all other things which symbolize our national identity.

“The revolution, which is a commitment to freedom, is being recognized, symbolized by the rays. In the search for national unity, a common bond is sought and found. The common bond is the commitment to freedom. A commitment to freedom different from staging a revolution may also be symbolized by a ray or rays. It is all very simple.”

No, it is not all very simple. We are speaking of concepts here, beautiful concepts that exist only in the mind, in a distant future, a fevered dream, utopia. The “ninth ray advocates” may have a good intention: peace and harmony in Mindanáo. But no, adding a ninth ray to finally hault the neverending insurrection in the south is not a simple thing to do. Frankly speaking, it’s a waste of time, money, energy, effort, not to mention a crime against history. It is 100% guaranteed that the Muslim insurectos in Mindanáo and elsewhere will never give a monkey’s @$$ whether we add a ninth ray, or perhaps a tenth ray for Sultan Kudarat, or an eleventh for Shariff Kabunsuan, or a twelfth ray for Christmas, etc. The Muslims never asked for a ninth ray. The hungry and jobless Filipino masses do not need a ninth ray for their flag; what the masses are asking for are for food, stable jobs, and a trustworthy government. That is what the people are clamoring — THAT IS WHAT THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD GIVE. The Mindanáo Muslims (led by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and other self-styled Islamic patriots) on the other hand, are asking for the whole island of Mindanáo, or at least the areas covered by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanáo. That is what the government should focus, on how to make them understand that it is not possible because it’s tantamount to destroying Filipino patrimony which Spain bequeathed to us.

This futile effort of adding a ninth ray to the sun’s flag in order to achieve peace can be compared with those peace talks the government conducts with local communists under the leadership of José Mª Sison. Malacañang Palace should realize that the communists will not stop until they have set-up a dictatorship of the proletariat, something that is vague and strange under republican and big-business politicians that we have today.

Sad but true.

The government’s efforts to find a solution to end these hostilities are laudable. But please, not at the expense of our flag. It has been an unwavering symbol of our national identity.

To repeat Arnaldo Arnáiz, LEAVE THE FLAG ALONE.

Irish missionary Fr. Michael Sinnott is free at last!

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More good news!

Finally, Fr. Michael Sinnott has been redeemed from evil after a grueling 32-day captivity:

Irish priest Sinnott freed

Irish missionary Michael Sinnott has been freed by his kidnappers on Thursday morning, according to officials from the military, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Irish government.

Lieutenant General Ben Dolorfino, Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) chief, said Moro Islamic Liberation Front members, who were tasked to help free Sinnot, turned over the priest to Ambassador Rafael Seguis, chairman of the government peace panel, and Major General Reynaldo Sealana, head of the government’s Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities.

“We got Fr. Sinnott!” Wesmincom spokesman Major Ramon David Hontiveros said in a text message.

Prime Minister Brian Cowen said he was relieved to learn Sinnott had been freed, adding “all our prayers have been answered.”

“We are all relieved and thankful that Father Michael’s difficult ordeal has been brought to an end and that all our prayers have been answered,” he said.

“On behalf of the government, I want to commend the government of the Philippines and our Ambassador Richard O’Brien, and our officials who have all worked with great commitment and resolve to bring about Father Michael’s release,” he said in a statement.

The report of Sinnott’s release was also relayed by Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin late Wednesday in Belfast.

“He has been handed over to a clinic where he is being looked after and medically checked,” said Martin, who was in Belfast for meetings.

“He is as well as can be expected,” he added. Inquirer.net

FR. MICHAEL SINNOTT

Fr. Sinnott relating his ordeal to the press at the Villamor Air Base in Pásay City earlier today. He was freed this morning from a month-long captivity.

Both the government and the MILF denied that no ransom was paid, but it’s not fully clear how the Irish priest from the Missionary Society of St. Columban was released. And why, if there was no money involved. MILF’s chief negotiator, Mohagner Iqbal, simply said that the ailing priest was turned over to them by the kidnappers without any ransom at all.

I don’t buy it.

But let’s just move on. Anyway, we all know where the Irish priest’s captors –including all those who collaborated with them– are headed (click here to check out their final destination — lest they repent).

This is great news not only for both the Philippine and Irish governments. This is good news for the whole country as well. No blood was shed. The scandal ended in triumph. And the crime was exceptionally shorter compared to other kidnap-for-ransom cases in the past. I should laud the Philippine government, but there’s something in this government that I just couldn’t trust…

Now, the next good news the Filipino nation is expecting should come this Sunday: Manny Pacquiáo should deliver the goodies!

Who are the kidnappers of Fr. Sinnott?

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Up to now, I still haven’t heard any news from the media nor from the military on who kidnapped the Irish Catholic priest, Fr. Michael Sinnott.

If it isn’t the Moro International Liberation Front or MILF (which is not really known to kidnap civilians for money), then it could only be the dreaded organized crime group called the Abu Sayyaf.

The Abu Sayyaf should not be considered as terrorists. As per writer Bruce Hoffman (in his book Inside Terrorism), the word terrorism is politically and emotionally charged, thus greatly compounding the difficulty of providing a precise definition. However, since the dawn of the 9/11 attacks against the United States, terrorism has always been associated with acts of violence (particularly bombing civilians in public places) to coerce an enemy to adhere to the group’s politico-religious ideologies.

In the case of the Abu Sayyaf, they are into kidnap-for-ransom activities solely for profit. They are not known to be separatists compared to the MILF (and before them, Nur Misuari’s Moro National Liberation Front) although they have been linked to international terrorist groups such as the Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah.

Now, if Fr. Sinnott’s kidnappers are not the Abu Sayyaf, then who could they be? It is feared that it’s just a renegade group of bandits. If it be true, then the vile adventurism of the organized Abu Sayyaf crime group has inspired local bandits to pursue the same corrupt way of earning money.

FR. MICHAEL SINNOTT

Is he in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf criminals?

Ransom demand for Irish priest rejected

The government on Sunday rejected a $2-million ransom demand by the kidnappers of an elderly Irish Catholic priest in the troubled south but said it would continue efforts to ensure his release.

Paying money to free Father Michael Sinnott, 79, went against state policy, a spokesman for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Cerge Remonde, told AFP.

“We will do everything to ensure his safe release,” Remonde said. “We will, however, stick to the international policy of paying no ransom.”

He said security forces on the southern island of Mindanao were continuing efforts to locate Sinnott, who was seized by gunmen from his missionary office in the southern city of Pagadian on October 11.

“Even the MILF is helping,” Remonde said, referring to the 12,000-strong separatist group the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which is negotiating a peace deal with the government. Inquirer.net

Mindanáo: When Will The War Ever End?

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Certainly not in my lifetime. But neither am I happy about it.

Mindanáo, particularly the terrorist-infested regions, will continue to be drenched in blood and fear as long as we have complacent government leaders who wine and dine like monarchs while their tired and hungry and lonely soldiers fight a never-ending war against godless psycopathic criminals who pretend to be Muslims.

Very recently, more than 20 Filipino soldiers were brutally murdered by these motherless cowards who brazenly call themselves the Abu Sayyaf. The war against these scumbags has been ongoing for many years with almost no end in sight. They were almost wiped out from the face of the earth during President Joseph Estrada’s term. But –and strangely– when Gloria Arroyo usurped power, their number ballooned once more. And their killing and kidnapping spree has soared to new heights, enough to grab the attention of Washington, D.C. and the European Union. But even with the presence of the US military in Mindanáo, these self-proclaimed Muslim extremists still seem like roaches; you keep hitting ’em with your sandals, but they keep on coming back to crawl toward a safe, dark corner.

Perhaps if we still have a leader like Sebastián Hurtado de Corcuera, the tide would’ve turned much differently. Fortunately for these terrorists from hell, Hurtado de Corcuera’s already resting up there in the firmament.

Sebastián Hurtado de Corcuera (Gobernador General, 1635-1644). Without him, there would have been no Mindanáo in the Philippine map.

Sebastián Hurtado de Corcuera (Gobernador General, 1635-1644). Without him, there would have been no Mindanáo in the Philippine map.

Sebastián Hurtado de Corcuera was the 22nd Gobernador General during Spanish-era Philippines. He presided over archipelagic matters from 25 June 1635 to 11 August 1644. During his reign, the then Philippine military had one of its most glorious days as it has defeated its Muslim enemies from the south.

And yes, without Hurtado de Corcuera’s amazing military efforts, the late nationalist musical performer FrancisM would’ve been rapping Two Stars & A Sun instead of three. In one way or another, Hurtado de Corcuera was able to keep Mindanáo as part of Philippine territory. He even participated in the battlefield. Thus, in the words of National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquín, the “once separate and warring kingdoms of Manila, Cebú, and, yes, Joló were steadily projected as a single entity: Las Filipinas. Divide and conquer? The Spanish policy seems rather to have been: ‘Keep ’em one! Keep ’em together!’ There were any number of times when the Spanish could have dropped Mindanáo –or, at least, Sulú– from their empire; but (at the cost of much headache) they opted to keep Mindanáo and Sulú Philippine”.

If we were only able to make our present leader stay where the action/problem is, bloodshed would’ve been mitigated, if not totally avoided. To say that Arroyo should also take up arms and go straight to the battlefield like what Hurtado de Corcuera did is indeed ludicrous. But the point is that precious time should’ve been allocated more into this centuries-old “Mindanáo crisis” as compared to her recently concluded and almost nonproductive thirty-minute meeting with US President Barack Obama which focused mainly on US interests and not our own.

In contrast, Hurtado de Corcuera had a goal, a vision, a mission: to unite the archipelago against all odds. And he even earned the respect of his Muslim foes. Such passion should be inherent among our present-day national leaders in order to make sure that Mindanáo remains on our map. But the contrary is true. Alas, what Hurtado de Corcuera almost died fighting for was almost lost when the Arroyo government unconstitutionally gave way to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s lack of historical and ancestral logic last year. Thank goodness Lady Justice never slept on it.

For having added and kept Mindanáo as part of our patrimony, it is correct to say that Sebastián Hurtado de Corcuera was the last of the conquistadores to have ever set foot on our shores. He physically toiled –sweat, blood, and all– to make sure that Luzón and Visayas will remain a threesome together with Mindanáo. May the present-day Filipinos respect Hurtado de Corcuera’s efforts to keep the Philippines complete.

But that’s another problem — almost everything from our Spanish past is considered as worse as the present administration.

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