Thursday, October 27, 2011

Filipino Muslim rebels have much to explain these days

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) should be made to disclose how it spent the P5 million given to it by the Aquino administration. Suspicions are swirling that the government funds were funnelled to the rebel forces responsible for murdering 19 soldiers who were after a suspected criminal.

Are government funds being used to arm or to train rebel leaders? Will somebody please explain this to the Filipino people?

The Palace admitted that it gave the P5 million, which was meant for capacity-building programs for emerging Muslim leaders and professionals. Sounds suspicious. Sounds like public funds are being used to train rebel officers to kill soldiers and overthrow the government.

The Aquino government tried to deflect some of the blame by saying that the previous government under former President Gloria Arroyo had committed to give the money to the rebels. Palace officials want us to believe that their hands were tied when it came to delivering the financial commitment.
Really? The Aquino government has shown no restraint in junking other commitments entered into by the Arroyo administration. That was the case, for example, with the dredging of Laguna Lake. If the commitment to give rebels money is illegal – and probably treasonous – why push through with it?
The fact is the P5 million was released during a meeting in Malaysia in August – under the watch of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino 3rd. For that matter, the President should clarify if he followed up the release of the funds after meeting with MILF leaders, including its chairman, Al Haj Murad Ibrahim, in Tokyo also in August.

Assuming the funds were meant to advance the cause of peace, will someone from government explain what the people got in exchange for their P5 million? Are we to believe that the money carried no conditions? Not even a promise not to shoot at our soldiers?

At the very least, perhaps the Aquino government should have asked the MILF not to harbor any criminals, including those who were being pursued by the soldiers who were slain doing their duty by the MILF warriors. For that matter, the MILF should be made to explain why they were providing sanctuary for “lawless elements.” And are there any other criminals or terrorists under their protection now? Surely, P5 million is enough to buy some information.

Define real intentions
Perhaps the more important question that the MILF should answer is – Are its leaders sincere in wanting peace?

Can they be trusted? Rational people are right to ask this question. Given recent developments, it seems more sensible to suspect that the peace talks are being made to serve as a ruse to confuse naïve government officials.

Even if the top leaders of the MILF were really sincere, the actions of many of its maverick commanders raise concerns. Why doesn’t the MILF top leaders not rein in those so-called breakaway factions and make them honor the commitments to peace? And if Messrs. Murad et al. do not want to or cannot, then Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago is correct to be asking – What is the point of the peace talks? What is the point of talking to the MILF if it has no control over all of its forces? Are we to believe that the MILF is an empty shell? Perhaps the government negotiators are talking to the wrong people. Manila Times

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