For the ICRC's Sake

Abu Sayaff Won’t Extend Pullout Deadline

By Katherine Evangelista

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) The abductors of three Red Cross workers will no longer extend the deadline set for troops to pull out of Sulu, saying they will behead one of three hostages by Tuesday morning, a provincial official said Monday.

“Walang pagbabago, walang extension, pag hindi pa mag-pullout [There are no changes, no extension, if they do not pullout]… baka bukas ng umaga pupugutan na… [by tomorrow morning they will behead one victim],” said Sulu vice governor Lady Ann Sahidulla, who went last month to the hideout of the suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group to check on the status of the three hostages.

The abductors are not bluffing in their threat to behead one hostage, Sahidulla said.

"Sa tingin ko, kasi sanay ‘yang mga ‘yan e, parang wala lang sa kanila ang buhay [I think they are used to this, they no longer value life]," Sahidulla said.

She said kidnappers have not identified who among the three hostages they would behead if the military would fail to accede to their demand.

However, Sahidulla clarified that the Abductors did not ask for a total pullout of the military from the province but merely a pull-out from the towns of Indanan, Patikul, Parang, Maimbung, and Talipao.

“Hindi naman totally pullout lahat ano, hindi naman ‘yun pwede, sobra ‘yun, pasensya na lang talaga [it was not a total pullout, it cannot be allowed, that’s too much, I’m sorry to say],” Sahidulla said.

Sahidulla also denied that the Abu Sayyaf has rejected the agreement to release a hostage once the military has vacated these towns.

“Pag nakita nila [kidnappers] na wala nang military, sila na mismo ang magche-check, sila din ang tatawag kaagad na i-release nila ang isa, tatawag sila kay Governor [Sakur Tan]… actually may schedule na ngayon, na anytime tatawag kaya lang hindi pa totally nag-pullout ang military [If they see that there are no more troops in the area, they will check, and they will immediately release one hostage, they will call the Governor… actually, there is now a schedule that anytime they will call but the military has not totally pulled-out], ” Sahidulla said.

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This ASG people may have lost their respect and value for the lives of people -- maybe also including even their own lives -- but they have not lost their human insticnt of self-preservation. They say they are not afraid to die, yet they want to be sure that their escape route is free from any possible encounter with the governent military. This is what their demand for the government troops' withdrawal from the said areas is all about.

Because they value not life, in time in the future, these bandit-turned group of people shall fall by the sword of their very own people, but now is not yet the time. Therefore, grant them their wish, for their demand is still well within tolerable bounds of negotiation.

For the sake of honoring the countless self-sacrifices of the dedicated volunteerism of all the ICRC workers in the world, let it not be said after this incident that the government fell short of one more possible effort to save the lives of the kidnapped ICRC workers. Those ICRC workers value the lives of our people by persisting on their voluntary works in Mindanao despite the obvious dangers to their lives, now it's time to show them that we also value their lives.

To avoid future crisis in the decision-making process concerning such type of kidnapping as this, maybe it will help if there will be a specific law that will detail the protocols of how to deal with such situation. To be included in the details is the absolute no ransom policy for victims except for a very few high officials of the land. Also to be included in the details is the option to sacrifice the victims when certain conditions occur, because a government who cannot exercise an iron hand against terrorism is a government not worthy of people's respect.


Is This All What We "Love" To Do About The Problem?

Repost of my old entry on 4/07/2008

If the value of Earth Hour is the establishment of awareness (awareness of what?), then it should go beyond mere campaigning of turning off lights for one hour during a night time. Most people who participated in the action were willing to participate because of the simplicity and the dramatic mood of the action -- it was like a countdown at new years eve. Even a "bum" on the street who totally has no knowledge and concern for climate change and global warming would not be hard to draw to participate in it.

But what if the action to be done is something that will cause some real degree of inconvenience to those who will participate, will there be many still willing to do it? Suppose if the action is done during the day and within working hours, what do you think will happen? Instead of turning off lights (which has no significant impact on climate), airconditioning units are turned off for an hour during peak hours of the day, would there still be many who are willing to participate? Will the originators of the movement still be willing to campaign for such elevated level of the action?

This is where dwells the subtle deception (that I was mentioning about in my previous blog entry). People are merely made to be aware of global warming that causes climate change in a wrong way such that they don't truly experience the real effect and danger of global warming upon themselves. As a result of that wrong way of awareness, people will keep looking forward to that event every year without truly taking real steps that can minimize global warming. And so concepts like the selling and buying of "carbon neutral credits" becomes an easy escape from doing real actions like sincere compliance on the gradual reduction of carbon emission by industrial establishments, and efforts to actually go out to denuded forest areas to actually plant trees (instead of staying inside airconditioned work places wasting time thinking of how to gain more carbon neutral credits).

Global warming is a very serious matter that demands seriousness of answers and solutions. It calls for a degree of real sacrifice and commitment of every individual, and not just convenient movements in the level of mere awareness.

May the next Earth Hour be not deceptive and insulting.

What have we actually accomplished that made a real difference since the last earth hour "festival"?


Indeed It Seems Very Disappointing & Frustrating

Electoral Power Plays

By Mon Casiple
Mon Casiple’s Weblog on Philippine Politics

This early, many events are already being connected–rightly or wrongly–to the 2010 presidential election still more than a year from now. This underscores the crucial nature of the 2010 elections–fortunes, literally, will rise or fall on the outcome.

Among the events that are subject to barbershop speculation is the resurrection of the Dacer case (Erap-Lacson), Legacy case (de Castro), ICRC staff kidnapping (Gordon), election automation (GMA candidate), and attacks on automation (other candidates). Earlier, Sen. Villar got his with the C-5 extension issue.

Some of the speculations are indeed election-related; some may even be true. What is important is that scenarios are again rearing their collective heads and provide fodder to the favorite Filipino sport of politics. What is disturbing is that the parameters of these scenarios go beyond the electoral or constitutional boundaries and basically have sunk to the level of the law of the jungle. To win–by whatever means–seems to be the rule of the coming 2010 elections.

We hear now of speculations of possible “automated cheating,” a June 30, a 2010 no-president scenario based on failure of elections, charter change via martial law or state of emergency declaration, an outright martial rule, a coup or similar scenario, etc. What gives…? Normal Philippine elections, obviously!

Substance Deficit Syndrome
By Benign0
Filipino Voices

[...] Just like mass marketing, propaganda, and the ramblings of evangelists, campaigns are nothing more than a systematic effort to insult the collective intelligence. Let us not be quick to delegate our thinking to the most popular belief systems and their slogans. Let us evaluate our candidates with a critical mind this coming elections. [...]

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Haaaay naku... When will we really change? When will we stop circling around again and again this mountain of our political immaturity? Aren't all the old traditional political generation "dead" yet in the wilderness of people's disgust? When will the new generation of people enter our "promise land"?

The nation needs leaders with the same caliber as Joshua and Caleb. We may have such leaders, but only if we as a people stop from being willing victims of the manipulations and control of the old spirit of traditional politics.

While we are already free from the slavery of dictatorship, but yet we are still in the wilderness of our struggle as a nation circling again and again the mountain of our political immaturity. We have been circling this mountain more than enough already and it is time to change course to the direction of the "promise land".

The time is at hand for us to enter our "promise land"... but only if we as a people are really willing to break free from the dishonesty and control of traditional politics that kept us in bondage for many generations.


The Right Moment Is Coming Soon

Break New Ground For Peace
By Jun Mercado
GMA News TV - Blog

It is, often, said that conflict resolution will only be possible at the right moment. No doubt, the right moment is hard to predict. It can occur anytime and suddenly.

Today, there is a general call for the resumption of the peace talk in Mindanao. People are tired of war.

There are three major factors that contribute to the appropriateness of the resumption of the peace process between the GRP and the MILF.

The first is the human tragedy of internally displaced persons. Their continued stay in evacuation centers is not an option. More than ever, the parties to the conflict should cease fighting for the “evacuees” to be able to return to their farms and re-build their lives and homes once again.

There are unresolved political issues that need to be addressed. But the return of the evacuees to their farms must not be held hostage to the resolution of the unresolved political issues. The resolution of political issues belongs to “another” table that should continue to seek creative ways to break new grounds to overcome the present impasse in the political talks.

The second factor is the realization by both parties that a lasting settlement in Mindanao cannot be won by war. Military solutions, even the unlikely military "victory" do not result to peace. It is quite obvious that military force cannot solve political, economic and cultural issues that are at the roots of the Mindanao conflict. Military solutions have been tried and the best they have produced are but fleeting truces among the combatants. This realization is the major factor for the GRP and the MILF to re-engage in the peace process.

Moreover, the political leadership both in the national government and the MILF appears serious in their resolve to come up with enduring political settlement of the long drawn conflict that has been the major factor in the underdevelopment of Mindanao.

At present, both the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front are committed to the peace process, and yet they are NOT engaged. Everybody hopes that the peace process should resume notwithstanding the obstacles that the MOA-AD has engendered.

The GRP and the MILF, in principle, have remained committed to the cessation of hostility resulting from the GRP-MILF Agreement on the Security Aspect that was signed in 2001. Similarly, both parties continue to acknowledge the Agreement on Development and Rehabilitation Aspect that was signed in 2002. The major mechanisms of these two agreements are still in place, though others have lapsed and their terms of reference need to be reviewed and renewed.

The third factor is the awareness that both protagonists, at the present time, need a lot of confidence building measures. This knowledge is something positive to chart creative ways and paths to rebuild the trust between the two parties. To date, there are no movements to come closer though there is the guarded openness to the resumption of the peace talks.

Malaysia remains the facilitator of the peace talks. In times when peace talks run aground, the facilitator usually takes on a more active role in bringing the two parties to the table once again. Malaysia’s political future is also in transition as the new Prime Minister takes over in two to three months.

No doubt, there are great obstacles to peace. Foremost is the historical bias as well as the history of conflicts in Mindanao. Wounds on both sides are, indeed, deep. They continue to exercise tyranny over the spirit of the people of Mindanao. Relations between and among peoples in Mindanao are, largely, shrouded in mutual suspicion and mistrust. There remains the challenge on either side to rise above the general ignorance and bias that have, for years, characterized the relationships between Christians and Muslims alike.

The general unrest in the region is further exacerbated by the recent spate of lawlessness like kidnappings, terrorism and plain and simple banditry in the region. When people become insecure, even in their homes, the ground becomes fertile for all sorts of fear. And fear leads to militant and armed “vigilantism".

Now that we have come at a critical juncture in the peace process, there is a sense of urgency to dare break new ground and re-begin the peace process. We need to renew our commitment to the peace process. Are we ready to do so…?

The new set of members of the negotiating panels and the respective support groups and organizations are almost complete. The events that will soon unfold not very far ahead will usher the perfect opportunity to restart the honest dialogue for a new, sustainable, fair, and legal agreement.

Under one light, and one united light alone, will an agreement be a success and be sustainable. Wander from the light and everything will turn futile.