Armed Forces Chief Hermogenes Esperon has been put on the defensive with mounting losses of the military in Basilan and Jolo in the past few months. The setbacks reflect on his ability to whip the various units under his command into shape.
Admittedly, troop casualties are a reality of war. But Esperon should not use that as an excuse and instead find out the failings of the units that succumbed to the offensives of the Abu Sayyaf and “renegade” elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
Battles are won or lost mainly because of internal circumstances. Rebels, being the smaller force, are using the elements of surprise to overpower government troops. They therefore can inflict damage, but surely not as big as the number of recent military casualties in Jolo. Which means that something is wrong with the way the Armed Forces is conducting the war there.
By the way, are there really renegade or rogue elements of the MILF and the MNLF? That sounds a convenient excuse for the possibility that The MILF and MNLF have entered into an informal alliance with the Abu Sayyaf. Government should make the MILF and the MNLF account for their members fighting side by side with Abu Sayyaf elements.
While I respect the cause of the MILF and MNLF, I could not swallow the terrorist acts of the Abu Sayyaf. Targeting innocent civilians by exploding bombs and beheading slain soldiers and kidnapped civilians is not the way to conduct a war. Thus, MILF and MNLF leaders should steer clear of the Abu Sayyaf.
I n the end, however, this will all amount to who has the support of the people in the areas in Mindanao where war is raging. The reason why the Abu Sayyaf, MILF and MNLF have survived despite the number of government troops deployed in the area could be seen as a sign of the popularity of the causes they are espousing.
In that case, the war in Mindanao will continue to be protracted.
–-Candido O. Wenceslao, August 11, 2007