Duterte in these days was not seen in public. The Americans are helping the Philippine army in this infamous war in Marawi. The president of the Philippines did not know at first about their services, but then later he accepted the fact that the soldiers like more the American than the Chinese or the Russians. Obviously the Commander in Chief of the country is out of the loop in this war. His Martial law declaration is being discussed both in the Senate and in the Congress, but the Philippine Army itself does not see the necessity of Martial Law. The all out war during the term of Estrada did not necessitate Martial Law. That war was, in some minds, even worse. Is our president a lame duck? Allegations of resting was being forwarded by Malacanang. I ask: what “face-mask” will he wear in a public appearance as the President of the Philippines who seems to be now a lame duck president?
He cannot blame others but himself, Since he took office he wished to be above the constitution even bragging about his program of killing its own citizens which the constitution tries to protect. Now with his declaration of Martial law and with the army, in spite of his enticements – and who seemed to have acquired a level of professionalism and respect towards the constitution – are deciding without his consent and knowledge; we could think of a scenario where they could be declared as traitors and court marshalled, which is not advisable, for it will force the military to continue this initial break from the president and could lead to coup d’tat.
The president has to reflect in this war which has two fronts: against the Mautes and allies, and perhaps against the seeming “disloyalty” of his army. He might resolve this before his next public appearance.
For the powers that are, like the US, this is an opportunity for them to tilt the balance of power in South East Asia. Duterte, as is known to all, would like to go the China and even Russia for support. Our soldiers admittedly does not know Chinese or Russian so what is behind lurking to be involved are the US war advisers. The US need to contain Duterte in his swing towards the other super powers: China and Russia.
On the other hand, as far as the Mautes are concerned, who has pledged their allegiance to the ISIS and wished to establish a caliphate in south east Asia specifically in Marawi, will continue their protracted terroristic warfare, with the smuggling of arms and the propaganda of their devilish ideology, now strenghtened by stronger family ties. Many will escape the dragnet if there is and continue their war by piecemeal.
In this war, the US will not abandon the idea of modernizing the Philippine military arms to defeat the enemy and the war could continue or even exported as has been done in the international level. There is also the economy of arms business. Mindanao or our country could become a war zone also to test high tech arms. And this needs to be confronted not so much by those who have arms but by us Filipinos.
(I’m thinking in the surface level. Knowledge and intelligence data has to be gathered if there is support on the part of the government to allow Maute to stage this terroristic act to rationalize the declaration of Martial law. We remember that the Talibans were trained by the US when the Russians were in Afganistan. The ISIS now were the then rebels agains Saddam Hussein and was also supported then be the CIA. Even the US foreign minister Hilary Clinton said that the US has created its own monster. It was also reported that the leaders of the Abu Sayaf and the Talaban were classmates in their training by the US. We need to be enlightened in international geo politics to be guided what lines of thought to be followed).
We offer no solution to this problem but some lights of hope:
1. There were occasions that Christians and Muslims help one another to be protect their lives. This is every encouraging and should continue and develop. Hatred and vengeance could be fomented by warring groups and elevate it in the level of a religious war. This should be avoided: We are all Filipinos. Christians are also helping even financially the Maranao refugees. War by “piecemeal” agains PEACE by “piecemeal”. Its for us to decide what will prevail.
2. The invitation to martyrdom is a difficult action to take. We pray that the Christians could be spared from this. Yet it is a grace of God which could be granted to some Christians. It is very powerful witness in front of those international, national and local power brokers. It is no wonder that our Christian martyrs are not very well published in the news agency which are owned by powerful opinion making mass media conglomerates. Martyrdom is a very strong and powerful witness of freedom against all powers of domination and we have a lot of them. Their blood could water the seeds of peace sown by many. In this millennium, there are more martyrs than during the early years of Christianity, we have many modern and contempary martyrs in Iran, Syria, Jordan and elsewhere. In due time, their witness will be known to all. Christianity is now the most persecuted religion and the mass media seem to be ignoring them. They seem to be afraid of the hidden power of martyrdom. But this is easier said than done.
3. Since the citizens of Marawi and even those privy of military intelligence knew about this imminent terror in Marawi, there seemed to be a inner defiance of violence itself but it was done through silence. Nobody wanted to confront and talk about it. We abhor what is negative like violence, but it is no reason not to report and not to talk about it openly in order to prevent it. There could be an inner fear of not knowing to whom and with whom one is talking. Perhaps it could be a distant relative of the Mautes and could lead to early suppression, I think, there is a need to develop a certain trust to persons in authority and be vigilant about “war movements” or early deployments or arms, construction of tunnels, strangers in the community, etc. This necessitates a living community interactions based on trust, respect and authenticity.
4. There is a need therefore to develop a certain inter-religious close knit community, not only for security reasons but to learn how to live in harmony and peace irrespective of religious affiliation. When the Diocese of Marawi was created by the then Pope Paul VI, bishop Bienvenido Tudtud, D. D., its first bishop of happy memory, explained that this diocese could be a diocese of dialogue, of religious tolerance and peace between Christians and Muslims. Is this dream destroyed and could never be fulfilled through this present terror? I beg to disagree. This war has been also the cause of mutual protection of each other’s life, mutual respect and understanding among Muslims and Christians. Seeds are being planted, and hopefully it will continue to grow after this nightmare where people of Marawi, irrespective of religion, tribe or ideology could live together in peace and harmony. This was also the dream of Fr. Chito Sunganob, now hostage with many others, and with whom I had the opportunity to be together for some days before.
5. Catholic Priests and Muslim Immams, bishops and Ulamads or any leader of indigenous people could encourage this necessity of dialogue not only in beliefs but more in their concrete way of living and expressions of solidarity, respect and love.
Let’s continue to pray for our president, for our soldiers, for Marawi and for our country!