Shaving My Head
Just like some marine soldiers here in Basilan, I’m thinking of having my head shaved. Kalbong reporter? Why not? I’ve done the same thing in the past when I was with IBC 13.
This conflict in Basilan is taking too long for the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to fix. The military and the MILF have signed a joint resolution to exercise maximum restraint as the incident is being resolved peacefully. So far, so good.
A group composed of government and MILF representatives are set to arrive here in Basilan for a thorough and supposedly impartial investigation into the July 10 encounter in Albarka town. They will attempt to investigate on what really happened there, was it a pure ambush of marines who were just searching for Fr. Giancarlo Bossi? Or in a way, was it provoked by the military?
We all know by now that Fr. Bossi has been released. The parishioners of the Italian priest in Zamboanga Sibugay have already heaved a sigh of relief. The Bossi family back in Italy are just waiting for the homecoming of the “gentle giant.” Everybody is happy. Or so it seems.
Here in Basilan, everything is still uncertain. Fourteen marines and five from the MILF have already died in that bloody encounter. Now do we want more casualties?
Nobody wants war. As they say, in war there are no victors, only victims. Though maybe there are actually winners in war - private contractors who provide arsenal for the military, especially those who provided the marines with dud bombs used by poor soldiers in the July 10 encounter.
Government spokespersons are saying they have no plans of staging an all-out war against the MILF. But their words are different from their actions. Or nananakot lang kaya sila?
Malacanang has announced that the arrest of the perpetrators of the killing and beheading of the marines will be purely a police matter. And that if military operations will be needed, it will be selective, meaning they will be zeroing in on their targets to avoid any collateral damage. But really, is that possible?
In the meantime, fear sets in among residents as the soldiers and the MILF position themselves, and their ammunition, in certain areas in Basilan. And we in the media who are covering this conflict are kept in the hanging.
Can’t we just have peace here and let the police do their jobs of arresting the MILF and at the same time, appeal to the group to bring the accused to the bars of justice?
If war breaks out here in Basilan, chances are, this may spill over to other provinces as well. There are talks that the MILF may stage diversionary attacks, probably in Central Mindanao where leaders of the separatist group are based.
Do we actually want President Arroyo having that guilt-trip on Fr. Bossi once more? Do we want her telling the priest “more people were killed after your release?”
I understand there are grieving families of the slain marines in Luzon. But there are also weeping families of MILF fighters here in Mindanao. Add to this the sorrow of the family of the imam who was also killed during the firefight.
Some marine soldiers, including officers in Manila who are facing rebellion charges, have shaved their heads. Either they protest the way the government handles the Basilan conflict or sympathize with the families of the 14 marines.
I’m thinking, I might just shave my head too to sympathize not only with the marines, but also with the MILF. It may also be my own way of protesting against a possible extended coverage of a war based on a wrong premise – that Fr. Bossi was held captive on the island.
Of all stories, I hate covering wars and conflicts. It tortures me mentally and physically. Unlike natural disasters, wars are created by men, not by God. Typhoons and earthquakes are inevitable, wars and conflicts are not.