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Sunday, June 22, 2008

It’s Sad

Here's an article that's worth spreading about SULU. As we have said before, SULU is among the ten (10) pilot areas under the UNFPA 6th Country Programme of Assistance to the Philippines, being the second (2nd) poorest province in the country at that time.

It's SAD

by JULKIPLI WADI, UP institute of Islamic Studies

The kidnapping of Ces Drilon and other crew of ABS-CBN including Prof. Octavio Dinampo of Mindanao State University-Sulu underscores the worsening uncertainty Muslim Mindanao particularly the Sulu Province has become these past few years. Despite government’s pontification to bring peace and development into the area while brandishing America’s aid and military assistance notwithstanding the U.S. military presence in the Sulu Archipelago, all these prove inadequate if not useless to eradicate social disenchantment and restlessness of the people as shown in the continuing presence of armed resistance including the persistence of radical group like Abu Sayyaf how unconventional they may have become.

With the kidnapping of Ces et al, it is clear what the government has simply addressed these past years were simply the surface and other peripheral issues of the Mindanao conflict – not core, the root cause of the problem, which is primarily the desire of the people to have their freedom, peace and justice. It proves once more that economic assistance including physical development poured into the area including availability of cellular phones to anyone, while they help some people including the entrenchment of political dynasties in Moro areas, can also be utilized by radical groups like the ASG to facilitate their mobility and movement including their communication in negotiating the fate of their kidnapped victims like Ces and her companions. By employing divide-and-rule tactics among Moro movements, the government has reaped what it sowed: it is severely constrained now whom to reach out in Sulu to serve as its partner of peace and development in the face of amoeba-like mushrooming of various radical groups in the area. Hence, the kidnapping of Ces and company raises the question whether it shows the continuing tenacity and resilience of the Abu Sayyaf or whether there is a policy blunder by the government or strategic failure in terms of tactics and intelligence by the Armed Forces of the Philippines in addressing the Mindanao conflict recently. Such uncertainty should have been properly understood by Philippine media.

Ironically, Ces Drilon should have been the last person to be victimized by alleged new group of Abu Sayyaf. As a friend, she has interviewed me of this subject several times in the past making her, in my view, one of the most informed and culturally sensitive TV journalists of the ABS-CBN as far as the Mindanao conflict including the Abu Sayyaf issue is concerned. While she might have the right judgment in trying to interview some people in the Abu Sayyaf in Maimbung in Sulu, despite the presence of local guide, having such judgment and guide how proper and reliable they may have been are not enough. They can hardly be relied upon since it is uncertainty that dominates the whole political and cultural make up the Sulu Province and other areas have become today. Even a native like me who was born and raised in Indanan does not just tread to unfamiliar territory of Sulu without proper coordination. The worsening uncertainty has long shocked me. Sulu today has never been like our days in the late ’70s and early ’80s.

Sadly however, the media has been short in understanding the Mindanao issue including the failure to treat objectively the unconventional politics, events and movements in southern Philippines . Their treatment of Muslim issue is generally devoid of proper context and cultural sensitivity. Regrettably, some media have fallen prey into one-sided rhetoric of the government and foreign interest. It’s sad news but true. It is time for the media to check themselves.