Abu Sayyaf turning Mindanao into a wasteland
I think the appeal of the Commission on Human Rights to the Abu Sayyaf to free the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) volunteers serves no purpose at this point. Diplomacy is strange to the Abu Sayyaf bandits, who behead their captives without any “introductory statement.” The very fact that the bandits targeted neutral volunteers who have selflessly given their time and energy to help the marginalized sectors of Philippine society is a clear indication that they have no respect for the Red Cross symbol and everything it represents.
Already, very few volunteers and NGOs operate in the provinces of Basilan and Sulu; and the plight of the three ICRC workers tells us what happens to those who do. After this, who else would want to serve these beautiful but terror-laden islands of Mindanao? The remaining teachers of Landang Gua in Zamboanga are already deserting their school, fearing that what happened to their co-teachers could readily happen to them. What will become of the students they leave behind? But can we really blame them? While already facing many challenges, the price of their dedicated service is very steep — their personal safety. People who seek to serve humbly and honestly do not deserve this kind of treatment.
I believe that, at this point, the much-opposed “military solution” is the best remedy against the abysmally violent Abu Sayyaf. Giving the Abu Sayyaf (through negotiations) just a hint of a possible ransom payment for the hostages’ release would only encourage its members and those who idolize them to engage in kidnapping as a profitable vocation.
Of course, this means that the Armed Forces of the Philippines should perfectly execute its rescue mission. We certainly do not need another “Martin Burnham” here. Then after this crisis, perhaps the government can focus on development efforts to reduce the “appeal” of the Abu Sayyaf’s banditry.
I don’t want to watch or hear any more stories of kidnappings and beheadings. And, I believe, so do the rest of the Filipino people. But for this to happen, every single Abu Sayyaf bandit must be hunted down. We should never allow the Abu Sayyaf to turn the culturally diverse and naturally rich island of Mindanao into a wasteland.
FRANCIS ERIC ALABA, 437-A Bayabas Extension, Punta Princesa, Cebu City