Toy Soldiers

Death Upon Us

The soldiers were running out of magazines preloaded with bullets and yet Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters kept on coming, said a member of the Army’s Special Forces who survived a nine-hour clash in Al-Barka, Basilan province.

The encounter left 19 soldiers dead.

Private First Class Arnel Balili said that while some 90 Moro rebels were advancing, he and 39 other members of the Special Forces had to spend time loading fresh bullets into empty magazines so they could return fire.

The soldiers were overwhelmed. “We were only 40. There were more of them,” Balili, who was among the 11 wounded soldiers, said from a hospital bed in Zamboanga City.

When the smoke cleared, 12 soldiers lay dead, among them, three junior officers.

Twelve other soldiers were wounded, one of whom would later die in a hospital, and 10 more were initially declared missing but an MILF official said six of the missing soldiers were found dead yesterday.

Condolence Only?

President Benigno C. Aquino III vowed Friday to give justice  to the 19 soldiers who were killed. Aquino made the commitment as he condoled with the families and relatives of the slain soldiers.

“For all those who were responsible for the death of these soldiers, I warn you the government will not let this pass, we will hunt you down and give justice to the victims”

“I am not promising anything, it is not my style to impose deadlines of 24 or 48 hours, but I guarantee that the state will hunt them down to attain justice”

“I expressed my sincerest condolences on behalf of the people. I also expressed to them my deepest appreciation of the heroism and sacrifice they have shown in answering the call of duty. I made a promise to them that I would give them justice”

“Now if we are going to pursue them, we must be clear as to who we are pursuing. We cannot follow what others are suggesting that we attack everyone, what kind of a decision is that when you attack everyone including those who are keeping their peace”

“So maybe a good headline would be, how much would the price of those proposals (for an all-out war) be in blood? I think we all have the responsibility to think about things properly and make a decision calmly”

On the other hand, troops in Basilan have been ordered to stand down following the pronouncement of President Aquino dismissing calls for the suspension of the ceasefire and an all-out war against the MILF.

“We have offered and sacrificed our lives and this is what we got” one soldier lamented.

Other soldiers were also disgusted over the relief of their commanders, taking note of the relief of Army spokesman Col. Antonio Parlade who earlier expressed his opinion that the governmentshould temporarily suspend the ceasefire agreement with the MILF and go after the rebels responsible for the carnage of the soldiers in Basilan.

“Our mutual losses and experience deserve to be acknowledged or remembered with dignity, honor and respect even as we regroup to move forward… Let not our fallen heroes die in vain! Let us support our soldiers!” the group said

The President said he has been doing everything to find peace in Mindanao and that an investigation must be completed first before pursuing those involved, even if the MILF had admitted that its members carried out the attacks.

“We cannot deal with speculations here. If we attack all of the MILF, they will be obliged to fight. When they fight, I believe that even those who are quiet, those who are respecting the ceasefire, will be guaranteed to fight and the battles will be continuous and a lot of civilians will be affected again,” Aquino said.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the “better option is still peace” and “we are not letting the lives, the sacrifices of our soldiers go to waste.”

Valte said there were existing mechanisms under the ceasefire agreement that could be used to resolve the matter.

“The military will be filing charges. Let us repeat, we are seeking justice at the right place, at the right time. We are not putting their sacrifices in vain. That was the farthest thing from the truth. We are seeking justice at the right place and at the right time,” Valte said.

Valte said they could understand the anger of the public, including ordinary citizens, but people must realize that “the human cost of war will be too great.”

“Believe us, we understand your feelings and sentiments. We are also part of the Filipino people, we are not different from you. But like what the President is saying, we need to think calmly so that we can lay down what we need to do. We cannot act haphazardly because if we do that, a lot of lives will be lost,” she said.

“So we need to be calm despite the rush of emotions to decide on our next steps,” Valte said.

Final Note/Huling Hirit:

Wounded Soldier

There is a term “wounded soldier”,  which describes an unfinished beer that was abandoned by its owner or was just “left to die”. Most commonly used at bars, colleges or high school parties in the Western countries. It is generally frowned upon to leave a wounded soldier as it is a waste of a beer.

In the Philippines, it is rarely used. I never heard of anybody using that phrase.

But in the Mindanao areas, our “wounded” soldiers were indeed “left to die”.

What has happened to our country these days? Filipinos killing Filipinos!

There was even reports that the soldiers were not really supposed to be there because they were intended to be undergoing underwater training. The area where they were ambushed was nowhere near any body of water. The MILF in a bloody clash killed, hacked and mutilated 19 soldiers who did not even realize they were going to die that night since they were supposed to go on a scuba diving training but was given a short notice about a new mission.

It tells us that while there is politics being played by our leaders, our poor soldiers are shedding blood and are dying fighting and shielding themselves while awaiting for the result of the years long of peace talks. Peace talks that seem to be endless and are changing constantly as the terms of office of the Presidents end. Different politicians believe and undertake different processes. As a result we are going nowhere, the conflict continues.

Our poor brethren in Mindanao seem to pay for the price of this war. Bombings everywhere, bloody clashes, lawlessness and violence happen almost so often.

While Pnoy cries for all out justice because he believes it is sober and fair and within the bounds of law and leads to lasting peace, and all out war is indiscriminate and borne out of anger, he must also understand, that the state must at all times be superior above all its subjects within its territory and it does not exempt the MILF. While there is an on going peace process, which is extremely important and healthy, the government should not lost control over its territory. It must exercise control at all times and the way things are turning out right now, that control is threatened.

Whenever there is a diminished control over some parts of our territory, there is the danger of becoming a failed state and this administration should clear its mind and focus on how to attain its goal of peace without wasting more lives of its people.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Evie Guinle
    Dec 11, 2011 @ 07:39:41

    I like this site because so much useful material on here.


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