Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Disarmament in Maguindanao

Insiders say that a state of martial law virtually existed in Maguindanao even before the formal declaration of Martial Law by Malacanang. Here is an interesting report by journalist Glenda Gloria:

"As the cameras rolled, a young Army lieutenant flagged down a vehicle carrying a known Ampatuan supporter. Are you carrying firearms, he yelled, as his troops searched the car. We have no guns, said one of the passengers, who introduced himself as a vice mayor of a town in Maguindanao. By the time he had uttered those words, the search had reached the handbag of a woman, probably his wife, which yielded a small gun.

Peeved that a lowly local executive could lie to him under the circumstances, the young lieutenant ordered all passengers out of the car and, as the cameras rolled again, gave the vice mayor a dressing down. In crude Filipino, the young officer blustered: “You’re supposed to be an honorable man, but you lied. We have made clear that no guns are allowed. Did you expect us to respect you now with that you’ve done?”

This was Maguindanao days before the government imposed martial law in the province.

I can guess where this young lieutenant’s coming from. He was probably plucked from a neighboring war-torn province in Mindanao, where local executives flirt with rebels, insurgents, and criminals, giving the Army a hard time. I can bet that at such a tender age in the military, he’s already been exposed to the wanton corruption and inefficiency of civilians in government.

I can also bet that 5 years down the road, this lieutenant will continue protesting the crooked ways of local politicians and at some point will have to make a choice for himself: to either join them or rebel against them." (read more here)

What Maguindanao needs is massive disarmament. And government should try to seize not only the guns of the CVOs identified with the Ampatuans but of everyone in Maguindanao. That way, if they really want to kill each other there they can do so using only knives or kris, the favored weapon of Muslims in the olden days.

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