By Atty. Rene Espina
As we write this article, government sources have reported that 99 soldiers and policemen have been killed in action in the rebellion in Marawi City. There were also 45 civilians who have also become victims of the war. On the side of the Maute terrorist rebels, 421 of them have been eliminated with extreme prejudice. Intelligence reports reveal that there are still between 60 and 70 rebels within a one-square-kilometer area in the city. Yesterday, the television channels showed that the Marawi City Hall building was still under sporadic sniper fire from the terrorists.
My own appreciation of the situation in the city is for the extension of martial law, not only until the last rebel is accounted for, but also as long as it is absolutely necessary – to maintain peace and order and prevent a new infiltration of terrorists. In addition, martial law is needed in order to expedite the reconstruction of the destroyed portions of the city. I also suggest that a Malacañang Executive Order be issued and/or, if needed, a Rehabilitation Law be passed by Congress in order to expedite the reconstruction of the city. The order or law should cover the management of the rehabilitation, reconstruction, acquisition of supplies and materials, including a short-cut award of construction. The AFP construction Engineering Battalion should be utilized in addition to civilian construction companies.
The other aspect for the normalization of the Lanao del Sur area is the review of the curriculum that is being taught in the Mindanao State University and the Madrasa schools. I am not talking of the subjects being taught alone. I am more interested in who are teaching them and I am much more interested in what is actually being taught in the schools. I am concerned about what our Muslim brother Filipinos are being taught in the Madrasas. We should teach each and every Filipino student – regardless of religious beliefs – love of country and/or each other, nationalism, democracy, and sovereignty which resides in the people, patriotism. And we should fight to preserve the territorial integrity of our republic.
This matter should be the subject of a serious Cabinet discussion and implementation.
The other matter is about the availability of the electronic media, cellular phones, Internet, etc. How does our government make use of such devices to counteract the propaganda being spread by the radical Islamists to convince Muslims to become terrorists who chop off the heads of even their fellow Muslims who belong to a different sect? Imagine what is going to happen to Christians and Jews? Does the Holy Koran not state that Islam is a religion of peace? That the Muslims are the brothers of the people of the book (Christians and Jews) whom they must protect?
Our government should be aware of what is happening in the Middle East even among countries whose state religion is Islamic, the most recent being Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Egypt versus Qatar. Of course you have the Iran, Syria, group supported by Russia. Somewhere in between are the Turks. Then you have the Kurds who want to create a Kurdistan Republic which covers parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. Then of course you have ISIS and its plan for a caliphate.
In conclusion, let us give our AFP all the support it needs. If it believes that martial law should be extended, then by all means let us extend it at the very least until the time it has requested, which is up to December 31, 2017?
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