The strong arm to beat extremism is the one that will bring peace » Manila Bulletin News

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By John Tria

John Tria

As the ceasefire in Marawi ends, the truth that the Maute group is practically beaten gets clearer, prompting some groups to intensify their clamor to lift martial law.

With these, it may be necessary to recall the sheer rapacious arrogance with which this Maute group activated their terror cells in the Islamic City, shooting at random families, treating them like animals, forcing them to flee out of the city in an unprecedented exodus.

Those who thought that they and the supposed foreigners who came with them meant to uphold their heritage and advance their interests were wrong.

After all, they were a powerful gang, long rumored to be manufacturers and dealers of illegal drugs, living the high life of high criminals, caring little about the damage their concoctions caused their neighbors, relatives, and everyone else who they hooked drunk on their illegal substances, and immoral power.

All these characteristics the ISIS tried to use to their advantage. The Maute group probably tried to impress their ISIS principals with their arms stockpiles, their infiltration of local governments, and the cash generating machines their shabu labs have created. The welfare and desire for a better Mindanao did not matter to them. For these depraved people, it was all about power, control and money.

But they underestimated their enemy, and miscalculated their moves. They did not expect that the Philippine government would employ extreme methods to destroy them.

They forgot that tri-country cooperation with Malaysia and Indonesia would be engaged to fight them. They also underestimated the government’s popularity among Mindanawons.

They probably thought that like the governments before them, the current one would capitulate and hesitate at their presence and simply allow them to grow and manipulate them. Not so.

All that said, it is more difficult to properly comprehend why there are those who want us to deny that ISIS has been in the country for some time, who also believe that this entire sad episode was but a plot hatched by the President to shock and awe us.

In doing so, they insult the people of Marawi and Mindanao and what they have been through, that have also lived with the long standing incompetence and failure of previous Manila governments to resolve what ails the Promised Land.

It hurts Mindanawons that this incompetence is repeated in the tendency of these detractors to trivialize and intellectualize the issue about Mindanao, and Bangsamoro concerns as a mere money problem.

Sorry, but we in Mindanao beg to differ, and for many like us, the President’s repeated retelling of Mindanao history encourages us to understand the truth that all past Manila governments seem to deny – that Mindanao culture, demographics, and history must be among he first considerations in a long–term solution that should involve everyone, not just the elites they like to use for their own ends.

Thus, while strong and decisive military responses will be necessary in the short term to beat back extremists, it is needed more in pursuing the long–term goal of true participative development to build peace.

Seeing its resolve to deal Maute decisive blows, we all hope that unlike past regimes, this government is the one that will facilitate a real peace for all.

Thus, the call of the government through Minda Secretary Abul Khayr Alonto for an all-Moro conference to discuss federalism, and the possible establishment of a Bangsamoro Basic Law to herald the rebuilding of war torn Marawi, and a renewing of Mindanao.

The government’s strong arm, the will and the resolve that dealt with ISIS in Marawi will be needed to overcome old challenges to forge a true peace. For once, many in Mindanao think that is possible.

Eid Mubarak to All!

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