US silent on MILF terrorism

US Ambassador Kristie Kenney is one of the most active enyoys in the Philippines and a favorite of the media. She openly expresses her ten-cents’ worth on almost all major issues in the country not just the bilateral relations between Washington and Manila.

In the on-going strife in Mindanao, she has a mouthful of things to say. Almost all major Manila papers carried her statements made yesterday.

Curiosly, none of it condemns the recent armed attacks of the MILF rebels in several provinces in Mindanao including killing of hapless civilians, burning houses and vehicles, toppling power lines, and taking hostages among them six Catholic priests.

From where I sit, these atrocities are no different from those committed by Russia in Georgia. And yet in the case of the conflict in the Caucasus, the US has a barrage of condemnation. Yesterday, the US State Department also “strongly condemned” terror attacks in Algeria.

Why the US is not condemning the MILF abuses and terrorist action is truly intriguing.

Incidentally, the MILF is not in the list of “terrorist organizations” of the US unlike these totally innocent Americans who are unfortunately on a terror watch list.

5:02 a.m.

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Balkanization of Mindanao

I am not a war monger and not about to fan one.

Yet, the government’s deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to seek peace is ironically causing the drum beatings for war.

War is coming.

Military, MILF rebels trade mortar fires in North Cotabato.

AFP prepared for untoward incidents in the south.

That’s what this unpopular government reaped for sowing the seeds of secrecy. In keeping major stakeholders in Mindanao out of the loop on the peace negotiations, the government has no one to blame but itself.

It created for all of us a huge problem in solving another. I refer to the long feared Balkanization of Mindanao as the indigenous peoples of Mindanao want no part in the Bangsamoro deal. That’s in addition to the opposition already expressed by a number of local governments. Balkanization refers to the division of a territory into often hostile units.

Will the government appease the lumads too with their own juridical entity in their ancestral lands? From where I sit and understanding fairness, the lumads have actually the prior rights to ancestral domains in Mindanao as its pioneer inhabitants.

6:37 a.m.

Defiant diplomat

The ink on the most recent US travel warning to the country’s troubled south had hardly dried up when no less than its top official here defied it.

Ambassador Kristie Kenney went last weekend into the “lion’s den.” Thus, she became the first US top official to ever visit Moro separatists at its stronghold in Shariff Kabunsuan in Mindanao.

The visit was “private” yet the diplomat urged leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, blamed for many violent incidents in the south, to resume peace talks with the Manila government.

Her visit proves that it is safe to travel to even the most “feared areas” in the Moro heartland.

I say those officials at the US State Department issuing travel advisories should go back to their drawing boards. Their envoy here is one of the frequent travelers to Mindanao.

Incidentally, this Indonesian consul feels safer in Davao and Mindanao than in Jakarta, Los Angeles or New York.