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Rats don’t turn the other cheek

So the Ilaga are back, eh? Now everyone is in a tizzy – scared shitless at what a group of people, operating on the same rules as the MILF, can accomplish. That’s the key concept there, y’see: “operating on the same rules as the MILF.”

For too long, the MILF have been handled with kid gloves by the authorities. On the one hand, the politicians have bungled the game and the armed forces have been bound by the rules of civilized warfare.  On the other hand, the bandits of the MILF have pretty much operated as they saw fit: killing indiscriminately when the mood takes them, snatching up people for ransom, beheading people they  don’t like. It begs the question, why the fuck is the military bringing knives to a gunfight?

The answer is simple: they’ve got no choice. The MILF operate beyond the pale of the law; to pursue them into that territory (thereby going extralegal themselves) will deprive our regular forces of moral authority. This adherence to form is very important in this world where a single misstep by the army is touted endlessly as a mortal offense against human rights, the law, and common decency by the very same people who keep as quiet as mice against the MILF.

The MILF , naturally enough, make full use of this necessary restraint. They kill and loot and burn with impunity, secure in the knowledge that if one of them kills a kid, it’s called the misfortune of war; but that if one of them is killed, it’s a human rights violation.

Hopefully, the Ilaga – or even just the threat of their resurgence – will make these bandits think twice. Sure, it’s the Christian thing to turn the other cheek, but when both cheeks are bruised and bleeding, where else do you turn? You turn to yourself; you help yourself; you defend yourself.

This is how we all feel, isn’t it? That’s why we say things like sobra na, tama na. Is it surprising then that some people in Mindanao will feel the same way? We don’t lift a finger as they are being victimized, and yet we howl with outrage when they refuse to be victimized. … the hell is that?

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