One of the most effective counter measures against extremism and terrorism is for our authorities to duly inform our public of what really is happening on ground level so that we, ordinary folks, would know and act accordingly.
Today is the end of the Ramadhan. The AFP says there is a truce yet bursts of gunfire were still heard by lots of Maranaos celebrating this day of sacrifice.
Let's admit the facts.
1. Our president had unduly stirred a veritable hornet's nest. This Marawi clash is not the end of it. For years, we never saw a conflict this big ever, because our authorities are very quick to act and talk with insurgents. Our peace advisers know what's happening at ground level and that is why they are very careful in handling peace negotiations.
With a very flabboyant hawk manning our fort, he wittingly or unwittingly opened a veritable Pandora's box which re-opened old wounds and created new ones.
Right now, we are facing just a start of a possible protracted war that could literally sever Mindanao from the Republic and cause a terrible security nightmare for our neighbours.
The AFP says they are close to ending the Marawi seige but by the looks of it, the participation of other bigger, larger armed groups is already a certainty and is causing nervousness amongs analysts and observers of this conflict. It is most certain that this fight had spilled over other areas independent of the influence of the Mautes and Hapilons.
The BIFF attacked a town in North Cotabato. Several other towns and cities are a-flame. Insurgents have vowed to even attack Davao next, which this president and his minions had declared as "second Malacanan". Imagine how would we look if Davao is attacked.
Government is not telling us that those carpet bombings ordered by our own Nero had bruised the feelings of most Maranaos. Those bombings, termed "surgical" was as surgical as 1950's bombs because from the looks of it, those destroyed countless homes and buildings just to flush a handful of suspected snipers. The World is still clueless as to the real extent of this war and if our government is hoping that the people will never ever know the real score, think again. Truth had this uncanny ability of showing itself before people at the wrong time. What is so logical about destroying houses and commercial establishments for just five to 10 snipers?
Anyway, that is an executive's prerogative, someone told me. Yes, it is. And surely, in time, someone will pay for all these mess.
2. This early, government is now seeing the real costs of conventional war. The military is counting success by the number of deaths and the re-claiming of seized territory. The insurgents had other things in mind.
Our AFP probably forgot that they are dealing with insurgents who are not interested on territory and is not interested on a few deaths. They are there for propaganda purposes. They are there just to spark a brutal long-term war in that place called Mindanao. Marawi is symbolic. These insurgents are not there for the long haul. Every one who read Sun Tzu would know that a city seige is neither for rebels nor government.
Insurgents are highly mobile. They don't move like those professional soldiers. They are not thinking of camps. They have the whole world as their camp. One of the most unique advantages of an insurgent is its impermanence. Insurgents are highly adaptive. Conventional warfare is slow. An insurgency does not count victories by days---it counts victories by years.
A person who knows his science knows already that the longer this conflict goes, the more advantageous it gets for these terrorists. I am sorry Mr. President, but this war is not about how many bullets or ammunition your enemy have or how much sacks of rice or water these insurgents carry with them. In a modern insurgency war, this is but a small matter.
3. Government and even most of the adulating public already know that martial rule did not change the outcome of this war. Martial law or no martial law, Mindanaoans especially the Bangsamoro will wage their struggle come what may. Like any other insurgency, this will last until these insurgents get what they want---weaken the military force of the state to pressure negotiations. And these times surely do not favor the Philippine state.
Like all human conflicts, when you invite violence, it bites you back.