Incoming president Rody Duterte favors martial law in Sulu. Outgoing president Benigno S. Aquino III thought of it before but stayed his hand because of its implications.
Duterte is really risking his political capital with this one. Time and time again, it has been proven that when the state uses force against Tausugs and Suluanos, the state loses big-time. Why do I say that?
For Tausugs, this is not a terrorist-inspired war, oh no. This is an anti-colonial war. They believe that Tausugs are being enslaved by Tagalogs, the imperialists. And by this, this is not as easy as it seems.
I think Duterte is playing in the hands of hawks in our society who earn billions supplying the government with tanks, bullets, helmets and what have you. War is not the solution to the war in Sulu. Marcos knew and paid for it, so did former presidents Estrada and Arroyo.
The solution in Sulu is really the recognition of the Sultanate thru the Federalist system and the respect in their unique economic system which is barter based.
Duterte should read Cesar Madjul's book on Muslim Filipinos to have a deeper understanding of what's happening in Sulu.
Yes, most of those doing these kidnappings are criminals. They violate both the Noble Qu'ran and the criminal code of this country. Yet, flushing out a few so-called "drug addicts cum kidnappers" out by imposing martial rule, would fail, and fail miserably.
The fact is--this will just turn Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi into a regional flashpoint, supported by foreign Islamists.
One dead Tausug means thousands more in his stead. Worse--if this government uses the iron fist in Sulu, this will eventually involve the entire Muslim community based in that part of Mindanao.
The fact is--as early as now, Tausugs are preparing for war and misinterpreting the participation of Maranaos and Maguindanaoan MILF forces as a regional issue. Bangsamoros are being broken into two--those in the continental Mindano and those living in these islands. Hawks inside government are fostering age-old cultural divisiveness to destroy Bangsamoro unity.
Solution to the Sulu Question
1. Isolation of the hard-core terrorists from nationalists.
2. Upliftment of the economic situation thru the restoration of barter trade.
3. Revival of Islamism thru reintroduction of a more correct interpretation of Islam
4. Recognition of the Sultanate as part of a federal system
5. Demilitarization of the area