Friday, May 7, 2010

BangsaMoro Youth Movement press statement against Ex-President and Re-electionist Estrada's TV Ad

BangsaMoro Youth Movement press statement
against Ex-President and Re-electionist Estrada's TV Ad

Mr. Joseph ‘Erap’ Ejercito Estrada, who is running for president in the May 10 national elections, has come out with a political ad on television claiming as his past accomplishment, among others, the alleged defeat of the MILF during his incumbency as president of the Philippine Republic in 2000. Obviously, this is for the purpose of gaining political mileage.

There is no denying the fact that Estrada had declared and unleashed a vicious all-out war campaign against the MILF and the Bangsamoro people in March 2001 vowing to pulverize the Bangsamoro into non-existence. In his own words: “Pupulbusin ko kayo!”

However, his claim to have defeated the MILF is an outright spin - a prevarication and a fantasy - that only exists in the imagination of the senescent Mr. Estrada which has no basis in truth and in fact.

The truth is that Estrada unleashed his all-out war and had the MILF’s Camp Abubakr As-Siddiq treacherously attacked by the AFP on April 28, 2000, a day after an agreement had been reached by and between MILF and GRP negotiators at Estosan Hotel, Cotabato City, to defuse the then escalating tension as a result of the fighting in Lanao del Norte.

The sneak attack on Camp Abubakr As-Siddiq, which was reminiscent of the treacherous Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, led to the intense positional fighting between MILF and government forces within and in the vicinity of the camp; and it was only when the MILF leadership under the late Amirul Mujahideen Ustadz Salamat Hashim and the high command of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) headed by then MILF Vice-Chairman for Military Affairs and concurrent BIAF Chief of Staff Al Haj Murad Ebrahim decided to reposition the BIAF fighting forces and shift to guerrilla warfare that the AFP was able to enter camp Abubakr As-Siddiq and ‘capture’ and occupy the areas abandoned by MILF forces which were accessible and open to the public, including the quarters of the late Sheikh Salamat.

It was at this instance that Estrada, to celebrate this ‘victory’, brought a planeload of roasted pig (lechon) and liquor to his occupying troops in Camp Abubakr and feasted with them in utter disregard of the religious sensitivity of its Muslim Moro inhabitants. This outrageous incident earned for Estrada the condemnation of the peace-loving people of this country as well as the Muslim World and the international community.

This ‘victory’, however, that Estrada claimed and boasted of was a Pyrrhic victory. It was a strategic debacle for him and his regime. He failed to destroy the MILF. On the contrary, the despicable outrage that he did in Camp Abubakr, the destruction and desecration of mosques and Islamic schools (madaris) by his troops, the massive scale of dislocation that his war of aggression wrought on the Moro civilian populace, only inspired the MILF to wage an all-out jihaad of resistance against the Estrada regime by declaring the whole of Mindanao and Sulu as ‘Camp Abubakr’ – a theatre for guerrilla war. This all-out jihaad through guerrilla warfare was overwhelmingly supported by the Bangsamoro people. This was, for all intents and purposes, a people’s war against Estrada.

The ensuing war was devastating for the peoples and communities of Mindanao: an estimated 476 Moro villages were totally destroyed by aerial and land bombardment by the AFP; about 1,010 civilian homes were razed to the ground; 50 mosques were demolished by indiscriminate bombings; 120,000 hectares of farmland owned by Moros were devastated; and at the height of the conflict in September 2000, 157,467 families or 827,689 people, of which nearly 500,000 were children, became internally displaced persons (IDPs) . This does not include the thousands of people maimed, injured and killed in the war. By December of that same year, more than 1 million civilians had to live in makeshift refugee camps throughout Mindanao and Sulu.

But while the backlash of the conflict was indeed harsh on the civilian populace of Mindanao, the cost of this war of aggression on the Estrada regime was more devastating. Foreign and local investments in Mindanao began to pull out. Far from achieving security and stability, the war precipitated an air of insecurity and uncertainty all throughout that period. The war in Mindanao had taken its deadly toll on Estrada. A staggering P6 billion was spent by government to prosecute the war against the MILF in Mindanao in 2000 alone, according to former National Security Adviser Roilo Goilez. Almost a thousand government soldiers were killed in combat and over two thousand were wounded. The Estrada regime slid down to economic bankruptcy prompting Estrada to even commission ‘jueting’ lords to contribute dirty money to his faltering regime and to sustain his bacchanalian lifestyle and that of his mistresses. As a result thereof, political instability emerged. The final straw was reached when Estrada was impeached from the presidency by his own allies and had to go through the ultimate humiliation of being driven out of Malacañang in January 2001. This was barely a year after he vowed to pulverize the MILF and the Bangsamoro people.

The result: Estrada had been booted out of power and had been subsequently incarcerated. On the other hand, the MILF still leads the Moro struggle for peace and justice and is strong as ever.

So who was defeated?

Today, in his campaign to regain the Philippine presidency, Estrada is again beating the war drums to gain support for his political bid. He made it a priority in the event he wins to wage war again in Mindanao. This man is an incorrigible mental case. While he claims to be for the poor masses, yet while he was president he had a multi-million luxurious villa for one of his mistresses built that had a swimming pool with an electronically simulated ocean waves that would have paled in comparison those mansions of the rich and famous in Beverly Hills. He plundered the treasury of the country, abetted and profited from illegal gambling, and ran the Philippine government just like a Mafia gangster boss runs a criminal syndicate.

Shall we allow this has-been of a politician to devastate Mindanao again in a senseless war while he resumes his interrupted criminal activities once he returns to government?

Shall we allow the Mindanao peace process to be shattered by the delusions of a psychotic ex-celluloid actor obsessed with taking vengeance on the MILF and the Bangsamoro people and who is oblivious to the dire consequences that such a war of vengeance will have on the peoples and communities of Mindanao and Sulu in particular, and the whole country in general?

Should we jeopardize the collective efforts of the peace-loving people in this country and in the Bangsamoro to resolve once and for all this debilitating conflict that is the Mindanao Problem by voting into office a man who is clearly an enemy of peace and an opponent of justice?

“Those who do not look back at the mistakes of the past are bound to repeat them”. (George Santayana)

Let your conscience, your sense of justice, speak for you, for your children and your children’s children.
Peace be upon all of us.