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First Quarter 2000

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Ghost Town (a B&B collage from Reuters photos)
Gone To The Movies

The Choice Is Ours
by Prof. Rudy B. Rodil

Gone To The Movies
(Mindanao Series III) by Said Sadain, Jr.

Evelio Javier, EDSA's Sacrificial Lamb
by Freda Contreras

Headscarf
by Alia Zaldarriaga

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The Plots

Conveniently timed during the Mindanao visit of President Estrada, the Feb. 25 bus and ferry bombing in Ozamiz City served as a grim reminder to the fragile peace that is hanging by the balance in Mindanao.

Speculations that seem to only make sense in movies abound about the whys of the carnage:

About an MILF onslaught to bring the secessionist war to a wider arena in retaliation for recent setbacks in its own hunting grounds. About a covert military gimmick to heighten the tension in Mindanao as a rationale to impose an emergency rule or martial law. About the workings of extortionists out to exact vendetta on a bus company. About sinister plans to draw Muslim and Christian communities against each other and into a confusion that is rife for a coup d’etat by a politico-military cabal.

The MILF was quick to disavow any responsibility or approval for the blasts, just as swiftly as it was blamed for it by some sectors of the public, military and government. Meanwhile, other sectors used the incident to intensify their demands for a militarization of civilian communities in Mindanao as ‘security’ measures against such eventualities. But even without this, certain sectors of the public had already taken the law into their own hands and exacted revenge on the innocent. Other groups and individuals call for cooler heads and a rationalization that seeks to avoid mistakes of history.

Senator Biazon is arguing for increasing the number of CAFGUs (civilian defence units) in Mindanao. Certain Christian politicians are said to be meeting among themselves to plan on spending for buying more arms for their Mindanao constituencies. Governor Nur Misuari of the Muslim region, or at least a recent letter he wrote, is alleged to be going the rounds in the Middle East trying to convince the Organization of Islamic Conference countries about the insincerity of the Philippine government in the full implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement. ARMM officials are up in arms about the large cut on their budget imposed by the northern legislature. The military authorities are admitting that they are already spread out too thin to cover all the areas of conflict adequately, and are being questioned about their capabilities to handle a two-pronged war should the Red insurgency also decide to mount more violent campaigns. Maybe even a three-pronged war should the MNLF decide to go back to the mountains.

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