Old wounds should heal

Old wounds should not be reopened anymore. They should be allowed to rest because even a slight touch will only rip them open. If the Department of Justice (DOJ) under the previous Aquino administration did not or failed to file criminal charges against those allegedly involved in the killing of 44 members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (SAF) is something worthy to ponder on. Why? Lack of time or they have second thought in filing it.

We are not saying that government cannot proceed in filing these cases. They are government and no one can dictate upon them. But our only wish is that for a government to be a just government, they should apply justice fairly to all. Weren’t the SAF commandoes not the attackers, ceasefire offenders, and which branded a partner in peace, the MILF, as enemy?
Before the Mamasapano tragic incident on January 25, 2015, the ceasefire agreement between government and MILF forces was holding firmly. In fact, violation was almost zero since President Benigno Aquino III assumed office in 2010. But in their planning and in the execution, the SAF deliberately and wilfully ignored the ceasefire agreement. Setting aside civility and moral accountability, they also treated their partner in peace-making, the MILF, as an “enemy”. More seriously, they did not inform the Philippine Army about the impending operation, and accused it of leaking information that caused the failures of previous attempts.  
The SAF, numbering 392, were operating in an area heavily occupied by MILF combatants and supporters. There were also other armed groups, including the BIFFs, in the vicinity. Therefore the extent of the risks of the operation was enormous and known very well. But it seemed the smell of success --- and the lure of dollars --- rode roughshod over all other considerations.
As a result, the operation was bungled. The scapegoat had thus to be found. The MILF was the ready whipping boy. But was it right for the SAF to blame the MILF for the blunder?  The MILF was the one attacked, it merely defended itself. Is not the rule of war, the ultimate truth in every war, is kill or be killed? And when someone is attacked, especially during night time, only two options are open: flee or fight. The MILF chose to fight it out; it was a case of survival, made more difficult by the fact that they did not know who were attacking them.
For the MILF, the incident should be viewed as a ceasefire violation. Clearly, the violators were the SAF, and therefore, pertinent provisions of the ceasefire should be applied in this incident.
But of course, we understand the mode of the hour. It was considered a national tragedy that shocked the nation. The cry for revenge was reverberating everywhere. When emotions run high and the fit of anger rules, sanity is left with very little space to move.  But we salute how the Aquino administration and the MILF satisfactorily handled the exploding situation. But the clear casualty was the non-passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) during the last 16th Congress.
We believe that when President Rodrigo Duterte repeatedly acknowledged that historic injustice was committed against the Moros (by the state), he was not only referring to the loss of their sovereignty and landholdings, and the death of thousands of Moros in the series of bloody massacres perpetrated against them by state forces, but also of the unfair application of justice. Why were the SAF commandos, the aggressors and violators of the ceasefire, hailed as “heroes”, and the MILF who defended themselves as “criminals” or traitors? (Never mind the BIFF and other private armed groups, they were not talking peace with the government and they don’t have ceasefire with it). Is it because of the so-called principle that only the state has the monopoly of the use of force and they can exercise this with impunity and without regard to any moral obligation attached to agreement they signed, say the ceasefire with the MILF?
We also believe that President Duterte, like former President Aquino, has a full grasp of what is just and what is fair play. As president, Duterte is the father of all the inhabitants of this country. Let us trust him and leave to his wisdom on how he handles this sensitive issue.