LETTERS FROM DAVAO
By Jun Ledesma
The urban war in Marawi defines the finest moment of Muslims and Christians ties and brotherhood in the face of a ruthless aggressor that wrecked the erstwhile pristine and quiet Islamic City in the Philippines.
Amidst the burst of deafening gun fires, devastations, stink of unknown corpses and threats of death by execution carried out in the most gruesome and barbaric rituals emerged a kinship among the victims helping each other survive the atrocities of an insane carnage.
The Mautes are compelled to mount the assault by foreign terrorists identified with ISIS and stimulated by drugs, this according to President Rodrigo Duterte. And here lies another shining moment among Filipinos: that in the face of assaults that involve foreign aggressors diversities take the background and the love of the motherland reign supreme.
As the smoke of war settles we hear from survivors how they were saved from certain death by their teachers, landladies, employers, neighbors and friends. From the comfort of our homes, hundreds of miles away from the battle scene, we see actual videos of trapped victims being carried to safer grounds.
It is painful to see these devastation and butchery happen at the advent of the Ramadan. If at all there is anything to prove in this bloody adventurism we all now realize that ISIS and the Mautes respect no faiths and national identities but theirs is solely to sow terror and havoc regardless of creed or culture.
<p>Across the oceans in the midst of the lands of Islam, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia broke diplomatic ties with Qatar for allegedly supporting terrorism. The ASEAN countries had condemned terrorism and among our friendliest neighbor, Indonesia, advised us that no less than 1,500 terrorists have entered our shores.
All colors of terrorist elements have in fact sneaked in our backyard. Our southern coasts stretch several hundred miles and are so porous that pirates, smugglers poachers, kidnap-for-ransom and terrorist bands land on our shores like it’s a walk in the park. As though this is not enough our coastguards are ill-equipped. I often wonder why we dream of battle ships when in no way can we win a naval war. Our shipbuilders in Cebu and in Subic build huge tankers and ships but we cannot manufacture speedboats for our coast guards and navy but we have this uncanny predilection for refurbished donations which only come when the cutter is bound for the ship cemetery.
I have friends in the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), in fact I have a Muslim brother who is now a director of BCDA. For once, can we not allocate funds to modernize the Jurassic equipment of our coastguards in Southern Mindanao? Isn’t it that the proceeds of the sale of vital military bases and the Development that is underscored in BCDA also comprehends of spreading the profits to Mindanao and Visayas? How come it is only Baguio City, Subic, Clark and BGC that benefit from the billions derived from the sale of the military bases which were part of our national patrimony? Whatever happened to the definition of equitable distribution of wealth and opportunities that are to be expected from the sale?
For once, can BCDA build the capabilities of our coastguards in Mindanao. Forego one bridge out of three you contemplate to build across the Pasig to give comfort to Bonifacio Global City rich and famous and maybe you can spare 10 speedboats that would guard our southern shores in Mindanao.
Beefing up our naval arsenals in our southern coastlines from Davao all the way to Tawi-Tawi was part of many contemplation before but when governments past and present do not seem to find relevance in it this idea had been buried to ennui. But with the siege of Marawi and the discovery of foreign terrorists leading the assault, I hope that this should be the Phoenix of the Duterte administration.
Let us rebuild Marawi. Let us heal the wounds and ease the anguish of our brother Muslims and Christians alike. We have seen and recognized the enemy. They go by many names: ISIS, Jemaah Islamiyah, Abu Sayyaf and Maute. They are none believers of Islam. They are terrorists.
Lessons have to be absorbed from what had just happened in members of the Gulf Cooperation Council. For there lies the final cognizance of the Islamic nations that terrorism as espoused by ISIS and Qatar, which the powerful members suspect lends aid and support to ISIS, has no place in the great religion of Islam. It is in fact condemned. (Mr. Jun Ledesma is a community journalist who writes from Davao City and comments from the perspective of a Mindanaoan)
About the Columnist
Mr. Jun Ledesma is a community journalist who writes from Davao City and comments from the perspective of a Mindanaoan.