By Menardo Wenceslao
We surely appreciate the declaration of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that they are prepared with several mechanisms to address the issues raised by an ex-MILF commander who broke away to form a separate armed group in Central Mindanao.
But that is merely one side of the coin. Ameril Umbra Kato had obliquely took a separate course of action which demonstrate that none of what the MILF and the government peace negotiators are working on are acceptable to him. He is a war freak who thinks that peace will not bring any rewards for him. So, how could the MILF ever think that there is still room to contain him.
Already Kato has organized a group called Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. These are made up of elements of the MILF who, like Kato, live by the gun and will die by the gun. The renegade commander of the Front thinks he has even become more invincible with the infusion of the fugitive members of the Ampatuan private armies who were involved in the gruesome Maguindanao massacre. While they are said to be a very small group, they can be as troublesome as the pesky Abu Sayyaf. By the looks of them they have all the makings of the terrorist group and it is not farfetched that they will ultimately have a tactical aliance, assuming of course that they do not have one yet. Having infused these wanted elements within the ranks of his combatants, Kato feels he is invincible and is capable to stage his own war.
Kato has a string of criminal cases on account of his group brutal attacks on civilian communities. Remember that when he went on vicious and murderous rampage following the collapse of ancestral domain issue in 2008, the MILF failed to contain him. Kato’s adventurism has only led to devastation and had deprived thousands of Muslim, Lumads and Christians youths of the opportunity have their modest means of livelihood, education and live normally in an atmosphere of peace.
Maybe it is about time that the MILF just forego with Kato and his men and go full speed ahead with the peace talks. We believe that Kato and his men will only start considering giving peace a chance when the gains of peace shall bear fruits. The question is, can he survive the atmosphere of calm?
With much of the Islamic countries which, in the past decades contributed to the secessionist struggles and even to terrorist organizations, crippled by their own peoples’ revolution, the Front including Umbra Kato’s ragtag combatants will either turn into more savagery or disintegrate into bands of criminal syndicates. If the MILF wants to deal with them now, it is better to use their force this early for the dawning of a new day. –MENARDO WENCESLAO