The recent carnage of state forces in Tukanalipao village in Mamasapano, Maguindanao and the subsequent indecisiveness of the Aquino government in handling such crises raised questions and varying opinions among our people.
There are those driven by misinformation and Islamophobia who called for ALL OUT WAR. Sadly, those people blabbering about all-out war don’t have an idea how horrible war is. I do believe that all-out war will not serve the best interest of our people, instead it will only further the suffering of the poor people, poor farmers of Maguindanao in particular: from rights abuses, tortures and massive dislocation.
At present, 402 families already evacuated from Tukanalipao village, most of them are farmers and farmworkers. They abandoned their homes and farmlands and forced to live along roadside as internal refugees. War forced them to become refugees. This is the ugliest part of war.
The long history of conflict in Mindanao resulted to the displacement of 745, 006 individuals as of May 2009 in 10 provinces of Mindanao: Maguindanao, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Cotabato, Basilan, Saranggani, Sultan Kudarat, MisamisOccidental, Sulu and South Cotabato according to DSWD.
Now we ask, what are the implications of massive displacement from the vast agricultural lands of Mindanao?
Aside from living in subhuman conditions in evacuation sites and refugee camps, and ballooning number of human rights abuses, the predominant agricultural population leave their farmlands behind, thus adding up to the backwardness of the already bankrupt Philippine agricultural economy.
I am not saying that war is the root cause of backwardness in Philippine agriculture, for we all know that it is the semi-feudal condition perpetuates landlessness and lacking support to our farmers. But considering a significant agricultural workforce will be detached from their farmlands, certainly this results to a decline in production, notwithstanding the increasing demand for food in refugee camps.
In simpler terms, those farmers who planted those corns in Tukanalipao must be enjoying their harvest by now if those crops were not damaged by this mindless and cruel war.
Not just in the Moro regions of Mindanao that massive dislocation is happening right now, in Agusan del Sur more than 1, 500 families were displaced by relentless military operations by the AFP and its paramilitary units.
The poor farmers with their limited resources and inadequate support from the government are trying hell-bent to maximize their lands or the lands that they rented from landlords. Most of these poor farmers started from credit; lending inputs or money with high interest rates from usurer.
During war, they were forced to leave their fields behind, leaving their crops and investments behind but not their credit. In refugee camps, livelihood is elusive leaving them no chance to pay their debts.
War is like a typhoon that destroys farmlands, bitter part of it,unlike typhoon and other natural disasters war is a man-made catastrophe.
Is it worth it?
Sacrificing the lives of 44 young brave men and risking more than a thousand lives and livelihood of the civilian population is not worth it. War is a losing battle in our already bankrupt agricultural economy, a tragedy for the poor and landless farmers.
We pay our highest respects to the fallen 44 and to the civilians who died at the Mamasapano bloodbath, as we call for accountability and justice from this government’s ineptness but ALL OUT WAR is NOT an option.
We must remember this, if we plant bombs and bullets we will reap death and carnage, not peace.