18 December 2009

Paramilitary Militias on Trial

Maguindanao Massacre
This past month has put the country's paramilitary forces under a microscope. The involvement of former and active militiamen in the hostage-taking and the Maguindanao massacre and the hostage taking of 47 civilians in Agusan del Sur has sparked calls for the disbanding of paramilitary forces, which have been armed by the government to help in counter-insurgency assaults.

These militiamen, who were drawn originally from the ranks of the unemployed, landless farmers, former rebels and ex-soldiers, have become so notorious for abusing civilians, looting homes or ending up as private armies of political warlords that opposition lawmakers think they should all be disarmed permanently and face trial.

However, this is easier said than done. The political massacre, the 3-day hostage stand0ff and even the deadly jailbreak on Basilan Island underscore the complexity of conflicts that characterized the way of life in Southern Philippines. The impoverished region has been awash with firearms, outlaws, political warlords and Muslim insurgents for centuries already. There's no way that a band-aid solution can cure the violence in that area.

The underfunded military, considered by many as Asia's weakest armed forces, has found itself in a dilemma, fearing that disarming the some 55,000 militiamen — considered crucial "force multipliers" — will undermine the ability of its 120,000 troops to combat Muslim and communist insurrections and the threat posed by al-Qaida-linked militants.

Now with the greatest respect to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), they should be aware that most rational-minded Filipinos are not entirely convinced that the militiamen and their kind of barbarity will enrich everyone's lives. Besides, if the AFP will rely on these untrained, incompetent and waste-of-life-saving-air auxiliary forces, then what else are they good for?

The AFP can perhaps be admired for their conviction to their ideals and their sense of loyalty to each other. However, if they don't have the balls to do their jobs, then they better give back what the public is paying them to do. Those funds might be better spent in hiring professional security personnel anyway.

Pity Adolf Hitler is dead – this country could have hired his services in extinguishing the live of all these abusive gun-totting low-lives.