It is claimed that the so-called Jabidah Massacre is the one single spark that ignited the Mindanao conflict which continues to pester the country to this day. The formation of the MNLF, a separatist armed group led by Nur Misuari, was the first direct consequence of it, eventually precipitating the costly and bloody wars with the government in the 70s. The continuing violence of the present is still mostly attributed to it. Indeed, the story of the Jabidah Massacre, as written by two prominent journalists, Marites Danguilan Vitug and Glenda Gloria, appears on the MNLF website as if a constant reminder that the event started it all.
Yet many contend that the story is but a myth. Popular columnists like Rigoberto Tiglao of Manila Times call it a big hoax and Rod Kapunan of Manila Standard considers it a shameful lie. There is just no proof to back it up, they assert. The lone witness, Jibin Arula, was neither reliable nor convincing. Even then Senator Ninoy Aquino, President Ferdinand Marcos’ foremost nemesis who would gain much if he proved the massacre to be true, after conducting his own investigations, stated as much in his privilege speech at the Senate in 1968:
Now, about the so-called Corregidor massacre, Mr. (Senate) President. I would, if there were truth, be among the first to rise and articulate the indignation and revulsion of a nation sickened and shocked by such deliberate, purposeful and wanton killing of helpless and hapless men.
And I would, if there had been truth, be among those to voice my own nausea, my anger and my disgust.
I am afraid that many of us had been too quick to anger, too quick to deplore and denounce. For the truth, as I found it in Sulu, is: the probability of a mass massacre is dim. (emphasis mine)
I could make big political capital out of all of this. I could pillory, nail on the public cross and damn President Marcos and the men who served under him in this operation. I could rouse the people against them, all of them.
But, Mr. President, I say: Let us pin blame only where the blame is. And, by my findings, a wanton massacre is not among the things that we must hang on Mr. Marcos’ conscience and Mr. Marcos’ soul.
For where’s the logic in killing these young recruits?
What would have been the motive for the “massacre”? Some quarters have advanced the theory that the trainees were liquidated in order to silence them. But then, 24 boys have already shown up in Jolo safe and healthy. To release 24 men who can spill the beans and liquidate the remaining 24 “to seal” their lips would defy logic.
In truth, it seems like the only insistent claim that the massacre actually happened is coming from the article written by Vitug and Gloria. Yet, the article itself is not filled with proof that would put the unbelievers to shame, but with holes, conceding that, yes, there are many missing parts. In fact, careful reading of it would show that, aside from the flimsy testimony of the lone witness, the only part seeming to confirm that the massacre was real is this:
When they landed, the teams of soldiers found burned bodies tied to trees, near the airstrip, on the island’s bottom side. The order from Army Chief Gen. Romeo Espino was to clean up the place and clear it of all debris. From afternoon till sunset, they collected charred flesh and bones and wrapped them in dark colored ponchos. They could not keep track of how many bodies there were. They also picked up bullet shells lying on the airstrip. The trainees had been shot dead before they were tied and burned.
It was a swift operation. What the participants remember most is the strong smell of death and decay. That night, these soldiers burned their clothes which had absorbed the stench. At the crack of dawn the next day, they loaded the ponchos in the helicopter and flew over Manila Bay. They tied heavy stones to the ponchos before dumping them all into the sea. The remains sank, weighted down by the stones. The soldiers made sure nothing floated to the surface.
But, as to where this particular testimony came from, there is no clue. Who recounted this damning story with all the shocking gory details, it is not said. Notably though, the narration has an air of all-knowing certainty of a first hand account— which it is not. Strangely, there is not even a mention of “a source” or “a witness” or “an insider” (but whose identity must however be protected, as often invoked) who could have supplied such incredibly detailed blow by blow. It is like, hey, this is what happened, people… take it or leave it. For such a very significant episode of the narrative, this one takes the cake for reckless, gossipy reporting.
It is incumbent upon Marites Danguilan Vitug and Glenda Gloria therefore, to give account of themselves on how they came to this bits of information because, for one, it alleges a very serious crime, a shockingly horrible one at that involving the country’s armed forces chief himself. It also supplies the core narrative that lends credence to the entire tragedy. How did they put the pieces together? Who were the sources?
The Jabidah massacre— if true— is such a shameful, tragic event for the nation. Thus, it is important to give it closure and heal the wounds. The victims must be identified and families compensated, perpetrators named and the circumstances properly and fully chronicled. Then let it be written in our history. We could build a bigger marker, bigger than that which is already built, by which to commemorate the tragic event. But how could there be any closure if the event’s truthfulness is precisely the same one being given this huge question mark?
We are not taking the risk of erecting a marker for gullibility, are we?
To be sure, at least to me, this part of the narrative has a disturbing feel of unreality to it, like its some contrived and imagined event, like it is too cinematic for comfort… Is it there to explain away the absence of any concrete evidence… and incite anger as well? Or, maybe it is just me and my ultra-cynical self.
But it is disturbing because if it is not true, then, it is a hoax, a hoax invented by a very sinister mind, with a veiled intent. Worse. this hoax that now has assumed the shape of truth!
The so-called massacre is significant because of how it influenced the turn of events in our recent history and how it continues to haunt and affect us in such a profoundly ruinous manner.
In the old days, the involvement of our neighbor Malaysia in the Mindanao conflict was at best speculative. We suspected it but we could not prove it. Now it is an established fact: Malaysia indeed was aiding the MNLF in their rebellion, the purpose being to undermine our claim on Sabah. This new information is providing us with connecting dots that used to be missing, adding dimension to the entire issue. With the new connecting dots, even the case of the Jabidah massacre is gaining renewed attention, given a new perspective and better light.
If this was all fabrication indeed, the implications are stunning. The fact that the event is considered the spark that started it all, it only means that a false story is the cause of all the trouble in Mindanao. That is not all, if we connect the dots. It also means that one with the intent to cause trouble in Mindanao could very well be behind the fake story.
Who invented the story then? Was the intent precisely to start rebellion and destabilize Mindanao?
To be sure, even the credibility of the journalists who originated the story could be placed in serious question: what do Marites Danguilan Vitug and Glenda Gloria (of Rappler.com) have to do with propagating the ”myth”? The burden of proof that their story is accurate and true is now on them.
Peace is a condition most desired, always the ideal. Who the hell ever wants war? War is a most horrible thing. It destroys. It kills. It is hell on earth. Only war freaks and arms makers and dealers would welcome it.
Yet peace must be found on solid ground. Peace at all cost is laying it on thin ice. It is cowardly. It is dangerous.
Now, the way I see it, this peace being relentlessly pursued presently in Mindanao by the government with the insurgent MILF is of this kind: peace at all cost. Step back and you see a government practically begging for it on its knees. It is like we are prepared to offer anything in the altar of peace just to earn the good side of the rebels and so peace we get. It looks so like we are too bloody scared they get offended lest they go on a rampage and woe unto us all. Look how the President, the government peace negotiators, and the political allies have banded together in defense of the dissident group from all issues, and they are many, against all comers: the bloody Mamasapano massacre, its connections with terrorists, its dubious links with Malaysia, its veiled threats of war if it does not get what it wants, the clandestine buildup for war, the belated discovery of the use of aliases and refusal to reveal their true identities, issues of unconstitutionality of the proposed BBL, suspicions of nationality, doubtful leadership standing over Mindanao being a small minority, meddling foreign interests and other disturbing issues. Nothing it seems should get in the way. Each time, the government takes to lecturing on how important peace must be had instead— and quickly now. Then accuses everyone opposed to it as enemies of peace.
This is the way to peace?
Negotiate from a position of strength always, wise men say. From any angle, it looks like we are negotiating from a position of weakness. And the other side seemingly smells it that from a mile away and so is exploiting it to the hilt by pushing harder and harder still.
In the name of peace, for the sake of peace, that is all we are hearing. Peace. Peace. Peace. No to war. War is terrible. War is costly. Yet I recall, in older times, did not the collaborators go into traitorous act of sleeping with the enemies, even ratting on the revolutionaries because peace to them was far more desirable than anything else? It seems like we are prepared too for the break up of the Republic IN THE NAME OF PEACE.
Know thy enemy. Here is how ‘Iqbal’, the MILF peace negotiator ( he whose true name must not be known) regards the ongoing peace process:
If war uses the force of arms to achieve both military and political objectives, negotiation pursues the same goals through the skillful use of language and diplomacy. If war, as once aptly put, is an extension of politics, and negotiation is an aspect of war, then negotiation is war in another form.
And what exactly is the ultimate objective of the MILF? Is it not to establish an independent Islamic state? Negotiating for peace with the government is part of the strategy. Every gain it gets from the peace deal is but a strategic advancement towards the ultimate objective.
Ahh, when cowards mistake their cowardice for some sort of passion for the cause of peace…
Even for me, this is kind of a pleasant surprise and I suppose, so with most other Filipinos: the Philippines is actually a big country! No kidding.
Is the Philippines, in fact, geographically small? With a land area of 343,448 square kilometers (higher than the common estimate of 300,000), our country is bigger than Italy (294,140 sq km), and is significantly larger than Britain (229,848 sq km). Mindanao alone, at 97,530 sq km, is by itself bigger than Ireland, which measures 84,421 sq km. The Philippines, moreover, is bigger than North and South Korea combined. Indeed, ranked among all the nations of the world, the Philippines belongs to the upper one-third in terms of land area.
Our perception of our country being small probably has much to do with our smallmindedness, our timidity and non-assertiveness as a people.
The moves are calculated. He has not made any categorical announcement yet but the teasers are meant to test the waters. His survey ratings are not impressive at 6-7% but these could dramatically change once he makes the declaration. Right now, only Jejomar Binay has made the declaration and is leading the pack by a mile. As it is, who would eventually take the plunge remains a big guessing game even now.
It’s a different story altogether online. Ranking.com has started a survey since over a year ago with the question: Who is your most trusted to become our next Philippine President 2016. Take a look at the surprising results:
This may be far from correctly predicting his real prospects but it proposes a good base to target and cultivate in the youth, the gullible youth as the anti-Marcos forces are wont to call them
Last March 18, a group of people (peace advocates they are called) trooped to Corregidor to commemorate the 47th anniversary of the Jabidah Massacre, acknowledged as the catalyst of the Moro rebellion in Mindanao. There, they shed heartfelt tears and offered prayers for the victims, spoke of the brutal injustice, pondered on the significance of the event on the ongoing peace process and the well-being of the nation, and unveiled a marker in recognition of the tragic affair that they attribute to President Ferdinand Marcos.
All the fitting drama makes for a compelling spectacle, except that the event they are commemorating could be just one big hoax.
The so-called “Jabidah massacre” has been the biggest hoax foisted on this nation.
If it is, all this is but one spectacular comedy.
Photo above grabbed from Rappler.com
It’s the biggest mystery of all about the Mamasapano massacre. The call for help was made early in the morning. Yet it took all of ten hours before rescue came, when all of the SAF 44 were already dead. Why?
As it turns out, efforts to save the ceasefire with the MILF played a major role.
(A source) said that earlier in the day, (Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division) actually considered using artillery, but Brig. Gen. Charlie Galvez, head of the government’s Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH), pleaded with him to hold fire as the ceasefire teams were trying their best to reach both the SAF and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Pangilinan gave Galvez five minutes to finish the coordination.
“It was the longest five minutes for all of us,” the source said.
Galvez returned to Pangilinan with the information that all parties involved in calling for a ceasefire, including the International Monitoring Team, were already moving to stop the fighting.
Around noon, the source said, there was no longer contact with the 55th SAC and the ceasefire was already in place.
Why no rescue, AFP Chief Gregorio Catapapang Jr. explains it’s because of the ceasefire.
The Armed Forces [could not] join the firefight because of the ceasefire agreement. That will destroy the entire ceasefire agreement and that will be like a bushfire that will spread up to Lanao and the entire peace talks with our Muslim brothers will fail,” Catapang said.
If they had joined the fighting, there could have been “a state of war” already, he added.
What should be verified was the claim there was a US Drone facility inside the AFP Wesmincom base and that the President was actually monitoring the event live there and was getting advice from peace adviser Teresita Deles.
The source said Aquino monitored the Mamasapano encounter inside the United States (US) Drone command facility at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) base in Zamboanga City.
Westmincom, which is under Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, is located inside Camp Navaro. It is also used by the US military as a temporary base where the drone command facility is situated.
Aquino, the source said, monitored the mission through a live feed transmitted by a drone, which means that the President is well aware of what was happening to the SAF men.
There were reports that drones were seen in Mamasapano prior to, and during, the SAF operation to get Marwan.
The source said some members of the security, justice and peace clusters of the Cabinet were with the president.
Despite being fully aware of the massacre of SAF commandos, the President gave no order for reinforcements because he was reminded about the ongoing peace negotiations between the government and the MILF, and sending reinforcements may lead to the breakdown of talks.
…the source said it was Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles who reminded Aquino about the peace negotiations.
The difficult question is: was it wrong to withhold rescue to save the peace negotiations?