The Philippine military has begun bombing the Islamic rebels in the south. No, calling them “rebels” is wrong. The Abu Sayyaf kidnapped locals and foreigners and held them for ransom. As the government fumbled and waffled through negotiations, Libya paid the ransom, and hostages were released. Then, emboldened, the Sayyaf went out and kidnapped more: an American and a few Malaysians, then demanded more ransom.
They are mere thieves and bandits: bully-boy cowards who hide behind their twisted perceptions of Islam to revel in their own violence and hedonism. Negotiate with them for the release of victims, and they will only use the ransom to further victimize the country and its neighbors with more terrorism and abduction. The only alternative left is war.
And so the war is on. The Sayyaff bandits have threatened to behead the hostages. Already innocent people are being killed, homes and lives lost. Our economy is likely to plunge, making life harder for an already suffering populace. Here in Manila, despite its distance from the conflict in Sulu, militant Islamic groups are threatening to bomb malls, trains, and other public establishments.
I can only pray that things get better.