“Instead of querying in order to sift the truth out of this whole mess of an operation, Senator Alan Cayetano only stated his own conclusions in the matter, biases and chauvinism in tow.”
By DEE AYROSO
The interfaith group Moro-Christian People’s Alliance (MCPA) criticized Majority Leader Senator Alan Cayetano’s “line of questioning” at the senate calling him “ignorant of peace talks and Moro history.”
At this week’s senate hearing on the bloody Mamasapano clash, the senator chewed out Mohagher Iqbal, chief peace negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and called his group “terrorist.”
“We could hear Cayetano’s ignorance of the peace process with the MILF and of the Moro peoples’ long struggle for self-determination,” MCPA spokesman Antonio Liongson said.
“Moro history – that encompasses pre-colonial times and subsequent governments – is wrought with oppression. It is this historic injustice that has resulted in the enduring armed struggle of the Bangsamoro for self-determination,” he said.
During the Senate hearing on Feb. 10, Cayetano gave a power point presentation of “data” from the US government and certain media reports which allege MILF links to the Al Qaeda terror network.
This was quickly disputed by Rashid Ladiasan, chair of the MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities. Ladiasan said that such reports had been long disproved by the MILF and that the group had been giving the government intelligence information about terror suspects.
Even Prof. Miriam Ferrer, chief government negotiator on the peace process with the MILF, was not spared by the senator’s rantings, as he asked her: “Do we negotiate with terrorists?”
Cayetano proceeded to answer his own question, even as Ferrer tried to explain that the MILF is not in any terror list. “May I put it on record that we are in trouble, because the peace negotiators do not even know that we cannot negotiate with terrorists,” said Cayetano.
On the Feb. 12 hearing, during which Iqbal was present, Cayetano repeated his claims about MILF’s alleged terror links, and even stated that “there would have been peace in Mindanao if it weren’t for the MILF.”
Cayetano’s claims prompted Iqbal to give a quick history of MILF and the atrocities committed by government against the Moro people. “There is still no justice,” Iqbal said at the hearing, referring to the thousands of people killed by government soldiers to solve “the Moro problem.”
“Terrorist-tagging is no light matter,” said Liongson. “The US War on Terror has caused violent killings, genocides, and humanitarian crisis around the world. Even the US, who is notorious for the malicious branding of people and organizations as terrorists, refrained from straight-out categorizing the MILF as a terrorist group.”
During the Arroyo regime, in 2001, hundreds of Moro civilians were rounded up in Basilan as part of government’s War on Terror. Many of them still remain in detention, while some were killed during the “Bicutan siege” in 2005 when police assault teams shot dead 27 Moro inmates after a jailbreak attempt in Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig.
The human rights group Karapatan had documented cases of innocent Moro civilians who were arrested and detained based on mere suspicion, and some were not even properly charged.
“Instead of querying in order to sift the truth out of this whole mess of an operation, Senator Alan Cayetano only stated his own conclusions in the matter, biases and chauvinism in tow,” Liongson said.