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a peaceful manner. Secretary Robert Aventajado and Libyan Ambassador Rajab Azzarouq have just succeeded in negotiating for the release of the Sipadan hostages. They were in the process of attaining yet another success in Jeffrey Schilling's release when the Abus kidnapped more from Malaysia, this time in Sabah Island, just a pump boat ride away from southern Philippines.

For the majority, it didn't take a strategist to figure out what to do next.

The Abus are at the height of their kidnapping business success. This has to stop.

A media blackout was immediately imposed. News from Mindanao described the sudden inflow of military troops in the area. OB10 bombers came in next. The sea went heavily guarded by the navy. Civilian residents were hurridly evacuated. It didn't take a genious, either, to figure out what's going on. War was imminent.

Blame it on the Abus

In the five months that this drama have been playing, various feelings on the Abu Sayyafs have grown on the hearts of most Christian Filipinos. Why wouldn't it be so?

The Malaysians now think that every Filipino is an Abu Sayyaf. So do the Germans, most probably, who understandably symphatized with the Wallert family who were part of the Sipadan captives. Everything was well-documented by DWTV, the German equivalent of CNN, as well as by every major cable news channel everywhere.

And so the whole world hated us, at least that is what my Christian countrymen believe in.

Blame it on the Abu Sayyafs.

But when I learned about the assault, I felt a different thing.

About four months ago, the Philippine military successfully captured Camp Abbubakkar, the largest insurgency camp in Mindanao. It was a bloody battle. On one hand, I pitied the young Muslim women and children who were forced(?) to be part of the Islamic rebels and defend themselves against the attacking government troops. And on the other, I pitied every Filipino soldier firing a riffle shot against another brave Filipino warrior.

It was a civil war under the guise of a Jihad. To the Muslim rebels, it was a fight for independence. From the same race of people who have been defending this bunch of islands from real invading foreign forces since 1521? It doesn't make sense.

And now, the same bloodbath is set to happen again in Jolo.

The government spokesperson recently disclosed that they have allocated enough budget for this war to last for a month. But military leaders are saying that they only need a week to wipe out the enemy. They seemed so sure about that.

The approach

Reacting to the remarks of Filipino generals, a friend at told me he knew what to do.

Locate the enemy camp. Send three Zealots to attack. If defense is penetrable, send in seven more, backed up with five Dragoons and a couple of High Templars. That's how you wipe out the enemy. Entaru Adun.

If only it could be that easy.

At the time of submission of this article, bombs are being dropped in Abu Sayyaf camps. Troops are coming in. And casualties are rising.

I mean, I should know. I've been watching the whole thing on news television.

Sometimes I watch it because I want to know what's going on around me. Seing my bravest countrymen kill each other for idiotic reasons, however, sometimes simply makes me want to grab that remote and turn the TV off.

This isn't Jihad anymore. There's no relegion involved. This isn't consititutional, either. It's simple manslaughter.

Whatever it is, it has cost the nation a lot of revenues already, a lot of lives, and a good face to show the world.

At the time this is being written, 21 more hostages are being kept as human shields.

Who knows how this is going to end?

Rolando V. Ecarnacion Jr is 3 A.M. MAGAZINE'S chief correspondent on Asian politics and culture. At present, this area of the world is experiencing social change unlike any other time in recent history.

Rolando lives in the Philippines.


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