After the clash at Mamasapano, Maguindanao that left 44 Special Action Force (SAF) members dead, buzz about going to an all-out war against insurgents was alive and kicking both online and in political circles.
But former President Fidel Ramos gave a stern warning: those who want to wage war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front should transfer to North Korea or Siberia, saying he is against violent retribution.
“All of those who want all-out war, I think better deport to North Korea and to Siberia. Are you going to kill 500 of the enemy in order to win sustainable peace and development for the younger generation? Of course not!” said Ramos, who was also one of the country’s top generals before becoming President and is also one of the heroes of the Battle of Hill Eerie during the Korean War in the 1950s.
He was also the President who founded the SAF under Philippine National Police (PNP).
In an interview with ANC, Ramos also said that there was nothing wrong with President Benigno Aquino III consulting suspended PNP Director General Alan Purisima about the operation. However, Aquino should have notified the PNP officer-in-charge, Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, as well as Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief General Gregorio “Pio” Catapang, says Ramos.
“He communicated with people not in the chain of command. He is the one who must answer for the lapse in the loop in the chain of command in the sense that no one else could do the things that he is empowered to do. Under our constitution, liability cannot be passed on to a lower official,” explained Ramos.
Without dropping names, he also hit former President Joseph Estrada for being the “creator of the Mindanao conflict.”
“This guy in April 2000, destroyed the 27 years of hard work that led to the signing of the peace agreement between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF),” Ramos said in a separate interview with a radio station.
Earlier, Estrada criticized Ramos for the failure of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which was created under the latter’s term, to bring lasting peace in the island.
“The creation of the ARMM was the biggest failure of the Ramos government. Aside from the hundreds of lives lost, thousands of people were displaced, billions of pesos of government money were lost. M.I.L.F. became bigger because of ARMM…that is his making as President,” Estrada said.
Nonetheless, Ramos still believes that the peace talks are still the best solution for a lasting peace in the troubled region.
He emphasized, however, that even a finely-crafted Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will be useless if there is poor implementation on the ground.
“The complete and final terms of this peace process may not happen during his [President Aquino’s] office, but as good Filipinos, let us all help in making it happen,” he said.