After weeks of countless assaults on peaceful civilian settlements, ambushes on military personnel, the Muslim separatist group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) felt as if they were the dogs of their yard, Mindanao. But after they committed various atrocities against innocent civilians, including arson, murder, in a degree which can be considered as genocide they find themselves on the run from various military and paramilitary groups that are thirsty for their blood. Hungering for justice for those they oppressed. Sure, the military have orders from the Commander-in-Chief to pursue offensives on the rebel group. But the soldiers in combat have more than just orders in their minds, but also revenge and anger.
All these commotion happened when the residents of Lanao and neighboring provinces refused to be part of an autonomous state controlled by Muslims. Maybe because majority of the people living in the provinces are Christians. Maybe also, they realize that the power given to the Muslims would just be exploited by other countries, and they don’t want this to happen to them. And so the MILF executed their first move, an attack on Midsayap Town. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were able to repel the attack but similar offensives were made in neighboring towns such as Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Maguindanao, etc. The fighters of different MILF battalions stormed town after town, city after city. Burning houses and shooting at civilians who were just caught in the fighting. The leaders-two MILF sub-commanders named Commander Kato and Commander Bravo. The MILF High Command said that these were “lost commands” and that they had no control of them. The same thing they said when the MILF carried out similar civilian attacks in 2000 and 2005. It is a mystery if whether this reason is just a cover-up to cloak their intentions of intimidating the residents. Intimidating them into a point that they would agree to be part of the expanded, autonomous, Muslim region.
The atrocities continued, and their latest offensive in Lanao del Norte left 33 people dead. Twenty-seven of them civilians. They even went as far as cutting off an ear of one resident. How could they justify this now? Their reason? The commander of the battalion that did the attack, Commander Bravo, said that it was a breakaway brigade from his battalion and that they were doing this to frame the MILF. How pathetic.
And so the whole country united. The opposition and the administration united against the group. They were one in saying that “diplomacy” was no longer the way to peace, but war. An angry Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have continuously bombarded MILF detachments. The families of those victimized by the group have brought up arms and are now seeking for justice. The group is certainly paying the price.
Now, the group is finding itself as the ones running. From being the cat, now they are the mouse. From hunters, to the ones being hunted.