Why We Are The Weakest LinkBy Philip Dominguez Mercurio
I met one of my girlfriend’s relatives a couple of weeks back and the first reaction they said to me on learning I am Filipino was, “O, Abu Sayyaf.”
It was a joke of course but it gives a horrible first impression of the Philippines: Abu Sayyaf and stories about the kidnappings of businessmen.
Of course, we’re not alone in the negative department. Mention Indonesia and even now most people would associate the country with tsunami devastation. Bali, after the bombings, will forever be haunted by images of romantic couples blown to smithereens.
But I’m still aghast over the fact the Philippines has been associated with the Abu Sayyaf even among our closest neighbors in Asia. It just goes to show you how dreaded a reputation we seem to be gaining even in our own backyard.
But what really roils me is the fact that many of these terrorists who are ruining our reputation are foreigners. That’s right -- foreigner-fighters like the ones the Americans are finding in Iraq.
Those of you who have kept close tabs on the news would realize not all of these terrorists are associated with the bandit breakaway group of the MNLF, known as the Abu Sayyaf group. Some of the terrorists running around in our south are non-Filipino radicals belonging to such extremist groups as Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) to train in clandestine jungle camps in our homeland.
What the hell are they doing in our backyard, you might ask. Well, according to three captured Indonesian militants held by Malaysian security officials who caught them in Sabah on their merry way to Mindanao, they intended to the die as suicide bombers in the Southern Philippines. In fact, radical splinter groups from the JI have been recruiting thousands of new followers from militant groups in Indonesia or those fighting other Christian groups, most of them already been indoctrinated with hatred of the West.
Terrorist masterminds have found the Southern Philippines as a safe haven for their training camps after being halted in neighboring Kalimantan and in Afghanistan by America’s presence. Though much of the camps are mobile to avoid detection, that doesn’t mean they’re not sophisticated. Would you believe even on the run, these camps are still efficient enough to have facilities training in the use of biological and chemical agents? That’s both amazing and terrifying.
Knowing all this, it’s no wonder why we happened to be called the “weakest link on terror.” We may not be anything like Afghanistan but in terms of the presence of foreign terrorists in our midst, we’re one and the same. The Bali suspects, their decapitated heads plastered in newspapers worldwide, were believed to have trained in Mindanao.
The impact of these foreign fighters on our country is huge. The presence on our soil is already souring the fragile relationship that exists between the present government and our Muslim minority, creating more resentment. And not only are these terrorists ruining our reputation before the world community, implicating us as a terrorist country, they are scaring off tourists and investors. Imagine these terrorists using our playgrounds, our bus stops, shopping malls and trains to test how effective their equipment.
We must confront these foreigners, who, according to American sources, are entering with number about 100 or so a year. We must seal the border, Ate Glo. Create an impenetrable blockade, a wall if you will, along our southern border like the United States is building or the Chinese has done in their north.
President Bush was correct when he suggested the security of the nation was being threatened due to a largely unprotected border, although his theory, technically, is much more relevant in terms of our own country for unlike those from Mexico, terrorists have walked in and out of our territory whenever they felt it necessary.
Use whatever is at our disposal in our defunct navy - lifesavers or life preserves linked to floating buoys - to create a floating wall. Use our fearsome fighting chickens to man the shoreline, defending every inch of our beaches with their razor sharp claws. With the border in check, get rid of the remaining terrorist using our aging fleet of Huey helicopters, equipping them with balikbayan boxes (preferably the ones over 70 pounds) to crush these ingrates. Trust me, we may not have the ammo and the bombs, but don’t mess with the Philippines unlimited supply of corned beef and spam.
Who knows what suggestions above are actually feasible but the point is this: Do something. Our reputation, our security and above all our citizens demand it. - PDM
See this article,"Why we are the weakest link" in Philippine News. Click here.