Few weeks ago, North Korea decided to make their test missile drop on our shores simply because we have no capability to shoot them down like neighbours South Korea and Japan. Biro mo, sa laki ng langit, tayo pa ang piniling ibagsak ng debris? More fun kasi dito. (Imagine, out of the big sky, they chose to make the debris drop here. It’s more fun here.)
Then, poachers from their neighbor and close ally China decided that amid the big expanse of the Spratly Islands, it is better for them to rape and pillage our marine resources of precious turtles, sharks and other rare marine species at the Scarborough Shoal. Of all the areas in the Spratly Islands, they picked Scarborough to plunder because not only is it nearer to them, we are also the least defensible country compared to other claimants like Vietnam which on several occasions already exchange fires with Chinese ships to protect their territory.
Not the Philippine coz it’s more fun here. We have no mighty armed forces and so we can only fire off diplomatic protests one after the other; and cal press conferences to complain and cry to Uncle Sam.
And why can’t build w credible armed forces? It is partly because all these years huge taxpayer’s money has gone down the drain feeding the war machine in Mindanao and elsewhere in the country. How can we fight China and other bully countries when we are rocked and attacked from within by Moro and Islamic rebels and terrorists?
In turn, these local wars drive away investors who go to China and other claimant countries in Asia like Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia etc so they become rich to build their own naval, air and land defense forces.
In Mindanao alone, old government statistics show that from 1970-1996, some 73 billion pesos were spent by the Armed Forces of the Philippines to buy arms and ammunition in the campaign against the secessionist MNLF, the MILF and the ASG. Just imagine how many modern aircraft and naval boats that money could have bought?
Recent military operations in Mindanao cost taxpayers about P30 million daily. The figure could double if we compute the cost of rehabilitating, feeding and spending for the medical care of civilians killed and wounded; damage to roads and infrastructure; and loss of potential local and foreign investments and tourism in conflict areas; and the country as a whole.
Just imagine how progressive and prosperous a country we would be if the billions we spend in war would have gone to infrastructure to attract foreign investors and tourist, investments, health care and education; and military build-up to concentrate in fighting foreign aggressors?
But “military solution” is not the answer; education is. The problem in Mindanao is partly due to government neglect, lack of livelihood, lack of economic opportunity, and poverty which makes it a favourite “breeding ground” for terrorist groups to hire new recruits to continue their wars until the end of time.
The answer to all of this is education. It is only in education that we can cut the cycle of poverty-criminality-hopelessness-terrorism-rebellion in Mindanao. Educated students there will be empowered to fend of recruitment from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the Abu Sayyaf Group and communist groups to join their ranks. Educated students there will have the choice of cutting the family “tradition” of waging war for religion or money.
Education there will stop the rise of child soldiers/child warriors – kids recruited and trained in war from 7 years old -- and bring forth a generation of “cyber warriors” or kids knowledgeable in computer and who go abroad or engage in local IT businesses to bring progress in Mindanao.
At our Kristiyano-Islam (Kris) Peace Library literacy advocacy, we not only help educate smart Christian and Muslim children but we also encourage them to choose education and peace and not make kidnapping, extortion or terrorism as a means of livelihood in Mindanao – kidnapping having become a sort of cottage industry there.
In a Kris Peace Library in Zamboanga City, we provide FREE computer use to very poor children that they may become hooked to it and not the guns of their elders. We also helped keep 101 scholars in schools rather than allow them to start training as young recruits of the MILF and the Abu Sayyaf in the mountains.
We intend to do the same this year and we ask for your help to finance their schooling. A donation of US $15 or about P500 is enough to cover for the enrolment and other needs of a public elementary or high school student. Please go to http://www.gofundme.com/j0h70 to make your donation. You can also go to www.krislibrary.com to find out more about our advocacy.
For the cost of a pizza, you can help make this country not only fun but a respectable one before our eyes and the eyes of the world!