Erap: War sometimes necessary to win peace
MANILA -- "Sometimes you have to wage war to earn peace."
This was the statement of former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph "Erap" Estrada amid the ongoing standoff between government security forces and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fighters under founding chairman Nur Misuari in Zamboanga City.
While acknowledging that every President has his or her own strategy or "diskarte," Estrada still thinks an all-out war against the rebel group may be effective, recalling what he did back in 2000 with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a breakaway group from the MNLF.
"Bawat Pangulo may kanya-kanyang diskarte ayon sa pagkakataon at panahon," Estrada told radio dzMM on Thursday.
"Eh nung panahon ko talagang sinira nila yung agreement eh. Nag-uusap pa kami biglang sinira yung usapan at sinunog yung bayan ng Kauswagan [in Lanao del Norte]," he said, referring to the MILF.
He said six children were burned to death in the incident and soldiers were also beheaded, prompting him to declare an all-out war against the group.
"Kaya ako sabi ko ito na talaga ang pagkakataon na dahil mahigit 30 taon na puro peace talks, ceasefire, peace talks, ceasefire. Wala namang nangyayari. Sila ang sumisira sa usapan. Kaya nagdesisyon na ko na tapusin na lahat nung pagkakataong yun," Estrada recalled.
The MNLF faction of Misuari laid siege on Zamboanga City on September 9, about a month after the founding chairman declared independence for Mindanao, Palawan and parts of Malaysia.
The declaration of independence was triggered by what the MNLF believes is the Aquino administration's abandonment of the tripartite review on the implementation of the 1996 final peace agreement in favor of holding peace talks with the MILF.
"Ang MNLF lahat ginawa na diyan... Nung nabuo yung ARMM, meron namang splinter group, nabuo yung MILF, yan naman ang lumaban. Eh ngayon naman eh meron namang agreement si Presidente Noynoy [sa MILF], meron namang nangyari sa Zamboanga, si Nur Misuari naman ang splinter diyan. Eh parang paulit-ulit lang eh, walang katapusan," Estrada said.
But now that the administration of President Benigno Aquino III has managed to continue holding peace negotiations with the MILF with the aim of creating a Bangsamoro government, Estrada said he could only wish that this will end successfully and peacefully.
"Ngayon naman baka hindi na uso yung aking isipan... Ipagdasal na lang natin na maging matagumpay yung kanilang agreement," he said.
Meanwhile, the former president also commended Aquino for staying in Zamboanga as the country's commander-in-chief.
"Kapag andiyan ang commander-in-chief, lalakas ang loob ng mga sundalo. Nakikita nilang nakikiisa yung ating commander-in-chief. Tama lang yun," Estrada said.