To insure dollars flowing to the coffers of Philippine military (including police), they have to show that the Philippines is under terrorist attacks. Their latest scenario was a plot of Muslim converts (so not just Moros anymore! ) to bomb the Black Nazarene procession in Quiapo.
The Black Nazarene procession is very dear to the hearts of Manilenos, especially Quiapo folks. The Moros had created a ghetto at the very heart of Quiapo and they know precisely the emotional attachments of the Nazarene devotees. As a rule, Moros and/or Muslims respect other people’s religious feelings. The Moros have stayed in Quiapo since the 1960’s and not once did they ever bomb or in any way disrupted the yearly Nazarene procession.
And now the bumbling Manila authorities arrested Muslims allegedly plotting to bomb the affair. If one were to disrupt the processions, there was no need to plot. A strong firecracker like a “Super Lolo” or “baby dynamite” could already create havoc in the very crowded and unruly Nazerene procession.
And they arrested a certain Afgani Alonto, a son of the late Senator Domocao Alonto.
They could not have arrested a more unlikely person. Unlike some members of his clan, this guy is unassuming, low-key and appears to be quite religious. But then, from the perspective of the West and the Philippine administration, anybody who religiously follows Islam is most likely to be a terrorist.
The Moros should better beware. Like the affluent Jews of Europe before, they thought they would not be touched by the Nazis. It was too late before they realized that rich or poor, the Nazis were out to get them. And so the Moro elites should start thinking that while the poor Moros have always been the easy pickings of the Philippine police/military, soon they will go after the rich ones, too. Alonto is just the first.
Five minutes of Nature’s fury resulted in tragedy for millions of people. This should be a sobering thought for people who aim to control other people’s lives – you just can’t. (This reminds me of Mt. Pinatubo whose fury had sent the US troops packing. Nature took a few hours what Filipinos could not do in decades.) Now it’s the Indian Ocean, next time it could be the Atlantic or the Pacific.
Two days after the tsunami disaster, the US was criticized for not helping enough. Then, it pledged $35 million in aid. Several days later, it announced it was increasing its aid ten-fold. But oops, it seems like the aid would come not in cash, but in kind – the military kind. Thousands of US troops were mobilized. Two warships were sent to the region. Not to be outdone, France and England also sent their warships. All these of course are done in the name of humanitarian aid. But it seems too much like the gunboat diplomacy of the 19th century. In fact, a UN official was very thankful that these “major powers” are helping. Well, even the vocabulary used sounds like the gunboat diplomacy of the 19th century.
The Indian navy also sent a warship to help the victims in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. And archrival Pakistan sent a warship to Indonesia. How about Russian and Chinese warships? Would they just remain in the sidelines? Have the Communists really given up on the Clash of Ideologies?
Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State and Jeb Bush, the Governor of Florida who happens to be the brother of the US President are now touring the region. Really, do relief operations need such a high-level delegation from another country? Or is there a de facto US Empire and the Emperor-President is simply sending his Minister-General and Viceroy to inspect the far-flung provinces of the empire?
Tamil Nadu, Northern Sri Lanka and Aceh are conflict areas. I hope Bush and company would have the decency not to exploit the situation for their own interests.
One thing I found positive in this tsunami debacle is the active role of the Tamil rebels in the rescue and relief operations in Sri Lanka. The Tamil liberation fighters are listed by the US government as Terrorists. Yet they are now in the forefront of relief operations in their land, with the blessings of the Sri Lankan government. I wonder if the American forces would coordinate relief efforts with the Tamil rebels whom they label as terrorists.
I also admire India for refusing aid from other countries. It announced that it would accept aid only from UN agencies and some international NGO’s. This was probably in reaction to the sarcastic criticism of Western aid donors regarding Indian bureaucracy. Thailand announced that it would prefer that aid would come in the form of expertise and not money. Perhaps there is something here that Philippine authorities could learn from.
The year 2004 ended with a catastrophe in the Indian Ocean, expecially in Aceh, Indobesia. May the year 2005 bring in prosperity for the whole world. May humankind learn something from the tsunami disaster.