Zamboanga Winners and Losers

Zamboanga by Dennis M Sabangan

Photo by Dennis M Sabangan

Hard times shape character. The Zamboanga City uprising was a hard time.


The losers lost big. Here they are:

  • The people who lost their lives and the families left with deep grief.  Tragic. Deaths: 14 soldiers, 3 policemen, 12 civilians, and 103 rebels. The injured. 138 soldiers, 13 policemen, and 69 civilians. (Source: Inquirer, as of 9/24/2013)
  • Zamboangan residents, business owners and workers who lost homes, businesses and jobs.
  • Nur Misuari and his fighters, who lost lives, a battle, and respect. They are now common criminals.
  • Vice President Jejomar Binay, for going outside the chain of command and elevating Misuari to a higher level of respect than he deserved.

Such a waste.  This is what rebels deal. Extortion. Pain. Fear.

NPA rebels the same. They are destructive in the areas where they operate. Local residents need to come to grips with this. The national government is not injured by these gangsters. Neighbors are. Local support of the gangsters needs to stop. Local residents and authorities need to join the hunt.

Extortionists destroy in order to stay in business. To keep the threat active, alive, real. Make no mistake. The Zamboangan rebels are not religious people. They carry no message of peace and salvation to the masses.

These are losers, thugs, malcontents. Extortionists.

The Winners

There were also three big winners. They will stake no claim, raise no cheer. It was not that kind of arena. But make no mistake here, either. They won big time.

  • President Aquino
  • Moderate Muslims
  • The Armed Forces of the Philippines, PNP and local law enforcement

President Aquino

President Aquino is a detail man. He knew this was a complicated scene. Muslims and Catholics, local residents and rebels, local government officials, police and armed forces. They were joined in a chaotic battle situation with hostages and death. President Aquino went on-scene to make sure there was no question as to who was in charge and what the outcome would be. He neither gloated nor complained. He turned into a private man, a working man. He laid down the law: these are criminal acts that have nothing to do with the Muslim peace agreement. And we do NOT grant free passage in exchange for a cease fire.

Is there any question who made that decision? Who was willing to carry the burden if 100 hostages were executed?

Now you may think this is easy. You may be like the Rappler editors who believed they should be put in charge of negotiating the release of hostages. You may be able to judge Secretary Roxas as effective or ineffective. I can’t, and I’d venture that such a judgment would be more a statement of someone’s preconceived bias than fact arising during the conflict. Face it, we have little idea about what went on there. When people met, what they discussed, who lost their temper, who came up with the battle tactics. No idea whatsoever. Rappler editors may stand by their story (that a surrender was refused and release of hostages “blown” by police officials), but their story is only a snippet of a tense situation where no quarter was given by law enforcement. And properly so.

Who are we, keyboard in one hand and glass of wine in the other, to second guess sincere people doing their best in a situation made in Hell?

Without question, President Aquino won big time. For his courage, for his determined work. For the rule of law in a dangerous situation that could easily have been misread by Muslims elsewhere. President Aquino granted Muslims honor by attending to this mess, on-scene, personally. He preserved the peace agreement that promises economic rehabilitation of this impoverished region.

Moderate Muslims

I’ve come to the conclusion that Filipino Muslim leaders are different than Middle East Muslim leaders. More like American or European Muslims. Or perhaps this is just the current crop who have invested so much in working on an honest, honorable peace agreement. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just wishing . . .

But I like what I see.

Moderate Muslims did not use the uprising to wail about their plight and the offenses of the Philippine government. They criticized the rebels.

This is something that HAS to happen if Mindanao and its neighboring islands are to find peace and economic revival. Muslims have to start controlling their extremist elements. Not assign this task to the national government, then jump into the fray for political gain.

As they do this, they gain the respect of the nation. They win.

The Good Guys: Military, Police, Local Officials

Words are insufficient to give credit and thanks to people who face the bullets. We see the photographs and look on with removed amusement at guys creeping forward behind armored personnel carriers. We don’t hear the explosions or whisper of bullets or thudding or screams or see the blood and carnage. We don’t smell the gunpowder or smoke or death or feel the charge of adrenalin surging to try to help keep us alive.

No, no. These troops do that for us. I for one am immensely appreciative of their efforts, bravery and sacrifices.

The Losers Revisited

The physical losses were horrendous. Too many deaths and injuries. Ruined lives. Too much damage. Too much pain.

President Aquino has announced a multi-billion peso reconstruction project for Zamboanga City. The physical buildings will return, and so will productive commerce. Time will heal.

The extremist gangsters lost. As did the Sultan before. As did the self-glorified rebel chief, Nur Misuari. As will those factions or sects or clans or warlords or governors or mayors  or military cliques who would set themselves up as greater than the Philippines. If they push their power, if they push their luck, if they push their ego, at risk to Filipinos, they deserve to lose.

No, no. This is not a banana republic Philippines, subject to the whims and ways of egos mighty and large.

Vice President Binay would do well to reflect on that, and subjugate his ego and his will to the well-being of the nation rather than his political aspirations.

This is one nation, sovereign, connected, and heading directly down the straight path.



Heading directly UP the straight path.

34 Responses to “Zamboanga Winners and Losers”
  1. JM says:

    I was not aware of the moderate muslims condemning MNLF. If true, then that’s good. Is Misuari in Malaysia? He should be caught and hanged.

    There were reports that there were also rape and stealing involved. Some reports also mention that the rebels did not know that this would happen and that they would only perform a rally but I am not sure if that was credible, a rally with guns? The most important report that I’ve read is that this incident (as well as the Davao bombing) was created by Enrile to divert public attention from the pork barrel scam. If true, he should be hanged alongside Misuari. There are so many reports coming up telling different stories. I really hope that all of these things would be clarified to the public.

    • Joe America says:

      The battle scene was quite horrific. I don’t know what to think about the Misuari troops who said they were misled. I see these pictures of these guys and I tend to see unemployed rice field workers who go wherever there is a promise of money. I don’t see murderers, but if they hold their leaders in high enough regard, or their own situation is so desperate, they might be able to commit murder and then rationalize it that we were “misled”. Caught criminals throw all kinds of stuff against the wall trying to justify bad behavior.

      I tend not to believe the conspiracy rumors, like that Aquino was there to divert attention from pork, or the Enrile claim. I set the rumors aside as irrelevant until somebody puts out some verified facts.

    • The Mouse says:

      The Maranaos tend to be moderate. Some of them who goes to healthcare prefer serving in Christian villages than in their fellow Muslim Maguindanaoan or Tausug. Lanao, their homeland, is better off economically and politically than Sulu, Basilan and Maguindanao

  2. cha says:

    Agree with your picks. I would add, though, to the winner’s list the very brave lady mayor of Zamboanga, Climaco-Salazar. Never heard of her before but from day one of the crisis , she just seemed to be getting it right. She stood up against the invaders before everyone else did, made a stand that the MNLF flag was not going to be raised in her municipal hall, and then finally, chose not to stand in the way of the defense forces and its leadership who were trying to do their job. Furthermore she rallied her people to help each other and called for justice instead of succumbing to the pressure to acquiesce for the sake of ‘peace’. Overall, pretty outstanding leadership has been shown by the classy lady in what is without doubt, a very difficult situation.

    About Rappler, it is evident even in more recent reports that they really are standing by their story. And so is Jinggoy Estrada.

  3. brianitus says:

    Good call on Binay, the most powerful VP in Philippine history. Personally, I wouldn’t mind having him settle the issue there diplomatically if that was what the boss ordered.

    Have you noticed how quiet he has been lately after that incident?

    • Joe America says:

      If he had been an emissary of the President, asked to try to arrange a stop in the shooting, his contact with Misuari would have been proper and perhaps he could have been a winner. But the approach being taken was not to give an inch to the rebels, and VP Binay almost undermined that approach. Afterward, he traveled to Zamboanga City and met with the President. I am guessing he has been quiet because Mr. Aquino explained the approach being taken. And the President opted not to make a public scene for political gain. That’s not what he was there for.

  4. essie says:

    VP Binay makes me sick to my stomach. He endangered so many lives, and for what? For exposure?

    Do you think he’ll win in the next elections? I am fervently hoping he will lose, but I am wary of my countrymen’s short memories.

    • Joe America says:

      He is popular with the local politicians who control votes through loyalty and vote buying. That Nancy Binay got elected to the Senate with credentials that no dignified Human Resources Manager would accept says a lot about his local vote-getting power. The win, I think, depends a lot on who LP fields to oppose him. I think Roxas would lose (he is the upper-crust candidate the masses despise most). Poe or Escudero would fare better. I don’t know who else might emerge.

      I think Binay will get roundly panned by social media but I doubt that can reach past the local vote controllers.

      It’s grim.

  5. Jo says:

    “President Aquino granted Muslims honor by attending to this mess, on-scene, personally. He preserved the peace agreement that promises economic rehabilitation of this impoverished region.”

    I never thought of that. We here in Manila are whining that the President shouldn’t be there but we raise hell when there are flood rescue operations ongoing in Imperial Manila and PNoy is nowhere near wet. Both situations can not and SHOULD not be compared, but isn’t Zamboanga, in Mindanao, part of the Philippines too? With the ongoing Bangsamoro agreement, don’t they down south deserve his attention too?

    The situation is indeed very delicate, an intricate watch best worked on by hand, and us armchair experts can only yell with information provided by the media to go on by. Media that is increasingly untrustworthy, by the way. I still shake my head at that Rappler kuryente–they’ve made a mess, the way media exacerbated the August 23 Manila hostage crisis. Seriously, don’t they get trainings on reportage for such events?

    My heart aches for the lives needlessly lost, the families forever broken by these heartless thugs. Why can’t these rebels see that the people they profess to fight for are the ones they’re hurting? You can’t say “I’m doing this for your own good” then use that person as a human shield. It doesn’t even make a lick of sense.

    Binay makes me want to buy fish to slap on his face repeatedly.

    “This is one nation, sovereign, connected, and heading directly down the straight path.



    Heading directly UP the straight path.”


    • Joe America says:

      Ha. The image of the fish is fantastic. I’m thinking that would be a good campaign photo the opposition can use in 2016. We’ll have to sponsor a contest to see who can photoshop the best fish-slapping picture. Winner gets a year’s supply of Century tuna.

  6. ikalwewe says:

    People are fed up with Nur Misuari. He ran for office and lost. He wants to regain power so he starts a war. There was a pending peace talks to be mediated by Indonesia – and he agreed to that. But where was he during the date of the peace talks? waging war. He’s a man that cannot be trusted.

  7. ella says:

    Nobody wins in war!

    I hope this incident in Zamboanga will teach everyone who among the personalities involve really value the lives of people. Media and some headed by Binay and Misuari think that they can play with the lives of people only and only for popularity.

    I just really hope that VP will be the highest the Binay can attain in Philippine politics. Gezzzz Filipinos deserve better leaders.

  8. Joseph-Ivo says:

    96 already killed in barangay elections so far!!! Just a small miscellaneous article on the ABC-CBN website. Where is the president, where is Mar Roxas, Purisima…? Do they only act for > 100 fatalities? Above 400 you get front pages several weeks in a row, even on Joe’s website. Can you imagine similar figures in any other country?

    There goes my optimism for the Philippine future.

    • Joseph-Ivo says:

      correction 400 should be 140

    • Joe America says:

      Hard heads, big macho. I once lived next to a barangay captain who had been in office for about 30 years. When he got to be about 85, he could barely get around, and wanted his niece to take over. Another resident challenged the niece. It got brutal, with candidates’ supporters kidnapping one another the day before the election, beating each other up. The son of the captain (a respected attorney) crashed his car into multi-cabs taking opposition voters to the poll. It was like a cave-man grunting and testosterone flowing escapade in anger.

      Public service here is not a duty, an offering to the community. It is a highly enriching command authority. It defines a person’s “worth” the way nothing else does. We don’t exactly have that in the U.S. so it is indeed shocking.

  9. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    The brown-skin-punk’d-nose are the losers in the world !!! A non-Filipino-looking “FILIPINO” just wonned the Miss World !!! A Filipino brown-skin-punk’d-nose are irrelevant people !!! They are not 2nd-class citizen nor 3rd-class citizen. They are dooomed if they do not have long-nose, white-skin. Goodbye “Love Philippines” “Love Filipinos”.

    REAL INDIGENOUS FILIPINOS THAT CONSIST 98.99999% OF FILIPINOS HAVE NO PRIDE IN THEMSELVES. They’d rather be OFWing where they are and what they looked are accepted of who they are than employed in the Philippines because they are irrelevant.

    THIS IS THE END OF FILIPINOS. NO PRIDE. CORRUPT. IRRELEVANT. !!!! Ahem …. unless if they look tisoy and tisay …..

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      In the Philippines non-FILIPINO looking Filipinos are living high-life. The FILIPINO-LOOK are unemployable. They are only worthy OFWing.

      Thank God, My Family do not look like Filipinos. We do not watch TfC. We do not mix with Filipino-lookers. We do not inter-marry with Filipino-lookers because non-FILIPINO looking hob-nobbed rub-elbows with tisoys and tisays. No wonder we are better looking and better financially than typical looking Filipinos.

      Despite of our exemplerary beauty and wealth I have come to realization to help Filipinos uplift themselves by discriminating my family and my looks so they can love themselves and become relevant. FILIPINO-LOOKS are mostly in politics, read: Corruption.

      I PITY FILIPINOS THAT LOOK-UP to non-Filipino looking beauty for they cannot ever appreciate the beauty in themselves EXCEPT ME.

    • Joe America says:

      Well, I guess I have three reactions. (1) It is a shame when people are discriminated against for their racial looks, and (2) Megan Young possibly looks the way most of the world will look in 500 years when we have cross-bred out the old white and black and yellow and brown and come up with a very fine brown. (3) Plus she is drop dead gorgeous, and intelligent, too, from what I hear. We ought not be taking anything away from her achievement.

  10. bebot says:

    With the previous administration of Gloria Arroyo and Ramos where they molly coddled Nur Misuari and kowtowed to his wishes just to prevent him causing devastating political troubles in Mindanao regional parts and keep peace with him, Misuari made a serious error in misjudging President Aquino’s indomitable spirit to put him in his proper/ right place, that this president is not a pushover, that this president will / shall do what is right for the country and the people no matter what, who and how the results would turn out as long the best options has been considered.

    How I wish Aquino could run for president again in 2016 election. I wonder if he could run as vice president like Arroyo run for congresswoman with Grace Poe as president. Binay will surely win because in this European country where I am based, he is indeed popular and absolutely would win the 2016 presidential election. With Grace Poe as President and Aquino as vice president, that is extremely hard to beat.

    • Joe America says:

      Wow! What a great plan. I’ve been struggling with the notion that Senator Poe is a little light on the experience department but heavy in the character department. You have solved that problem. Indeed, you have cast the unbeatable team.

  11. The Mouse says:

    Binay has just botched his 2016 dream election. Hahahaha.

    After the very embarrassing 2010 hostage crisis where officials kowtowed to the hostage taker, I don’t think Filipinos in general will see such kind negotiations with positivity again.

    On a slightly but not so related event, I bet you have heard about the HK journalist being evicted by the APEC organizers for shouting questions at Aquino on his way to the conference(rather than asking him in the panel). They were asking about the 2010 incident and they pissed off the host. Hehehe

    • Joe America says:

      Binay displays odd judgment sometimes. Like praying with Gov Garcia, old Enrile and old Estrada.

      Yes the Hk journalism ethics reflect the same sense of holier than thou attitude as Chinese gov. Superiority complex.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] engagement by Rappler directly into the news story itself as mentioned in the article “Zamboanga Winners and Losers“. I […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: