MARAWI CITY (MindaNews/24 October) – Some 2,000 members of Moro youth groups and other organizations from different parts of Lanao del Sur have called for a boycott of a major television network for allegedly feeding on the grief and anger caused by the death of 19 soldiers in Basilan in an encounter last week with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
In a rally at the Lanao People’s Park today, the protesters hit ABS-CBN news anchors Noli de Castro, Ted Failon and Korina Sanchez for conducting a text poll on October 20, asking the viewers if they would favor an all-out war against the MILF.
Agakhan M. Sharief, MILF NGO representative and a member of the local monitoring team called ABS-CBN an “irresponsible media organization” for “feeding on the grief and anger of the people” over the soldiers’ death.
“We call and appeal to all concerned Moro to boycott ABS-CBN programs especially TV Patrol and ban their reporters in entering Bangsamoro areas. They should have covered and reported all sides. We hope that President Noynoy Aquino will not heed the call of those who want another all-out war in Mindanao. War will never solve the Mindanao problem. This has been proven ineffective and horrifying,” Sharief said.
One of the woman organizers who requested anonymity appealed for sobriety and thanked Aquino for his pro-peace policy and reminded him that women are the most vulnerable victims of war.
The protesters burned tarpaulins with the images of de Castro, Failon and Sanchez, shouted “hang them” and flashed a thumbs-down sign. They accused the newscasters of biased reporting and inflaming the situation.
Also burned were tarpaulins with the images of Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Panfilo Lacson, Rep. Rodolfo Biazon and ousted president Joseph Estrada. The protesters tagged them as war criminals for their involvement in Martial Law and the 2000 all-out war.
Rally organizers also vowed to file a petition before the Movie and Television Regulatory and Classification Board against the said network for allegedly sensationalizing the Basilan incident.
Nineteen members of the Army’s Special Forces, including four junior officers, were killed in an ambush on October 18, in sitio Bakisung,
barangay Cambug in Al-Barka town.
The military said the soldiers were running after a group of bandits and their kidnap victim when ambushed.
But the MILF said the government troops intruded into rebel territory without coordinating with them.
After the incident, some top government officials have called on President Aquino to abandon the peace talks with the MILF and launch an all-out war against the rebel group. Aquino, however, has dismissed calls for a military solution and insisted on pursuing the peace process.
Estrada said the Aquino government was being too soft on the MILF. In one TV interview, he claimed that the “victory” against the rebel group during the 2000 all-out war was wasted when he was ousted from Malacanang.
Estrada, who was convicted of plunder but pardoned by then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, tried another shot at the presidency in 2010. He vowed to wage another war on the MILF if he won.
The 2000 all-out war led to the displacement of tens of thousands of evacuees in Lanao, Maguindanao and Cotabato areas.
Some analysts said the war, along with the 1998 Asian financial crisis, negated the economic gains under the Ramos administration.
(Erwin Mascarinas, with reports from H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)