POSTSCRIPT / July 11, 2000 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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The compelling reasons for capturing Abubakar

JUST don’t mind Erap Estrada if he throws a tantrum for not being given right away the emergency-powers lollipop he’s crying for.

Somebody should explain to him that he cannot always have whatever he asks for. We have to distinguish between what a child wants and what he needs, di po ba?

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CAPTURING Camp Abubakar, the home base and nerve center of the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front, was not an end in itself. It was a military necessity in pursuit of an ulterior political agenda for the sovereign Philippine republic.

The MILF or any rebel group must be denied at all costs a defined territory where they and they alone hold sway. We cannot contemplate a spot within this Republic where another flag flies and where another government functions.

Holding territory, which is one of the elements of a state, bolsters the secessionist claim that a viable political organism has emerged separately and independently of the mother state – and must now be allowed the right to self-determination.

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THE Bangsamoro that the MILF claims to represent had a de facto government in Camp Abubakar and nearby areas under its influence. In this territory, it had a sizeable population under its effective control. It is recognized, if not pampered, by sympathetic Muslim states that are members of the Organization of Islamic Conference.

With a Muslim population inhabiting the defined territory it claims to control through a rebel government that has won foreign recognition, the MILF has succeeded in creating the illusion of a Moro state if not on the ground at least in the mind of a section of the Muslim world.

The longer this illusion of a Bangsamoro is embedded in the minds of some foreign powers, the more difficult it would be for the Philippine government to dismantle it. The shifting of resources, forced on us by Mother Nature, evened out at the higher level of the larger community.

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IT was imperative that the legitimate Philippine government tore apart the emerging Bangsamoro while it could. The moment the fetus took root in the womb of world opinion, it would be messy aborting it.

Remove one vital element (such as territory) and the nascent Bangsamoro state would collapse. Our armed forces targeted the element of territory, whose heart was Camp Abubakar, and it has succeeded.

All patriotic Filipinos should praise the military for accomplishing that difficult mission.

There were stray voices asking the government to stop the campaign to capture Camp Abubakar. While we respect this minority’s concern for the human victims of war, we submit that as a sovereign state, we had no choice but to attack it.

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THIS minority argues that war will not solve the problem. The critics say that there cannot be real development in Mindanao while war is going on. That’s true. But only if we wage war for the sake of war, nothing else, and stop at that.

Like in a patient that must first be rid of a cancerous growth, we had to operate and spill blood before we even presume to dream of rehabilitation and ultimate cure. If we allowed the cancer to fester, we would reach a point of no return where cure would be a total impossibility.

Had we allowed Camp Abubakar to exist as living proof of a viable Bangsamoro state, we would have surrendered without firing a shot our sovereign option to assert our identity and our authority as one united Republic.

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WITH Abubakar now eliminated as one of the elements of the emerging independent Bangsamoro state, we are now in a better position to talk peace and development. With understanding all around, we can now work on the rehabilitation and total cure of the patient.

Those who suffered, or have lost some loved ones, must be told why some personal lives had to be sacrificed for the bigger national life. With patience, we should now explain to them the compelling reasons for that crucial operation that led to the capture of Abubakar.

Rehabilitation and reunification will not be easy, even now. But it would certainly have been more difficult if Abubakar were not cauterized by military surgery.

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MEANWHILE, we apologize to those who have been contacting us via email since yesterday. We have not been able to access their messages, because we could not get connected to Infocom Technologies, our Internet Service Provider.

For some mysterious reason, the Infocom line was stubbornly giving us (and thousands of fellow subscribers) a busy signal, or an error message saying that no dial-up connection could be made. During the rare times a connection was made, it was cut within seconds.

The irony is that Infocom is owned by the giant Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (My barber says that might explain the erratic connection, but that’s just his opinion.)

By the way, PLDT is in the midst of a promo-sales campaign to give applicants a phone in three days. It should launch a followup campaign to give them also a dial tone to go with the phone.

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BY coincidence, we just came from an Ayala Group press conference where speakers led by Silicon Valley pioneer Dado Banatao and Ayala Corp. president and chief executive Jaime Augusto Zobel II, explained the New Economy that is changing the way we live and think.

The way the new technology is swamping everything like a tsunami, analog communication hardware such as those antiques still being used by PLDT and Infocom will become irrelevant faster than President Estrada.

Infocom and the other ISPs still clinging to phone landlines will eventually fall by the wayside, to be rapidly replaced by other mobile and versatile service providers using wireless communication and broadband high-speed channels.

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IN much the same way that typewriters have vanished from the newsroom with the advent of computers, desktop personal computers themselves must give way soon to mobile yet powerful computers that will free journalists from much of the constraints of time and space.

Physical problems such as floods, traffic and brownouts bedeviling media will not stop the new journalist from producing more quality editorial materials in less time for an audience that is becoming increasingly sophisticated and more demanding.

High on the wish list of newspersons is a high-end laptop that can store a reference library, back issues, addresses and phone/fax numbers, one that can establish instant wireless Internet connection to send and receive text, images and voice to and from anywhere in the world.

* * *

FILIPINO journalists sometimes suffer an attack of inferiority complex upon seeing their American and Japanese counterparts lugging around the latest laptops, taking pictures with digital cameras and sending their choice shots via wireless Internet connections.

Even newspapers will have to reinvent themselves to fend off the new competition riding on the wings of a new technology.

More and more people are getting their news and entertainment from other sources, foremost of which are broadcast media. Now there are new cellphones that can also download news and similar items that used to be carried only by traditional newspapers.

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POWER and speed give the new mobile media a leading edge. Zobel himself said in the presscon that when he’s still awake late in the evening, he would go to his PC to surf the Net for the early online editions of the major newspapers.

He typifies a growing number of busy readers, many of them abroad, who get their news updates several hours before the regular newspapers carrying the same reports hit the street. If one already read the news at least six hours earlier, why would he still buy a newspaper in the morning?

In a county where people are not a reading lot, this could be a problem for newspapers whose cover price keeps rising beyond the reach of Filipinos more than half of whom are languishing below the poverty line.

* * *

LOCAL businessmen on the go will operate in much the same fashion as soon as such pioneers as the Ayala Group are able to lay down the infrastructure and the e-commerce network.

But the service providers are just one end of the New Commerce. All their sophisticated equipment and dazzling services would not mean much if the buying public is not prepared for it.

What for is all that high-tech stuff if cellphone-holders are generally satisfied with just texting inanities and swapping Erap jokes? How do we whip the nation forward if the people neither have the hardware nor the technical knowhow to be able to latch onto the New Commerce?

This new field still has to be lighted up by education and training. How ready are we technically? Do we have the laws to regulate this new human activity? Are there adequate safeguards to protect the consuming public and even businessmen from one another?

It’s still a long e-mile ahead, but it’s good that the Ayalas are not sitting in the shade waiting. They are out there in the sun running ahead and leading us to the future.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of July 11, 2000)

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