Living in the Philippines, you often here expatriates say that there is no risk living on the southern island of Mindanao. There are even those self-righteous souls who live in some of the more dangerous parts of the island. The reality however is that 'self-righteousness' can be very risky as human qualities go.
In this article, an Australian, Warren Rodwell, 53yo, is the latest person to be held captive by some Muslim rebel group. He is probably an expat of no consequence to anyone but those who know and love him. To the abductors he is worth just P1 million ($20,000).
In a certain context, we might argue that it is highly unfair or unethical for these Muslim rebels to resort to such measures. The reality however is that Rodwell's (Australian) government has effectively sanctioned the terrorists. We might ask what is an appropriate measure for a group of people to do when they are marginalised by their political system. Muslim people of Mindanao lived an autonomous, independent life on the southern island of Mindanao for centuries until the Spanish-American influence sought to resettle people from the more densely-populated northern & central islands to the south. This culminated, under democracy, in the marginalisation of the Islamic people, and their consequent disempowerment and loss of identity under "Catholic" policy. That's democracy you say! Well, this is just one of the problems with democracy. Extortion! Statutory law makes it possible for governments to use democracy for the purposes of extortion. Now whilst extortion is allowed under arbitrary statutory law, there is a common law tradition of extortion being illegal. Sadly, a fairly good tradition of common law has been trumped by arbitrary statute law in the West, and thus the Philippines.
Democracy is a system of extortion which imposes upon people the values of the majority on the basis of some arbitrary jurisdictional boundary. At this time, the boundary was sanctioned by the power of the Spanish, and sanctioned I guess you could argue by politically-allign Spanish colonists and the Catholic-supported Philippine government of the north. The Americans had a part in the resettlement as well, with the US-inspired Homestead Act, which saw large estates broken into 20-hectare losts for resettlers.
I personally think every effort should be made to negotiate a fair settlement with these people, with full recognition and empathy for their right to autonomy, and possibly sovereignty, given the existence of an independent Muslim state nearby. Personally, I'd prefer to see the Philippines become a federation of states, or a pan-ASEAN nation established along the likes of Europe with a common currency. Maybe this is the future, but the breaking down of trade barriers is likely to see this happen anyway.
I return to my original point. Filipinos are generally the most affable people. If they resort to extortion - its generally for good reason. In this case, whether we discuss the NPA or Muslim extremists, it is fair to say they are fighting extortion with extortion. Their marginalisation under democracy has been an act of extortion far grander in scale than anything they have perpetrated. For this reason, I hope the authorities give them due regard in these peace negotiations. I do not however expect it.
I will be the first to concede that there are Muslim terrorists with illegitimate interests in the world. The reality is that most of them are illiterate. I am not. These particular Muslims have a legitimate grievance against the Philippines (and arguably the American and Australian) governments for initiating, or otherwise sanctioning or tacitly endorsing the acts of their military forces.
Read more of my posts and you will readily see that democracy is not the only alternative to autocratic tyranny; its just a proxy for a representative's extortion. There is not a single form of democracy. Representative democracy is not really a form of democracy; its an extortion racket. You want democracy; then the only legitimate form for a nation-state is a 'meritocratic' democracy, where reason is the standard of value.