Came across a study conducted by Dr. Zainal Dimaukom Kulidtod entitled “Stregths and Weaknesses of the Peacebuilding Efforts in Mindanao by the Philippine Government: A Perception from the Academe” at the MSU Library.
In his Rationale, he qouted the cost of conflict in Mindanao as revealed in a privilege speech by former Congressman of Batangas, Retired General Eduardo Ermita delivered in July 1996 before the House of Representatives.
Available data from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) indicate that over a period of 26 years since 1970, more than 100, 000 persons were killed in the southern Philippines. The government suffered about 30 percent of casualties; the rebels more than 50 percent; while civilians caught in the crossfire came about 20 percent of total casualties. About 55,000 persons were wounded, not counting those from the rebel side. From 1970 to 1976 alone, an average of 18 people were slain every day.
All in all, the AFP has spent about 73 billion pesos in connection with the Mindanao conflict since 1970; or an average of 40 percent of its annual budget. If this figure could be multiplied by the inflation rate over the years, it is truly a gargantuan expense. Presently, about 30 percent of the budget of the Philippine Air Force is spent in Mindanao; so is 40 percent of our Naval Budget and 60 percent of our Army Budget. (emphasis mine)
That was the estimated cost 15 years ago. That excludes the damage inflicted by the all-out-war policy of former President Estrada. The actual cost cannot really be quantified and are far more gargantuan. The psychological and emotional trauma, the lost opportunities, and the unfulfilled dreams of many children can never be measured.
If one starts to be pessimistic in the ardous and complex peace process, one should revisit the cost of war and realize that it can never be an alternative.
Just peace in Mindanao can only be achieved using peaceful way: peaceful negotiation. Sincerity and trust between the two parties are the bare-minimums. Good thing is they start communicating.
The next round of talks between the GRP and the MILF shall be on April 27-28, 2011. I wonder what’s the content of the 26-page draft comprehensive pact.
(By the way, Dr. Zainal Dimaukom Kulidtod is an uncle of Nasser Madi, a former SSC Councilor and friend of mine. We had the opportunity to hear a talk from this man in a forum held at MSU-AVR, Graduate School last year. A fast-talker, highly frank and intelligent person, he seems to have a full grasp of the Mindanao history and conflict. He is a faculty in the Political Science Department, College of Social Sciences and Humanities, MSU-Main Campus, Marawi City.)