Every time I look up,
Every time I look down,
No one’s on the common ground.
And if you never speak truth,
Then you never know how love sounds.
-The Black Eyed Peas, 2016
Where is the love? We’ve been asking that question for generations. For a country torn by many struggles, from natural calamities to differences in creed, we have experienced hardships not found in other places. The most prominent and damaging of which is terrorism: a problem Filipinos have faced ever since time immemorial.
Terrorism in the Philippines has taken too much of a toll to the country and its people. In an article published in the New York Times, from 2000 to 2007 alone nearly 400 Filipinos have been killed and injured more than 1,500. This was more than the amount of casualties in Indonesia, Morocco, Spain, Turkey, or the United Kingdom at that time. More than 40 major bombings against civilians have been staged since the year 2000. Although the struggle has been mainly in the south, attacks have reached the national capital for many times which is hundreds of kilometers away due to its political and strategic importance.
Terrorism, as defined by the Human Security Act of 2007, falls under the definition of acts causing “widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace.” These attacks range from massive scale attacks such as the Siege of Zamboanga, which involved numerous civilians and took the lives of many, to attacks on public transportation and gathering places, such as the bombing in Plaza Miranda in 1971. The sad thing about this is that so many of these attacks are “messages” to the government, all the while involving so many innocent lives. Some of such are unclaimed by the groups currently residing in the Philippines, and the many lives lost may have been a result of grudges between bigwigs inside or outside the government.
The first group to be officially recognized as a terrorist group has been the Abu Sayyaf group, also known as ASG. Although the smallest among the active terrorist groups in the Philippines, the ASG is known to be the most active and the most violent. There are also other prominent groups such as the New People’s Army, otherwise known as NPA or the Communist Party of the Philippines, which was founded by Jose Maria Sison who is in a self-imposed exile outside the country, the Moro-Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), Jemaah Islamayah, Many smaller groups are sprouting after receiving foreign support, most of which are from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, popularly known as ISIS or ISIL. The Government is taking action ever since but the toll is taking more and more lives.
The Philippines has been battling terrorism for a very long time now. The lives of many innocent, of those with families, of those who believe in a peaceful Philippines, have been lost and it is not clear when peace will heal the wounds of the past.