ON DYING IN A USELESS WAR

War is an acceptable option if only when there is a single and worthy principle being fought for.  It is useless when there is none.  In Mindanao, there is constant struggle, a war if you may, between forces out to annihilate one another.  And in between these two forces are civilians, bystanders who are merely coasting along, eking for daily subsistence, struggling also to get a piece of the sun.  War in this side of the archipelago is almost a carry-over of past sentiments.  And even if the persuasion has changed, the protagonists are almost a cut from the usual tradition.

The casualties in the war are never an encouraging sight and consequence.  While death is a natural, an eventual occurrence, it should never be an effect of something useless.  There are instances when accidents, calamities, negligence, diseases—self-imposed, natural or epidemic borne, that bring about the demise of a person or group of persons but fatalities during conflict, during a period known as war is plain and simple foolishness.  Violence is man-made and can be remedied.  It should never be a basis for trouble that would result in the extermination of a part of humanity.

There was the so-called Mamasapano massacre, where 44 government soldiers were systematically mowed down.  Then there was the Marawi crisis where countless government agents and civilians perished.  The Davao market, Davao airport, Davao seaport and Jolocatherdral bombing.  These are events that bring about terror not only in the heart of the population but horror in the mind of a nation.

That is just the recent incident although as expected, in time, it will be buried with more current cases as conflict would escalate for years to come.  There has been countless of casualties from displaced homes and communities, destruction of properties and untold misery for countless people, not to mention the terrible effect of the atrocities on the limb and lives of people.  Deaths have become a common occurrence, a regular feature of daily life; and to think that we are already in a significant moment of the century when life is treated with sacredness and inviolability.

And this is just a speck of a long list of incidents involving the protracted conflict in Mindanao.  For those affected in the area, the experience is gruesome. It is like watching an undesirable movie, or eating an unpalatable food.  Or, spending time with unwholesome people, or forced to enroll in a hated course.

War in Mindanao unlike any other war anywhere is based on pride.  World War I was more on conquest and control.  World War II was more on power and politics.  War in the Middle East even at present is more corporate and slanted on business.  War in Russia is more on independence and assertion of self-rule.  Most wars are based on righting wrongs, correcting errors, all in the pursuit of peace.

War in the Mindanao however is exactly the opposite.   There are no principles involved.  There are even no values and philosophy.  Both warring camps are there merely out to exterminate one another.  It is only their leaders who have the stake to claim.  Those who are at the front are there as cogs to a fireplace.  There is no significance, there is no importance.  If either camp wins, nothing substantial is achieved.  Therefore, to fight and die in a useless war, viewed in a less calibrated way, is like receiving diploma from a diploma mill, or undergoing surgery based on false diagnosis, or having pulled the wrong tooth.

Worst, those who perished in this unfortunate game have bright tomorrows, a great future and a promising prospect.  Conflict of this magnitude is almost a joke.  One is never amused seeing brothers’ fight over something inconsequential.

It is not even worth writing about it in history books except as a chapter in a comic pamphlet.