Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms. This piece was first published in Interaksyon.com on October 27, 2011.


You get more with a smile and a gun than with a smile alone. – Al Capone

What you want to do when savages massacre 19 of your valiant soldiers is to allow the AFP Chief or the Secretary of National Defense to have the first word. Strength is what you need to project at a time like this. Furthermore, you want the military’s narrative and not the enemy’s to become the frame for different reactions to the encounter.  What you don’t want to do is send out a castrato to sing “Kumbayah” even before the bodies of some of the slain heroes have been recovered. But this administration runs on good intentions and not much else.

And so before a proper heroes’ burial could be accorded the martyred soldiers and an investigation into the massacre could begin, it sent out its boyish-looking soprano-voiced peace negotiator to declare, “We are certain that this is an isolated incident. This armed confrontation was not intended by both government and MILF. We’re looking at the larger picture. We need peace in Mindanao. In the meantime, the government panel in talks with the MILF is preparing for a meeting with its counterparts next month.” With that, he demoralized soldiers in the field; pleased the sub-humans protected by ceasefire zones; and made a public already howling for blood even more bloodthirsty.

The Commander in Chief’s initial statements did not help sort out right from wrong, good guys from bad guys, either.  He castigated the military, relieved officers, ordered a stand down, and threw a rotten egg at those who expected him to be on the right side.  His response to calls for an all-out war against the MILF was “If there is one rotten egg must we assume the whole basket is rotten?”

Excuse me poh, Señorito, but yes you might as well assume that they are all rotten because you won’t know if an egg is rotten if you don’t crack it first. The trope you want is an apple because you don’t have to cut it open to tell if it’s rotten.

If you had used an apple as your metaphor, you could have sent the message that you will pick and choose your apples, meaning you will selectively suspend the ceasefire and hunt down savages in the areas where they roam freely and that if the MILF will not domesticate them then the you will do it, whether the MILF likes it or not. That would have placed the MILF on notice that you will not be pushed around, reassured the public that you know right from wrong, and boosted your soldiers’ morale, knowing you will be with them through thick and thin. Anyway, that’s what we expected from our president, the commander-in-chief of our armed forces.

The problem is this administration is it is treating the MILF in the same way that previous administrations did. When the same gang of sub-humans beheaded 10 Marines four years ago, then Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita dismissed it as an “unhappy development” and reiterated his government’s policy of appeasement, “We are in a very good footing because it’s (peace talks) being moderated by Malaysia and I feel the MILF will not allow this peace process to collapse just because of the action there in Basilan.”

And you wonder why those friends of the MILF go on with their merry ways looting, burning, bombing, raping, eating human flesh, beheading, and whatever else sub-humans do? It’s because they know they can always count on castrati to do nothing but hold hands and sing “Kumbayah”.

Señorito, I am not asking for total war. All I’d like is for you to consider the wise words at the top of the page, “You get more with a smile and a gun than with a smile alone.”

*** As I was finishing this article, the Commander in Chief went on television with a smile, a gun, and a pledge to take down the savages who massacred our soldiers. Better late than never, I guess. The next step is to resettle Metro Manila squatters to Basilan and give them money to raise hogs.