Ledesma: Enemies within (First of 2 parts)

Jun Ledesma

THERE are significant lessons which our government peace negotiators can absorb in Sri Lanka’s struggle against separatists and rebel forces that bedeviled that country for nearly three decades. The internal conflict of the country, previously known as Ceylon, was one of the bloodiest struggles between the Tamil guerillas and the government. While both sides suffered heavy casualties the struggle inflicted heavy toll on the civilian populace.

The rise of rebellion and insurgency in Sri Lanka is almost akin to that of the Philippines. The Tamil Tigers tapped foreign aids from European countries, United Kingdom and Canada via donor foundation conduits and Tamils who made it to these countries in a diaspora and later tapped funds to help the Tamil’s marginalized minority.

The Tamil Tigers were able to purchase and assemble a virtual arsenal of sophisticated firearms out of the monetary “aid” that they generated in their fund raising campaign abroad. The leaders of Tamils developed a sophisticated network of money transfers involving not less than $1-million every month. The movement of cash was so innocuous the banking authorities, including that of Sri Lanka never ever worry or bothered to check. Firearms purchased by the government that were loaded on cargo ships never reached destination. The authorities were out-smarted in that the vessels they leased were actually in the hands of the Tamil guerillas.

With so much money in the banks, the Tamils were able to purchase sophisticated firearms from Thailand, Cambodia, North Korea, Afghanistan to name a few. They even acquired surface to air missile and stocked these in their arsenals.

The Tamils do not only target government forces but slaughtered civilian communities that are hindrance to their rebellion. They use suicide bombers to assassinate ranking government officials and inflict heavy casualties in soft targets.

Government forces of course did not take this sitting down. In the initial stages of the armed conflict efforts were made to quell the rebellion. The Tamils would agree to a peace negotiation and ceasefire only to withdraw later from the talks and to wage surprise attacks when the guards of the military were down.

The Philippines went through the same tragic comedy. With the new leadership we all hope these episodes will end along with the exit of the spineless leadership of Aquino III. It’s like reading the last chapter of Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament.

We have our own version of, but unwritten, Malachi. We witness the end of the administration that almost pushed this nation to the edge of a failed state having institutionalized corruption in the bureaucracy and acquiescence to organized drug and criminal syndicates.

To be continued tomorrow