This editorial cartoon appeared on the
The Philippine Daily Inquirer on July 11, 2000.

JULY 11, 2000 ISSUE

Who is stopping Erap?
PRESIDENT Estrada says nothing will deter him from pursuing his vision of transforming Mindanao into ''the country's next food basket'' and uplifting the standard of living of its people. ''Nobody can stop me from giving my full attention to the development of Mindanao,'' he said last Saturday.

But who is stopping him?

Certainly not the people of Mindanao. They have been complaining for decades that they have always been neglected by the ''Manila government'' and that they have been getting much less than their fair share of the development pie. They would certainly welcome a massive infusion of development funds as well as investments that would speed up the development of the country's second largest island.

Certainly not the people in Central Mindanao who are caught in the crossfire of the conflict between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Although its predominantly Muslim population is said to love guns more than almost anything, most would undoubtedly exchange the sound of cannons and gunfire for the hum of heavy equipment building roads, bridges, irrigation systems, etc.

Certainly not the bishops and priests and other peace advocates who have been clamoring for a cessation of hostilities. They have stressed that peace is a necessary precondition for development and war only makes rehabilitation more expensive and complicated.

Certainly not the lawmakers who are opposing Malacañang's proposal that the President be vested with emergency powers so that the rehabilitation of Mindanao can proceed unhampered by workers' strikes, court orders, and bidding requirements. All they want is to safeguard scarce government resources and preserve the constitutional right of workers as well as the constitutionally guaranteed independence of the judiciary. Already 109 representatives, many of them members of the ruling coalition, including the bloc of Speaker Manuel Villar, are said to have indicated their intention of rejecting the emergency power bill. Malacañang itself cannot even make up its mind about what emergency or extraordinary powers the President needs, speaking one day of dispensing with the bidding for projects and disclosing the next day that it would put in place an electronic bidding process; proposing one day to junk agrarian reform and then just dropping the idea when reminded that it could violate the fundamental law. The administration ought to just drop the whole thing before it suffers a major embarrassment from Congress.

If it is not some legal obstacles or the opposition, political, religious or whatever, what then is standing in the way of the administration's ''mini-Marshall Plan'' for Mindanao? What is keeping Mr. Estrada from giving ''full attention'' to Mindanao's development?

It's Mr. Estrada's own all-out war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The war is costing the government billions that could otherwise have been used for development of the areas of conflict to showcase the administration's concern for the impoverished Muslims and other minorities. The destruction it is wreaking is making reconstruction a much more expensive and daunting proposition. And the violence it has unleashed and the instability it has created are dragging down the peso and the stock market, driving away foreign investors and worrying international financial institutions.

Mr. Estrada may have all the earnest intentions of speeding up the rehabilitation and development of Mindanao. But pretty soon, that may be all he has left-good intentions-unless he comes to realize that the way to development is peace.

Survey of the Week

If you were in President Erap's shoes right now, what would you do?

Talk peace with the Muslim secessionists?
Blast them to bits till they disappear from the face of this earth?







for your comments
please send email to:

last updated July 11, 2000


Do you want to know how computers, cell phones, jet engines and MP3 files work?
Visit this fun site to find out:


 FastCounter by bCentral