24 Oct, Sunday
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No Hysteria Needed for Cold-Blooded Killers

THE news last week that three Filipinos had been convicted and sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for killing compatriots last year in Jeddah and then dumping their chopped up bodies in an empty lot, was reported as yet another “save the poor Filipinos in Saudi” story by ABS-CBN television.

Their report which, also aired here on The Filipino Channel, consisted solely of interviews in Pampanga with distraught relatives of the three condemned to death. Tears flowed aplenty along with allegations that they were innocent and that they had been tortured in jail to admit to the horrific crimes.

Lacking from the report, at least as far as I could understand, was any necessary context of explaining that the three convicts were part of a jueteng gang that had killed the other Filipinos in a battle over gambling turf. In that context, of the cold-blooded and nasty murders caused by greed for more money from an illegal gambling activity, how can anyone have sympathy for the killers? It was not a crime of passion, done in the heat of an argument. Neither was it accidental. It was premeditated murder of the worst kind, in which the bodies of the victims were chopped up into pieces.

When Saudi investigators found the bodies, they were so decomposed and in small pieces that it was impossible to identify which pieces belonged to which victim. That is why family members of the victims were flown in from the Philippines to give DNA samples that could be compared to that of the victims. Matches were found and this is how they could determine which body parts belonged to which victim.

All of this has been previously reported by Arab News, so I don’t know why ABS-CBN did not do a more balanced report on the sentencing of the accused. It was much easier I guess, and much more dramatic, to just interview the hysterical relatives of the convicted killers, then to actually get the other side of the story and present the complete picture of why these three guys were sentenced to death.

While I am not in favor of the death penalty, I really find it hard to have any sympathy for heartless killers, who chop the bodies up of their victims.

The three killers still have a chance of avoiding the death penalty under Shariah law if the families of the victims agree to forgive the killers and accept blood money as compensation. For this, the Philippine government will have to work hard for.
Beheadings Hurt Cause of Muslims

THE rash of beheadings by Muslim militants from Basilan in the Philippines to Afghanistan and Iraq is a disgusting practice that has nothing to do with Islam and only serves to give the religion and its followers the reputation of being barbaric.

While we in the Muslim world know that Islam is a religion of peace and common sense, the acts of a few deranged militants is besmirching the reputation of all Muslims.

The recent beheading of ten Marines in Basilan by militants linked to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Abu Sayyaf was a gruesome and wholly unnecessary act. The Marines were killed in a ten-hour gun battle with MILF fighters, so why was it necessary to then chop their heads off? If you ask the MILF they will deny having done it and instead will blame rogue elements of the MILF whom they claim are really Abu Sayyaf.

Basilan Rep. Wahab Akbar recently denounced what happened as “barbaric” and even told the story of how one dead soldier had his hand cut off when a militant could not get a ring off his hand.

Akbar has rightly called on the Philippine military to use local resources to go after the four alleged killers of the Marines, whom he named, instead of sending in a big contingent of troops that could cause havoc and put innocent civilian lives at risk.

I agree in principle with Akbar, but the problem is that too many Muslim politicians in Mindanao claim that they support the central government, but also wink at the MILF and the Abu Sayyaf, in an attempt at having it both ways.

I understand why the military must be wary and suspicious of these local politicians and of the MILF when they claim to be helping the government. So many times when some MILF soldiers have killed government troops in irregular situations or beheaded victims, then the MILF conveniently disowns them by claiming that they are rogue elements or even Abu Sayyaf members.

Muslim politicians should realize that they cannot have it both ways, i.e. claim to support Manila and then be in bed with the militants at the same time. That is a dangerous game to play, and one that is already being exposed by military officials fed-up with the never-ending cat-and-mouse games in Mindanao.

You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Sides have to be taken and sometimes that can be the hardest thing to do in the world.