What would an ‘All-Out War’ in Mindanao cost us?

by Raïssa Robles

Posted at Oct 24 2011 04:02 PM | Updated as of Oct 25 2011 12:07 AM

(Editor's intro: Raissa Robles is a blogger-journalist and Manila correspondent of 2 foreign news organizations.)

“The government has captured the hive but the angry bees have escaped and are regrouping to attack.”

A Moro National Liberation Front official said right after the fall of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s Camp Abubakar following President Joseph Estrada’s  All-Out War in 2000

To get an estimate of the costs, let’s look at the All-Out War that then President Joseph Estrada launched in the year 2000.

Ordinarily, the cost of this kind of internal conflict is shrouded in secrecy.

But in 2005, the United Nations sponsored a ground-breaking study entitled the Philippine Human Development Report. For the first time, a team led by Arsenio Balisacan examined the costs of conflict. Dr. Balisacan is Dean of the University of the Philippines School of Economics and Executive Director of the Philippine Center for Economic Development. Among the advisers for this Report was former Economic Planning Secretary and UP economics professor Solita Collas-Monsod.

The cost in terms of body count

The study found that during Estrada’s two and a half-year presidency, 471 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels and 222 government soldiers were killed.

We can presume that most of the fatalities occurred during the 2000 All-Out War.

In addition, during the same period, the MILF claimed 92 rebels were injured while the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reported 270 injured – or 431 injured from both sides of the conflict.

There is no accounting here of civilians killed in the crossfire.

During last week’s Basilan clash between MILF rebels and government soldiers, 19 soldiers and at least five rebels and were killed.

An All-Out War would considerably increase that body count. And if one goes by the Year 2000 figures, total body count could reach several hundreds.

If the objective of a new All-Out War is to avenge the deaths last October 22 of the 19 soldiers, would the death of several hundreds more in such an operation be worth the cost?

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.