To President Aquino: An Appeal from a Blogger

An Appeal from a Blogger — Hostage Taking 101

Mr. President, when a hostage taker or an armed man threatens the peace in the neighborhood, you don’t agitate them with 1. threats (kakasuhan ko kayo), or 2. direct orders with no way out (surrender without conditions).   They are not children.  In fact, they will be insulted if you treat them like that.

An armed man usually negotiates from a position of power.  In fact, one should treat him as if from a position of power, and subtly deescalate the situation while disarming him.  He must be the one who decides to lay down his arms.

At all times, negotiations should be open.

At no point in the standoff, and the subsequent engagement, did the Sulu Sultanate ever give an indication that they will not negotiate.  That is actually a good thing.  Hostage takers are usually reluctant to negotiate from a position of equals.   That is actually what the Sulu Sultanate proposed to do.   He didn’t say “claim Sabah for us”.  He said let’s talk about it.

I understand your position that you also have to think about your relations with Malaysia.  But that is also taking you hostage.   You have put yourself in a position where you can’t negotiate efficiently, except to exacerbate the situation.

If you are so insistent in a peaceful negotiation, then negotiate with the Sulu Sultan to lay down their arms, offer assurances that you will do the best you can regarding their claim (if you cannot in the least pursue the claim for the Philippines, or at worst don’t believe in it), and have a personal meeting with him.

You don’t talk to strangers before you talk to family.  That is a vulgar act.  In the same way, you should have talked to him the way you talked to a Filipino citizen and a hostage taker, before you mended fences with Malaysia.

Malaysia, as you said, will benefit from the Bangsamoro Agreement, so you have nothing to fear with thatAnd if Malaysia refuses, we negotiate with them.   And what about Indonesia?  Can’t they hold the Bangsamoro talks with us?  What is so important with Malaysia that it has to be held there?  To be negotiated there?

You don’t have to drag the Philippines into war.  Tama.  But you have to negotiate to the Sultan to lay down their arms and ASSURE them that the government actually cares.  Even if you don’t.  Any hostage negotiator assures the hostage taker that he is in control, even if he is not.  That he is right, even if he isn’t.

What is so hard about negotiating?  Is this part of accommodation with Malaysia?   The Sulu Sultan agrees with you: it can end with peaceful negotiation.  Ayaw mo lang makipag-usap.  For all your talks about peaceful resolution, you yourself don’t want to go down from your moral high-horse to negotiate.


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