The Mindanao martial law brouhaha

 

It simply boggles my mind why critics of the administration, specifically the Commission on Human rights (CHR), are making a big brouhaha of the one year martial law extension in Mindanao being asked by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Note that Duterte, on May 23, placed the entire island of Mindanao under martial law after the ISIS-inspired Maute group attacked Marawi City.

The initial declaration was supposed to end after 60 days, but Congress, in joint session, approved Duterte’s request to extend it until December 31.

In October, Duterte declared Marawi City free from terrorists following the killings of terror leaders Isnilon Hapilon, Omar Maute and a bunch of other Mautes and their followers.

But, does this mean that the same rebellion will not happen again, or that can it be safely said that we have seen the last of it – an ISIS-inspired insurgency that has practically left Marawi City in ruins?

Lest we forget, we are talking about Mindanao, the second largest island in the country, where it also has the largest concentration of ethnic minorities in the Philippines. Although Muslims are no longer a majority, still the Islamic culture is very evident with the presence of many mosques.

Thus, the elusive peace that government has been trying to establish with the radical Muslims in some parts of Mindanao continues to beacon Islamic extremists that want a land of their own or a caliphate, as they wanted to establish in Marawi City.

If Duterte critics have only the information or intelligence reports that the president has in his hand relative to peace and order and security matters of the nation, I don’t think they will be making a lot of noise about the one year extension of martial law the president is asking Congress to approve.

After Marawi, other places in Mindanao is still vulnerable to extremist attacks as the killing of leaders does not necessarily extinguish the life of their fanatical organization that wants nothing but to dismember a country searching for lasting peace in Mindanao.

Besides this is not an independent decision made by the Duterte alone. The latter had to act on the recommendation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The AFP had information about an ongoing recruitment by terror groups and an increasing violence from the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), which has been tagged as a terror organization.

The PNP’s recommendation, meanwhile, is based on two factors: the need to address continuing threats from terrorist groups and to facilitate the rehabilitation of Marawi City.

Thus, for CHR and other political critics of President Duterte to say, therefore, that the one year extension asked is a prelude to a “strongman rule” nationwide is baloney.

Unlike the dictator Marcos, Duterte has selfless, and not selfish, interest for the country.

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Government to continue fight against communist insurgents – Part II

 

President Rodrigo Duterte and Netherland-based CPP founder Joma Sison.

When I wrote the first part of this article I was anticipating a sequel to it if only to confirm my foreboding statement of a long, merciless war after President Rodrigo Duterte signed Proclamation 360 discontinuing peace talks with the self-exiled Maoist-led rebels in the Netherlands led by Communist Party founder Joma Sison.

True enough what followed next was Duterte calling Sison and his ilk criminals or terrorists.

“You are terrorists or criminals,” Duterte said. I will treat you and I will not charge you for rebellion because I am saying to you now, I will brand you as terrorists, plain criminal.”

On Sison, specifically, this is what he said: “If Joma Sison comes here, I will arrest him, or if I were him, ‘wag na siyang bumalik dito (he should not return anymore).”

“Better still, I will not allow him to enter his native land, and that is a very painful experience especially if you’re dying and you think that you should be buried in your own cemetery, in your own town,” he added.

Indeed a very strong warning signaling no turning back until Duterte’s term in office expires. And to think that Duterte was the best chance for a lasting peace with the communist insurgents.

But, an astute lawyer, a no-nonsense politician and a competent leader, Duterte was able to aptly read between the lines what the Netherland-based communist leaders wanted and how they were manipulating the peace talks to go.

“As it was shaping up during our talks, I already noticed the trend of the thoughts of the other side and when I summed it all, reading from all previous working papers, it would sound like a coalition government,” Duterte said.

“That is why I said in the previous days, I cannot give you what I don’t own and certainly a coalition with the Republic of the Philippines is pure nonsense,” he added.

This is how manipulative, devious and self-serving these people supposedly orchestrating the communist insurgency in the country from a foreign soil are, and thank goodness we have a president who puts the welfare of the country and the interests of the Filipino populace first and foremost over political and personal gratification.

Talking about wanting to have the best of both worlds for themselves alone!

Screw you!

 

Government to continue fight against communist insurgents

 

President Rodrigo Duterte and CPP founder Joma Sison: Student and teacher.

With the signing of Proclamation 360 terminating the on and off peace talks with the communist insurgents  in the country, President Rodrigo Duterte is once more declaring war and perhaps a long, merciless war this time.

It must be remembered that making peace with the National Democratic Front (NDF)-Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) – The New People’s Army (NPA) was among Duterte’s priorities since he became president in June last year, and for good reasons.

Not only are Filipinos fighting one another, but this internal conflict has been going on for 50 years now with over 40,000 people killed already, not to mention the expenses incurred when an entourage of peace negotiators flies to the Netherlands where the suppose Maoist leaders of the NDF-CPP-NPA live.

But what really has been angering Duterte is the fact that even during a declared truce still the NPA, the armed wing of the rebels, stages an ambush that sometimes kill innocent civilians, thus, prompting Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque to say this time: “We find it unfortunate that their members have failed to show their sincerity and commitment in pursuing genuine and meaningful peaceful negotiations.”

I don’t think there has ever been a president in the past who has earnestly pursued peace with the Maoist-led rebels in the Netherlands the way Duterte has.

Not only has Duterte been a student of Jose Maria “Joma” Sison, the exiled founder of the CPP, at the Lyceum University, but Duterte himself has admitted being a leftist and therefore has often said that he understood the plight of the rebels, but his presidency, however, is now about uniting the people and not the dismembering of the republic.

Unfortunately the good intentions of Duterte for peace is not being earnestly reciprocated the same way by Sison and cohorts for reasons only they know, even issuing a defiant statement after Proclamation 360, saying, that the revolutionary forces now have no choice but to intensify guerrilla warfare in rural areas.

Indeed, what a pity and what a forsaken chance that peace has been made even more unreachable now.

 

Hallmarks of ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims

 

The exodus of the Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh (AP Photo/A.M. Ahad)

You can consider this as still a sequel to the couple of blogs I wrote about the apathetic Aung San Suu Kyi which can be read at the following links:

https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2017/10/03/aung-san-suu-kyi-a-laureate-she-is-not/ https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2017/10/05/aung-san-suu-kyi-a-laureate-she-is-not-part-ii/.

The title I am using is actually part of the descriptive statement issued by US Senator Jeff Merkly about the crisis in the Rakhine State, during his delegation’s visit to Myanmar, when he said: “Many refugees have suffered direct attacks including loved ones, children and husbands being killed in front of them, wives and daughters being raped, burns and other horrific injuries. This has all the hallmarks of ethnic cleansing,”

More than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have left Myanmar’s Rakhine State since August 25, after insurgents attacked security forces and prompted a brutal military crackdown that has been described as ethnic cleansing.

Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s deafening silence and indifference to the plight of the Rohingyas caused uproar in the international community, especially that she is a recipient of the prestigious Nobel peace prize. Not only that. She herself suffered house arrest for many years and, thus, she would have clearly understood what injustice and persecution is all about.

Yet, her government has repeatedly rejected claims that atrocities, including rape and extrajudicial killings, are occurring in northern Rakhine, the epicenter of the violence that the United Nations has qualified as “textbook ethnic cleansing.”

It seems that Myanmar and Suu Kyi, for that matter, does not recognize the Rohingya and denies them citizenship, referring to them as “Bengali” to imply origins in Bangladesh, the country where the hapless people were escaping to.

“In the case of the Rohingya this is so severe that it amounts to a widespread and systemic attack on a civilian population, which is clearly linked to their ethnic (or racial) identity, and therefore legally constitutes apartheid, a crime against humanity under international law,” rights group Amnesty International (AI) said.

But China’s recognized power in Asia is the saving grace for the Rohingyas.

China’s entry and proposal for a three-phase plan for resolving the Rohingya crisis, starting with a ceasefire, has won the support of Myanmar and Bangladesh. A ceasefire should be followed by bilateral dialogue to find an immediate workable solution of the crisis and the third and final phase should be to work toward a long-term solution.

It is in this light that Suu Kyi expressed hope for reaching an agreement with Bangladesh on the return of Rohingya Muslims who have fled to Bangladesh in the past three months. She said both Myanmar and Bangladesh are working on a memorandum of understanding for the “safe and voluntary return” for those who fled.

“Nothing can be done overnight, but we believe that we will be able to make steady progress,” Suu Kyi said.

True, but the compelling question Suu Kyi has to answer first is: Do people, no matter how lowly they are in both social and religious stature in your country, deserve to die first before they become part and parcel of your community?

 

Duterte’s first year in office

 

I have lived long enough to see presidents come and go in this country but I have never seen the likes of President Rodrigo Duterte who hit the ground running at a considerable speed upon assumption of office.

While Duterte may have been ready with his administration’s 10-point socio-economic agenda that included among other things the implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law to enable especially poor couples to make informed choices and family planning, he, however, entrusted the execution of all these to his social and economic mangers while he took it upon himself to lead his much vaunted campaign promise to fight the proliferation of illegal drugs , corruption and criminality.

As an unconventional politician whose approach to solving problem has been described as ‘out-of-the-box’, not to mention the colorful language he uses especially when piqued, is what has endeared him to the Filipinos which is why he was overwhelmingly voted to the presidency.

I am not going to discuss here Duterte’s defining moments individually which includes among other things his running after and eventually putting Sen. Leila de Lima in police custody for using drug money to finance her senatorial bid, his alleged killings and human rights violation stemming from his bloody war on drugs that has been harshly criticize here and abroad by international human rights agencies and advocates, his antagonistic stance towards the U.S., his shift from a U.S. dictated foreign policy to an independent foreign policy, his open arms policy towards China despite the latter’s incursion and militarization of the West Philippine Sea, his diplomatic sortie to Russia, and last but not least of his controversial decisions is the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

For me what is important in Duterte’s 365 days in office is putting into context how the country and the Filipino people are today having Duterte as our president.

I do not know about you, but it makes me wonder, if not guessing, how it would have been for the Philippines and the Filipinos had we had Roxas, Poe or Binay as the president.

Knowing what we know now about the wide-ranging prevalence and gravity of illegal drug use in the country, could any of the other presidential aspirants, had they won, had the political will or the gumption to declare war against it, as Duterte has done, knowing that you are up against ruffians and monsters?

Could they have had the guts to discover and say that we are now a narco-political country?

Would talking to just the MILF, passing the Bangsamoro Basic Law and establishing a new autonomous political entity known as the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, prevented the Islamic State-inspired Maute group from storming and creating havoc in Marawi City.

Would they have the potency to declare martial law?

Perhaps Divine Providence determined the course that Duterte be president, warts and all, for he has what it takes to lead and fight for the Filipinos in preserving the integrity of the country and having it respected.

This in essence is what is Duterte’s presidency about one year after and in the next 5 years, God willing.

 

Trillanes’ show of idiocy

 

Senator Antonio Trillanes

I find it truly nothing but a show of idiocy Sen. Antonio Trillanes’ criticism of President Rodrigo Duterte’s absence at the Independence Day rites at Luneta park.

Trillanes described Duterte as ‘tactless’ for skipping the celebration just because the latter lacked sleep, he said, and uttering further the following statement: “You will see in this instance that he does not care, that he does not give any value to this very important event in our country’s history. What’s to lose by waking up early?”

There is nothing to lose actually, Sen. Trillanes, if Duterte’s body clock is similar to yours.

And when I talk about body clock I am not referring simply to the most basic daily rhythm of the sleep-wake cycle.

Perhaps you are not aware, but research has been finding that the body’s clock is responsible for more than just sleep and wakefulness. Other systems, like hunger, mental alertness, and mood, stress, heart function, and immunity also operate on a daily rhythm.

This is where the stark difference lies between you and Duterte because circumstances surrounding your daily lives at this very instant are distinct and divergent.

What I am simply saying is that you, Mr. Senator, is not burdened by the awesome responsibility that President Duterte is carrying on his shoulder in the light of the Marawi City siege by the Maute-led militant group who have sworn allegiance to Islamic State, including dozens from neighboring countries and the Middle East, which was the reason why martial law was declared in Mindanao.

It is not the siege alone per se, but it is the onerous responsibility of facing the consequences of lives lost defending and liberating the beleaguered city from the clutches of evil, not to mention the onus of rebuilding the displaced lives and infrastructure of the city when it is all over.

While you, Mr. Senator, is still harping the lawfulness of the imposition of martial law in Mindanao, the fact is that you are living an easy life and very well far from the predicament that President Duterte is in today.

Thus, I find it absurd and appalling that Trillanes continues to have the temerity to publicly say that he is frustrated and disappointed that he is the nation’s president.

Thank goodness you belong to the trivial few who dislike Duterte because the vital many in this country also think and believe that your presumptuous and arrogant attitude is a big disservice to the country and the Filipino people.

That is the long and short of it.

Government forces alone should liberate Marawi City

 

President Rodrigo Duterte, while on official visit to Russia, imposed martial law for 60 days on the island of Mindanao on May 23 following the Maute attack in Marawi City.

As we already know the declaration of martial law is a constitutional power that the president has when he sees the country or a part of it being subjugated with impunity by extremists or terrorists, the likes of what was seen and reported in Marawi.

The imposition of martial law is said to be premised upon the principle that “the state has a right to defend itself” and rests on the proposition that “every state possesses the power of self-preservation.”

Martial law has been characterized as “the public right of self-defense against a danger to the order or the existence of the state.”

Lest I be misunderstood, I am not arguing whether or not Duterte is right in declaring martial law in Mindanao. What he is and where he is, there is no doubt that he knows better than most of us especially when he says that the militant Maute group’s incursion in Marawi City is fueled by drug money.

Whether it is drug money or funds coming from the foreign terror group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the fact alone that the ISIS inspired Maute group was able to terrorize Marawi causing the residents to fled hastily to Iligan city and elsewhere only means that they have the wherewithal to establish their own caliphate or Islamic State in the area.

That being the case, it becomes even more justifiable that martial has been declared so that government forces can wage war against them as mandated and, with God’s help, will be able to liberate Marawi from the evil doings of this group.

You will probably notice that I invoked the intervention of the Divine Providence.

I did for the simple reason that it is what gives our government forces the fortitude to fight for what is right, just and lawful, and what is best for the Filipino people in addition to what they know about fighting skills.

Thus, I am averse to the idea that President Duterte made a clarion call to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and the CPP’s New People’s Army (NPA) to join the government in fighting the militant Maute group in Marawi City.

It is bad enough that all of them are thorns on the side of government, which to this day continue to be problematic as when they started rebelling and worshiping their own respective ideology.

Making these dissident groups part and parcel of our loyal government forces, who have pledged allegiance to the Filipino flag, for the sake of patriotism, is not only precarious but a very unsound military strategy.

Truly, it will only complicate matters.

At best it will put government at a disadvantaged, at worst the country will lose face.