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.

 

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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?

 

China and its ‘magic island-maker’ dredging vessel

 

The Tiankun dredger: China’s massive island-maker.

What am I talking about here and what is its significance?

Well, amid ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea and the controversial island-building frenzy China has been undertaking thereat, it has been reported lately that this economic giant of a nation continues to flex its maritime muscles, this time with the launching of an equally giant island-building vessel considered to be the most powerful vessel of its type in Asia.

Named the Tiankun, the vessel, more aptly described as “a magic island maker”, is the best of its kind in Asia, according to the ship’s designer, the Marine Design and Research Institute in Shanghai, and “can be used to conduct coastal/channel dredging and land reclamation operations even in bad weather at sea.”

The vessel, with a deck as long as five basketball courts, 140 meters, and a full displacement of 17,000 metric tons, can smash underwater rocks and then suck out sand, water, and mud, and transfer the substance up to 15 kilometers away. It can dredge up to 6,000 cubic meters (around two and half Olympic swimming pools) an hour from a depth of up to 35 meters.

The Tiankun is the same kind of vessel as its sister, the Tianjin, the largest currently operating dredger used to create several China-held militarized islets in the disputed seas including those close to our shores in the West Philippine Sea.

The fortification of these Chinese-made islands with military-grade airfields and weapons systems was referred to later as China’s “great wall of sand,” by U.S. Pacific Command chief Adm. Harry Harris in 2015.

The Philippines government is said to be wary about the giant dredger especially that international security observers have expressed alarm that it might be deployed to the region again, this time to reclaim Scarborough Shoal.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that government is monitoring the dredger especially in the light of the statement issued by Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, saying, “The President recognizes the principle of good faith in international relations. China has told the President they do not intend to reclaim Scarborough and we leave it at that.”

But who are we really to stop what China has already began in what it claims as their territory historically?

Good faith?

As the poor, aggrieved country we can only rely on our faith. The question, however, is: Will China give in to faith as it extends its influence in Asia and across the globe?

Dog ‘fired’ for refusing to sniff explosives

Because we see dogs of all types in public places sniffing whatever it is they are trained to detect, we immediately suppose that all dogs are the same. Right?

Wrong!

Man’s best friend, like his master can be choosy, too, and for a reason.

The reality is that some people are not cut out to be assigned in a high-pressure or demanding work environment, and this realism seems to apply to some dogs, too.

Take the case of Lulu, a black Labrador, whose handler had high hopes that she would emerge as CIA’s latest bomb-sniffing talent.

High hopes turned to surprise for the handler, however, when a few weeks into training Lulu began to show signs she simply “wasn’t interested in detecting explosive odors”.

For Lulu, enthusiasm turned to indifference.

No amount of motivation, either in food or time playing, could bring back the dog to focus on sniffing bombs. She simply was not enjoying herself any more is the way her handler described her predicament.

Apparently the mental and physical well being of the sniffer dogs is the CIA’s priority, so they “made the extremely difficult decision to do what’s best for Lulu and drop her from the program”.

But it is not all bad news, as handlers have the option to adopt dogs who are dropped or ‘fired’.

Lulu now has a new home, and spends her days chasing rabbits and squirrels in the garden. Just to show that she had something else in her mind – having fun and easy life!

Año-Dela Rosa tandem against police scalawags

 

AFP Gen. (Ret.) Eduardo Año and PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa.

In the same manner that Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa welcomes the appointment of newly retired Armed Forces chief General Eduardo Año as Special Assistant to the President to help him “supervise the police” pending the one-year ban on Año’s appointment to a civilian office, I am sure this gesture by President Rodrigo Duterte also sits well for many Filipinos.

While dela Rosa maybe good in his job, it takes the caliber of Año to effectively purge the scalawags from the police organization that has been giving it its bad reputation.

Thanks to Duterte’s war on drugs, it became apparent and glaring that, indeed, many policemen could not be trusted to protect the people as they themselves were involved in drugs, one way or another.

The Año-dela Rosa tandem is what I call a partnership of brains and brawn that should be effective in not only identifying the rouge policemen, but most importantly in making them reliable and trustworthy in the eyes of the Filipino people, in particular, and the visitors to the country, in general.

Duterte saw the potential of Año in reforming the massive police organization, in the same manner that he was able to whip up the morale of the soldiers of the Armed Force of the Philippines (AFP), and with the able assistance/collaboration of dela Rosa, the Philippine National Police (PNP) will soon find its luster again not only because it has gotten rid of the scalawags, but it is now more determined in helping government make the country a safer place for everybody.

Of exemplary leaders and Trump’s absurdity

US President Donald Trump

It is both interesting and daunting times in the US, and the world in general, as the greatest country on Earth is slowly losing its grip in world leadership because of the absurdity of its leader, President Donald Trump.

It is in this light that I am sharing with you this enlightening article written by Allan S.B. Batuhan under the Business Section of Cebu Sunstar Daily, dated October 23, 2017.

The new normal

Leaders of men used to be looked up to by their constituents as agents of inspiration. In the darkness of moments when there seems to be no hope, they manage to lift up the spirits of their people.

 IT IS for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work, which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. (Quote 1)

 Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. Henceforth Hitler’s Nazis will meet equally well armed, and perhaps better armed troops. Hence forth they will have to face in many theatres of war that superiority in the air which they have so often used without mercy against other, of which they boasted all round the world, and which they intended to use as an instrument for convincing all other peoples that all resistance to them was hopeless…. (Quote 2)

 And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man. Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own. (Quote 3)

You know that this could happen when you signed up for it … but it still hurts. (Quote 4)

It is almost too easy to guess which one of the quotes above does not belong with the others. Because while the first three inspire, and move the audience to greater passion, the last one unfortunately causes nothing but despair. The first three are the noble language of leadership, the last the crass pronouncement of the rogue.

But believe it or not, all three quotes come from leaders of men. The first one, of course, is from President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The second is from Prime Minister Winston’s address to the people of the United Kingdom, following the fall of Dunkirk. And the third is excerpted from President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address. And the fourth, well that is what President Donald Trump is supposed to have said in his call to the mother of Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in Niger by Islamist militants this month. Four leaders, three of whom lived to unite, and one of whom who rules to divide.

Leaders of men used to be looked up to by their constituents as agents of inspiration. In the darkest of moments when there seems to be no hope, they manage to lift up the spirits of their people, and allow them to dream – if only for a brief moment – that better times are ahead. Gandhi, Mandela, Martin Luther King – along with the three quoted above – these were leaders whose lives were like beacons of hope, whose every public word was awaited with baited breath, because they were always measured, and calculated to arouse only the noblest of emotions in their people.

Today, it seems, this tradition of inspiration is no more. Voted into power by the people of the United States, President Trump has defied all manner of definition, in terms of what a leader should be. When once they were expected to lift and inspire their people, today, sinking them to the depths of despair seems to be the new normal.

 

Our future calls for a revolutionary government

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

By the word itself, revolutionary tends to connote a fearful meaning and consequence. It does because it refers to something that has a major, sudden impact on society or on some aspect of human endeavor.

But haven’t we Filipinos been participants of revolutions against oppression and despotism in the past that made us who we are today and led us to where we are now?

The People Power uprising in 1986 or what is better known as the EDSA Revolution ended the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos and catapulted Corazon Aquino to the leadership of the country.

As soon as Aquino assumed the presidency she figured out the only way she could quell pockets of resistance/defiance from Marcos supporters and be able to govern peacefully and effectively  was to establish a revolutionary government.

To effect radical change she used her revolutionary powers to sacked all elected officials, abolished Congress and tore up the 1973 constitution in favor of a provisional charter.

She handpicked a commission to write a new constitution, which was ratified by plebiscite in 1987 and paved the way for elections.

Thus Aquino was revered and highly acclaimed by many Filipinos as a heroine of democracy.

While democracy continues to be vibrant in this country, our progress as a nation, however, has been stymied by poor and ineffective leadership that followed Aquino, from Ramos to Estrada to Arroyo and another Aquino.

Seeing the same traditional politicians at the helm doing the same traditional governance, the Filipino people finally made a revolutionary decision to elect in 2016 an unconventional, an out-of-the-box- politician who made a name as a stern, no-nonsense politician and mayor of Davao City by making an unsafe, corrupt and problematic place into an admirable and highly livable one.

The result was an overwhelming victory prized him by the Filipino people to do what he is capable of doing just so the country could move forward and the lives of the people uplifted.  His election was a revolution in itself. Who would have thought that in our present political and electoral system a candidate without an organization and money could triumphed over those having funds and a well oiled political machinery?

Sociologist Randy David, a professor at the University of the Philippines, could never have been more right when, reflecting on the results of the 2016 elections, he said: “When candidate Duterte declared in the presidential debates that he represented the nation’s last card (huling baraha), he instantly resonated with them. They did not have to ask what the game was for which he was their last card. It was enough that he offered them something to which they could cling for hope.”

Thus, despite the negative review Duterte has been getting from the political opposition, the Catholic Church and human rights advocates on his war on drugs and the alleged extrajudicial killings resulting from it, the satisfaction and trust ratings of the president remains high. It only shows the encouragement and the confidence the people has on the president upon showing the political will not seen in other presidents before him in effecting the changes he promised the people during the campaign.

Senator Antonio Trillanes

It is not helping Duterte run the country that, while understanding the enormity of the problem the country is facing relative to drugs, corruption, criminality and narco-politics on one hand , and resolving the much dreaded Marawi crisis from spilling over in other parts of Mindanao on the other hand, still there are people the likes of Sen. Antonio Trillanes and his ilk who wants nothing but attention by spewing diatribes at Duterte and his family simply because their own political agenda cannot prosper under Duterte’s presidency.

From the very beginning Duterte has not been coy in his intention and willingness to establish a revolutionary government if he sees that there are groups of people, especially those led by politicians, opposed to his rule and who do not want him to succeed. This was a warning he wanted all and sundry to take seriously especially if their motivation was to destabilize his government.

Yet Trillanes has the stupidity and shortsightedness in saying: : “I firmly believe that Duterte’s latest threat … is not only meant to intimidate those opposing his administration, but also to divert the attention from the various controversies in which his family is involved. It is also his only way to escape accountability for his crimes by perpetuating himself in power.”

A revolutionary government is not about Duterte perpetuating himself in power. Clearly it is an assurance that with Duterte remaining in power, the country and the Filipino people will have the changes promised them for a better future ahead as he is seen to be the only one capable of making it happen.