Yes to martial law in Mindanao

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

The writing on the wall was there. It was coming. It was just a matter of time.

Coming from Mindanao, President Rodrigo Duterte has always longed for peace in the war turned  region.

He has always made it clear that he identifies himself with the Muslims, openly stating that he has their blood flowing in his veins from his maternal side of the family.

But as then mayor of Davao City he could only do so much and with limited impact.

Thus, when Duterte got overwhelmingly elected president he worked hard to make Mindanao what it is suppose to be – the land of promise, among other things.

Duterte realized that peace in Mindanao will not come easy not because of the much talked about Muslim-Christian conflict, but more serious is the enmity and hostility among the different Moro rebel themselves.

As Duterte showed ardor and determination in his fight against illegal drugs, criminality and corruption in the country, his sincerity and passion also manifested in his quest to pacify the warring Moro rebels in Mindanao so lasting peace in the region could be attained. I am referring here to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

Alas, while peace talks, agreements and even unavoidable occasional skirmishes between government troops and the Moro rebel have been ongoing, another radical Islamist rebels known as the Maute group made known of their existence with impunity.

The Maute group who are based in Lanao del Sur is also known as the Islamic State of Lanao led by their founders Omar and Abdulla Maute. It is said that this local terrorist group has already pledged allegiance to international terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS), carrying and raising ISIS black flags and insignia.

The Maute has been blamed for a bomb attack that killed 15 people in southern Davao city last September and a number of attacks on government forces in Lanao, although it has faced setbacks from a series of military offensives.

With events going bad and spiraling out of control in Marawi City, as the Maute group mounted violent attacks when government forces tried to capture their leader Isnilon Hapilon, Duterte deemed it timely to declare martial law for the whole of Mindanao.

I think Duterte knows what he is doing and if putting Mindanao under martial law is what it takes to prevent the enlisting and widening the control of the Maute terrorist group so that the country could go on developing its national interest then the president should be commended for exercising his much appreciated guts and political will.

 

War with China not an option

 

President Rodrigo Duterte with China President Xi Jinping

Much have been said about whether or not China’s leader, President Xi Jinping, had really warned the Philippine government not to rock the boat over the country’s maritime dispute with them at the West Philippine Sea (WPS) or else  there will be war.

Some politicians and political pundits are saying this is bullying in its highest form to keep us silent, and the best remedy, as they suggested, is to bring the matter up again to the UN tribunal, the same body that declared China’s build-up in the WPS as illegal.

Again I have to ask: what for?

Even Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the Chinese leader’s threat, if true, is a gross violation of the United Nations (UN) charter. Then he cited Article 2, Section 4 of the UN Charter that states “all members shall refrain in their institutional relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purpose of the United Nations.”

While this may serve as basis for another related complaint we will be raising against China before the UN tribunal, what good will it do the country if China do not give a hoot about what the arbitral court says?

Like I said many times before, what China has claimed at the South China Sea is China’s and what belongs to the Philippines at the WPS is still China’s and if the most powerful nation on Earth, the US, was not able to prevent China from its military build-up in the area and the UN tribunal’s decision favoring the Philippine’s claim of its own territory just brazenly and utterly disregarded and disrespected by China, then who are we to think, much less believe, that elevating the war threat against us by China will stop China from doing what they are there for – militarizing the area.

President Rodrigo Duterte knows very well that war with China is not an option, but he is intelligent enough to understand that if he plays his cards well he can make the most out for the country and the Filipino people.

We are in a new geopolitical situation forced upon a third world country and we just have to be thankful that Duterte is one leader who thinks out of the box, has political will and has the support of the people to make things happen for the interest of the country.

Duterte is left with no other alternative but to make deals and pacts with China to benefit the country, like when sought closer ties with Beijing to win billions of dollars of Chinese investments and loans.

Duterte is doing the same thing with Russia now finally putting into practice his serious shift in foreign policy that all these years have been dictated and dominated by the US government.

Duterte’s non-censure of China on SCS dispute hit

 

Long before the Philippines was designated as host for the ASEAN Summit 2017, those instrumental in filing and winning the case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague over the country’s maritime territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea (SCS) were hoping that this could be the right opportunity and venue by which the ASEAN bloc, through its chairman, President Rodrigo Duterte, could express condemnation over China’s aggressive build-up of artificial islands and militarization of the same, which are now viewed as a threat to the peace and security of the region.

What gave these people the confidence that this will be realized is the fact that many of the member-nations are, like the Philippines, contesting China’s claim of its own territorial waters.

Unfortunately, the ruling of the PCA came after Duterte got elected president and as we all know he never considered this favorable arbitral tribunal’s ruling a victory of sort for the country as he continued making deals with China.

In fact one would think that Duterte should have kept distance from China after illegally claiming and occupying parts of our sovereignty, but he instead honored the invitation of China’s president to visit him.

But do we really have to blame Duterte if, as chairman of the 30th ASEAN Summit, he failed to censure China over what it has done with impunity in the SCS?

Throughout the summit Duterte said the Philippines and other nations were helpless to stop the island building, so there was no point discussing it at all.

Duterte was just being practical and realistic for, indeed, the issue in the SCS among claimant nations versus China is no longer about resolving China’s permanent military presence in the area, but rather in trying to manage and make the best out of their presence in the region.

What we and the other ASEAN member-nations are facing now is a developing geopolitical situation which has been arrogantly imposed on us.

This is the price of being an underdeveloped country. Against China we are nothing. If the U.S. was not able to stop China’s military build-up in the SCS, who are we to stop them?

But as people, we just have to make sure that our pride and dignity will not go to the dogs.

We will see how Duterte could protect us and where his independent foreign policy will get us to.

We can’t do nothing but cross our fingers.

Duterte is TIME magazine’s most influential person

 

TIME magazine may have been one of the early international publications that criticized President Rodrigo Duterte’s relentless and bloody war on illegal drugs, with a cover article in September titled “Night Falls on the Philippines”, yet the same prestigious magazine will soon be ranking Duterte as its top most influential person for 2017.

Why is this?

Well, TIME has made it clear that its entrants for the annual 100 most influential people selection are recognized for changing the world, regardless of the consequences of their actions. Note that the official TIME 100 lists are chosen by the magazine’s editors.

For one who also landed on the Most Powerful People list of Forbes magazine, Duterte is sure making waves here and abroad.

It simply marks the man’s departure from the conventional style of leadership that Filipinos have been used to – both in words and deeds.

Duterte’s colorful language, his no-nonsense style of governance, his down-to-earth personality and his out-of-the-box thinking and assessment of things, not to mention his fearless show of political will no matter who gets affected for as long as it benefits the country and the greater number of people, is what has endeared him to Filipinos.

Giving Duterte an overwhelming victory during the election was a gamble that made many Filipinos winners, too.

The country has been always plagued with corrupt officials and people thought that this was the single critical reason why we never prosper as a nation.

Until Duterte came along as a candidate promising not only stamping out corruption in government but also waging war against illegal drugs and criminality did we realized how distinctive he was compared to the other presidential candidates.

People trusted Duterte’s persona to deliver his promises and never before have the people been so hopeful of the future. As he was able to make Davao City a livable place for its peace and stability, fingers were crossed that he could do the same to the whole archipelago.

And it looks like things are going the way Duterte has charted the course of the nation’s journey towards growth and respectability.

Duterte’s controversial anti-drug campaign, which according to reports has killed more than 8,000 people already, has caught the attention of international rights groups and foreign governments over alleged human rights violations and extra-judicial killings, but this has not stop him from forging ahead if only to show the whole world how critical and wide-spread the drug menace in the country is, infiltrating even the police, local government officials and the judiciary, among others.

Equally controversial is his show of belligerence towards the US and the EU for meddling in the affairs of a sovereign country and his shift of friendly relations towards China and Russia.

The Philippines may have won the contentious territorial dispute in the South China Sea as decided by the United Nation (UN) Arbitral, stating that China’s “nine-dash line” is invalid, but Duterte is not minding this at all, to the consternation of those lauding the decision, for the reality is that nobody, and nobody, can forcibly drive away/remove China from their formidable man-made islands turned military bases in the area.

While Duterte’s temperament and antics may displease, antagonize and enrage others, to him it really does not matter for he is just being pragmatic and having the interest of the nation and the welfare of his people foremost in his agenda of governance.

Duterte has not completed even a year yet in his presidency, but the things he has done for the country and the Filipino people is something atypical worthy of being chosen TIME magazine’s most influential person.

Robredo’s satisfaction rating suffers

 

Vice President Leni Robredo

Results of the latest Social Weather Stations’ (SWS) survey released showed that Vice President Leni Robredo’s net satisfaction rating dropped by 11 points, from a “good” +37 to a “moderate” +26.

It was reported also that among top government officials Robredo registered the biggest decline which made Professor Ramon Casiple, a political analyst, opine that the 11-point dip in the vice president’s ratings was beyond the “normal range.”

Does Robredo have to worry that her satisfaction rating has suffered?

Of course she has to worry, and while she may not show it or does not want to comment about it, the fact is it could worsen and put her political life in jeopardy both as a politician and a leader.

I don’t really think that Robredo’s controversial video message to the United Nations (UN) about the government’s bloody war against illegal drugs (https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2017/03/19/obredo-un-message-slanders-the-philippines/) was a big factor in people being dissatisfied with her performance and neither are the black propaganda against her, as claimed by Liberal Party (LP) stalwarts, significant reasons enough for her satisfaction rating to decline.

But I would like to think that the main culprit for the downturn in her satisfaction rating is simply because of her being useless/inutile in her position as vice president with no responsibility whatsoever, ever since she resigned from the Cabinet as head of the Housing and Urban Development coordinating Council (HUDCC).

It is bad enough that Robredo does not have any achievement or accomplishment to crow about as vice president, but it is even worse that people sees her as a willing mouthpiece of the opposition and the Catholic Church, for that matter, to find fault and disparage at President Rodrigo Duterte who is trying his level best to make drastic and unorthodox changes in the way government is run.

Robredo may not agree in everything that Duterte does, but if majority of the Filipinos trust, believe and have high hopes in Duterte for the long awaited growth and development of the country and the lifting up of the lives of people, then who is she to be so critical of him?

All is not lost, however, for Robredo.

What could save her is her acceptance for dinner with Duterte after the Holy Week, where members of her family are also invited.

Hopefully, Robredo will know more Duterte better this time around and decide to be herself and not be used as pawn for the political advantage of her party mates in trying to destroy Duterte’s dream for the country and the Filipino people.

Lascañas and Matobato are ventriloquist dummies of Trillanes

 

Self-confessed killers Edgar Matobato and Arthur Lascañas.

I wonder what impression the others have on self-confessed hitmen, former Special Police Officer 3 (SPO3) Arthur Lascañas and Edgar Matobato, but for me I see them all as Sen. Antonio Trillanes’ ventriloquist dummies.

In his ardent quest to oust Pres. Rodrigo Duterte from Malacañaang, Trillanes has been moving heaven and earth searching for testimonies  and smoking guns that will convince the populace that the man they have overwhelmingly voted for president is corrupt and a killer as well pretending to be a righteous person.

This of course coming from an ambitious man whose career in the military was cut short, thank goodness, because of his own narcissistic approach to life which can easily be observed glaringly the way he talks and carries himself.

Until Duterte came along, Trillanes thought that his notoriety coupled with his grandstanding in the Senate during the height of the corruption probe of the Binays would make him a shoo-in in the vice presidential election of 2016 placing him just a heart-beat away from the presidency if he wins.

Divine Providence made sure Trillanes won’t get his wish with Duterte’s entry in the presidential race and the rest is history.

Now Trillanes is and has been on the warpath against Duterte and for a reason – the spoiler of his political dreams and aspirations has to be avenged.

Not being able to prove that Duterte has billions of pesos in the bank as he alleged, Trillanes, with the assistance of Sen. Leila de Lima, made sure that he would go hammer and tongs after Duterte on the latter’s dark past with the much ballyhooed Davao Death Squad (DDS) when he was still the mayor of Davao City which reportedly killed over a thousand people.

This Trillanes made by coddling and using both Matobato and Lascañs as his main witnesses to nail Duterte on the cross.

Despite the questionable credibility and utter inconsistencies of both witnesses, killers in their own rights, Trillanes continues to believe they have the testimonies, the goods, the smoking gun that will finally unmask Duterte, as criminal.

But of course Trillanes has to believe and be convinced by the detailed account of his witnesses for after all both Matobato and Lascañas are his ventriloquist dummies, which means that he is the source of what needs to be heard by the public.

And it pleases no one’s ears but his!

Much ado about Duterte declaring martial law

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte

Let me just ask these questions to those making a big fuss about President Rodrigo Duterte’s emphatic admission that he has no qualms whatsoever of declaring martial law, if the need for it arises.

Why, what do you think Duterte has been doing? Isn’t it that what you hear and see all these seven months that the former Davao City mayor has been president are manifestations of martial law – Duterte style?

Political opposition and detractors seem to forget that Duterte is known for who he is precisely because of the iron hand and dictator-like rule he implemented in Davao City, which was never duplicated by any other mayor in the country today.

Nobody can take away the bragging rights he has when he tells all and sundry anywhere he goes how he tamed wild and lawless Davao City into a peaceful and livable place recognized and acknowledged by every Filipino.

As if you haven’t heard of then Commissioner of Human Rights (CHR), then Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary, and now Sen. Leila de Lima, harping here and abroad about Duterte’s impunity of human rights violation.

Isn’t this what martial law is partly all about?

Now that Duterte is president he is simply trying to reproduce for the whole country the success he had in Davao City, and for a good measure of obvious reasons.

Illegal drugs, criminality and corruption are the battle fronts that Duterte and his police and military forces are fighting against in trying to preserve the dignity, the sovereignty and the existence of the country as a whole.

These are the scourges that the country is facing. These are the same plagues that have hindered the nation from growing and developing. These are the crosses borne by Filipinos and made heavier each time by unscrupulous people, including leaders and politicians, who take advantage of their power and influence to satisfy their own selfish interest and forgetting that of the country and its people they have been sworn to serve.

“You know, I have to protect the Filipino people. It’s my duty. And I tell you now, if I have to declare martial law, I will declare it. Not about invasion, insurrection, not about danger. I will declare martial law to preserve my nation, period,” Duterte said.

This is very far from what the dictator Marcos had in his evil mind for the country and Filipino people, thus, to make much ado about Duterte declaring martial law is not only useless but baseless as well. Duterte does not even have an ambitious and rapacious wife to think about, thank goodness!

What I am just trying to say here is that every time Duterte threatens to declare martial law, take it with a grain of salt. Not that you doubt his resolve, but for all intents and purposes it is there already, like an installed screw, and all he does every time he talks about declaring martial law is turn the screw tighter and deeper, which is his way of showing that what he wants is happening – only in a very ingenious way.