Saturday, June 3, 2017

Martial Law Was Always Duterte's Plan

It is the working thesis of this blog that President Duterte ran for office with the sole intention of implementing marital law. He declared his intentions for martial law in 2015, 2016, and 2017.  Never did he hide this desire of his to declare marital law as the way to fix the problems plaguing the Philippines.  An article  about this was posted back in March. And can be read here:

It is also our belief that in order to steer the Philippines on a inevitable course towards marital law Duterte did not engage the threat of ISIS in Mindanao and he initiated a phoney peace process with the CPP-NPA , MILF, and MNLF which was doomed from the start. This article will seek to establish this thesis by analysing news articles in a chronological fashion.


Shortly before Duterte declared his candidacy he had a sit-down interview with Rappler.
The self-confessed leftist admits he is a dictator. It’s clear he has a vision for the country and that he built it on his lessons learned as Davao’s leader.  
The Philippines under Duterte’s leadership would be a dictatorship because “if you become the president, you do not only change leaders, you have to change the Filipino himself.” 
Kasi ang Filipino ngayon, hindi mo masabihan na obey the law.” Duterte changes his tone (Today, you can't even tell the Filipino to obey the law). “Sabihin mo sa kanya, THIS is the law. Putang ina, pag hindi mo sinunod ang batas, putang ina ka sa akin.” (You ought to tell him: This is the law. You'd be damned if you did not follow the law, you'd be damned.) 
“It’s going to be a dictatorship,” he added. “It’s the police and the military who will be the backbone. If they agree with you – if the right-thinking policemen and military men agree with you – then after 6 years, there will be a new set-up: maybe a federal type, less corruption, and a fresh air for the next generation.” 
“I’m telling the Filipino people, huwag ako. It’s going to be bloody,” he said. “Because I will not sit there as President and just like any other regime, sabihin ko, iyan lang ang kaya ko … pero pag nilagay ninyo ako, do not fuck with me.”
Here Duterte lays out his vision for the Philippines and how he will accomplish this vision.  Bluntly he says it will be a dictatorship and it will be bloody and that it will take 6 years to fully bring to pass "a new set-up." But being the President is not the same as being a dictator. There is still Congress and the Supreme Court in the way. How will he overcome those two obstacles?


Duterte won the election and after he was sworn in one of his first acts was to resume peace talks with the communist rebels.

In a show of good faith he released several NDF prisoners to join the peace talks.
Duterete also ordered a ceasefire with the NPA which he was forced to rescind five days later.  But soon an indefinite ceasefire was agreed to by both sides and the NPA even released several hostages.

At the same time as the peace talks with the CPP-NPA were about to begin Duterte made an absolutely stunning statement regarding Abu Sayyaf.
He said the Abu Sayyaf—a group known for bombings, extortion and assassination—resorted to violence because “they were driven to desperation.” 
“Failed promises” to the Islamic separatist group caused their desperation, Duterte said. 
The al-Qaida-linked group seeks an independent Islamic state for the Muslims in the Mindanao region. 
Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said the Duterte administration is open to a negotiation with the Abu Sayyaf leaders.
What's important to note is that Duterte is extending the olive branch to this terrorist group.  He is making overtures of peace.  But how can there be peace with a group who has aligned itself with ISIS and who's stated goal is to establish "an independent Islamic state for the Muslims in the Mindanao region?"

Duterte was aware that Abu Sayyaf pledged loyalty to ISIS and that ISIS was making deep inroads into Mindanao right?

As shocking as Duterte's comments are they only serve to give the impression that he is a man of peace.  His tone changed drastically in just a few short weeks after Abu Sayyaf set off bombs in Davao City.
At the same time Duterte was pretending to play nice with the CPP-NPA he was also making overtures to the MNLF terrorist organisation by inviting their leader to visit him at MalacaƱang Palace.
“It is with great happiness that I announce to the nation that Chairman Nur Misuari, our brother, who heads the MNLF, has finally decided to just accept my invitation for him to talk to us,” Duterte said. 
“We would like to ask that we work together with our Moro brothers and create a country that is really just, good. And that would be for the next generations to come,” he said.
Isn't it interesting that Duterte refers to these terrorists as brothers? Not just fellow countrymen but brothers! Duterte is too much of a nationalist for "brotherhood" with terrorists to be a real sentiment.

The same language of brotherhood was used when Duterte meet leaders of MILF and MNLF in July 2016.
"Setting aside formalities, there is no substitute for a brother talking to a brother, with the MILF and the MNLF, and of course with President Duterte. That is a brotherhood," Alonto explained.
A few days after this meeting Duterte announced the roadmap for peace with the various rebel and terrorist groups.
To sum up, 2016 was the year Duterte showed the world, the nation, and the terrorists that he is a man of peace.  He met with leaders from the CPP, MILF, and MNLF in an effort to initiate peace talks and bring an end to all the violence plaguing the Philippines.

Duterte ended the year with a Christmas message to everyone.
"I'd like to greet everybody, the communists, Abu Sayyaf, lahat sila in behalf sa taong Pilipino, I greet everybody a merry Christmas and a prosperous new year for all," he said during a trip to a military headquarters in Zamboanga City to visit wounded soldiers.

Things were going great and they were only getting better.  Or so it seemed.

What does the CPP want?  What are their goals?
The CPP-NPA seeks to overthrow the Philippine government in favor of a new people’s democratic state led by the working class, and the group also seeks to expel U.S. influence from the Philippines. Its other goals include redistributing land to the landless poor and initiating a cultural revolution. The CPP-NPA primarily models its armed struggle on China’s Maoist movement, focusing especially on the idea of a protracted people’s war and mobilizing the masses in rural areas.
How about the MILF?
In the 1980s, the MILF formulated a policy of gradually creating an Islamic society in the Moro regions. To accomplish this, the MILF applied Islamic law in the areas under its control and believed that the creation of an independent Moro state would eventually follow. 
Currently, the MILF seeks the ratification of the Basic Law on the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, also known as the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which is under consideration in the Philippine Congress. This law will establish the new autonomous region of the Bangsamoro and effectively complete the peace negotiations between the MILF and the Philippine government
The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) is an Islamic separatist organization based in the southern Philippines. It seeks an independent Islamic state or autonomous region for the Filipino Muslim minority, known as the Moro people, who live primarily in the Philippines’ Mindanao region.
Abu Sayyaf?
The ASG aims to establish an Islamic state in the Mindanao region, independent from the rest of the Philippines, for the Filipino minority known as the Moros.
How is there going to be any peace with the CPP whose avowed mission is the overthrow of the government?  The answer is simple.  There is not going to be any peace.  A read through the time line of events regarding the peace talks shows complete chaos.  No lasting agreements are reached. The NPA continues to initiate violent attacks and the peace process is revealed to be the sham which it is.

Likewise how is there going to be peace with the Muslim groups who want an independent Islamic state in Mindanao? There won't be any peace. These groups want to implement the BBL which will establish an autonomous Islamic region in Mindanao. Understandably Congress has not approved this law as it will split the Philippines apart and effectively end Philippine sovereignty in Mindanao and transfer it to the Muslim terrorist groups. Duterte has flip-flopped on this issue, at one time rejecting the BBL in favour of federalism and the peace roadmap and then back to encouraging Congress to pass the BBL.
“If I could get a peace agreement with the communists and hammer out something for the [Moro National Liberation Front, Moro Islamic Liberation Front] and to all the Moro groupings and even to the Abu Sayyaf if I could just extend my hand to them and friendship and just tell them that it is time to just really have a country which is normal and peaceful and for our children to grow in peace then I would have succeeded,” he said Monday.
Peace is not an option with any of these groups who seek to grab a piece of the Philippines for their own. These groups do not want peace, they want the capitulation of the government to all their demands. Duterte knew full well that he neither could nor would ever give into the demands of any of the rebel or terrorist groups. Peace was never an option. It was only a show.

But that does not matter.  What matters above all else is that Duterte was showing the public his willingness to work with the terrorist groups for peace. If anyone was to blame for the peace process breaking down it would be the CPP-NPA, MNLF, and MILF and not Duterte.  The terrorists would get whatever was coming to them for being uncooperative.


In 2016 Duterte made several remarks about martial law saying that marital law would solve the drug problem, martial law was pointless, and generally flip-flopping all over the issue very inconsistently. It is important to note that martial law was always brought up in relation to the drug problem and not the terrorist problem.

On January 14, 2017 he made his first remarks about martial law in the new year.
President Rodrigo Duterte said that if the situation in the Philippines becomes "virulent," he will declare martial law if he "wants" to. 
"Kung gusto ko (If I want to), and if it will deteriorate into something really very virulent, I will declare martial law if I want to. Walang makapigil sa akin (No one can stop me)," said Duterte on Saturday, January 14, in Davao City. 
The President was not specific about the potentially "virulent" situation in the country, but before the statement, he was defending his war against drugs.
"If I have to declare martial law, I will declare it, not because of invasion, insurrection, I will declare martial law to preserve my nation, period," he said  
In the 1987 Constitution, a President can only declare martial law "in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it." 
In the Saturday speech, Duterte repeated his criticism of these safeguards, asking what would happen if Congress and the SC have differing positions on the martial law declaration. Duterte would then have to take a side. 
"Here is Congress and here is the Supreme Court drawn into a stalemate just to have the safety nets of an abusive despot or dictator. Where will I go then? So if the Supreme Court decides otherwise and here is Congress, what will I do now? There is no more control. The 3 great branches of government, two are against one another so I, as President, will decide," he said in a mix of English and Filipino.  
Duterte said if the drug problem calls for it, he would ignore the Supreme Court.  
"Wala akong pakialam diyan sa (I don't care about the) Supreme Court because of the right to preserve one's life and my nation. My country transcends everything else, even the limitation," he said.
Here we have Duterte, at the beginning of the year, laying out the plan he would eventually execute in May. He will declare martial law "if he wants to" as a means to preserve the nation and not for any necessarily constitutionally valid reasons and he will ignore both the Supreme Court and the Congress.  We will hear this same language again in only five months. 

Are drugs tearing the Philippines apart in such a way that martial law is needed to preserve the nation?  While the war on drugs has been particularly bloody Duterte has never been shy about accepting bloodshed as a natural result of the war on drugs. He has said publicly many times that he would gladly kill millions of drug users and dealers. So what is he talking about when he says "if it will deteriorate into something really very virulent, I will declare martial law if I want to?"

He is talking about the violence of the NPA and the various terrorist groups as well as ISIS which he knew posed a real threat.
The extremist ISIS has crept into the country, President Duterte disclosed Monday night as he confirmed that the Abu Sayyaf faction of the Maute Group has allied itself with the violent Islamic group. 
“The intelligence community advised me that ISIS has… connected with the group in the Philippines called the Maute. There is a waging war now in Lanao,” the President said in a speech in MalacaƱang.
As a prelude to the forthcoming martial law and as a direct result of attacks carried out by Abu Sayyaf in Davao, Duterte signed a proclamation of national emergency in September 2016.
Through the proclamation, Duterte ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to ensure two things. 
"It commands the AFP and PNP to undertake measures permitted by the Constitution and laws to, number one, suppress all forms of lawless violence in Mindanao and number two, prevent lawless violence from spreading and escalating elsewhere with due regard to fundamental and civil political rights," said Ablan.
Medialdea said the President's basis for declaring the state of lawlessness was the recent acts of terrorism in the country.
With a declaration of a state of national emergency already in place why amp up the rhetoric of martial law? Will marital law help the AFP and PNP in carrying out their goals? The reason is because martial law was always Duterte's goal and he is getting the people used to the idea of it.

As 2017 progressed the peace talks between the government and the CPP-NPA began to break down as the NPA initiated several daring attacks.

MILF was also growing restless.

This is the set-up which brings us to May 23, 2017. The Maute group, which he knows is allied with ISIS, takes over Marawi City.  Duterte then sees his big chance.  He makes his move and declares martial law.  Why did he do this?  Why did he not simply approve swift and harsh military action and send in more troops? The state of national emergency is still in effect.  What more can the AFP and PNP do under martial law than they are doing already? What is it about this particular event that led to the declaration of martial law?
Now it's clear. President Rodrigo Duterte confirms he acted on his own when he decided to declare Martial Law in Mindanao. 
Speaking at the commissioning of the Philippine Navy's brand new Landing Dock vessel BPR Davao del Sur, the President said there was no direct recommendation, but the police and military gave him enough information to convince him  martial law is needed. 
"While they did not say 'go ahead President Duterte,' they gave me sufficient informatjon and I asked them are we already in the critical level. And there was an almost unison and redundant even statement that delikado tayo sa Mindanao [the situation in Mindanao is dire] given the practice of the ISIS in the Middle East, just exploding everything in their hands," he said.
Duterte did it all on his own with no recommendation from the PNP or AFP.  This is exactly what he said he would do in his speech on January 14, 2017.
"if it will deteriorate into something really very virulent, I will declare martial law if I want to."
This declaration of martial law is not about  Marawi City.  It is about Duterte taking control just as he said he would.  It is about a dictatorship which he promised his presidency would be.

And now there is no turning back.
Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana on Wednesday said martial law in Mindanao is "imperative" even if government troops are capable of containing the Maute terrorist group without the iron-fisted rule. 
"The situation currently being dealt with by State security forces goes beyond Marawi City. President Duterte’s imposition of Martial Law aims to put an end to the long running rebellion in various provinces in the south, as evidenced by the incidents that happened in Zamboanga, Davao, Bohol, Lanao, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi and Maguindanao," Lorenzana said in a statement.
Lorenzana references several terrorist attacks made by groups to whom Duterte has extended offers of peace as justification for martial law throughout Mindanao. Because he has made offers of peace and because those groups have continued to attack, Duterte now has the moral authority to go after these groups. And not only that but he has also formally declared that the peace talks with the CPP-NPA have broken down.
The two sides had just opened formal talks when chief government negotiator Jesus Dureza objected to the communists’ telling guerrillas to intensify attacks in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in parts of the country. 
“The government panel is now left without any other recourse but to announce… that it will not proceed to participate in the fifth round of peace negotiations,” he said.
In response to Duterte's declaration of martial law the NPA has been ordered to intensify their attacks. What more justification does Duterte need in the eyes of the public to expand martial law to cover the whole nation than to combat the NPA?  Duterte has done everything he could for peace.  

He has even asked the NPA and MNLF to fight ISIS alongside the AFP.
Having terrorists join the fight against terrorists is only asking for trouble. But once again this is not meant to be a real offer, it is meant to be a facade of peace and brotherhood in the face of a common enemy.  If the NPA, MNLF, and MILF join the fight and then suddenly turn on the government then all hell will break loose giving Duterte even more public support for extending the timeframe and coverage of martial law.

Whether or not the NPA and MNLF join the fight against ISIS they still remain terrorist groups who must be eradicated.  Their continuing existence and deadly activities justify any extension of martial law as Lorenzana has indicated.

The problems in Mindanao run deep.  Much deeper than Marawi. Yet: 
"Duterte vowed to solve "all the problems that ail Mindanao" during the length of martial law there."
All the problems? With such a vague mission statement it is probable martial law will be extended beyond the initial 60 days and even to the entire country.  But this is what Duterte has wanted from day one.  No one should be surprised that he has leapt at the chance to finally impose his vision on the Philippines.

Let me offer a summary of this rather long article.
  1. Duterte declared his presidency would be a dictatorship.
  2. To bring about this dictatorship he would need to implement martial law.
  3. Duterte initiates phoney peace talks doomed to fail and to prove that he "did all he can" as a  cover for eventually declaring martial law after a serious terror attack.
  4. ISIS captures Marawi City and Duterte uses this event to declare martial law all on his own.
  5. This is just the beginning as Duterte has said he will extend martial law nationwide if he so chooses and the continuing existence of NPA, MNLF, MILF and other terror groups will justify martial law.

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