Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Martial Law: The Theatre of War

Speaker of the House Alvarez has been causing quite the commotion by telling the press that he backs a 5 year plan of martial law in Mindanao in order to fast track infrastructure projects and to finally put an end to terrorism in the region and that he will be pushing for said plan in Congress. It seems as if the Duterte administration is not so keen on that plan.

At least publicly the Duterte administration is against a 5 year extension of martial law. Alvarez had better watch his back. He is opening his mouth and letting all the secrets spill out. 5 years of martial law to fast track infrastructure projects! We all know Duterte would not be adverse to such a reality. But to have it spoken from the lips of this despicable man to a public totally unprepared for what is coming?  It's too much. It's too revelatory. Alvarez does not know how to play the game of politics.

The Senate minority leader also made a statement distancing the Senate from Alvarez's ambitious plan to extend martial law for 5 years.

“Theoretically Congress can approve five years but...I don’t think any senator in his right mind will agree to five years,” he added. 
Drilon said the House Speaker’s proposal contradicts President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement on Tuesday that he only needs 10 to 15 more days to end the crisis in Marawi City.
Drilion is not thinking ahead at all. What happens after the crisis in Marawi ends? The AFP admitted almost 300 Maute Group members were able to get away. Abu Sayyaf, NPA, BIFF, MNLF, and MILF are all still very active and pose a threat to the area. You free Marawi and then what? Maybe right now no Senator in his right mind would agree to 5 years of martial law but then again no US Senator in his right mind would have approved the PATRIOT Act before 9/11.

Despite Malacañang's public remarks distancing the Duterte administration from Alvarez's plans Duterte recognises the threat posed by ISIS is very real.  He knows the whole of Mindanao is apt to blow at any moment. He also knows that this poses a threat to all the infrastructure projects being financed by the Chinese. Duterte has made no secret of his desire to use martial law to end the problems in the Philippines. He has made no secret that his presidency will be a bloody dictatorship. But people have short memories and he can't very well have Filipinos thinking he really does want to extend martial law for 5 years over the entire country. They love him too much. They also love martial law.  But not for the whole country.
Not without the right cause anyway. And with all the discontented terrorist groups in Mindanao the cause is just waiting to happen.

Unlike Año, Bato acknowledged the threat posed by Abu Sayyaf in Bohol. He also admitted that the government had prior knowledge of the Marawi attack. He seems to be reliable. Surely if the NPA, whom Duterte is holding peace talks with at this very moment, attacks Davao that would generate even more support for martial law in Mindanao and the entire country since the NPA is a group that is nationwide. This is the kind of thing Drillion is simply not taking into consideration. This is exactly the sort of event which would cause a Senator to back 5 years of martial law. One day you are a peacenik who values freedom and the next day you are screeching war hawk who wants to put restrictions on freedom in the name of securing peace. This is what happened on December 7th, 1941 and on September 11th, 2001.

Let's not forget about the BBL. If the BBL does go into effect that means a portion of Mindanao will become a de facto Islamic State and the Philippines can expect more terrorism throughout the country which means more martial law. But not to fear. Filipinos can absolutely trust government forces if martial law extends.
"They can trust their Armed Forces to protect them and advance the people's best interest," Lorenzana said in a statement. 
This statement comes after the remarks of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez that he wants to extend the declaration until 2022.
So they distance themselves from Alvarez's crazy plan but then tell the public that if said crazy plan happens it will be ok because they can trust the AFP to keep them safe.

Not only has the AFP allowed nearly 300 Maute soldiers to escape Marawi but they continue to have deadly friendy fire incidents and somehow the AFP is missing P105 million which was wrongfully paid out to dead beneficiaries. And that is from an initial amount of P232 million!  The AFP blames an "ineffective monitoring system" but who knows if that is the case since plunder and graft are fairly common in the Philippines. That someone was skimming off the top is not unlikely. On top of all that it should never be forgotten that in April 2017 AFP Chief Eduardo Año declared he saw no threat in Bohol despite the fact that the AFP was monitoring Abu Sayyaf as they sailed to Bohol to look for potential victims to kidnap. The AFP has proven time and again they are not very adept but are rather inept when it comes to keeping the people safe.

All that money could have been used to buy weapons but now its gone.  Thankfully the Chinese continue to step in and fill the gap.

For some reason Duterte thinks Russia will also offer assistance but so far they have not.

“Expect Russia to help us in due time. China has sent it. There’ll be another shipment of arms on September,” Duterte said.
Could it be that Putin does not care at all about Duterte?  Could it be that he knows Duterte lied to his face when he said the Americans cancelled an arms deal and then asked to borrow some money to buy arms when in fact it was Duterte who cancelled the arms deal?  Does Duterte think Putin does not know he lied to his face?  And why is China going to ship more arms in September?? I thought martial law was going to be over as soon as Marawi is cleared which will happened any day now. Duterte is pretty much giving away his plan of extending martial law. 

The theatre of war. Who hasn't heard that term?  It simply means the area where the war is actually taking place. But in the Philippines it means so much more. Not content with pushing for 5 more years of martial law House Speaker Alvarez decided to up the ante and channel his best Crazy Jack Nicholson for the public by threatening to tear any order from the Supreme Court telling Congress to convene to discuss the validity of martial law. Not everyone enjoyed his performance though.
Everyone's a critic! She just can't handle the truth.

Even the City of Marawi is giving it's own special performance.
Gandamra said City Hall would be open for business only on Mondays and Wednesdays. 
“Despite the threat, we have to operate even on a limited basis. It’s not every day but as much as possible, we will be holding office Mondays and Wednesdays so that we can make resolutions in support to our humanitarian efforts,” he said.
Sadly, Marawi City Hall's performance is only being played twice a week but surely as the days go by they will be adding new dates and times.

Probably the greatest performance of the Marawi theater belongs to the comedic duo of Duterte and the AFP. Kind of like Abbot and Costello meet the Wolfman only the Wolfman happens to be ISIS. Who is funding Maute. That's what I want to know! It is a little confusing at times to tell who is the funny man and who is the straight man since both Duterte and the AFP switch roles often.

Duterte declares martial law and sends in the troops but the news that follows is so disheartening that he disappears for almost a week and has to watch cartoons to get over his sadness. After emerging from his cocoon the public is treated last week to pictures of COOLEST PRESIDENT wearing cammo and being surrounded by AFP leadership while taking a tour of some area which wasn't Marawi since he was not able to visit Marawi due to bad weather and fear of ISIS machine guns.
Is this guy for real? I thought Duterte was some kind of badass who is always packing heat and is ready to shoot a terrorist on sight. Fear of machine guns and bad weather is not stopping the AFP from assaulting the city. Nor is it stopping the many journalists who are camped out in the area. Duterte claims as mayor he rode around on a motorcycle looking for criminals to kill so as to set an example for others. Where is his leading by example now? Why did he have to go into Marawi on a plane?  Why not land farther away and take an overland convoy if he is so dead set on visiting Marawi before the fighting is over? Because he is giving the performance of his life. With the AFP assisting. And the public is eating it up!  This time it looks like he got a little stage fright. Somebody ought to tell him to get out there and break a leg because the show must go on.

Why does Duterte need to visit Marawi in the first place?  How will his presence help the AFP?  When Duterte arrives will the troops suddenly have all the high tech modern equipment they lack?  Does he think just the sight of him will inspire confidence in the AFP? When Duterte shows up will the last remaining terrorists throw down their guns and surrender to him? I reckon if Churchill had showed up at Normandy after the beach was stormed he would have been told to go back home and leave it to the Army. This is clearly all theatre. Pictures of Duterte in the battle zone talking to the troops, attending to the wounded, inspecting the rubble, maybe even staring down a captured Maute terrorist and looking him straight in the eye mano y mano and asking, "Why do you want to destroy my country?" would be the biggest propaganda win for this administration. Those pictures would cement Duterte's reputation as a tough leader with a soft heart and the fact that he is a ruthless admitted killer who has said his presidency would be a bloody dictatorship and who is selling out the Philippines to China via debt bondage would vanish down the memory hole. Actually all those facts appear to have already vanished down the memory hole.

Several times the AFP has told the public that the Marawi siege would be ending within only a few days. Independence Day, June 12th. The one year anniversary of Duterte's ascension to the presidency, June 30th. Each self-imposed deadline hilariously come and gone.

Now there is another big day coming. July 24th is the day of Duterte's second State of the Nation address and one which will encompass his first term as president. The SONA is a Big Deal and Duterte needs to be looking good. Naturally the AFP are under pressure to reel it in, kill the remaining terrorists, and show to the Philippines that martial law is not so bad after all and that the AFP is up to the task of handling ISIS.

The military will do its best to finish the Marawi siege in 15 days as declared by President Rodrigo Duterte, a spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines said on Wednesday. 
“The 15 days is a period within which the President hopes the crisis in Marawi to end. The AFP will do its best, as it has been giving its level best, to crush the rebellion of the Maute-Isis group,” Col. Edgard Arevalo, AFP public affairs chief, told reporters in a text message. 
Earlier, top defense and security officials said they were no longer setting deadlines to finish the fighting in Marawi, given that they have missed previous deadlines because of the difficulty posed by the urban warfare. 
But Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had said that ground commanders were directed to end the conflict before the President gives his second State of the Nation Address on July 24.
Duterte has made it clear to the AFP that they must have it all wrapped up by July 24th. And how do they respond? With a hearty, "Yes Sir?" No. They practically start making lame excuses on the spot by saying they will do their best. Their level best!    

But apparently their level best is just not good enough. Only a few days after telling Duterte they would do their level best the AFP admitted defeat!
The liberation of Marawi is well under way but it cannot be completed by July 22 when the martial law President Duterte declared in Mindanao expires, the military said on Friday. 
Military spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the military is still assessing the security situation even as the Marawi crisis nears its end. 
But Padilla admitted operations, including airstrikes, may continue even beyond July 24, when the President delivers his State of the Nation Address (Sona) before Congress. 
“We are right into the 10 to 15 days of the President,” Padilla said referring to Mr. Duterte’s expressed desire that the military liberate Marawi within that period. 
“But the 10 to 15 days [will go] beyond the Sona, by the way, so don’t expect it before the Sona,” Padilla said, noting the military has yet to clear 600 houses and buildings in Marawi.
With the military clearing 40 to 50 houses a day, Padilla said they might need another 12 days to clear the city of 70 to 80 terrorists who attacked the city on May 23.
This is terrible.  Absolutely terrible.  The AFP has given up trying to liberate Marwai before Duterte's SONA which means we will all be deprived of watching Duterte have his George Dubya "Mission Accomplished" moment. Patience though. Patience. The moment will arrive soon. Maybe it will take a few more weeks. But soon. With a lot of luck it could even happen at the SONA. If it did it might look like this:

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