Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Martial Law: 20,000 Soldiers Under Duterte

Slowly but surely the AFP is whittling down the remaining number of Maute militants hidden throughout Marawi.

Progress is slow because the AFP have been directed to take care for hostages. This means that despite capturing a bridge that leads directly ground zero to which the AFP now has access for the first time (consider that in 2 months they have not had access to ground zero!) they cannot rush right in, give the fatal blow, and recapture the city thereby ending the siege.

Troops have captured a key bridge leading to the main position of Islamic State group-linked Maute militants in Marawi City but won't stage a major assault and will instead press efforts to rescue civilian hostages, an official said Monday. 
"We now have direct access to ground zero," Padilla said at a news conference in Manila, referring to the bridge over Marawi's Agus River that can now be used to rapidly transport troops and combat supplies. "Our main objective is to rescue the hostages."
Not having direct access to ground zero until now, how does the AFP know there are hostages or how many Maute members are actually left?  On what basis do they make these calculations when they have been outside the perimeter for these two months? Silly me but I thought the main objective was to retake the city and if there are civilians don't worry about it because such is war.

The AFP better hurry up and finish the job or they won't be able to cash in on that free trip to Hong Kong or time with an actress Duterte has promised.
In egging them to stay alive, President Duterte promised the soldiers who fought in Marawi City an all-expense-paid trip to Hong Kong and other perks as soon as they get the job done. 
“We are winning in this battle. And as a prize for your valor, I might treat you to a trip to Hong Kong,” Duterte said during a pep talk with troops at the frontline over the weekend. 
He said the trip to Hong Kong would be an all-expense-paid family treat. 
“Hong Kong – that’s for free. You could even bring along your partner or wife,” he said.
And if anyone does not want to avail himself of the all-expense-paid trip, Duterte joked they could choose to spend time with an actress.
Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 Duterte vowed to give the troops more surprises. 
“Go on (and stay alive). You will have so many surprises coming your way. I hope that (you) stay alive, fight cool, do not be in a hurry, do not go into a rage or you could lose yourself,” he told the troops. 
So many surprises?? Wow-wee that sounds exciting!  A brand new car perhaps?  At the very least the heroes of Marawi will be receiving The Order of Lapu-Lapu.

President Rodrigo Duterte has expanded the Order of Lapu-Lapu to honor the heroism of government forces involved in the operations in battle-ravaged Marawi City.  
The president added a fourth type of medal under the Order of Lapu-Lapu.

The Kamagi Medal will be awarded to government officials and personnel and private individuals who do not fall under any of the three other medals but who "actively participated in and contributed significantly to an activity pursuant to a campaign advocacy of the president."

A kamagi is a kind of beaded gold necklace from pre-Hispanic Visayas and Mindanao.
This is an exceptionally long and ancient kamagi. 15 feet!
A beaded gold necklace for fighting the terrorists. What a prize! It's like Mardi Gras. Show us your valour!

An interesting article was posted a month ago outlining the reasons why a new terrorist attack would inevitably take place again.  Five reasons actually.  Take numbers four and five:
4. Duterte Himself 
The next reason that Marawi is likely to happen again lies with Duterte himself. In trademark bluster, he recently warned: “The objective of ISIS is to kill and destroy. I will also kill and destroy!” But this was not the enemy he wanted or was ready for. 
Let us be clear, Duterte is not going to defeat the militants through force, but that is exactly what he is opting for. His campaign of 8,000 extrajudicial killings did not end the sale of drugs on the streets, but he shows no sign of reversing course. Indeed, one of his cabinet officials dismissed the Maute’s ideological goals, and linked the siege to the desire to control the drug trade. His campaign against the Abu Sayyaf have not ended the group’s spate of kidnappings. 
This is just his temperament. 
Insurgencies flourish because of weak governance. Duterte’s contempt for the rule of law and democratic norms, his authoritarian tendencies, his campaign of extrajudicial killings, jailing of political opponents, routine threats to extend martial law beyond Mindanao, will collectively weaken the hardwood rule of law, governance and system of checks and balances that the Philippines has achieved in the past 30 years. 
The Maute and Abu Sayyaf Group militants are likely to retreat and regroup to the mountainous hinterland that straddles Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao provinces, long the MILF heartland. If the AFP is tasked with going in hot pursuit of the militants, they almost definitely encounter MILF forces. And there is every reason to fear another Mamasapano-style “tragic encounter” that caused the peace process to collapse in 2015.
5. The Philippine Military’s Limited Capabilities 
Even if Duterte thinks he can shoot his way out of this, the AFP is all too aware that it has neither the manpower nor resources to cope with the host of threats that it faces. The AFP was sorely tested and resources and manpower were stretched very thin in Marawi. Yes, urban combat is very hard and it is new for them. 
In the midst of the Marawi siege, the BIFF staged a siege of a school in neighboring Maguindanao province. Were other fronts to open, the BIFF, the Ansuar al-Khalifa Philippines (AKP), a spate of ASG kidnappings, or should talks with the NPA break down, the AFP would be overwhelmed. There is too much space, and the AFP has such limited capabilities that similar attacks are inevitable. 
Maute  militants are likely to retreat and regroup? The AFP has limited capabilities? How shocking. The AFP have already admitted that close to 300 have escaped the city. The longer the siege continues the more time Maute has to get its bearings set and launch another attack. Other fronts could soon open with the NPA increasing its attacks throughout the nation. MILF has recently launched several attacks in Maguindanao. Perhaps this is why Duterte has warned of another and even larger attack to come.

President Duterte warned congressional leaders of a new Islamic State (IS)-inspired terror threat in Mindanao that could be “bigger” than the attack on Marawi City, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said yesterday. 
Duterte raised the specter of more terror attacks in Mindanao during a hastily called three-hour meeting with leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives on Tuesday night in Malacañang. 
Aside from Sotto, also present during the meeting were Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas and Senators Francis Escudero, Sonny Angara and Panfilo Lacson. 
Sotto said the way he understood it, around three areas in Mindanao are under threat from IS-inspired Maute, which is being supported by other extremist groups like the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. 
“The security situation will be very serious if we don’t confront it now, nip it in the bud. I think that is the message of the President, what he wanted to relay to us. He wanted us to support and help him nip it in the bud so that it does not escalate into a larger problem than what we have now in Marawi City,” Sotto told reporters. 
Sotto said he sensed a strong urgency in Duterte’s tone when he spoke of new terror plots outside Marawi City.
A strong sense of urgency when speaking about new terror plots outside of Marawi City?  Somebody alert the Mindanao bloc of the Philippine Councillors League.
“These travel warnings is temporary and it will not be there forever. Besides, even if there’s a travel warning, their citizens are still coming anyway because it’s peaceful in many parts in Mindanao,” Garcia said in a conference here.
How this guy can be so stupid and wilfully blind is beyond me.  The whole island is under a state of martial law and there are terrorists looking for tourists to kidnap for ransom and Duterte himself has warned of more and bigger attacks to come and this guy just looks the other way because maybe you can go to the mall in Davao or to some filthy beach somewhere and relax for a few hours without getting blown up. Mindanao is not peaceful. It has not been peaceful since the Spanish came and started conflict with the Muslim Moros. The fact that the whole island is under marital law and that even officials from Davao and Zamboanga say martial law has made their cities safer belies the whole notion that Mindanao is a peaceful place.

When the crime rate is so bad that it takes martial law to reduce it, you have got a problem. When you can live safely in the Philippines without transforming your home into a high security prison with concrete walls topped by barbed wire and several dogs patrolling the inside perimeter then the claim that it is peaceful anywhere in the Philippines, let alone Mindanao, might be believable.

But as long as they remain entertained Filipinos will never ever admit there is a problem.  

And entertained they are.  With one hand Duterte appoints entertainers to his administration.

And with the other hand he appoints ex-military officials to his administration all the while joking about his de facto junta.


Unlike civilians, men in uniform get the job done fast, he said. 
“I was Davao mayor a long time,” he said. “It’s difficult with the civilians, those with eligibility. When you give them instructions, they take a long time to do it.” 
“When you tell them to finish it in one hour, these people – susmaryosep. After lunch break, they go to the mall, stroll around,” he added.
That must explain why the Marawi siege is still on-going and why earlier in the year Año stuck his head in the sand and denied there was ever a threat in Bohol despite the AFP monitoring the Abu Sayyaf militants who took a boat to Bohol in order to look for tourists to kindap for ransom and despite the pledge in January that Abu Sayyaf would be defeated by June. They are getting the job done fast.

Notice that two of the news articles from two different news organisations quoted in this blog post use the same photo.  Why is that?

President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday visited Barangay Kilala here to cheer up troops fighting Islamic State-inspired militants. 
The full details of Duterte’s visit were not made available as it was off limits to reporters. 
In a set of photos released by Go, the President was shown mingling with soldiers with Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. and 103rd Infantry Brigade chief Brig. Gen. Rolando Bautista.
It's because when Duterte visited Marawi this week for the second time reporters were off limits and the only photos of the event were released by his trusted assistant Christopher Go. Not that journalists were allowed access during the first visit either.
Journalists tried to request entry to the brigade headquarters but were turned down.
Excluding the media is controlling the narrative and is one of those little steps toward the dictatorship Duterte promised.  Little steps that are hardly noticeable at first but as they say, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

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