Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Martial Law: Porous Borders

Do you remember the following:

“We cannot discount the possibility of foreign fighters surreptitiously able to enter the country given our vast and porous borders,” AFP spokesperson Colonel Edgard Arevalo said in a press statement. 
Those stories are from 2017 and 2018 respectively. Now let's go back to 2016 for one more story.

Lorenzana, however, hopes that China eventually honors and respects the decision of the tribunal as it will lessen the external threat the Philippines is facing.  
“If we can only get China to respect the ruling, it would be a big load from our back,” he said. “We could probably devote more of our resources to pressing problems at home. “ 
The second phase of the modernization program which starts in 2017 or early 2018 will be pursued as planned.  
Adjustments, however, will be made in line with the new administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. 
“We may have to tweak it a little so that we can address the priority of the new president,” he explained. “He said in his pronouncement a couple of weeks ago that we need more helicopters and night flying capabilities so that we can pursue these mandates, criminals, and terrorists that are trying to create trouble in the South.” 
Talking to other countries is important because “the border is so porous and wide” and the Abu Sayyaf have shifted to kidnapping passengers of fishing boats. 
This article from Rappler dated July 16, 2016 is a revelation. Lorenzana is laying out the plans for the modernisation of the AFP which involves procuring more helicopters (a helicopter deal with Canada has just been scrapped.) He discusses the then recent ruling against China's claims in the SCS and says that he hopes China will abide by the ruling as it will assist in easing the external threat facing the country (China continues to militarise the islands they built in the SCS.) He then goes on to admit that the Philippines border is "so porous and wide."  The difference between Lorenzana's hopes for the future just as Duterte's term was beginning and the reality brought about by Duterte's policies are like night and day. All his dreams have been transformed into nightmares.

In 2016 Loreznana admits the border is porous and in 2018 the AFP admits the border is porous yet in between in 2017 Lorenzana says the government is clueless as to how so many fighters made it to Marawi. Could it be because the border is "so porous and wide?"

It seems as if the Philippines cannot learn from the past. Or follow through with their resolutions of securing the border because the country finds itself in the same situation in which it has always been.

"Based on our own intelligence information, foreign fighters who were displaced from the Middle East continued to enter into our porous borders and may be planning to take two southern cities—Iligan and Cotabato," Murad said.
"We cannot decisively win the war against extremism if we cannot win the peace in the halls of Congress," Murad said.
Now it's the MILF who is saying foreign fighters are entering the country because of the "porous borders." Anyone else see a theme? The borders are not secure, everyone knows it, and this weakness is being exploited but hose who would do harm to the country. Murad goes on to urge the passage of the BBL as the way to decisively win the war against extremism but does not explain how passage of the BBL will secure the porous border. It's ironic that the terrorist group MILF is so eager to end extremism as if they themselves aren't an extremist terrorist organisation.

The military freed at least two dozen Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels who were intercepted trying to smuggle a cache of firearms in restive Maguindanao province on Wednesday while 157 unlicensed guns were surrendered by at least four village officials. 
The weapons were illegal and had no documents from the Philippine National Police. 
It was unclear why the rebels led by Orly Gampung under the 106th Base Command of the MILF were freed and their weapons returned to the group despite serious violations of laws prohibiting the carrying of firearms without permits. 
Only recently, a West Jakarta district court had linked two MILF rebels – Marod and Dato – to terrorists trafficking illegal arms in Indonesia.
It is clear that MILF cannot be trusted. They have been and always will be a terrorist organisation. They are also Muslims who will not balk at using the practice of taqyyia which is deception.

“As the representative of Iligan City, I am deeply concerned about the statement of MILF Chairman Al-Hajj Ebrahim Murad that Iligan City and Cotabato may already be targets of terrorist groups for a sequel of their siege of Marawi City, in case the Bangsamoro Basic Law fails to pass,” Siao said in statement. 
It was recalled that Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)-inspired Maute gunmen occupied Marawi without warning on May 23, 2017. This sparked a gruelling door-to-door campaign by government troops, who would manage to liberate the city later in October. 
Marawi sustained billions of pesos worth of damage, not to mentioned a forever damaged psyche. 
While Siao said that he had since confirmed from military and defense officials that Iligan and Cotabato aren’t under any imminent terrorist threat, he still hoped that Murad would talk to the same officials first before speaking to the media.
There is too much editorialising in this article. "Not to mention a former damaged psyche"? Let's stick to the facts here. That Marawi was occupied without warning is not a fact as I have pointed out time and time again the fact that the AFP admitted they knew about the plans in advance. Is it a fact that Iligan and Cotabato aren't under any imminent threat? Possibly. They are still both violent areas, Cotabato especially.

“We are now reorganizing our units, we are reequipping and retraining. So from the side of the Armed Forces, handa po kami [we are ready] for another Marawi siege whether it happens in Marawi or elsewhere,” he added. 
Brawner said the government is “banking” on the MILF and the public to help the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in its advocacy to counter violent extremism and radicalism.
The AFP should not be banking on help from a terrorist organisation to combat terrorism. Are they using non-violent communists or surrendered NPAs to counter violent communists? No.

The President said he would offer P50,000 for each communist squad leader killed and P25,000 for every dead member of the armed communist group. 
“No questions asked. Just place the head in a pail, put some ice so it would not reek. My office is too far away,” the commander-in-chief said in Filipino during a visit to a military camp in Iloilo province. 
“The tax collectors, the women, medic personnel, you’re also included. Don’t argue about the weapons. You’re the ones collecting anyway,” he added. 
The President explained that the kill bounty was his “counter-offer” after communist leader Jose Maria Sison ordered rebels to kill one soldier a day. 
Instead of facing death, Duterte urged communist rebels to surrender to the government as he promised to extend assistance to help them return to society. 
He noted that the second batch of rebel returnees he met in MalacaƱang would even be given free vacation trips to Hong Kong. 
“You know, I’m addressing myself again to all of you NPAs. You will never even capture a barangay. Stop your dreams. Just surrender, I will pay you,” he said.
Duterte has given the NPA two choices: fight and be killed or surrender and get paid. Even get a free trip to Hong Kong. Duterte loves giving away free trips to Hong Kong.

If these women really did go to Hong Kong wouldn't the media have interviewed at least one of them for the exclusive human interest story? This has not happened which makes me think nobody went to Hong Kong. Free trips to Hong Kong for ex-NPA fighters should not happen. A great idea sending Maoists to China! And at whose expense!? Many poor families in this country could benefit from a little extra money and Duterte wants to pay the NPA surrenderees and send them on a trip to China. 

Duterte wants more SAF to go after the the NPA fighters who do not surrender.


An all-out war with 2,500 more PNP officers. How many of them will turn out to be "scallywags?" Seems the PNP can never purge itself of corruption and now Duterte wants more cops. Why send the cops after the NPA anyway? Why not send the AFP? Why is it in the Philippines that military and police functions are confused? Maybe if only the AFP was charged with fighting terrorism the problem could be addressed quicker.

Despite the plans for all-out war we should never forget Duterte is always open to peace. This time it's up to the AFP.
President Rodrigo Duterte said the Armed Forces of the Philippines would decide whether peace talks with communist rebels would resume, saying “they’re the ones who are dying.” 
In a speech before members of the Chinese Filipino Business Club Inc. on Monday night, Mr. Duterte said although he met with Norwegian officials who had been facilitating the talks, he would have to give weight to what the military would say about the talks.
It might be true that he will defer to the AFP's judexmgent on this matter. He did endorse their recommendation for a one-year extension of martial law. But as in that case and in this it is more likely his mind is already made up.

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