Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Martial Law: Last Chance/Racing Against Time

This 45th week of Martial Law has not been much different from last week. A few skirmishes but mostly all talk. Duterte has been talking and talking and talking about the BBL to the Muslims and to Congress. He has also indicated that he wants to revive the peace talks with the communists. Talk, talk, talk. Blah, blah, blah. Let's find out what he's been saying.

First let's start with the BBL.

Speaking at an event for land reform beneficiaries in Sultan Kudarat, the President said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), whose leaders had a meeting with him last week, "has placed on us the burden of a timeline." 
"And I have agreed to that period. I gave my solemn promise and I assure you I am working hard to meet the deadline," he said.
The MILF is now holding the entire nation and Duterte hostage. How does this terrorist group have any standing to place "the burden of a timeline" on this process? And why would Duterte agree to this? His solemn promise isn't worth much as he promised to jet-ski to the Spratly Islands and plant the flag and he promised to end drugs and crime in six months and he did neither.

What will the MILF do if the Congress does not vote in favour of this de facto Islamic State which Duterte even admits won't settle ethnic hostilities? Will they launch attacks again? Does Duterte not realise that the MILF is a terrorist group and that there is only a temporary ceasefire? The "us" on which the burden has been placed is everyone in this country. 

The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will be ready for signing into law when Congress adjourns sine die on June 1, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said yesterday.
The draft faces rough sailing due to what many congressmen consider as unconstitutional provisions. 
One such provision is the proposed regional parliamentary setup, which does not jibe with the presidential structure the Constitution provides and which exists nationally. 
Duterte himself has acknowledged the constitutional infirmities of the draft, which is similar to the one presented by the Aquino administration to Congress and which the legislature failed to pass.
The first headline contradicts the second. How can the Senate guarantee the bill will be ready by June 1st when the House has not even passed the bill yet and when it faces opposition because of "unconstitutional provisions"? The Senate version of the BBL and the House version are not the same. Why would Duterte acknowledge the BBL draft bill's "constitutional infirmities" but still want it passed when he just withdrew from the ICC because he believes provisions in the Rome Treaty are unconstitutional?? It makes no sense. It is contradictory and confusing. It is classic Duterte.

While the MILF has "no objections" to the version of the BBL pending at the Senate, Jaafar said his group had "some problems" with the one at the House of Representatives, which included some watered-down provisions.
More contradictions! Duterte wants the House to pass the version of the BBL they have but the MILF is not ok with that version of the bill. So what then? They pass it, the Senate amends it, and then it goes back to the House for another vote or what? If this bill is to succeed there is too much work to be done to simply railroad it through to the Preisdent's desk. Interestingly in this interview with a MILF spokesman there is no mention of the MILF giving a deadline but he does mention that Duterte set a deadline of having it passed before the SONA.

We see that Duterte's real goal is not peace in Mindanao per se. No. His real goal is to be the Saviour of the Philippines. He wants to be the man who brought everlasting peace to Mindanao and the country by settling the 500 year old Moro Conflict, ending Islamic terrorism, and reigning in the Communists. The announcement of wanting to sign the BBL into law before the SONA is proof that this is his goal. Remember last year when the AFP was told to reclaim the Marawi before the SONA?

It's all a show. Duterte wants to stand before the entire nation and say, "I have brought peace to the country."  In reality all he will do is curse and ramble on while the director uses every angle to make him look good on TV.


Given that Marawi was not retaken until October perhaps the BBL will also pass by then. But don't count on it.

Now let's move on to the communists.

Remember this?

“Let them choose. Ako, I’m ready for an all-out war. Another 50 years if need be. What you give, you receive also,” Duterte said in an ambush interview on Thursday (March 9) after his visit to the wake of the four slain policemen when asked if he would prefer peace talks or war.
Turns out Duterte isn't ready for all-out war with the Communists.

Dureza said the President directed his officials “to work on the resumption of peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF, with clear instructions on the importance of forging a ceasefire agreement to stop mutual attacks and fighting while talks are underway.” 
“The President said, ‘Let’s give this another last chance,’ ” Dureza added in a text message.
Another last chance?  How many times do you get a "last chance?" Last chance should be last chance but with Duterte having no firm policy regarding Islamic terrorists or Communists there will be plenty of last chances to go round. Not only is Duterte wanting to revive the peace talks, he also wants to bring them from the Netherlands to the Philippines.

“Come home. I will not talk there. Come home. I will subsidize your trip here. I will pay for your billeting, board and lodging,” the President said during an agriculture event in MalacaƱang, addressing the communist rebel group.
When he says, "I will pay," what he really means is, "The Filipino taxpayers will pay." Right now Norway is covering all the costs and is playing mediator in the peace talks. Is there a budget allocated for peace talks?  Do the people want this? Sure, groups have raised their voices to resume peace talks but do they represent what all 100 million citizens, or at least a majority of them, want? Duterte has even given his blessing for Joma Sison to return to the country.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said the President had indicated his willingness to give Sison, his former college professor, "an assurance that he can come home without being arrested for the purpose of participating in the peace talks." 
Sison fled to Europe soon after peace talks with the government of then-President Corazon Aquino failed in 1987 and has stayed in the Netherlands since, while the country's longest running insurgency continued to claim thousands of lives amid fighting with government troops.
What does Duterte hope to gain from renewing peace talks?  They failed the first time. He could not have possibly thought they would have succeeded. DND Sec Lorenzana said everyone thought releasing terrorists from prison in a bid to have peace talks succeed was foolish.
It was in August 2016 when the government released 22 NDF consultants for the negotiation, including CPP chairman Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma, who were arrested in 2014. 
The Duterte administration then conducted its first round of peace talks with the NDF in Norway, ending almost five years of impasse. 
Lorenzana, meanwhile, said the government did not get anything in return when the communist leaders were released. 
“They went to Oslo, Norway to talk. Because our troops were prevented from operating against them, so they were able to recover a lot of barangays that we have taken from them,” he said. 
What did we get? Nothing, so ‘yun ang masasabi ko, they're just trying to take advantage of the peace talks, to gain a space to pursue their range,” he added. 
The Defense chief also pointed out that he did not think that peace negotiations under the Duterte administration would work right from the start. 
“No I did not think, a lot of us, the defense community did not think it would work and also lot of civilians did not think it would work,” Lorenzana said.
Lorenzana is a brave man to say he he and others did not think Duterte's foolish plan would work. Such a statement could be used against him as proof of disloyalty and cost him his job. Who would dare contradict Duterte? Not even the AFP and PNP who's recommendation regarding peace talks Duterte said he would follow. They both said, "NO!" a few months ago because the communists continue to fight and kill both PNP and AFP personnel. Why have peace talks if the SPARU assassination squad is being revived? Now the PNP and AFP are on  board with this plan to revive the peace talks.
"The AFP supports the administration in all its efforts and initiatives to bring just and lasting peace and development for the country. We will continue performing our mission and mandate of protecting the people and securing the state," AFP spokesperson Brigadier General Bienvenido Datuin said in a statement. 
"The PNP is pro-peace and we support all government efforts to achieve lasting peace. All of us have witnessed the sincerity of the government through President Duterte for exhausting all possible means to hold the peace negotiation with the CPP/NPA/NDF [Communist Party of the Philippines/New People's Army/National Democratic Front]," Bulalacao said.
Neither of these statements seem particularly enthusiastic about Duterte's plan. It seems as if the AFP is saying, "You do your thing and we will do ours which means killing each NPA rebel we come across." 

Duterte says the timeline for the talks is 60 days. 
“I will do it. I will be the one who will deliver. But I’ll have a timeline of something like two months, 60 days. Good or break tayo,” the President said during a dinner concert at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City last Thursday.  
“I will spend for it. I will bring rice... I will shoulder the hotel (costs). You can all go out, all of you. Nothing will happen. But if we fail, I’ll start collecting. That’s for sure,” he added. 
Nothing is for sure with Duterte. Nothing.

If all the above information has you angry over how stupid it all is then take a breath. Let it out. Get ready to laugh.
Sources told the Inquirer that during the command conference, which was held in an undisclosed location, officials of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP), also discussed ways on how to further strengthen intelligence gathering to thwart possible moves by IS-affiliated groups and the NPA to “sow terror. 
Last year, the ISAFP took some blame because of “lapses” in intelligence gathering that led to the siege of Marawi City, which started on May 23, 2017. 
“Basically, the command conference was all about counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency strategies, nothing special,” one of the sources said. 
Asked why the command conference was held here, another source it was “simply a change of venue” from the ISAFP headquarters in Manila to Davao. 
In fact, the President was supposed to grace the closing ceremonies of the conference, which will be held at the Grand Regal Hotel.
This article starts off by saying the ISAFP will be meeting at an undisclosed location and ends by disclosing the location! Was this really supposed to be secret? It definitely should have been. Why would the top intelligence service members and the top enlisted commanders gather together in one place and have it broadcast? Why would they meet outside headquarters in Davao which increases the risk to their safety and security? They could have had a change of venue by meeting somewhere more secure than Mindanao. Why even have a change of venue in the first place? This isn't an Avon meeting! Makes one wonder if there wasn't some ulterior motive for moving the venue.
President Duterte lauded the intelligence service and senior enlisted leaders for their efforts in defending and protecting national security. 
“Our fight for a peaceful, stable and secure Philippines rests greatly on the two pillars of the AFP gathered here today: the ISAFP, which heads the intelligence efforts of the AFP, and the Sergeants Majors, which collectively provide steady operational leadership to the entire non-commissioned corps of the AFP,” Duterte said in his speech. 
“I could not stress enough the importance of timely, accurate and useful intelligence in securing the country and protecting our people from all enemies of the state,” he said. 
The government credits the successful apprehension and neutralization of several high-value communist and Islamic terrorists to your effective intelligence operations,” he added. 
May you further improve your intelligence and counterintelligence operations, and continue to work closely with other intelligence units and concerned stakeholders in the crucial tasks of gathering and processing intelligence information,” said Duterte. 
“As we consolidate our gains in this time of rapid progress and growing strength, I count on the ISAFP and our Sergeant Majors to propel our country towards real and lasting peace,” he added. 
With you by our side, our dream of a truly strong Philippines will be achieved in the next few years,” he further said. 
“Rest assured that the government remains steadfast in looking after your welfare and in modernizing the entire Armed Forces of the Philippines,” he said. PND
Duterte is right. The gathering of "timely, accurate, and useful intelligence" is 100% crucial to winning the war against terrorism. Too bad when they had intelligence about Abu Sayyaf going to Bohol last April, actually monitoring their boat in real time, they did nothing about it until it was too late. Too bad that last April when they learned about the plans for the Marawi siege they were not able to prevent it from happening. Too bad that Duterte admitted the Marawi siege was not the result of a failure of intelligence because they knew all about the plans and weapons were allowed to flow into Marawi due to the government's soft stance on terrorists. Too bad that Lorenzana admitted the DND did not verify intel reports they received about ISIS and foreign terrorists in the country.

If no one acts on the intelligence the ISAFP gathers or that is given to them from foreign sources then it's a worthless endeavour. I wonder what role Operation Pacific Eagle is playing in the gathering of intelligence?

No comments:

Post a Comment