Friday, May 26, 2017

Martial law in Mindanao--a test case?

Is Duterte trying to find out how big or how huge the opposition is on martial law, that's why he is implementing a calibrated martial rule? Why is it that Duterte is really itching to declare martial rule?

Some believe that martial rule is an effective diversion from the worsening state of living in the Philippines. Inspite of recent pronouncements made by the Finance secretary that the economy is still growing better than China, people are experiencing a different thing. There is still no indication whatsover that economic gains made by this economy are trickling down to the basic sectors of society.

Others say, martial rule foils public vigilance against corruption. Martial rule will serve as an effective muffle to hide the nefarious activities being undertaken by Duterte's close associates, particularly his fraternity brothers. We all knew what happened at the Bureau of Immigration. This is reportedly happening a hundred fold in different agencies of government right now. Duterte is trying to curb it but most of his appointees are simply too thick skinned, too brazen and too proud to heed their frat brother's appeal not to toy with public funds particularly infrastructure projects. These corrupt men are now salivating how to apportion the infra pie among themselves and this can't be done with a vigilant media and citizenry still doing their jobs under a democratic setup.

Those who still oppose martial rule are doing so because of assurances that martial rule right now is a totally different animal. Wrong presumption.

Under martial law, the government can still cause the closure of firms, companies and arrest individuals upon suspicion of involvement with anti-government forces. Meaning, everyone is fair game. 

Martial law can also be used by nefarious government elements to pressure individuals or firms to fork out monies or curry support. Close associates of the President can even use this to pressure their economic or business competitors to back down from a bidding or a deal, lest be included in the list of " persons of interest".

Why Mindanao?

And since the rest of the country is under relative stability and peace, Duterte can't justify the proclamation of martial law and it is but rational for him to do so in Mindanao where so-called terrorist groups exist.

The thing is--this proclamation is downright a joke because we are talking about a 100 or so armed men. Are we telling the world that our military and police forces are soooo weak, it needs for the national government to declare martial rule just to annihilate them and their network? Is good intelligence work not enough to defeat a group of rag-tag youngsters and Islamic scholars who mostly spend their time inside mosques?  Government is 100 times superior than this group, what with our professional soldiers who are well equipped and well trained to handle such malevolent elements.

It seems though that the real target is NOT just these "ISIS-inspired" terror groups. There are strong indications that the real target are existing CPP-NPA-NDF units scattered throughout the archiepelago. 

Of course, Duterte already made assurances that this is simply not so. Yet, his declaration that the scope of territories will expand to include the Visayas AND Luzon betrays his true intention. 

It is simply UNTHINKABLE at this point for us to consider the possibility that this Maute Group is a sophisticated organisation that the group has already widen its network to include adherents from other areas like Visayas and Luzon. 

Everyone knows within the AFP and the PNP that even though the Maute had now linked itself with the ASG, their strength is too weak, its scope too limited and their influence outside their own turf is practically very small. 

Don't tell me that the AFP right now is simply INCAPABLE of limiting the movements of these groups and that their intelligence capabilities are ineffective?

Anyway, I think Duterte made a big tactical blunder when he made this proclamation and even chose Mindanao as his laboratory. 

People who oppose martial rule is maintaining such a position because these people know that when government imposes military rule there, it would simply not work and it would even prod other non-Maute groups to assume defensive postures.

The fact is---Duterte's declaration actually coincides with the playbook of these terrorists--these terrorists want nothing more than create a destabilized environment to heighten recruitment efforts. 

We all know that most Muslim Filipinos based in Mindanao have maintained their traditional distrust with the military due to their bad experience with the military during the Marcos years. And some or even most military elements share the same mistrust with Muslims in Mindanao. With just one false move on the side of the military, that would spark a very serious action which would precipitate a bigger war.

Faced with two options: siding with the military or duly constituted authorities or going to their fellow Muslims fighting the military, most Muslim Filipinos would chose the latter. 

Will this martial law creep into Visayas and Luzon? Of course it will. While I'm writing this, the AFP has raised their alert status to Red particularly in the Bicol and Southern Tagalog regions. This is already an indication that state security forces are now preparing to implement martial law even in these areas. The minute they enter CPP-NPA-NDF controlled territories, expect a series of firefights which will be used by Duterte to justify the imposition of martial law even in Luzon.