This is only a hunch, but the foreign blogosphere seems far more interested in Philippine rebels behead 10 soldiers (see grim photos published by the Mindanao Examiner) than Filipino bloggers, particularly when it comes to commentary (simply reprinting entire news stories doesn’t cut it). What’s particularly interesting is this:
The government initially blamed Abu Sayyaf or renegade MILF militants for the kidnapping. However, the Roman Catholic news agency AsiaNews said criminal gangs were probably responsible for the abduction.
“The theory that Abu Sayyaf is behind the abduction of Fr Giancarlo Bossi does not hold water,” the news agency said. “Rather, from what we know, he is being held hostage by a gang of criminals.”
Among non-Filipino bloggers, the mood among the interested is grim unsurprise, as shown by Little Green Footballs. The Perpetual Malcontent, for one, seems exasperated by the AsiaNews story. WuzzaDem.com doesn’t think the American media is going to give the story the attention it deserves. as Minnesota Central puts it, there is a global war going on but media (including Bush-friendly media) doesn’t want to admit it. PrariePundit points out that while perhaps not very well known to Americans, the American-assisted campaign against the Abu Sayyaf represents “one of the most successful counterterrorism/counterinsurgency effort of the post-9/11period,” although the killing of the marines represents “a serious setback.” The blog relies heavily on Peter Brookes’ “The Forgotten Front,” which says,
The good news?
U.S.-Philippine operations have significantly weakened the terrorist group. Philippines forces have killed two senior ASG commanders since last December. One was sold out by an ASG member-turned-informant, motivated by the State Department’s rewards program.
Once 2,000 fighters strong, ASG’s been whittled down to around 200 to 300 today. As a result, its trademark bus and local market bombings have dropped off, as has its once-lucrative kidnapping practice. The threat has clearly receded.
But why has this operation shown success?
Indirect Approach: The United States isn’t doing the fighting. Philippine armed forces are – 15,000 of them, with 300 U.S. troops “advising and assisting.” Our forces are not only teaching counterinsurgency tactics and nighttime operations, they’re instructing the Filipinos to collect, analyze and fuse intelligence – even when it comes from a high-tech U.S. Predator drone.
This puts the local Philippine forces in the lead – and gives them the training and battlefield experience to provide a lasting capability that will endure long after the U.S. troops head home.
Hearts and Minds: A significant effort has been made to win local hearts and minds. U.S. and Philippine civil-affairs, humanitarian aid and exercises are helping separate the ASG from the general population. During regular joint “Balikatan” military exercises, Americans and Filipinos build roads, schools, water plants and piers that allow locals to build a better future for themselves – and instill trust and confidence in Manila.
Defense Reform: In 2002, the Pentagon undertook a bilateral program to help the Philippines identify much-needed defense reforms and boost our ally’s armed forces’ professionalization.
That extends to unsexy but vital areas such as maintenance and logistics. In 2001, Philippine military helicopters were mission-ready just 15 percent of the time. Today, those helos are ready for counterinsurgency 80 percent of the time.
Stick-to-itiveness: Despite up and downs in the bilateral relationship (especially when Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo withdrew forces from Iraq), Washington stuck to eliminating the ASG. Resolve makes a difference.
But the real question, it seems to me, is whether 10 Philippine Marines died at the hands of the Abu Sayyaf, or fell prey to a criminal gang. Philippine Commentary points to TV reporter sees empty houses before all hell breaks loose and gives a rundown of what happened; he’s particularly irked that the MILF issued a statement that the whole thing was in the nature of a command and control snafu, that they bore no responsibility but were quite gleefully willing to pick up weaponry from the battlefield.
if they were slain by the Abu Sayyaf, then did the terrorist group intercept the marines as they actually went after the bandits who have the Italian priest, or are the terrorists in league with the bandits, or trying to grab the bandits’ hostage? Whichever way you look at it, it seems a case of bad leadership on the part of the marines.
Let me say I am not a believer in the “see, people are dead! for their sake, abandon all your misgivings about current policy to fight terrorism!” way of arguing or thinking. I believe that this sort of argumentation strays very close to a terrorist mindset.
The President’s been making fire-breathing statements: 1st targets: Rogue AFP men, Reds, terrorists when it comes to the anti-terror law, which yesterday’s Inquirer editorial said should be reviewed now, rather than later. Study the law before making dire predictions, Palace tells critics of Human Security Act.
To help you figure out whether the opposition is valid or misguided, check out Part 1 and Part 2 of Geronimo L. Sy’s efforts to explain the anti-terror law’s provisions.
Meanwhile, AFP troops back in NCR.
In political news, on the evening of my last entry, the Comelec had already made a sudden volte-face: after Comelec flip-flops on Zubiri proclamation, it became COMELEC defers Zubiri proclamation. And just when the public was already set to cheer or jeer (see Winners make losers. Losers make excuses and starfish hands and Tinkie Fantasy for contrasting views) now Comelec in a bind over proclamation (I don’t buy Sarmiento’s logic). Anyway, for now, Koko Pimentel gears up for final stand.
Also,even as JDV: Secret ballot you want, secret ballot you get, there’s a twist: JdV supporters oppose secret vote proposal in choosing speaker while Garcia: JdV lost moral ascendancy for Speakership (on related matters, De Venecia son hit on broadband deal and GMA presses JdV to make Mikey energy committee chairman); in his column, Efren Danao says he think de Venecia still has the edge, but also goes into an educational description of an oft-used political word, “caucus”:
A caucus is held mainly to prevent a bloody or protracted confrontation on the floor. It is not true that only members of the same political party can hold a caucus. Members of different political parties belong to a coalition, whether administration or opposition, can hold a caucus. It can also involve both the majority and the minority, as in an all-Senate caucus which is held quite often.
Any one who says a caucus to settle the speakership issue is redundant because the official balloting will still take place on July 23 ignores the real nature of a caucus. It is a parliamentary tradition that any decision arrived at in a caucus will be binding on every one present. If Pabling wins at the caucus, JdV’s supporters will go for him on July 23. JdV is being true to parliamentary tradition when he said he would personally nominate Pabling on July 23 should Pabling win in the caucus. Those who do not want to be bound by any decision contrary to their own sentiments usually avoid caucuses like a plague.
Here is an addendum to the issue of secret balloting for the speakership as proposed by the Garcia camp. In my column last Monday, Rep. Raul del Mar of Cebu City said that secret balloting is contrary to House rules that prescribe roll call voting. Rep. Arthur Defensor explained why the rules called for roll call vote. Art, whom I also covered at the regular Batasan, stressed that a roll call vote is needed to determine who should belong to the majority and to the minority. Those who voted for the winner will constitute the majority and those for the loser, the minority. Definitely, the members of the majority and the minority could not be ascertained in a secret balloting.
Overseas: China executes former food safety chief over fake medicines. And Dr. Enzo von Pfeil gets interviewed on whether and how another Asian financial crisis could take place. Elizabeth Wilner suggests that in American politics, there aren’t any second chances anymore.
My column today is You get what you wish for; my Arab News column for this week is Nuclear Option Is Back on the Table in Philippines.
A brilliant passage from Manuel Buencamino’s blow-by-blow account of how the administration targeted Gringo Honasan and then, when Honasan became cooperative, suddenly pulled a rabbit out of its legal hat:
Susmaryosep! If a finding can be pulled out of a hat to let Honasan off the hook, why couldn’t the same be done for Trillanes?
Was it because rather than doing a Gringo, Senator Trillanes swore he would investigate extrajudicial killings, reopen the Garci case and continue to work for Mrs. Arroyo’s impeachment?
No, said government mouthpieces. Under the principle of equality before the law, Senator Trillanes deserved the same treatment as a pedophile who was twice elected to Congress while in detention and who, recently, received a commutation of sentence from a close family friend, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
There’s no need to detail the absurd Trillanes/Jalosjos parallel. Suffice it to say that mounting an 11-year-old girl to satisfy one’s perverted craving is not the same as mounting a mutiny against corrupt military leaders.
There is a difference between patriotism and pedophilia; between a man who stands for his beliefs no matter what and a trapo who stands principles on their head whenever it’s expedient. There is a difference between “de jure” and “de facto” ; between the rule of law and the rule of outlaws. But this regime wants you to believe “there ain’t no difference.”
Time and time again, this regime has used the law to mock the rule of law. And it has never hesitated to substitute a putative sovereign’s will for the sovereign will of the people. But this regime wants you to believe “it ain’t so.”
The same Justice Gonzalez who pulled that rabbit out of his hat, is the very same Gonzalez in this news story: Justice chief relieves Velasco from Burgos case. More in Burgos prosecutor sacked after tagging Isafp agents.
As Erap trial judges reach consensus, there’s the view of Billy Esposo that the ads, etc. are actually an Estrada supporters’ plot. He says something I believe to be true:
How many out there will be willing to risk life, limb and fortune to fight and die for Joseph “Erap” Estrada? It is one thing to sympathize with Estrada the jailbird or vote for the candidates he endorses. But to suggest that millions, or nay, even just thousands of people are willing to confront the State’s armed and police forces over a guilty verdict for Estrada is stretching the limits of the imagination too far.
Then he goes on to suggest that
Before the ad came out, no one had really challenged the fairness of the Sandiganbayan in handling the Estrada plunder case. Up to that day, the public had generally given the Sandiganbayan the benefit of the doubt that Estrada will get a fair trial and verdict.
But after the ad came out, the Estrada camp went to town to claim that a guilty verdict has been rigged. This tends to erode the public’s trust in the capability of the Sandiganbayan to render an impartial verdict. It leads the public to conclude that the Arroyo regime had already gone out of its way to force the court to render a guilty verdict.
In a way, the brand of justice that Secretary Raul Gonzalez had accustomed us to expect has conditioned the public to become cynical of court verdicts in the Arroyo era. Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo had cast the seeds of that kind of justice that Gonzalez sows, so she only deserves to reap that sort of public cynicism.
But think again – did you really believe that the Arroyo regime would be so stupid to place that kind of an ad? Common sense will tell you that ad creates an information environment that bolsters only the kind of thinking that the Estrada camp would want to promote.
A point to consider, though I’ve never been keen on the “they’d never be so dumb to do that!” argument. You really never know. For every act of brilliance, or at least breathtaking boldness, a political player’s capable off, there’s always the chance that a blunder can take place. Tony Abaya thinks the middle class has been permanently antagonized by the Estrada camp (I agree):
Given Erap’s past history of colluding with the comrades – not out of ideological commitment, but out of his personal desire to be freed from detention and cleared of the plunder charge – whatever violence is generated by a guilty verdict will not elicit support from the middle class, which avoided earlier efforts to entice them in 2003, 2005 and 2006, no matter how unpopular President Arroyo has become.
A not guilty verdict would embolden Erap and his entourage to try again, for the fourth time, to topple the Arroyo government, but such an enterprise is not likely to generate sympathy and support from the middle class, especially since the economy is doing fairly well and very few, if any, would want to do anything to muddy the economic waters, at least not for such undeserving persons as Erap and his communist allies.
Today’s Inquirer editorial says the trial’s been political from the start, but that the court’s handled things fairly well; see also the views of Marichu Lambino. Personally, I think people have made up their mind either way, but that one court people will end up respecting will be the Supreme Court -and the Sandiganbayan verdict will most likely be appealed, anyway.
An interesting column by Connie Veneracion on how she teaches.
In the blogosphere, even as columnists like Nestor Mata weigh in (pro Villar) bloggers ponder the Senate merry-go-round: big mango wonders which matters more, romance or practicality.
Placeholder on how giving up anonymity doesn’t necessarily mean one has to give up privacy.
Thanks to J. Dennis Torres and fmontserrat for the endorsements.
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