Thoughts on Mindanao

I only got back on my feet after being ill since the weekend, hence no recent updates. It couldn’t have been a worse week to get sick: so much is happening!

Some stories and related links must suffice.

1. Cash-strapped gov’t to expand lifestyle check to private citizens. And this: Optimism among elites waning. No connection between the two stories, though.

2. The worldwide market jitters (note that concern had already been widely-discussed in the media; the whole thing, if you recall my March 2 and March 15 and then July 31 entries, that unravelled over the past weeks had begun unravelling then): a string of Financial Times stories telegraphs what’s going on: World’s investors scramble for safety; Banks in dark over cost of credit turmoil; Bank shares rebound but Asian markets fall; Crunch set to prolong US housing slump. End result? Leaders Urge Calm Amid Fresh Market Turmoil even as central banks around the world pumped billions into the markets.

The Economist explains it this way: The game is up: Credit markets and the crisis of confidence in global finance:

The doubts burst into the open on August 9th when central banks were forced to inject liquidity into the overnight money markets because banks were charging punitive rates to lend to each other. At first, the problems appeared more serious among European banks. The pain in America was concentrated in the largest hedge funds, including those run by Wall Street’s biggest name, Goldman Sachs. Increasingly, however, analysts worry about the exposure of American, Canadian and Asian banks.

On Wednesday August 15th shares in Countrywide Financial, a large American mortgage lender, fell 13% after an analyst gave warning of possible funding difficulties. Despite liquidity injections by the Federal Reserve on August 15th, the S&P 500 index fell 1.4%. The heavy selling spread to Asian and European stocks on August 16th.

Every crisis begets finger-pointing, and the blame now is falling on the rating agencies that helped structure these exotic instruments. Currently, they are guided by a voluntary code that aims to tackle potential conflicts of interest. The biggest is that the agencies are paid by the firms they rate. Rating CDOs was a profitable business.

If these securities are now downgraded, banks could be forced to offload lots of illiquid instruments into a falling market—one of the fastest ways to lose money yet devised. But if there are no buyers, banks may have to sell something else to shore up their balance sheets.

Something like this indiscriminate selling has been affecting hedge funds over the past couple of weeks. Faced with more demanding standards from their banks and investors, some have been forced to unwind positions in order to realise cash. That has led to unusual movements in debt and equity markets, which have only got some funds deeper into trouble. Quantitative funds have been hardest hit, as investment models that had made money for ages briefly proved worse than useless.

The Financial Times editorial looks at the credit ratings agencies, which are being criticized by the EU for the jitters going on. Worth a read, because of the role these ratings agencies have played on our shores (first, a crutch for the government, then more recently, a cause of discomfort).

For our part of the world, it’s an Asian Market Panic, says Asia Sentinel. Also in the same online news magzine, Philip Bowring points to problems caused by “The US Market’s Pyramid of Lies”.

William Pesek of Bloomberg says the whole thing’s proof that our region’s economies are still linked at the hip to that of the USA; John Mangun points out that the only thing that’s certain is the high level of uncertainty at present.

For what the term “uncertainty means,” see this blog by an economist (who basically said the same thing Bowring’s saying, but called it a “Minsky Credit Cycle” way back in March): Current Market Turmoil: Non-Priceable Knightian “Uncertainty” Rather Than Priceable Market “Risk”:

Today, the FT cites a market economist at Lehman who said: “We are in a minefield. No one knows where the mines are planted and we are just trying to stumble through it”. A few days ago another market participant put it this way: “It is not the corpses at the surface that are scary; it is the unknown corpses below the surface that may pop up unexpectedly”.

Unknown minefield; unexpected corpses: this is “uncertainty” rather than “risk”. Risk can be measured and priced because it depends on know distributions of events to which investors can assign probabilities. Uncertainty cannot be priced by markets because it relates to “fat tail” distributions and extreme events that cannot be easily predicted or measured. A few days ago the CFO of Goldman Sachs justified the massive ” 30% plus”  – losses of the two Goldman Sachs hedge funds by arguing that these were unpredictable “25 standard deviation events” that should occur only once in a million years. The same thing was said by the LTCM “masters of the universe” when their highly leveraged hedge fund went belly up in 1998.

Too bad that these fat tail events do occur more often than once in a million years: the real estate bubble and bust and S&L crisis of the late 1980s; the boom and bust of the tech stocks in 2000-2001; the 1987 stock market crash; the 1998 LTCM debacle; the variety of asset bubbles that ended up into busts from Japan (1980s) to East Asia (1997-98).

Indeed, for many reasons the current market panic has to do with unpriceable uncertainty rather than measurable risk.

How the thing got out of hand is further explained by Roubini as follows (it helps explain The Economist’s article linked to above):

today any wealthy individual can take $1 million and go to a prime broker and leverage this amount three times; then the resulting $4 million ($1 equity and $3 debt) can be invested in a fund of funds that will in turn leverage these $4 millions three or four times and invest them in a hedge fund; then the hedge fund will take these funds and leverage them three or four times and buy some very junior tranche of a CDO that is itself levered nine or ten times. At the end of this credit chain, the initial $1 million of equity becomes a $100 million investment out of which $99 million is debt (leverage) and only $1 million is equity. So we got an overall leverage ratio of 100 to 1. Then, even a small 1% fall in the price of the final investment (CDO) wipes out the initial capital and creates a chain of margin calls that unravel this debt house of cards. This unraveling of a Minskian Ponzi credit scheme is exactly what is happening right now in financial markets.

With a pretty discouraging prognosis:

So combine an opaque and unregulated global financial system where moderate levels of leverage by individual investors pile up into leverage ratios of 100 plus; and add to this toxic mix investments in the most uncertain, obscure, misrated, mispriced, complex, esoteric credit derivatives (CDOs of CDOs of CDOs and the entire other alphabet of credit instruments) that no investor can properly price; then you have created a financial monster that eventually leads to uncertainty, panic, market seizure, liquidity crunch, credit crunch, systemic risk and economic hard landing. The last two asset and credit bubbles in the US — the S&L real estate bubble and bust of the late 1980s and the tech stock bubble of the late 1990s — ended up in painful recessions. The latest credit and asset bubble was much bigger: housing, mortgages, credit, private equity and LBOs, credit derivatives, corporate re-leveraging. So, the current bust and de-leveraging of the financial system is likely to lead to another painful economic hard landing.

For the Philippine stock market, Key index’s gain wiped out (easy come, easy go: Net “hot money” inflow hits $3.6B). another cause for concern is that the market jitters affect the currency markets: Peso weakens further to 46.43 to $1 (also: Asian currencies slide continues, BSP steps in).

3. In the USA, the grey eminence of the Bush administration’s quit: see Spinner Emeritus and Dissecting ‘Bush’s Brain’.

On the home front, politically, Ricky Carandang, after taking a look at Manuel Villar, Jr.’s presidential prospects, looks at the prospects for Manuel Roxas II.

4. Earthquakes! Peru! Los Angeles! Indonesia! Ring of Fire active indeed! And here’s a new thing to learn: Moment magnitude: the way to measure really large quakes.

5. Now, on to Mindanao.

First, some readings. From Miriam Coronel Ferrer, Knotty questions on Basilan:

…let’s start with the facts of the case.

On July 10, an eight-vehicle convoy of  more than 100 Marine officers and enlisted men purportedly searching for the  kidnapped priest was ambushed in Ginanta.  Fourteen Marines were killed, and nine injured. Ten of the dead were stripped naked and gruesomely beheaded. Some of the corpses also lost fingers or legs, thighs were sliced, bones fractured, two penises cut off.

We are told the battle began at 10 a.m. and lasted until 5:30 p.m. Around 11 p.m., Al-Barka mayor Karam Jakilan sent some of his men to secure the area.  He, Basilan Governor Jum Akbar and  the police chief, followed around midnight and retrieved some of the mutilated bodies.

From the accounts, we can surmise that the beheadings took place from around 6 p.m. when the Marines had pulled out of the area, and before midnight when the first official party found the bodies.  So who could have been responsible?

The MILF admitted their forces were involved in the battle. Ginanta is known as an MILF-controlled area. Apparently, local MILF forces were threatened by the convoy that stopped by the roadside and the truckloads of Marines that disembarked to secure the troops while one truck was being extricated from the mud. The Marines’ arrival was not coordinated with the ceasefire committee. So, without further ado, the local MILF secured the offensive. In their website (, the MILF confirmed five of their own died. They also claimed that 23, not 14 Marines were killed in the encounter and that 17 (the Marines say 18) firearms were seized. But they denied involvement in the mutilation.

From Newsbreak: Poor Planning, Troop Burnout Caused Twin Tragedy in Mindanao:

The AFP has seen better days. In 2003, for example, soldiers captured Abu Sayyaf leaders Mujib Susukan and Galib Andang aka Kumander Robot in Sulu. A resident, Fatmawati Salapuddin, remembers it well: “It was very laudable as the AFP then conducted the operation quietly, they didn’t employ thousands of troops and they didn’t use high-powered artilleries and bombs and no one was displaced.”

In Basilan last year, the military launched successful operations against the Abu Sayyaf, making them flee to the nearby island of Sulu.

Today, the AFP has sent more than 6,000 troops to pursue less then 500 armed elements in Sulu and Basilan.

And now, on to some observations:

1. Late last year I had the chance to talk to Sec. Dureza, head of the peace process. Eventually, we discussed Mindanao and he seemed quite optimistic about the prospects of peace talks. What I found most interesting is that the government takes very seriously indeed, proposals to grant Commonwealth status (with its own Organic Act or a constitution) to Muslim Mindanao. From what I recall, Dureza said there were two major obstacles: first, the Constitution makes no provisions for anything more than its present provisions for regional autonomy; second, there is the desire of Muslim leaders to expand the territory that would comprise Muslim Mindanao beyond the present ARMM. On the other hand, he felt the ancestral domain issue (which would mean compensation for Muslims for territory and resources now settled by Christians) was not far off from being settled amicably.

2. Just a few hours before I finally had to take to my sickbed, I had a very interesting talk with a former official who has an intimate knowledge of both the peace process and the Department of National Defense. Here are some observations made by the official:

a. Conflict in Mindanao is “self-containing,” a curious term which I understand works along these lines: the military undertakes an offensive; the leadership of whatever Muslim group the military is targeting melts away, seeking safe havens in Palawan and Sabah; Muslim families in the affected areas immediately send their families to evacuation centers; the evacuation centers are overwhelmed; the UN begins to speak of a “humanitarian crisis”; foreign media arrives, to cover the humanitarian crisis; foreign and public scrutiny become so intense, military offensives must cease; peace, for the time being, is restored. It is a tired, old, predictable, and tragic, script but one that serves to prevent violence from spiraling out of hand.

b. What happened in Basilan was this. The government has an agreement to respect MILF enclaves, and military operations are told to avoid entering these enclaves, and if they must, it is done with the permission of the MILF. As the Marines were conducting operations to look for Fr. Bossi, it rained and the Marines decided to take a shortcut (it’s unclear to me whether, at this point, permission from the MILF was sought, or not); still, as the Marines proceeded to take their shortcut, it was proceeding without incident until an APC broke down. When it broke down, the Marines instinctively fanned out in formation to secure the APC as it was being repaired. At this point, it seems the MILF got jittery and the firefight broke out. Things got further complicated when, for one reason or another, the AFP was unable to assist the Marines. And yet, even in the case of incidents of violence such as these, there is an SOP followed. The MILF, after the firefight, contacted the Governor and gave a full body count. It’s between the time the fighting ended, and the surviving Marines returned to recover the body of their comrades, that the beheadings took place.

c. The MILF, according to the official, retains formidable formations on the ground. Therefore, they have the capacity to make a mess of things in their areas, which discourages aggressive AFP operations. The official gave an example involving the last time fighting broke out between the MILF and the AFP. The MILF embarked on systematically blowing up and tearing down electric poles over a large swathe of territory: so while the fighting could be sorted out, and peace restored relatively quickly, the damage to infrastructure -and thus, the damage to the local economy- took months to repair.

d. The MILF, the official said, also has something the Abu Sayyaf lacks: it can engage in reprisals if conflict escalates. If an offensive were launched against the MILF, the immediate result would be bombings in Davao, the Visayas or the ferries, and Metro Manila: the MILF has the network and the means. The Abu Sayyaf, on the other hand, has been heavily hit (but not knocked out) and so cannot retaliate. While there may be individual fighters or groups of fighters, who may be MILF, MNLF, or Abu Sayyaf, or all three, depending on the circumstances, in general, there are two issues and it isn’t helpful to blur the two: handling the MILF with kid gloves (the OIC and neighboring countries are also involved, after all) can’t be imperiled by going after the Abu Sayyaf, and vice versa.

e. There is the question of military procurement. An offensive justifies emergency appropriations and sooner or later it has to be asked whether the emergency release of funds benefitted the troops or not. Say a mortar round, fresh from the factory and thus at its prime, costs 30,000 pesos. That will be its listed price. But the same mortar round, close to its expiration date, can be found on the open market for, say, 1,500 pesos (put up for sale by foreign militaries updating their inventory). Therefore, in an emergency situation, a clever arms purchaser for the AFP can source mortar rounds for a fraction of their listed price. The official explained that the military being what it is, you can be sure that every single mortar round purchased during an emergency procurement will be used up, even if the military has nothing left to shell except the forests. A conscientious military command would only purchase fresh mortar rounds and not send about-to-expire rounds to the troops; but that is presuming the command is conscientious; an unscrupulous military command, on the other hand, would be poised to make a fortune from buying cheap ammunition.

f. There is the question of whether the AFP is providing the soldiers on the ground the best leadership. An effective military has systems in place to constantly evaluate the effectivity of commanders, and to demand accountability of officers whether at the front or at HQ. At the very least, as soon as the firing stops, if it’s shown that soldiers died because of a communications or other snafu, someone needs to get the axe. Combat is as Darwinian as a situation can get: only the fittest survive, and only the fittest should remain in command. A lot of finger-pointing is going on, which excuses everyone, in the end, and results in zero accountability. This can lead to false bravado on one hand, or sagging morale on the other.

g. Because of point “a,”  and “e” and “f”, there is a limit to the effectiveness of combat operations. Since war is the pursuit of politics by other means, whoever is President sets the overall strategy, with which the armed forces has to comply: its responsibility is direct the tactical side of things. Strategy can be arrived at through a process of wargames, or brainstorming, involving both civilian and military officials. A President who talks more to the generals than to prudent civilian leaders, is much more susceptible to errors in judgment arising from lapses of judgment down the line, among the officers. We often hear of administrations divided between “hawks” and “doves,” with Presidents refereeing the two: often this is how the way out of a rapidly-unraveling situations gets to be identified. If the “hawks” dominate an administration, however, then it’s very easy for any President to succumb to the temptation to give in -even when an escalation of the conflict can have grave consequences.

h. A President beholden to the military is in a weak position to apply the brakes, or determine the political framework under which military operations will take place.

A military high command which is not held in high regard by the soldiers on the ground will be ignorant of the soldiers’ real needs, or lacking in the capacity to give effective orders -not least, because fellow officers at the front and GHQ, or at both, won’t feel the pressure to perform. They can’t even be sacked, which is the ultimate trump card the President or the chief of staff should possess over subordinate officers. If the military high command feels it can act with impunity, because it can bully a President, or ignore their commander-in-chief, if the the commander-in-chief, in turn, lacks the means (usually, people) to get an accurate reading of the pulse of the officers and enlisted men, then you have a rudderless war.

i. If, further, you have an officer corps more interested in making a fortune out of a conflict, and in lining its pockets and not doing its work, and which therefore sees financial and political opportunity in a conflict: it can make money from emergency appropriations; it can increase its strength, politically, by telling the commander-in-chief things are worse than they are, and require more extreme measures than necessary; and which likes the fact the enlisted men, who are in the line of fire and are eager to avenge their fallen comrades; and so, for the duration, will want to pursue the enemy, never mind their outstanding grievances about the causes of woefully bad command-and-control and lousy equipment: then you have a recipe, if not for disaster (things are self-limiting, after all), but for the debasement of the armed forces.

j. Jolo, militarily, is a “black hole.” Nothing is gained by pouring in troops in an area where the martial culture is so ingrained, and the AFP so hated, men, women, and children all engage in taking pot shots at the soldiers. Pouring in troops only turns the entire population against the government. Putting a lid on outbreaks of violence, and engaging in more stealthy tactics (smaller groups of highly-trained soldiers, with lots of cash to pay for information), or getting local leaders to sort things out, is more effective.

Points to ponder. If the official is right, then so long as hostilities against the MILF don’t ensue, things will settle down once CNN starts showing footage of a humanitarian crisis in Mindanao. By then, a lot of lives and treasure will have been wasted, and at the end of the day, those being buried will be the enlisted men, with no senior officers any the worse for wear, and possibly, much richer and more politically powerful than before.

A final thought. See Patricio Diaz‘s latest column. There contending forces and political frameworks in the area. There are the traditional notions of Muslim identity, based on royalty and local allegiances to ruling families; the more secular notion of a Bangsamoro; and the more fundamentalist idea of a larger pan-Islamic cause, to set up a regional fundamentalist state or which aims to restore the Islamic Caliphate; and the warlords and gangsters simply interested in loot. Against them is arrayed the idea of a secular, multi-ethnic, multi-religious Republic.

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

96 thoughts on “Thoughts on Mindanao

  1. vic: the Aetas and the Ifugaos are marginalized, but practically no Bicolano nor Visayan (nor even Muslim) cares about them. These Luzon-based tribes pose no threat. Many Mindanao-based tribes are also marginalized, but they are “listened to” because these primarily-Muslim-in-religion have backing from Syria and others.
    More important, these Mindanao-based tribes, having organized into squads, platoons and companies (and with funding from whereever for their munitions) can pursue armed conflict.
    In contrast, the Inuits never have really organized themselves into rifle-carrying insurgents.

  2. bogchimash: Valeriano’s Nenita Unit provides a glimpse of how brutal Filipinos have been, and can be.

    A sample paragraph:
    ….Another account, by a top army officer, describes the style of the Nenita or “skull squadron” in similar terms: “The special tactic of these squadrons was to cordon off areas; anyone they caught inside the cordon was considered an enemy…. When I was stationed in the Candaba area [in Pampanga], almost daily you could find bodies floating in the river, many of them victims of Valeriano’s Nenita Unit.”98 A senator wrote to the president in 1948 to demand Major Napoleon Valeriano’s withdrawal from Pampanga, “for having committed many atrocities, not only against dissident elements but against law-abiding people.”99 In their book, Bohannan and Valeriano acknowledge the scattergun approach of Nenita terror tactics, and that the Huks sometimes gained supporters as a consequence. They conclude, however, that on balance the tactics were necessary for the counterinsurgent, even though Nenita’s reputation did pose a problem for the government: “It was essential to make the armed forces more effective . . . and this could scarcely be done if techniques of proven utility were summarily abandoned.”

  3. UP n student, you are right about the Inuits never have organized into armed rebellion, I believe primarily because of their nature as peaceful and nature loving people, but we had a history of two rebellions led by the Metis in l869 and in l885 that led to the birth of the Province of Manitoba and the recognition of the Metis as indigenous natives(the offspring of Indian women and European Men). But it was smooth sailing since then, where everything done by negotiations and by the decisions of the courts.

    correction; nunavut was created as division of North West Territories instead of Yukon as I posted before…

  4. UP n student:

    That is what I mostly get from google results. Is there nothing else? It’s like there is just a couple of works that mention his name and everybody is quoting from these. What I wanted was material that revolve around the man himself that made him legendary or notorious if it pleases you.

  5. “what’s this business of ancestral domains for muslims? Akala ko ba meron tayong separation of church and state ?”

    So it has to be a minority group? Looks like the work of elvin lawyers.

  6. UP S,

    I concur with UP prof’s proposition: Rule of Law, integration, migration.

    Marcos move many Ilocanos to Mindanao. Imelda set-up many Muslims in Metro Manila – Quiapo, Taguig, Muntinlupa.

    I’m not sure if Marial Law equates with Rule of Law. Rule of the Lawless is what’s going on in Mindanao.

    Muslims are fleeing Mindanao. They’re entrepreneurs scattered all over selling DVD’s, Pearls, recon cellphones …

  7. kg,

    on hvrds–did you just out him? i just thought it is improper to do unless you have his permission. besides, it killed the enigma.

  8. I.N.E

    His name can be seen on the web like on Tony Abaya’s website,just an example.

    Pero tama ka it is improper,w/o his permission

    Ngayon mo lang siguro napansin pero mga 3 times ko na nagawa..within two years,he never complained,nor confirmed nor denied,nor acknowledged.

    His email address then was:

    R. Hiro Vaswani, [email protected]

    I apologize to kill the enigma,but don’t blame me,blame google.

  9. KG:c’mon. you knew exactly what you were doing. you used his name deliberately. there was no reason to do that, going by the context of your posts, except to elicit a reaction from the guy.

  10. Rom,I.N.E and especially HVRDS

    OK I was wrong,I violated the ethics of blogging;(for two years for god’s sakes)

    it is unfortunate that until now it remains unwritten.

    Ok so I apologize HVRDS, I.N.E,ROM and to the rest of the blogdom,or blogosphere.

    I was interested in his postings that is why I googled
    him. i would refrain from doing so.

  11. I like it when guys point out faults to correct them, not to bury the person alive. I consider it as a correction.
    it is well appreciated.

    Many Thanks,


  12. For more on the history of modern insurgency and counterinsurgency that grew from the Japanese occupation –
    google Edward Landsdale, Napoleon Valeriano and Charles T.R. Bohannan

    As for the Muslim global insurgency – there are many sites that describe the process of “blowback.” The greatest transfer of technology in insurgency type warfare was the U.S. support for the mujahadeen in Afghanistan. Funded by Saudi Arabia, the mujahadeen were taught to use modern weaponry. They were even supplied stinger missiles and radio controlled explosive devices. Todays micro wave radio transmitters (cell phones) are simply an upgrade. The mujahadeen also learned the value of air power as the American’s taught them to use the stingers to counteract Soviet air power. They were also taught the organizational tactics of cell structures in insurgency fighting. If not for Bush’s insistence of going to Iraq, the counterinsurgency forces of the U.S., the Special Forces and C.I. A operatives were on the trail of Usama Bin Laden. They were pulled out to fight in Iraq. Why this happened is anyone’s guess.

  13. mlq3,

    what’s uour long view on Mindanao?

    Some foreign analysts say Mindanao could be the next Iraq.

  14. Di naman sa ayaw ko patalo,ayaw ko sayangin ang apology ko:

    Let’s go back to 2005
    Our dear host called him by his name to:

    refer to:

    mlq3 :
    Mr. Vaswani, thank you for your comment. That would be similar to the Queen of England’s decision to pay taxes and periodic calls for the Catholic Church to pay taxes on its property not used specifically for Church buildings and schools.

    Mita- I didn’t know that, how interesting!

    Karl, relax ka lang hehe.

    CJV: I hope it is, I really don’t like the way America has turned right. I remember the America of the Cold War and Reagan years, it was an optimistic place, at least.

    DJB, you’re actually hoping the USA and the world reembraces Wilsonian idealism, but it’s retreating to a more 19th Century style nationalism, don’t you think?

    Carl, I wouldn’t be sure. You underestimate the divergence caused by music, among other things, and religion.

    November 14th, 2005 at 9:17 pm

  15. Question:

    Are Tagalogs, Pampangos, Ilocanos, Batanguenos, Bicolanos, and Cebuanos indigenous peoples of the Philippines?

  16. DJB, are you sure that’s the right way to frame the question? It’s like asking whether the Californians, New Yorkers and Texans are indigeneous people of the United States.

  17. cvj,
    The term “indigenous people” has a clear meaning both in our jurisprudence and as defined by the UN and ILO. Okay, leave out the Batanguenos because they are Tagalogs, and I get your point about geographic place names, but I am talking about the tribes that used to be called Ilocanos, Tagalogs, Pampangos, Ilocanos, Bicolanos, Cebuanos.

    Are they “indigenous peoples” of the Philippines?

    Not according to the Supreme Court: no Christianized tribe is considered an indigenous people of the Philippines and NONE are on the Official List of 110 Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines enshrined in IPRA, whence all the blather about ancestral domain.

  18. I know I greeted MLQ3 an advance Happy Quezon Day!
    I forgot to greet him on the day itself.
    While it is August 19;Happy Birth Anniversary to President Quezon!

  19. Indigenous….

    Why look as far as Mindanao and look at the Aetas at Zambales,what became of them?

    It is a power game since time immemorial..might is right!

    If you want to go state side, the American indians are not respected at all,if I believe the cinemas,they were reduced to mere code senders and code breakers during wwII.

    I respectfully agree with HVRDS, on our Scout Ranger’s past glories as being part of the CIA,and the it was the rangers who taught them guerilla warfare.

    But with the consolidation going on. Add to that those migrating to Mindanao,some muslim,some not. Now with those who are”indigenous” rub claim to ancestral lands to the everlasting peacetalks.

    What guerilla warfare can control such a force?
    As I said in DJB’s blog not even an HSA can control it,once it escalates.

  20. Next Iraq?

    Iraq has been at it since the old teatament,many nations enjyed the honor of being the next Iraq.

    About the modern Iraq:
    I ask,do you think after the Americans leave, the war amongst brothers(Sunnis and Shiites) will cease?

    I hope so?

    I still have high hopes that Mindanao will not be the so called”next IRAQ”.

    I hope that the proposals of Speaker JDV and Senator Honasan, is feasible. To develop Mindanao ASAP.
    But how soon is ASAP?

    As we speak many more are dying,God Bless their souls.

    I do hope someday we will have a president from Mindanao who has seen all of the trouble.

    I hope the next candidate,will not simply ride on the war on terror band wagon,for riding on’s sake.

    Terror is not the term for the war going on, Although it is terrifying.

    Many see it depending on their perspective; one heroe,one terrorist.

    So its a war of perspectives. Damn as one commenter said,it depeds on the beholder.

    And we were talking about WWII back then.

  21. In his last two posts, KG seems at his best! Bravo.

    I like these best:

    “It is a power game since time immemorial..might is right!”


    “Terror is not the term for the war going on, Although it is terrifying.

    “Many see it depending on their perspective; one heroe, one terrorist.

    “So its a war of perspectives. Damn as one commenter said,it depeds on the beholder.”

    and finally

    ” . . . not even an HSA can control (the war),once it escalates.

  22. Murder has been around too since Cain and Abel, and soon after that laws against murder. Since we’ve never gotten rid of murder even with laws that impose the harshest penalties, I suppose, Abe, we should get rid of the laws against murder?

  23. It is not appropriate to apply the Iraq model (Muslim sect against Muslim sect) to Mindanao. Surely, Filipino Muslims can also be subdivided into Shia-, Sunni-, Wahhabi- and other Muslim sects. However, Muslim-on-Muslim bloodshed has not yet erupted in Mindanao in the same intensity as the carnage in Iraq.

    Here is terror — much more serious trouble comes to the Philippines should the Muslims-in-Mindanao get to market themselves as the Palestinians of SouthEastAsia, and all non-Muslim Filipinos as Jews.

  24. DJB,

    “Murder has been around too since Cain and Abel, and soon after that laws against murder. Since we’ve never gotten rid of murder even with laws that impose the harshest penalties, I suppose, Abe, we should get rid of the laws against murder?”

    Except that laws against murder cannot be used for other purposes other than to punish murderers while the anti-terror law can be used for other things besides what it was intended to prevent and punish in the first place.

  25. DJB,

    Malum in se (meaning “wrong in itself”) refers to conduct considered to be inherently wrong by nature irrespective of positive laws defining it. So, murder will be murder even if we get rid of any law defining or punishing the conduct.

    I believe “conquest” dictated by a policy of extermination of the conquered and “preventive wars” resulting in “collateral damage” of genocidal proportion pursued in the name of a supposedly superior ideology or motivated by profit are mala (plural) in se irrespective of whether the “mighty” defines those conduct as a lawful exercise of a “right” or only malum prohibitum (prohibited only as a matter of policy, political or otherwise).

    “State terrorism” of the Napoleon Valeriano kind could be another good example of malum in se . Whereas “inciting to sedition or mutiny,” or for that matter “mobocracy” of the people power type could either be a free speech right or a political crime, depending upon the liberality of the regime in power, and hence, essentially malum prohibitum.

  26. abe, i suppose you would include terrorism as malum in se regardless of hsa, wouldn’t you?

  27. Mabalos mang Abe!


    I know it is a damned good question about privacy ,if I am correct it it still an unwritten cardinal rule,then self regulation and discipline must apply.

    Maybe in blog forums or gathering of bloggers,this can be discussed even after seeing each other face to face.
    At least, you can ask permission, like what INE pointed out.

    And as to wanting to get a response from someone, ROM, it is nothing new in blog comment threads. And if I may, NEVER ASSUME!
    As they say you will make an ASS of U and ME.

  28. UP S,

    Iraq in terms of US waging a full-blown war on pan-islamic terrorist groups holing up in Mindanao.

  29. abe, i suppose you would include terrorism as malum in se regardless of hsa, wouldn’t you? – Bencard

    It depends as here’s one of what I have written on the definition of terrorism:

    “Terrorism” is still defined by Webster’s New International Dictionary as “a mode of governing . . . by intimidation” or “any policy of intimidation,” implying clearly that states are capable of committing terrorist acts. However, CIA’s Counterterrorist Center defines a terrorist act pursuant to Title 22 of the US Code, Section 2656f(d) as a “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience,” thus potentially excluding state actors from the definition. The current pejorative meaning of terrorism directly linking it to Islamism or to extremist contrarian tactic against the advance of liberal ideology is therefore of recent concoction.

    By some broad strokes, there could be three political conceptions of terrorism: 1) insurrection against a legitimate government; 2) a policy of violence or acts of intimidation by a government in violation of human rights; and 3) warfare in contravention of universally accepted rules of engagement. (See Hardt and Negri, Multitude, 16-17).

    On the first conception, is a government that has cheated its way to power in a rigged election a fair game to a Lockean right of revolution? On the second, is the recent spate of violence (murders and assassinations) in the Philippines involving for the most part journalists critical of the Arroyo government and left-leaning activists considered terrorism by a state actor? When the justifications for waging a war are based on “sexed up” intelligence, is the resulting violence within the acceptation of the third sense?

    I consider the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers as mala in se. So was the nuking of Nagasaki and Hiroshima or the US sanction against Iraq which killed untold numbers of civilians and children.

  30. I don’t understand why people think the MILF will accept peace with the government when it was formed by elements that broke away from the MNLF when the latter signed a peace agreement with the government. Its objective is nothing less than an independent Muslim state. If the current MILF leaders do accept peace, there is no shortage of “rogue” elements that will continue to fight for this ideal, ingrained as it is among Moros. Even the most moderate of them will confess to a yearning for “Moroland.”

  31. abe, way up there in the hierarchy of human/state rights and values is the right of self preservation, the right to defend oneself to stay alive and safe from harm. when a group of ‘rogue’ citizens wage war on the constitutional government and citizenry, killing and maiming not only active combatants but native and foreign civilians, kidnapping of, and extorting money from, peaceful farmers/laborers, small businessmen and landowners, fomenting unrest to disturb peace and public order, all for the purpose of seizing power and control of the country by force, violence and intimidation, would resistance to such a group be classified as “terrorism”?
    it would be an insult to one’s intelligence to say that the defender is the “terrorist”.

    there are democratic ways of changing a government. the system has many imperfections and is always “a work in progress”. we cannot give in to the “hot heads” who just have no patience with the rule of law, just because it bogs down every now and then.

    in affairs of men and state, violence begets violence. but i say, the right of man/state to defend him/itself cannot and should never be compromised.

  32. Mike: I believe that a key to peace in Mindanao will be commerce — plain-vanilla business — and inter-marriages. If head-of-household-A knows that the economics that determines his ability to feed his family depends on peaceful coexistence with head-of-household-B, the more likely tolerance among households, and even wishing the other well. And if one’s son has married into the other’s household, similary tolerance and friendship should blossom.
    The ugly thing (and Iraq demonstrates this… likewise India/Pakistan/Bangladesh) is that some peoples will kill another because the other is not from one’s religion or tribe. So an answer to what you mention — that a number from the MILF yearn for the BangsaMoro so much that holding back the progress of their own people is acceptable — may as well be law-and-order hunt-and-neutralize operations. By all means, keep them away from their own society/families so that the brainwashing of the next generations can stop.

  33. Bencard, you are not suggesting that even at this stage some loyal “hot-heads” in the military are geared up to go under and form an anticipatory “resistance movement,” are you? There’s a convenient label attached to it which is . . . well, as KG said above depending on the beholder.

  34. Bencard: Clinically speaking, there is nothing about defender and agressor which says that one side will never be a terrorist at times. Terrorism, or to be more precise, acts of violence targeted at civilians, torture or summary execution of suspected enemies or “rough handling” of civilians in order to control the battlefield are tactics. The aggressor, the defender, or both are capable of choosing to include these tactics among their repertoire. So you have NPA banditry against farmers, business owners, cell-towers, and then there was Valeriano/Nenita Unit aggressive tactics against civilians. There is also rape — Arabic Janjaweeds use rape as a battle-tactic to force civilians out of certain territories or to instill fear in the population.
    Now Abe, when he wrote about the beheadings of Filipino Marines, eloquently portrayed Muslim Filipinos as brothers equal in generosity and brotherly-love for kapwa Filipino. He should remind himself that one of the highest body count from a terrorist attack was when a group of Filipino Muslims bombed the SuperFerry, not to extort money or to assasinate some government official, but to commit plain-vanilla terrorism against Filipinos.

  35. UP n,

    You’re right about hunt-and-neutralize operations vs. the MILF. That is absolutely necessary if true peace is to be achieved. However, so many are calling for the government to talk peace with the MILF before they can be brought under control. This is a very serious mistake and I hope the government realizes this.

  36. “The US financial crisis has given the administration-dominated Philippine House of Representatives another argument to amend the 21-year-old Constitution by way of giving Americans and Filipino migrants the opportunity to transfer their investments here.

    Nograles added: “Our economic managers should be able to take the crisis as an opportunity to mobilize the country’s sleeping potentials and not just remain in the defensive posture.
    “Overseas Filipinos, especially those working and living in the United States, should look at their home country as the best haven for their savings that could be transformed into active investments,” he stressed.
    Nograles surmised that even a minimum of $1,000 investment for every US-based Filipino migrant “would be substantial to fuel the country’s economic engine.”
    The Speaker noted that Mindanao is just waiting to be tapped for its rich and vast reservoir of natural resources, including gold and other precious metals, aside from its vast potentials in food production.
    According to Nograles, his proposed summit can be used as a vehicle to craft a concrete strategy to attract investments from US-based Filipino migrants and formulate measures that will strengthen investor confidence in the Philippine economy.
    He said he is willing to put his job on the line when it comes to Charter change. “In my watch, I think I will bite the bullet,” he told members of the Manila Overseas Press Club early last month.”

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