Government News Analysis

Beware of lethal politicking

Incarcerated Philippine Senator Leila de Lima questions the “constitutional and factual validity of the (martial-law) proclamation” by President Duterte
Incarcerated Philippine Senator Leila de Lima questions the “constitutional and factual validity of the (martial-law) proclamation” by President Duterte

When carpenters are summarily executed because they’re unable to recite verses from the Quran, the Muslim Holy Book; when a placard with the word “munafik” (hypocrite) is tied to one of their bodies; when Christian churches are burned down and worshippers taken hostage and threatened with Islamist-style execution; when civilians are shot like dogs in the street and their bodies tipped into a ravine – when these are the snapshots emerging from a city besieged by Islamist groups, no one should be in any doubt about what’s confronting the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Marawi City in Mindanao right now.

This isn’t some small skirmish across a tract of jungle. This is a large coordinated assault on a major southern city. And the ramifications from this are far reaching. What’s happening in Marawi in Lanao del Sur is every bit as lethal as what took over whole swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014 and 2015. Like it or not – in spirit if not fully in name just yet – this is the advent of Islamic State in Southeast Asia. That’s the plan so let’s stop denying it.

And so when opposition legislators come to deliberate on the martial-law measures put in place in Mindanao by President Rodrigo Duterte, they might like to bear in mind that they have a far greater responsibility than partisan politicking. They have a responsibility now to this entire region, because any hesitation in handling the problems in the southern Philippines will impact gravely on the neighbouring states of Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore and eventually southern Thailand.

In short, Manila has to take the lead within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in driving Islamic militarism out of this region. This is not the time, then, for crass statements from members of the Philippine Congress seeking to make political mileage out of what’s building up to be a massive humanitarian tragedy as tens of thousands of residents are forced to flee their homes.

Even when AFP forces put down the Marawi siege – and they will; and soon – the threat remains. For one thing, no one has any hard numbers for how many foreign fighters there are in the Philippines right now – is it tens, scores, hundreds or over a thousand? We know they’ve come and gone to training camps in Mindanao from Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and parts of the Middle East – Afghanistan and Iraq – for years; and with little inconvenience. We also don’t actually have a fix on how many Filipinos are fighting with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the inspiration for the new wave of terror in the southern Philippines, or how many of these will return home at some stage. We do know they’re there – they were called in 2015 by a Filipino jihadist who’d assisted in the execution of 16 Syrian pilots and a former US Army Ranger.

And yet, despite that gravity, already the anti-Duterte voices are being raised. A group of the usual suspects – senators Antonio Trillanes IV, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, Bam Aquino IV, and of course the ever-agitating Leila de Lima (photo), despite her custodial detention on charges of drug profiteering – are calling for a joint session of Congress to determine the “constitutional and factual validity of the (martial-law) proclamation”.

Of course what this ‘less-than-magnificent six’ actually has in mind is to use Duterte’s proclamation as a weapon against him and once more to parade the president before the world as a dictator and the reincarnation of the late president Ferdinand Marcos who imposed martial law across the Philippines from 1973 to 1981. They will assert that Duterte’s intention is not to quell the rebel forces in the south but to use that situation to establish a military junta in Manila.

For this group, shaming Duterte has become an obsession; particularly since February when four of them – Pangilinan, Drilon, Hontiveros and Aquino – were stripped of their Senate committee chairmanships for constantly stalling the Senate’s legislative agenda; political spoiling tactics in which Trillanes and De Lima has also constantly engaged.

From her “cell” in Camp Crame De Lima writes: “We have no doubt that our uniformed services have the capability, experience and the will to put an end to this crisis in Marawi in a strong and decisive manner, without resort to martial law”.

We doubt that De Lima is privy to regular military-intelligence briefings while she’s awaiting trial – we certainly hope she’s not – and has precious little understanding of the true nature of the current conflict and its wide reaching implications for the Philippines and the rest of the region.

Her nebulous assertions that “our uniformed services have the capability, experience and the will to put an end to this crisis in Marawi in a strong and decisive manner, without resort to martial law,” is playing fast and loose with something she really doesn’t understand.

What does she think the Islamist groups – the Maute, Abu Sayyaf, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Ansar al-Khilafah in the Philippines; and for that matter the likes of the Luzon-based Rajah Solaiman Movement – are made up of? Boy scouts? These are not rabbles; these are hardened fighters and the fact that they’re still around after years of being battled by the AFP should be indication enough that they’re a formidable enemy. But now they’re being honed into a consolidated force.

Otso Iho, a senior analyst with Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center – and for us a far more reliable source of analysis than De Lima could ever be on this subject – the Islamist groups are banding together to build a unified Islamist front “particularly in the southern Philippines”.

In other words, this is no longer a local matter. This is phase one of an expansion programme that – if left unchecked – will see a wilayat (province or governorate) declared in Mindanao by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS. This will be followed by the systematic development of a Southeast Asian caliphate – an Islamic State of Southeast Asia. And both logistically and militarily that project has to start in Mindanao. Which, for De Lima’s benefit, we can tell her it already has.

Contrary to what the global Liberal Left would have us believe – that this is just a grab for land and treasure – this is a ‘pure’ war being waged to cleanse the Earth of idolatry and the pornographic behaviour of the West and those that seek to emulate it. For ISIS and those that have come into its fold, this is a war for the glory of Allah.

Thankfully the governments of neighbouring countries (Indonesia and Malaysia in particular) – unlike De Lima, Trillanes and the rest of the anti-Duterte mob – are aware of the significance of the ISIS push to galvanise smaller jihadist groups across their territories and are working on a tri-national solution for defeating them.

But right now, Mindanao is the epicentre of ISIS development in the region and if this big predominantly Muslim island falls into the terror group’s hands – providing an ISIS launching pad for the lands to the west – it will consign these states to years, if not decades, of bloody conflict; extreme hardship for their people; economic paralysis and a Dark Age for generations of youth.

That is what this martial-law measure is about preventing. It is not – as the proponents of a self-seeking Liberal agenda would like to suggest – about the curtailment of civil liberties to erect a totalitarian state; though the totalitarian state will certainly be ushered in by ISIS if these measures fail.

Then the landscape will look very different. There will be no Catholic Masses; the priests will have been killed – like the one whose head they severed in France in July last year. There will be no pilgrimages to shrines and Christian religious places – these will be prime targets like the 28 Coptic Christians, slaughtered a few days ago by an ISIS-linked group as they travelled to pray at the monastery of St Samuel the Confessor in Egypt.

There will be no concerts where young people can express the exuberance of youth and enjoy freedoms they’ve taken for granted for so long – the events at the Bataclan Concert Hall in Paris in November 2015 and the Manchester Arena in the northwest of England last week, are evidence of that. The LGBTQI (and whatever else) will meet with brutal death – as they have wherever ISIS puts down its boots; thrown from buildings to crowds ready to stone any remaining life out of them. And in the human-cattle markets, young women and girls will be traded as slaves.

Meanwhile, the crucifixes will be melted down, the Christian books will be burned along with the churches, and the “infidel” – those of any or no faith who don’t buckle under, especially Muslims who refute the Salifist doctrine to which ISIS subscribes – will be put to the sword. This is not about confiscating land and territory; this is about the confiscating of souls and the dispatching of life. This is about the Islamisation of an entire people.

All this has been coming for a long time; approaching in full view like a slow-motion train wreck. And though denial seemed to offer comfort to those further removed from the conflict zone in the deep south of the Philippines – the politicians and the businessmen and women in Manila and across Luzon; their counterparts in Cebu and across the Visayas – what’s now clear for anyone who’s prepared to see it, is that Marawi City could happen virtually anywhere across the archipelago. Maybe not right now, but in a not-too-far-distant future.

That’s why Duterte has put in place martial law. That’s what De Lima and Trillanes & Co. need to start getting their heads around. This is far too dangerous a situation to be playing political games with. For if they hamper in any way efforts to quash this ISIS-inspired rebellion, they will end up with more blood on their hands than anyone. They will have been complicit – albeit unwittingly – with the ISIS cause.

There’s no question that any opposition they put forward will be partisan-political. Why, for example did De Lima when she was secretary at the Department of Justice under the previous administration, not publicly voice her concerns that her boss, then-president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, was contemplating placing the whole of the Sulu region of Mindanao under martial law? Why didn’t Aquino’s cousin and staunch supporter, Bam Aquino, do that either?

And how do we square the circle that Trillanes has twice taken up arms to overthrow a legitimately elected government in the Philippines, but somehow feels queasy about providing the country’s military with emergency powers to put down a building insurrection that threatens democracy and the way of life of the Filipino people?

The only answer to these questions is that they’re prepared to use a critical situation that could ultimately threaten the entire Philippines for political gain; that they’re prepared to gamble with national and regional security and make those peripheral concerns while they go after Duterte.

And that calls into issue their fitness to sit in the Philippine Senate and represent the Filipino people. The question is just how bad does the situation in Mindanao have to get before these senators start taking this seriously? Does it have to spill over into the Visayas or migrate to Luzon – the other two main island regions of the archipelago? Do we have to see truck bombs in Cebu; concerts and religious festivals turned into bloodbaths in Manila? What will it take before Duterte’s political opponents set aside their party affiliations and halt their machinations and start putting the people and the country first?

What gave the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria oxygen and room to grow was a reluctance to accept that it presented any real threat – in the US under the administration of Barack Obama it was hideously underestimated; dismissed as a small player – a “JV (junior varsity) team” in his words. And even when it grew to be a formidable force in the Middle-East region there was a reluctance to confront and defeat it; the word Obama used repeatedly was “contain”.

The radicalising of Muslim insurgent groups in Mindanao has been going on for well over a decade. In that time their cause has gone from being Islamic to being Islamist. And again, that’s thanks to the oxygen and the space which past administrations have given to them. Former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo constantly referred to the Abu Sayyaf terror groups as “bandits”; Aquino, viewed them much the same way.

What Duterte then is hoping to achieve is to prevent history from repeating itself. And the rest of the Southeast Asian region is hoping that too.

63 Comments

  • …and some politicians are using the declaration of martial law as their opportune time and tool to criticize duterte and sow more unrests, unminding of the critically chaotic situation in mindanao, as long as they can destroy this president who works 24/7 to defend and secure our country. Greed for power has overwhelmed them to the point of losing their sense of empathy for their countrymen who are now suffering the brunt of this maute/ISIS invasion. They saw it, but like the effect of shabu, their minds are controlled by greed.

    • Tama ka, Emma Azcona Durias-Rabaya. Wala ng ginawang tama ang Presidente para sa kanila and they seem to be bent on doing everything possible just to oust the President even if it would mean real chaos and destruction of the nation. But le’s not allow them to succeed.

    • True in war there are collateral damages but it is being weighed down when it.is the general interest of the country that is at stake. When there is no martial law (this one which is way far liberal than the marcos martial law) these terrorists would just come in and out of the area they are invading because because people could not be thoroughly searched. Is this hard to understand? Well, non-mindanaoans will hardly understand this because they are not within the sea of uncertainty where chaos, fear, hunger, and deaths abound caused by these heartless terrorists. Thinking only about apprehensions for extension of martial law? Shit…

    • Unfortunately there are two history books in the Philippines There is the one written by the rich and powerful families and there is the one written by the oppressed. Because some people are so poor they have no choice but to go along with the powerful families. I believe Duterte is the only one who can give them a choice they’ve never had. He is without doubt a peoples President.

  • …..ANO KYA MYRON SA BRAIN NANG MGA .LEBERAL…GINOGOLO NA NANG MGA TERORISTA ANG MARAWE CITY…….INAKALA NMN NILA NA OPORTUNIDAD…NILA ITO PRA MAMOLITIKA AT IBAGSAK PAMMAHALA NI PRES.DUTERTE…..

  • I despise Tv5 and CNN philippines for publishing, posting and airing everything that Delima says or writes in her detention cell which are mostly devisive and encouraging chaos just to put the President down.

  • The great majority of Filipinos now know who among their leaders loves the country more than their sinking political parties. Patriotism identifies who the real enemies of the nation are.

    • General Bato categorically stated NARCO POLITICS is funding the Maute terror group. Given na may ML at identified naman ng #druglist ng mahal na pangulo sa kanyang #warondrugs ey sana MAY MAHULI O MAPATAY NA NARCO POLITICIAN before ML expires in 60 days. Kasi kung WALA na naman NAHUHULI O NAPAPATAY MALIBAN KAY DE LIMAW ey UTUAN lang pala .

    • Given that ML is already enforced in Mindanao and the Mighty General Bato categorically stated NARCO POLITICS is funding the Maute terror group then it would be easy now for the President to order the arrest (without warrants) of the Narco Politician on his #druglist?
      And given ML will be effective for 60 days, that would be ample time to destroy the drug syndicate that is funding the Maute terror group?

    • Nice to send them there. .magdusa sila.

      But do you remember this- “Iyung environment dito ay maaaring magpabago sa kanila… ‘Pag napapasyal kayo rito, makikita ninyo ang pristine environment dito,” Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac, ARMM police director, told radio DZMM.
      (The environment here can change them. If you visit our area, you’ll see the pristine environment here.)
      “The serene and prevailing culture is conducive to reflection and renewal so that those PNP personnel assigned to lucrative assignments that have made them go astray from their fundamental values, mission and duties will certainly be reminded of their roots while they are here in ARMM.

  • MEMBERS of the LIBERAL PARTY are the DESTABILIZER of the PHILIPPINES ! don’t care if some parts if MINDANAO TURNS TO BA A CALIPHATE STATE! our neighbor countries are WORRIED while , Maybe, LIBERAL PARTY POLITICIANS welcome with open arms ISIS…. wala na halos ang SHABU kaya NAGAGALIT SILA KAY PRES.DUTERTE!

    • Wala ng shabu? Ey anu po yun 3 Billion (minsan 6Billion o kaya 4.5 Billion) worth ng SHABU na nakalusut sa express lane ng Custom? Kundi pa may tip ang mga Chinese ey nasa merkado na ang mga shabu na eto.

      At kung ang street value ng shabu ey NASA BILLION OF PESOS ey mga taong-graza at pulube ba costumer o consumer nito? Ey kapag ganyan ang investment ey kailangan ang ROI, kayat ang consumer ng shabu ey malamang magaganda ang buhay at mga professional para makabile

    • With Martial Law now effective for 60 days ey cegurado na may MAHUHULI O MAPAPATAY mula sa #druglist ng mahal na pangulo? Mula pa nuon ey pinagkakalandakan ng Pangulo yun makapal nyang druglist ey iisa pa lang nakasuhan nya.

    • For now ML is Mindanao only. But it would be very unusual if the 60 long days of ML in Mindanao can’t be use to eradicate the Narco Politician funding the Maute terror group.
      Then if all is really OK then the Mahal na Pangulo can start proclaiming the entire country under ML. But for now let’s see JUST ONE LITTLE bigtime druglord na napatay o napakulong ng #warondrugs ng mahal na Pangulo.

    • Yes KILL THEM ALL. diba yan pangako ng Mahal na Pangulo? PATYUN ko mga druglords at drug protectors?
      Given may ML sa buong Mindanao ey sana naman bago matapos ang 60 days ey kahit KALAHATING BIGTIME DRUGLORD ey may MAPATAY o mahuli naman sila neh?

      Wala na kasing sumunod sa NAG-IISANG bigtime babuy druglord de limaw ey. The one and only? NADA?

  • Almost how many decades we were with these terrorist people. ANSWER : Decades . why because we are a free and a democratic country. Less scrutiny, weak security and corrupt people. Everytime we had problem like this we blame failure of intelligence. In true, we have a big role in our locality. We often disregard that. We should support and strengthen our barangay level. Loser politicians normaly look for alibi issues to counter back and satisfy their ego.

    • Wala po kaming MILF, MNLF, ABU-SAYYAF, BFF AT MAUTE diney sa Batangas. Ang problema sa Mindanao ey gawa ng mga tiga-Mindanao. Parang kalyo lang po yan tinubuan pa ng kulugo? Autonomous region of MUSLIM MINDANAO? AUTONOMY?
      Failure of intelligence? Mighty General Bato was wishing for Madame Auring, if only he could have known that the Maute’s will attack Marawi City while they are in Russia.

      But December 2016, six months ago, the Mahal na Pangulo did dare the Maute’s to BURN MARAWI CITY?

  • December 2016, wasn’t the president himself challenging the Maute group to go down the mountains and BURN THE CITY OF MARAWI?
    It was the president who dared a terror group, even suggesting to burn MARAWI CITY. Maute group could have burn Davao City? Yet they went to Marawi City and wreck havoc, like boys playing bullies against other boys?

  • The saliva foams in politician’s mouth riding on issues,political positioning for their convenience to gather points. These politicians are having hidden agendas. Good only in criticizing but never in the front of battle lines,confronting the enemies of our country.They’re spectators,commentators but never will they lay down their life in the name of freedom and democracy, It is us,the Filipino people and our soldiers that suffer because of terrorism and war while they,they can find refuge in other countries for their safety,green card holders and much money and influence to go elsewhere. But we,we will remain here in our country and what ? Politicians will remain politicians till death.

  • remember former US Ambassador Goldberg “blueprint”?? This is a part of their grand plan to oust the President now being executed by the yellowish politicians..

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