The Volatilian™ View

Day of the generals?

Increasingly, martial law is becoming a real prospect in the Philippines and President Rodrigo Duterte’s trip to junta-governed Thailand earlier this week might well have increased his appetite for it. A visit to Myanmar, a day or two earlier, where the military rules in all but name, won’t have hurt either.

The martial-law option has never been off the cards as far as the Philippine president is concerned, but with an heightened terrorist threat and the need to deliver a decisive blow to the illegal narcotics trade, it’s looking more and more likely that it’s a card Duterte is willing and ready to play. Even quite soon.

Thailand has been run by the country’s military since May 2014 and in that time civil unrest which had raged prior to the army taking control has been virtually eradicated. The National Council for Peace and Order, headed by the former commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Army, has managed to deliver calm to a country that was increasingly being torn apart by sectarian violence.

In some ways, though, the Philippines has bigger problems than Thailand had from the street wars of clashing political factions. And chief among these is growing tension in the Muslim-dominant south of the country where Islamist terror is ratcheting up the heat.

What’s feared here is something which the past two administrations denied was even a possibility – that the influence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was getting more deeply entrenched among the terrorist groups in Mindanao, the country’s southermost island region. And the realisation is that the more ground ISIS loses in the Middle East under the ongoing Iraqi Army-led offensive against them there, the greater will be ISIS’s physical pivot to Mindanao. Few, surely, can be in any doubt of that now.

A couple of weeks ago, Duterte told a group of Muslim mayors that he reserved the right to impose martial law on their provinces if they didn’t put their weight behind ending the Islamist insurgency across their territories. That was a big clue for anyone who’s watching these developments. But no doubt, if martial law is imposed it will still come as a shock to many.

The writing is clearly on the wall and we believe it’s now only a matter of time. That said, we don’t believe – at least initially – that martial measures will be imposed right across the country as it was by former president Ferdinand Marcos from 1972 to 1981. We believe it’ll be deployed in stages, phased in, and only spread to areas where it’s deemed necessary – to certain cities, for example, as and if it’s felt there’s a need. In other words, it will be applied in a localised fashion.

This wouldn’t be the first time something like this has been tried. In the US, for instance, there have been a number of cases where individual states declared martial law within their borders. In 1931, a Texas governor imposed it in the area of the oil fields in the east of his state. In 1941 it was imposed by the Hawaiian Islands one day after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. The following year it was extended to the states of California, Oregon, Washington and part of Arizona. In 1954, an Alabama governor put the state’s National Guard in charge of Phenix City.

In the Philippine, we believe Mindanao is where it will start. But not across the whole of that vast island; just in the Muslim-dominant provinces of the south and west of the region; provinces that are a part of or fringe the Sulu Archipelago – the hotbed of Islamic extremism in the country. These are Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi which comprise the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, and North and South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and the Zamboanga Peninsula.

The drugs war too, not helped by corruption within the police establishment, the main force charged with combating the drug lords and their trade networks, has been showing signs of faltering; and it too could be given a military boost. In January, Duterte said that a military option is available to him with the Armed Forces of the Philippines taking a leading role in his anti-narcotics campaign. That’s clue number two.

Also in January, Duterte told a chamber of commerce function in his home town of Davao City: “If I have to declare martial law, I will declare it … I will declare martial law to preserve my nation, period”. There was clue number three.

The question is, what’s the appetite among the Filipino population for some form of martial law? That we believe is a question the administration will have already been batting around for a few months. Despite his often spicy rhetoric, Duterte’s not the dictatorial figure the Liberal Left and the Western media would have us believe he is. The Philippine president believes in operating with a clear mandate from the people. He’s not in the habit of pursuing some personal whim; his policies and actions if you look at them soberly are people-centric. He has always sought a popular mandate.

As far as militarily locking down the troubled south and west edges of Mindanao are concerned, Duterte will have overwhelming popular support across the rest of the country. That’s clear; it’s not even debatable. Taking it nationwide, however, will meet greater resistance. But we don’t think that’s what he has in mind.

More likely in other areas he’ll impose localised measures where the military would be drafted in to deal with a specific threat – to break the back of criminal gangs; to dismantle illegal-drugs facilities; to search for and destroy smuggling networks; even to replace the police in places where they continue to profit from corruption. Such a situation might be designated as a “state of lawlessness”, a “state of chaos” or a particular situation requiring the use of “emergency powers”.

If we’re right about that, you can guarantee we’re going to be right about this – that the Western media and the Liberal progressive Left will have a field day in denouncing Duterte as the reincarnation of Attila the Hun if he imposes any form of martial law. And all coverage – as usual – will be from the Left perspective.

They’ll publish op-eds from the usual suspects – politically progressive poster children, Vice President Leni Robredo and her moneyed Fil-Am sponsor, Loida Nicolas-Lewis, and alleged drugs queen, the custodially remanded Senator Leila De Lima – the Liberal Party sisterhood that conjure up images of the Three Witches of MacBeth with their prophesies of evil, chaos and darkness; a sisterhood that’s also bereft of solutions for problems on this scale.

Despite the vast amounts of air time and newsprint that’s been devoted to this triumvirate, however, they’re not prospering, and any vilification of Duterte over introducing military solutions do deal with the country’s social ills, will have a similar lack of traction with the masses. They know better than anyone sitting on an editorial board in Washington or New York what’s really at stake in the battles to defeat terrorism and drug-fueled crime in the Philippines.

The people – the ordinary, everyday people; the one’s that don’t read The New York Times, the Guardian and the Huffington Post – lost faith and confidence in the Liberal Party long before the last election which drove them from power. For the people, the ordinary everyday people, public and personal safety comes well ahead of civil liberties such as the freedom to drink beer in the street.

Certainly, Thai citizens have lost some personal liberties over the past two years, but by the same consideration the violent demonstrations that took place regularly on the streets of the capital, Bangkok, have ceased. A calm – a begrudging one at times – has replaced the running street battles and barricading that existed under the previous two civilian leaderships. Life there is back to normal.

And so, given the landscape, given the mood, given the paucity of options, the day of the generals would seem to be fast approaching for the Philippines. The drugs scourge and ideologically driven terrorism are not trifling matters. The men behind these are not enemies you sit down with, to reason out and discuss. Soft-spoken government negotiators can’t produce solutions here

Increasingly, we believe, that fact has become more and more apparent bringing the military card closer into play. But while the public by and large will be supportive of giving the army an extended role in establishing law and order, they’ll need assurances that it won’t be abused and that it will have a finite term – one year, 18 months, whatever it is.

And they’ll want to see results. The Filipino people are tired of hearing from successive governments what they’re “going to” achieve while the threats from terrorism and drug abuse spread. They want to see the achievements. They want their country to be made whole – and if the price for that is a period of targeted martial measures, we’re fairly confident that the majority will take that deal.

62 Comments

  • duterte knows best … he evaluates the ‘pros and cons’ not likem the others that only swee one side of ‘coin’ and immediastely ends in a negative prospects, thats why we never get forward ….

  • HA HA HA HINDI MASUGPO ANG DRUGA AT CURRAPTION SA PINAS DAHIL MGA YAN AY KASAMA NA NG KULTURA SA BANSA.MATAPOS LANG TERMINO. NYO NANDYAN PARIN ANG DRUGA AT CORRUPTION SA PINAS.ANG GINAGAWA NYO LANG AY NAG REREDUCE NG POPULATION SA ARAW ARAW NA PATAYAN KARAMIHAN MGA INNOCENTING MAMAMAYAN. TANDAAN NYO SINASABI KO AT TINGNAN NYO PAG TAPOS NA ANG TERMINO NI DUTARTE AY NANDYAN PARIN ANG MGA ADIK OR PUSHER AT CURRUPTION.KUNG GUSTO NYO NA MABAWASAN NG 80% ANG MGA ADIK OR PUSHER AY BIGYAN NYO NG TRABAHO OR MAPAGKITAAN NG HANAPBUHAY ANG WALANG TRABAHO AT HINDI BALA OR BARIL ANG ILALATAG NYO SA KANILA.

    • kya pla pinabayaan na lng ni abnoy mga druglords at pushers na mgbinta ng druga ksi wlng trabaho at bagsak ang ekonomiya ng pinas, napakanegative nman ng pagiisip mo.

    • KULTURA ANG NAG PA PA KUMPLIKADO NG PROBLEMA SA BANSANG ITO ! UNDISCIPLINED,POVERTY, NEPOTISMO,UTAK TALANGKA,IPOKRITO,EMOSYONAL, CATHOLIC FANATIC, = DAMAGE CULTURE ! MARTIAL LAW , PROVEN AND EFFECTIVE FOR FILIPINO PEOPLE DURING MARCOS TIME !ONLY FILTHY OLIGARCH ARE AFFECTED AND FULL OF GRIEVANCE TO MARCOS DUE TO THIER INCAPACITY TO NO LONGER WIELD THIER POWER OF PERSONAL INTEREST TO MAINTAIN THIER MONOPOLY OF THE WEALTH OF THE NATION

    • Rogelio,Rogelio, alam mo ba ang pinagsasabi mo iho, mag isip isip ka nga bago ka magbitaw ng mga salita, ewan ko lang kung kapatid o pamagkin mo na Babae ang ma rape ng mga Drug addict na ito ewan ko Lang Rogelio iho.

    • do you think this people who earns millions everyday will give up what they have just like that? nakakulong na nga eh pero nagluloto pa rin ng shabu sa loob ng kulongan. they better off dead than alive

    • May isa nanamang adik ang nagcomment!! Nag advise pa na bigyan ng trabaho..siguro wala kang trabaho rogelio!! Bakit natatakot ka sa war on drugs?Basta law abiding citizen ka wala ka dapat ikatakot sa war on drugs or martial law! Minsan kasi ang utak ginagamit..

    • kung magsalitta ka rogelio, as if kasama ka doon sa problema. sana kung pilipino ka kasama ka sa pagsugpo ng problema. kahit bigyan mo pa ng trabaho kung nakasanayan na wa epek pa rin. So kailangan disiplina.. We need iron fist to solve these problems, salamat na meron tayong presidente na may malasakit para sa kinabukasan nang lahat ng Pilipino.

  • … No to Martial Law ; yes, to Revolutionary Government… its high time for the military to step up for the sake of the people in Mindanao and to suppress drugs all over the country.
    … i believe Revolutionary Govt is the milder version of ML… any suspect can be checked and investigated without the usual warrant of arrest… under our President Mayor’s leadership there’s going to be no abuse coming from the military nor police force because he hates any abuse of power… with revolutionary power he can already make a move or decide without interruption; do whatever is necessary for progress as our country has been lagging behind for decades now.
    … if we follow the law, there’s nothing to be scared of… if we see a man in uniform abusing an ordinary citizen, there’s 8888 to listen to your call… we can help our President Mayor by being vigilant and report suspicious activities around us.

    • … if i remember it right Cory sequestered ill gotten wealth properties that were linked to the late Ferdinand Marcos through the PCGG.
      … i believe our government now will not do that because it has no reason to do so.

  • Yes to Martial Law! Revolutionary Government takes so long process with nothing assurace to be successful. While Martial Law can be declared right away. Trust the President he knows what’s best for the Country! Why worry about Martial Law if you know to yourself that you’re following really the rules of Law?, obey the rules. Discipline yourself by stopping of what illegal that you used to do, so you’ll be safe.

  • DeMoCrazy the Aquino style was abused by the corrupt politicians and businessmen who supported their political survival. EDSA just changed the faces of the people who RULED and ROBBED the nation. DUTERTE might be the LAST CHANCE of this nation to Effect a REAL And MEANINGFUL Change for the COMMON GOOD of ALL.

  • Mr.Rogelio hanga den nman ako syo matalino ka ito ang payo ko syo ikaw ang mag presidente…ang mga adik bigyan mo ng trabaho maghahanap pren ng shabu dahil cla ay adik na….mga pasaway talaga ng lipunan ang mga yan…wlang takot sa presidente o sa mga kapolisan…..alam nila my tokhang na mahigpit na pinagbabawal gumagamit pren ng palihim….ang tamang sagut yan patahimikin ng tuloyan…ako hndi takot sa mga police dahil wla akong dapat ikatakot dahil hndi ako pasaway sa bansa….kya kayong mga ayaw magpasaway….magingat kyo huwag kyo lalabas ng bahay..at baka magiba ang birth day mo…

  • While the ME problem was escalating and ISIS was getting cornered, I knew ISIS would run here–part of the plan of the shadow US gov. to create chaos so we turn to them again for support–well it has happened! And of course, the past admin did not prepare for this. In chaos, greed proliferates!

  • He went to Thailand and came home empty handed? The Aquino Government moved tons of gold from Central Bank to Thailand on Dec. 2014. When is this case going to open? Sucks!

  • Akala koba ang sabi ni digong walang mabuting naidulot ang martial law ni marcos? At itoy isang walang silbing sagot s kaguluhan at kahirapan noong panahon ni macoy? Bakit gagayahin nya? Kung sabagay paibaiba nman ng sinasabi ang pangulong ito. Dmo tuloy malaman kung ano ang totoo. Wag po sana taung basta basta maniniwala s kanyang mga pahayag. Suriin po natin at pagaralan ang kanyang mga snabi noon pang bago sya maupo bilang pangulo. At sana maging matalino po ang sambayanan

    • matalino po kayo Mannie… Pero di ka din nag isip. Ikaw sa buong buhay mo hindi ka din ba nagpabago bago sa mga sinasabi mo? May pagbabago sa lahat ng sasabihin mo dipende sa sitwasyon kung itoy makakabuti o hndi. Dont criticized the President bec. He doesnt rule only in a few person, problems, etc.. The whole country. Baka ikaw hndi mo nga kaya pangalagaan pamilya mo. We need to be a law abiding citizen. Wala pong dapat e pangamba. Ang pagbabago ay nagmumula sa sarili natin misMo.

    • Siya n ang pangulo ngayon kaya dapat responsable sya s lahat ng snasabi o ginagawa nya. Tulad mo dapat responsable k s lahat ng gnagawa at snasabi mo dba? Ibinase ko lng ang opinyon ko smnga sinabi nya noo at s mga pahayag nya ngaun., at itoy totoo, hindi bintang o hakahaka lng,,, ikaw ntatandaan mo ba mga pahayag nya? Ibig sabihin ngccnungaling sya kc iba na ang cnasabi nya ngaun kesa noon? Ikaw anong masasabi mo s taong ibaiba ang snasabi, at hindi tinutupad ang pangako? At sana maging matalino k dn at irespeto ang opinyon o kalooban ng iba. Respeto yan ang kailangn para umunlad ang pinas. Dapat kung ano ang sinasabi ay yon ang ginagawa lalo nat sila ay halal ng bayan. Mgsaliksik at maging palaaral s mga kaganapan para di tayo maligaw ng mga ngaaanyong tagapagligtas at bulaang tagaakay. Hindi lahat ng naririnig ay totoo at dapat paniwalaan at sundin. Tayo po ay may sapat n pagiisip para timbangin ang mga ito. Kapayapaan at kabutihan ang sumaatin lalo n saiyo kaibigan

    • walang kuwentang pangulo. ipakita nyo muna yong nagagawa nya. drug problems pa rin ang ipinagmamalaki nyan na wala namang nasulosyunan kundi pananakot lang.

  • WE NEED TO HELP OUR PRESIDENT. I KNOW THAT THESE GIGANTIC PROBLEMS NEED GIGANTIC SOLUTIONS. DRUGS AND TERRORISM ARE HUGE THREATS TO THE SECURITY AND SAFETY OF ALL FILIPINOS. THIS IS THE REALITY TODAY. IF PRESIDENT DUTERTE WERE TO DECLARE MARTIAL LAW OR INSTALL A REVOLUTIONARY GOVERNMENT, I KNOW THAT HE NEEDS TO DO IT FOR THE GOOD OF THE NATION. EVERYTHING IS FLUID. QUICK DECISIONS WILL HAVE TO BE MADE TO PROTECT OUR COUNTRY. LOOK AT THAILAND AND MYANMAR. THEY ARE UNDER MILITARY RULE…BUT THERE IS PEACE AND PROSPERITY NOW.
    #ISUPPORTPRESIDENTDUTERTE #ITRUSTPRESIDENTDUTERTE

  • i support martial law or revolutionary govt. para sa ikauunlad ng ating bansa… why worry about martial law if you are law abiding citizen…president duterte knows what is best for us

  • Buti pa yong iba nagsasabi na ok sa kanila ang martial law,papano naman ang katulad ko na may naging biktima ng martial law, ang lola ko na walang kamalay malay balo, pinatay noong 1974.masaki sakin yun grade one pa lng ako noon…