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Old 06-12-2008   #21
Kenyatta
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Default Philippine Gov.

Pinoyme,

Actually I never commented on my earlier post on the best gov for the Philippines, I just commented on the current state of the NPA which both of us I think are in agreement.

I highly agree with you that the best form of gov for the Philippines is either Singapore or ROK but after 25 years of hoping this(ever since the 1986 People power revolt) and nothing happening. I think this may happen but it will take a long time since the corrupt politicos who are running the gov are mostly the same and all of them are in cahoots with each other.

There is no Park Chung Hee or Lee Kwan Yu strong enough to take over the gov. and reform it.

The way the Philippine gov works is that if the corrupt politicos and officials see a righteous and non corrupt politico or minister in their midst, they will try their utmost to corrupt him or make him part of "team" if they can't then they will unite to bring him down...sad but its real...
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Old 02-14-2011   #22
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Default The Communist Insurgency in the Philippines: Tactics and Talks

ICG, 14 Feb 11: The Communist Insurgency in the Philippines: Tactics and Talks
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The Philippine government is unable to control and develop large parts of the country because of the longstanding communist insurgency. The conflict has lasted more than 40 years and killed tens of thousands of combatants and civilians. Planning their attacks and securing weapons and funds locally, the insurgents have strong roots in the different regions where they operate and have proved hard to defeat. The government’s counter-insurgency strategy has diminished their numbers but has not been able to destroy the organisation. Neither side will win militarily. As peace negotiations resume under the Benigno Aquino administration, the parties to the talks should immediately commit to making existing human rights monitoring mechanisms work, while they try to reach the more difficult long-term goal of a durable political settlement.....
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Old 02-14-2011   #23
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I would just offer not to get too wrapped up about the flavor of the ideology employed. Islam-based ideologies work in the south, Communism-based ideologies are more effective in the north. The common factor are populaces dissatisfied with the status quo of governance.

The Philippines has been in a near constant state of insurgency since the first European sat foot there. How it manifests over time and by region varies.
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Old 02-15-2011   #24
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I would just offer not to get too wrapped up about the flavor of the ideology employed. Islam-based ideologies work in the south, Communism-based ideologies are more effective in the north. The common factor are populaces dissatisfied with the status quo of governance.

The Philippines has been in a near constant state of insurgency since the first European sat foot there. How it manifests over time and by region varies.
True in the broadest sense, but as is so often the case, the broadest possible sense is too superficial to be of any real use. It's easy to point to "the status quo of governance" and there is certainly much there to fault, but when you get down to assessing the specific actions or policies needed to address the different insurgencies the differences become very significant indeed.

There are similarities of course. In both cases local and regional governance and non-government power structures are the key drivers of conflict, and changes in Manila are only relevant to the extent that they allow Manila to disrupt (and hopefully improve) entrenched patterns of local governance. The levers that Manila could (but will not) use to do this are similar in both cases, and overlooked in both cases by parties focused on leader-leader negotiations. There are, however, very distinct differences that need to be considered.

I personally think the NPA issue should be fundamentally easier to address and should be a priority. It will certainly take time, but in most areas where the NPA have strength it is at root a conflict between populace and local governance, often with clear local grievances that can be addressed. Focusing on areas where the NPA is strongest and taking direct, visible action to resolve the issues that drive the footsoldiers, most of whom wouldn't know Karl from Groucho, can effectively disaggregate fighters from leaders and reduce the leaders to irrelevance: it has worked in some areas and it can work in others.

The Muslim issues are distinctly harder to manage, since particularly in Cotabato, Lanao, and Basilan they are fundamentally not a government/populace dispute but a fight between two populaces with irreconcilable expectations, neither of which trusts or is fully controlled by government. It's easier for government to alter the equation when government is one side of the equation.

I've only had time to read the summary and conclusions of the ICG piece. Initial impression is that it places too much emphasis on leader/leader negotiation and not enough on the need to directly target the nexus of dominant families and the military/police collaboration with those families that create the feudal environment that in turn supports the NPA. More comment after detailed reading.
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Old 03-20-2011   #25
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The Communist Insurgencies (there are more than 1 in the Philippines) are for the most part devoid of ideology on the ground. There is very little political development within the NPA with the ideologues almost entirely relegated to the insurgency's political echelon, the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines"). Part of the reason is that the movement follows tight control on the political side but lack of centrality on the military side, a necessity in a nation comprised of 7,107 islands.

Though the Peace Process is at its highest point in well over 7 years it still won't produce much in the way of tangibility. Aside from the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) shifting gears with its new COIN Programme (Oplan Bayanihan), a move actually adopted unofficially in the summer of 2010 with the hard veer towards CMO Deployment (PDTs,Transparency in Media Relations and a more cohesive tactical programme) there is not a whole lot happening (the shift is not radical when examined). The government is setting an 18 month window for these latest talks (it opened at New Year) and while the NPA/CPP/NDF (the last being the National Democratic Front aka National Democratic Front of the Philippines) is trying to depict itself as receptive its goals haven't changed, it is all or nothing.

I do think that IF the government were able to pose a sincere offer of limited regional autonomy in Mindanao within NPA AOR, to allow the CPP to employ its social-welfare programmes more fully, openly without interference it would produce much more progress than anything the government has done to date. If we look at Luzon and the now defunct CLA (Cordilleran Liberation Army), and Northcentral Mindano's RPM-M (Revolutionary People's Movement of Mindanao, translated from the Tagalog) another defunct Communist entity we can learn an important lesson. Both these CPP/NPA spin-offs had a message and fought to see it expressed. When both were brought to the table and offered a very real chance to put their vision into play what happened? Communism is not rooted in reality. When implemented, Human Nature ALWAYS wins out.

"Each according to his needs" does not work with humans. The vast bulk of humanity wants an increasingly larger piece of the pie. Without getting into a riff about Communism itself, I believe that it is an inassailible reality that it runs counter to extremely basic Human Nature. If implemented to any real degree it is rejected and tossed out on the rubbish heap. The exception is constant re-inforcement by brutal force. Ergo, allowing the implementation under controlled parameters (say state:substate, or the more likely regional autonomy actually given to the CLA) allows an irrefutable demonstration to both concerned entities and their mass base, both potential and realised.

Unfortunately, this is not possible with the CPP/NPA. When discussing the NPA Insurgency we are essentially discussing the NPA's "Insurgency in Mindanao." The 2 largest island is home to the largest number of NPA "Fronts" and has been home to the highest number of contacts since the mid-1980s. At the same time the island had seen an extreme shift towards resource-based development, particularly mining. Simply examining the "Tampakan Project" shows one what's at stake, and that is just the tip of the iceberg (in what will be the country's largest mine Tampakan will be an open pit standing over the borders of 4 provinces. Primarily concentrating on copper and gold it is ranked as the world's 2nd largest gold mine if and when developed though its window for commencement, 2016, seems to be right on schedule despite tremendous local opposition). The government will never take its fingers over some of the most lucrative mineral concessions in the world, to say nothing of the nation's largest source of timber, and its main source of rice and corn. Had the government had the fore sight to try and implement limited autonomy before 1995, the year the island was "opened up" things might be very different.

The power of the NPA on Mindanao lies with the island's Lumad (a Cebuano word meaning "Born of the land" and synonymous with "Hill Tribes," refers to the Animist Tribes inhabiting the up country, except Negritos). The Lumad, like their counter parts on Luzon (Igorot, Tingurians) and Palawan remain the least served ethnic groups in the nation. IF the government truly concentrated on SUSTAINABLE Development and dug in for the long haul they could turn this 42 year travesty around. Instead the government engages in Development Aggression. This only acts as a source of power for the NPA. The only time most Lumad meet a state representative is at the wrong end of a barrel wielded by uniformed people who don't even speak the same language.

As for the other areas of the country, there needs to be regional SPs (Security Plans), not a single programme because the nation has more than 110 ethno-lingustic groups spread almost from Taiwan to Indonesia and Malaysia. It has dozens of different religions and cultural perspectives. There is no "one size fits all" Bandaid. It needs to concentrate on properly training its security personnel, with an emphasis on restraint and should include sufficient Cultural Sensitivity Training before deploying or re-deploying personnel into new regions. The re-deployment of the 82 IB for example. In autumn 2010 they were re-deployed from Central Luzon to the 10ID in the Davao Region of Mindanao. Not only are they taking troops who are ignorant of the languages and customs of Mindanao but they brought them south primarily to man. PDTs! Peace and Development Teams are supposed to represent the best side of the military. Wouldn't it be nice then if they could hold the most basic of conversations with the locals they are dealing with?

Anyway, too many different things to discuss when trying to asses the direction and performance of the NPA facet of the AFP COIN Programme.

(Edited for spelling)

Last edited by Rachamim; 03-20-2011 at 07:54 PM.
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Old 03-20-2011   #26
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Diin ka sa Caraga? Dugay ako didto, kaniadto...

That language has gone all rusty, been north way too long...

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Originally Posted by Rachamim View Post
The Communist Insurgencies (there are more than 1 in the Philippines) are for the most part devoid of ideology on the ground. There is very little political development within the NPA with the ideologues almost entirely relegated to the insurgency's political echelon, the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines").
Agree on the absence of ideology on the ground. I wouldn't say there's been much ideological development among the ideologues either, even on the CPP level the discourse often seems a repetitive collection of 70s-vintage mantras.

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Originally Posted by Rachamim View Post
Though the Peace Process is at its highest point in well over 7 years it still won't produce much in the way of tangibility.
Agree on that one too...

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Originally Posted by Rachamim View Post
Aside from the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) shifting gears with its new COIN Programme (Oplan Bayanihan), a move actually adopted unofficially in the summer of 2010... there is not a whole lot happening (the shift is not radical when examined).
Yes. Certainly on the ground where i am (Cordillera) there's no visible change.

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the NPA/CPP/NDF (the last being the National Democratic Front aka National Democratic Front of the Philippines) is trying to depict itself as receptive its goals haven't changed, it is all or nothing.
Agree again.

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Originally Posted by Rachamim View Post
I do think that IF the government were able to pose a sincere offer of limited regional autonomy in Mindanao within NPA AOR, to allow the CPP to employ its social-welfare programmes more fully, openly without interference it would produce much more progress
An autonomous region (or regions) in north/east Mindanao, then, apart from the (rather hypothetical) autonomy of ARMM? Interesting idea, but don't you think it would be dominated by the same crop of politically connected families that dominate now? Those guys aren't exactly concerned with social welfare, nor are they going to be receptive to anything that might shake their power.

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If we look at Luzon and the now defunct CLA (Cordilleran Liberation Army), and Northcentral Mindano's RPM-M we can learn an important lesson. Both these CPP/NPA spin-offs had a message and fought to see it expressed. When both were brought to the table and offered a very real chance to put their vision into play what happened?
What happened with the CPLA was largely a devolution into competing factions breaking down largely among tribal lines. The glue holding the fight together here came from the Chico Dam and Cellophil projects, along with the subsequent resort to state terror and military abuse, but once the projects were terminated and the military presence scaled back there wasn't that much to hold the coalitions together. I'm not sure there's a single symbolic project in the south that would sum up the target of resistance in the south the way the Chico Dam did here (though Cellophil would have impacted more people).

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Ergo, allowing the implementation under controlled parameters (say state:substate, or the more likely regional autonomy actually given to the CLA) allows an irrefutable demonstration to both concerned entities and their mass base, both potential and realised.
The political grant of theoretical autonomy to the Cordillera is pretty much invisible on the ground, except for another layer of bureaucracy. What keeps the Cordillera effectively autonomous is the very limited in-migration from lowlanders (opposite of Mindanao) and the generally successful effort to keep land and business ownership local (where I live they won't allow anyone not from here to own land or do business). That's kept political control in the hands of Igorots: all elected officials here are Igorot, a lowlander wouldn't have a chance.

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Unfortunately, this is not possible with the CPP/NPA. When discussing the NPA Insurgency we are essentially discussing the NPA's "Insurgency in Mindanao." The 2 largest island is home to the largest number of NPA "Fronts" and has been home to the highest number of contacts since the mid-1980s.
True as well... there's NPA activity elsewhere, but in both quantity and quality Mindanao is where it's happening.

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At the same time the island had seen an extreme shift towards resource-based development, particularly mining. Simply examining the "Tampakan Project" shows one what's at stake, and that is just the tip of the iceberg (in what will be the country's largest mine Tampakan will be an open pit standing over the borders of 4 provinces. Primarily concentrating on copper and gold it is ranked as the world's 2nd largest gold mine if and when developed though its window for commencement, 2016, seems to be right on schedule despite tremendous local opposition). The government will never take its fingers over some of the most lucrative mineral concessions in the world, to say nothing of the nation's largest source of timber, and its main source of rice and corn. Had the government had the fore sight to try and implement limited autonomy before 1995, the year the island was "opened up" things might be very different.
Would autonomy have prevented resource-based development? It's true that opposition to mining has been more effective in the north, but I'm not sure that's a function of political autonomy. Certainly the regional "autonomous" government hasn't been a major factor opposing mining, it's been more NGOs and people's organizations, with very effective linkages to international groups and media. Also, except for some parts of the Abra River valley, the lack of settlement from outside has prevented the development of a potential pro-mining constituency competing with the anti-mining tribal units, and tribal leaders here have proven very difficult to bribe or coerce. Again, that's due to strength of culture, a fairly high educational level among the tribal people, and local unity, not political autonomy granted from above.

While the big resource extraction projects get most of the attention, there's a lot of abuse of lumad populations coming from much smaller sources, or at least there used to be when I was down there. That was typically violent land-grabbing by powerful local families who have close relationships with military and police, along with control and exploitation of economic activity by locally connected armed groups. It used to seem to me that the military were more closely connected to local elites than to the national chain of command (that was some time ago, may have changed). I suspect that unless the local elites could be brought within the rule of law, they would end up dominating an autonomous region and using it for their own interests, which are very different from those of the lumad. The state is a problem for the lumad, but isn't it true that the politically dominant factions of the settler population are also a problem, amd a much closer one?

Could be pointed out that while not too many people (certainly not on the left) complain about the unchecked "large scale small scale" mining in the east, both the exploitation and environmental destruction are huge. Of course the left won't complain because they share the proceeds, but that kind of extractive industry doesn't seem very preferable to the big mines.

I've always felt that one of the keys to peace on Mindanao, both in the North/East and the Muslim areas, would be imposing the rule of law on the local elites, who have enjoyed and abused immunity for way too long.

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As for the other areas of the country, there needs to be regional SPs (Security Plans), not a single programme
Agree there, though I'd repeat that targeting predatory local elites has to be a priority... yes, it's a bit of a fetish of mine.

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It needs to concentrate on properly training its security personnel, with an emphasis on restraint and should include sufficient Cultural Sensitivity Training before deploying or re-deploying personnel into new regions.
Training would help but there also needs to be attention paid to the tendency of military units in the field to get into bed with the local powers, often to the personal profit of both. Can't keep the peace when you're taking sides and doing business.

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The re-deployment of the 82 IB for example. In autumn 2010 they were re-deployed from Central Luzon to the 10ID in the Davao Region of Mindanao. Not only are they taking troops who are ignorant of the languages and customs of Mindanao but they brought them south primarily to man. PDTs! Peace and Development Teams are supposed to represent the best side of the military. Wouldn't it be nice then if they could hold the most basic of conversations with the locals they are dealing with?
Same problem up here, we get units coming in from Mindanao that haven't got a clue. The police are pretty careful to staff this area with people from this area. I guess military could try to do the same, but that might have complications too. Certainly it would make sense to staff PDTs with troops from the area though.

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Anyway, too many different things to discuss when trying to asses the direction and performance of the NPA facet of the AFP COIN Programme.
Pretty broad, yes, but not entirely useless to discuss bits and pieces of the picture!
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Old 04-13-2011   #27
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You are right on the stale ideology within the CPP as well, but that is a given considering the human AND ideological cost of the Great Rectification. While Joma was sitting in stir the movement was increasing exponentially and since he'd kept such a tight leash on things the party had stayed within very narrow parameters. With him away things got nice and loose. EDSA comes along, unleashes Joma and lo and behold there is a very real schism in all 3 Komisyons (Manila-Rizal in Luzon, Negros in Visayas and West Central in Mindanao). Ergo the rebound with the deep humam cost, using the "DPA" myth as his raison d'etre for the mass purge (actually purges). Not only is Joma on his game now in terms of ideological control, the veterans still remember their comrades being executed with tree limbs to the head. They also used the schism in other ways, still hunting the RJs. Anyway, it is to be expected with people who still persist with 19th Century Chinese terminology, "Semi-Feudal," haha, like people are binding feet and smoking opium.

On the IS not changing despite the name...PDTs in the context of AFP utilisation are simply a guise for the same old game. In fact, they are ratcheting it up a bit. The first thing a PDT does is survey a sitio, taking a complete demographical census. Intel is Intel even when you claim it is for a Needs Assesment and as unsophisticated as many of the targeted communities are they easily see through the charade. If you are still wrapping their heads in packing tape or Waterboarding them it really doesn't matter if you smile and address them as "Sir."

An Autonomous Region in NE Mindanao. First, it will never happen because Caraga is the #1 Timber Region. In addition it is extremely rich in mineral wealth with the largest variety of exploitable minerals. South Cotabato, Zamboanga and ComVal might have produced more gold historically (and when Tampakan takes off, and it will, S.Cotabato will be the nation's richest gold producer), but Caraga pumps out every mineral worth extracting. The government would never let that out of their hands. And yet Caragan Autonomy isn't a new idea; In the 1960s and early 70s there was the push for Northern Mindanowan independence centered in the Cagayan del Oro/Iligan City corridor. The 1980s saw that same region give birth the the CMLO, Christian Mindanao Librtation Organization [sic], then the Teduray-Bisaya group that was little more than Re-formed Ilaga but who claimed to desire a Federalised island with Moro, Lumad and Bisaya all having their own fully autonomous zones (that group being the one that lasted until the mid-90s and had run around Metro-Manila planting IEDs that had practically no payload). Col.Noble in 1989 (AFP COIN Specialist who was training Higaon-on into a COIN paramilitary but was himself seduced by the local environment and went "native" before stirming out of the jungle and leading a coup attempt against Manila, directing it from Caraga), and today BULIF but they seem to be losing steam.

All saw Caraga autonomous, though in different contexts.

Yes, your region, Cordillera is a great example of the wind being takren out of an insurgency when the political objectives are partially met. If a group has no real ethnic narrative, like the "Moros." A group that exists only in the mind of fantasists, a stab at autonomy works wonders. Look at Misuari in 1996 and then in 2000. In 96 he was iconic, could easily bring 20,000 Regulars to the field . Then he is handed ARMM and within 3.5 years he becomes a man who barely rates 3 lines 2 or 3 times a year. So, if I was ever king for a day? I would give the CPP a couple of provinces with a set time limit for full implementation of their Socio-Economic Platform, in exchange for majority disarmament as was the case with the MNLF and the Integration Package though with very different parameters. Time and space being what they are I will leave them unsaid.

I think it would be highly effective in marginalising the NPA in its most active theater.

"Cordillera Pacification"...But of course and that is my main point. Remove the impetus. You say "Kandi," in Baguio? If so I am suprised because, well you have a decent head on your shoulders. It would be rare, all things considered (no offence to the PMA but it is too wound up with Batch nonsense and into politicking and clique building). Though I do speak Bisaya I am not Pinoy hahaha, but in your defence it is a mistake often made. Its my work, though I love the island.

On the Cordillera and Igorot Control...Yes it is very different in that sense. It is the only 1 of the 3 major Hill Tribe Regions where the Indigenous are empowered. Palawan is a travesty (being #2). Here in Mindanao there is a modicum of individual empowerment but by and large they are the lowest rung on every ladder. BULIF (Bungkatol Liberation Front, a Higaon-on Tribal paramilitary now sublimated to 4ID under Oplan Alsa Lumad (ISP-IP, which of course hasn't changed despite the supposed ISP metamorphis from Tactical to CMO) was a step in that direction but they were neutered when they allowed their own sublimation to the AFP. BULIF being the group that used to kidnap DENR and CENRO personnel over timber issues but now kidnaps grammar sschool tudents (re the latest Agusan del Sur hostage crisis last week, etc).

Mining...I guess, to that end I need only say "Tampakan" and "TVIRDP." The former being the afore mentioned gold (and silver) project that is currently on the table that envisions an open pit spanning parts of 4 provinces. It will be the largest for the Philippines and the 2nd largest in the world. LGU opposition is stiff but in the end Manila will get its way (what a travesty). The latter is the Makati-registered branch of a Canadian Mining corporation (TVI, well actually TVIRDP is a subsidiary of the Hong Kong-based subsidiary of TVI but you get the point). This company has the largest amount of land under permit of any other single mining corporation. The "Divide and Rule" game is alive and well and I have not seen a single multi-national that hasn't ripped a tribe or 2 apart. One the largest engines here is Development Aggression. The conundrum of Peace and Order, Investment, Exploitation and Prosperity is a vertiable Gordian Knot. They want to pacify the island so that it can be developed and exploited ("exploited" in the neutral sense and not the negative, as in exploitation of resources ,not people). However, their drive to develop is 1 of the most effective engines driving th various insurgencies so...

That segues directly into your point about the AFP getting in bed with the local power base. I don't know how familiar you are with the CAAs, CAFGU, CVO, etc (the unique form in Sulu escapes my memoury at the moment). There is a particular element, the SCAA (Special Citizens Active Auxiliary) that is dedicated to business interests. They aren't utilised much outside of the South. They are directly funded by a specific business. For example, a timber company pays the AFP a significant amount of money, the AFP then forms a local detachment, trains and arms them with the cost, including soldiers' pay, stipends, bonuses and benefits coming from the businessmen. These local men dictate even up to the tactical level. How can the military NOT lie in bed with the local power base then? Even more so now that there is a moratorium on CVO formation (the CAA sublimated to the PNP), thanks to the Ampatuan CVO(s) handiwork in 2009. Municipalities are now forming SCAAs in the place of those CVOs. SCAA's, which were never designed for this utilisation, thus bring the LGU and local AFP detachment into a partnership and this is extremely problematic given the volatile nature of Mindanowan politics.
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Old 05-10-2011   #28
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EDSA had a huge impact on the Philippine left, and Joma wasn't the only or the largest part of it. Probably the greatest blow was losing Marcos: the symbiotic relationship between Marcos and the NPA is still underrated. hen of course there was the decision not to participate in the snap election and the subsequent civil resistance... the organized left sat it out, but many of the urban intellectual cadre that the NPA used to draw on for leadership were deeply involved in what was for many of them a life-changing experience (it really was a big deal at the time), driving a wedge between them and the organization that was once the default option for political expression. That had a serious long-term impact... not that the NPA leadership were ever intellectual gems, but the intelligence level dropped quite sharply post-EDSA.

All that contributed to the internal insecurity that launched the purges and led to them spiraling out of control. The sense that history was on their side evaporated very quickly, accelerated by the global collapse of communism. In keeping with their tradition they turned on each other. Some of the most bizarre and incomprehensible political rhetoric ever to disgrace the race came out of the RA/RJ debates. Of course in the long run the RAs held together, having noplace much to go, while the RJs deteriorated into an ineffectual alphabet soup of breakaway acronyms. My favorite acronym to date is the "RPM-P/RPA-ABB", though there's likely a better one out there.

What I'm watching curiously at the moment is what seems to me a likely split between the CPP/NPA PPW hierarchy and many of the groups on the above-ground side. It's always been assumed that the above-ground groups would be subordinate to the leadership of the armed side, but at least in the Cordillera, the above ground groups now have more funding, influence, and effectiveness than the armed side, and I'm sensing some tension. There's a bit of a gender component in it as well... much of the leadership of the above-ground groups is female and feminist; the armed side is dominated by patriarchal males, whose gender relations in practice don't quite live up to the rhetoric.

Two factors distinguish places where the NPA has held up from those where they've deteriorated, for me at least. First would be the presence of oppressive local elites that dominate the local economy and are perceived as completely separate from the populace, second would be the presence of ready funding. Eastern Mindanao scores high on both counts: the local elites are as feudal as any, and the small-scale mining and timber operations provide a steady revenue stream.

On autonomy in Caraga, or other parts of "Christian" Mindanao... I'm not sure what the basis would be. Certainly there's no real ethnic identity. Any such autonomous region would have an implicit division: the biggest problem the lumad have is the settlers, and the settlers would still be in charge of an autonomous region. I never felt that there was any real regional identity there... the term "Caraga" wasn't even in use until the mid 90s. I lived there from 79-82 and I don't think I ever heard the term "Caraga" used; except to refer to the municipality in Davao Oriental.

I'm not sure if Caraga's timber output exceeds that of the NE Sierra Madre (I don't think anyone knows, since most production is illegal and uncounted), but it's substantial. Political autonomy is not necessarily an obstacle to resource access, though, especially since "autonomy" as used in the Philippines is pretty nominal, generally meaning little more than an added layer of regional bureaucracy.

Of course there have been many groups over the years that espoused "autonomy" in north and NE Mindanao, but that was less a serious political demand than a thin justification for what were essentially personality-driven factions. There's always been that tendency toward personalized fringe movements in Mindanao, I suspect largely because so much of the populace is composed of rootless settlers. Generally they coalesce around a charismatic leader, the nominal objectives being very nominal indeed; often they combine religious and political elements. I met a bunch of these guys back in the day... Alex Noble and Lavi Manpatlan, Carlos Lademora and the Manero Brothers (in their Agusan days), Feliciano Luces (some time after his announced death; he seemed fairly lively for being dead, spent a lot of time around the cockfights in Manggagoy, a good place to disappear in those days). Ruben Ecleo Sr put the weird-o-meter right off the scale. Junior was still hanging out in those days, playing guitar and showing no interest at all in being Divine Master... that was way before the amphetamines and wife-killing. And yeah, I know the CAFGU. I got a thorough ass-whupping from a group of them near Kapatagan, Davao Sur in 1981, though they called them CHDF then, guess that counts as familiar!

Them was the days. "Seduced by the local environment" is a good description. Been there, done that. Survived, I still have no good reason why. Dumb luck, I suppose. Running very fast helped, particularly on one strange night in Agdao. I still have no idea who those guys were, or why they wanted to shoot at me...

I'm not sure it's accurate to say this:

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Cordillera is a great example of the wind being takren out of an insurgency when the political objectives are partially met. If a group has no real ethnic narrative, like the "Moros." A group that exists only in the mind of fantasists, a stab at autonomy works wonders."
The ethnic narrative here is I would say stronger and more coherent than that of the Moros, and much less corrupted by profiteering and influence-seeking on the part of local bosses. It wasn't "autonomy" that took the wind out of the insurgency, and the objectives weren't partially met. The local tribes achieved their objective completely: the army pulled out and the projects that sparked the rebellion were abandoned. The formal autonomy (still up in the air in administrative terms) was pretty irrelevant to the locals; just government's way of acknowledging the status quo. The NPA didn't get what they wanted, but for most of the locals the NPA were just another bunch of intrusive lowlanders trying to exploit the locals for their own ends.

There's still some NPA traction, particularly in the Abra River Valley, where there's been a lot of lowlander intrusion... Abra almost seems a transplanted fragment of Mindanao in some ways.

I'm not in Baguio... 120km north, in the real mountains. Baguio and southern Benguet are fringes of the Cordillera, where (like in Abra) the tribal groups have lost control and been diluted by lowland infiltration. The heartland would be the areas speaking Kalinga, Ifugao, and Kankanaey (not always along provincial boundaries). The Ibaloi, Gaddang, Tingguian, Isneg have largely gone the way of the indigenous people elsewhere in the Philippines, assimilated into the lowest tier of society and kicked around by everyone.

I'd hesitate to use the word "empowered" to refer to the core Cordillera indigenous communities, because it implies that somebody empowered them, which is not the case. They're pretty much a self-empowering system, which is of course the only way empowerment really works, whatever the NGOs might say.

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LGU opposition is stiff but in the end Manila will get its way (what a travesty). The latter is the Makati-registered branch of a Canadian Mining corporation (TVI, well actually TVIRDP is a subsidiary of the Hong Kong-based subsidiary of TVI but you get the point). This company has the largest amount of land under permit of any other single mining corporation. The "Divide and Rule" game is alive and well and I have not seen a single multi-national that hasn't ripped a tribe or 2 apart.
Y'all need some Igorot missionaries to come down and show how it's done. One of the richest gold reefs in the country is a short bike ride from where I'm sitting. The locals mine it small scale, but no company has ever been able to come near it. They can't divide and conquer because the locals don't divide; trying to rip the tribes apart has gotten a few people ripped apart. All about that ethnic narrative, and about the combination of armed force, mass resistance, and a well-educated, well-connected cadre of locals that can attack the establishment on its own terms.

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One the largest engines here is Development Aggression. The conundrum of Peace and Order, Investment, Exploitation and Prosperity is a vertiable Gordian Knot. They want to pacify the island so that it can be developed and exploited ("exploited" in the neutral sense and not the negative, as in exploitation of resources ,not people). However, their drive to develop is 1 of the most effective engines driving th various insurgencies so...
Many years ago I met two young engineers working on an attempt to build a road from southern Agusan Sur across to Bukidnon. It never went anywhere, obviously. They couldn't understand why the locals were so violently opposed (literally) to a project that was designed to help them. I had to point out the obvious: that once the road was built their land would be valuable, and once it was valuable somebody would come and take it away from them. Development is indeed a two-edged sword.

Plus c'est la change...
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Old 05-13-2011   #29
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Hahaha,I have been thinking a lot lately about the Filipino penchant for acronyms.ABB was interesting,its akin to CPP/NPA-SPARU,overkill (pun intended hahaha).In reality though it represented RPM's fear pf the organisation.Originally they functioned purely like SPARU (who co-incidentally nearly developed into an organisation of its own just as ABB did).Neutralising the ABB was an incredible coup for the Government,all the more so because it was entirely on the political front though the should have drawn out the process to allow more communal in-fighting so as to weaken the much larger NPA.

In the Cordilleras,I think that the profusion of sectoral front organisatiobs is a natural outgrowth of the above board engagement I envisioned for Caraga.The armed movement in Northern Luzon,excepting Abra,is nearly inconsequential.Outside of Abra it is a policing action.Just going on memoury,I believe the Cordilleras has had only 2 fatal Armed contacts,neither of them tactical.It is nothing more than rank banditry.Conversely the sectoral fronts as you correctly noted are incredibly strong.

You are right about Caraga.More than any other island Mindanao has a semi-feudal (to quote JOMA) society.Likewise on funding.The third component though is the large indigenous population.Manpower wise,over all of Mindanao the NPA rank and file are almost entirely Lumad (the local equivalent of Igorot or Tingurrian,it would simplify things if the Government just said"Hilltribes"or"Animists").Lumad are the least educated and most impovershed of any Mindanowan demographic.This is why the AFP has been running strong with OPlan Alsa Lumad and its silly PDT nonsense.

Caraga actually does have a strong sense of identity.In Caraga the only Christian ethnicity are the Bisaya,Cebuanos.Though some have come to the region within the last 50 years Bisaya Culture in Caraga predates the Spanish.The Tausug actually are Islamicised Bisaya,originally Butuanons who migrated,so that is how old and well entrenched the Cebuanos are.However,the push in Caraga has almost always centered upon a push for a Federalist Government,either within the Philippines or else as part of an independent Mindanao.Caraga and most of ComVal (Compostela Valley),Davao Rwgion (the 3 Davaos), most of Zamboanga and the Northern Coast up to Iligan City inMisamis Oriental Province.This"Christian,"or Bisaya zone would comprise 1 of 3 federated states or regions.

The Lumad would have Bukidnon,most of ComVal and roughly half of South Cotabato and Sarangani Provinces and part of the Pulangi Plateau in North Cotabato.The

Muslims would get the rest (ARMM,island provinces of Basilan,Sulu and Tawi Tawi,and roughly 1/3rd of the Zamboangan Peninsula.

Interestingly,the Mindanowan Bisaya,despite having kinship and cultural ties with Cebu and the rest of the Eastern Visayas haven't moved to unite with the autonomous anf independence movements centered in Cebu City.I am afraid that a Balkanisation of the Philippines is inevitable and that it will take place sooner,rather than later.

For the first time since (the current) Aquino took office the local powers that be have begun agitating for independence.It happens every 2 or 3 years with everyone getting stirred up until they lose interest.It will only take the right leader to make it happen.Ironically,last week Jesus Dureza sounded the call.In fact,he came within an iota of being charged with Rebellion.The former OPAPP hack (Office of the Presidential Advisor for the Peace Process) and concurrent MinDA (Mindanao Development Agency) Chairman gave a speech which was then widely published in local papers in which he pounded that nail over and over.

In Caraga itself there are various groups.I mentioned BULIF,the Bungkatoal Liberation Front,a Higaon-on Tribal paramilitary seeking independence for Higaon-on and allied tribes though they were intelligently co-opted by the AFP and folded into ISP-IP (Op.Alsa Lumad).There is the Lademora paramilitary.Col.Carlos Palabrica Lademora (actually he's my Godfather in Marriage),the Marcos crony who slaughtered an entire village in Samar while still in the PC (the original Philippine Lost Command),and a tonne of other groups.What is lacking is a charismatic leader that can rise above the petty nonsense.

"Settlers"...Here is the thing,the whole "Settlers"thing is almost entirely manufactured by Muslim propagandists.On Mainland Mindanao only 3 provinces have ever held Muslim Majorities (North Cotabato,Maguindanao,Lanao del Sur).Those 3 provinces have never been united,and have not,contrary to Muslim propaganda,been at war with"invaders"for 400 odd years.

It is absolutely true that beginning with the Americans in 1902,the year they neutralised the Anti-American Insurgency on Mindanao,there were laws enacted that limited Muslim land ownership in (what is now) those 3 provinces.The reasons for that are manifold but mainly because the Sultans and lesser Datus (Chiefs) held absolute authority and if these restraints hadn't been enacted the tribal aristocracies would have legitamised their total control of land.The mistake was in the Americans thinking that they were going to assimilate these Islamicised Tribes,and to do this they actively recruited Northern,Christian Tribes to move to that small area of Central Mindanao.In that area composed of 3 provinces,Christian barangays and towns ARE the result of settlement schemes (this was repeated by Quirino and Magsaysay with rebels,especially the Huk,moving them south).Today Filipino-Muslims look at any Christian as a"Settler."

In Caraga there are absolutely no settlements.Tribes like the Butuanon and Suriganon are Bisaya,but indigenous to Mindanao.Basically,in Caraga,until the 1920s very few Bisaya lived inland.They are a coastal people.Even today most Bisaya in Caraga disdain freshwater fish,etc.Bangus is seen as a poor man's food.There have been land conflicts.For example,Col.Lademora,whom I just mentioned?He settled in Caraga because he was employed to"acquire"land for the Guthrie Palm Oil plantation in Agusan del Sur Province.Entire vilages were burned out but by and large these were isolated events.Though the Bisaya and Lumad don't intermarry (I personally don't know of a single case) they are integrated socially to a moderate degree.In fact,my Godmother in Marriage is an Agusan Manobo.

On the term"Caraga."You wouldn't have heard it because in those years the Regional Administrative System hadn't been created.Caraga Region (Region XIII) was created in 1995.The term historically can be found in the 18th Century annals of the Jesuits who tried prostelysing.It is usually spelled"Karaga."It was a Spanish bastardisation of the word"Kalaga,"or"Kalagan" (both were used interchangably).The Kalagan were a Bisaya Tribe indigenous to the area.The reason the name is used in Davao Oriental Province"us because a band of Kalagan had settled there.The first concrete history of the Kalagan was recorded by the Spaniard. Francisco de Castro in 1538.Ironically,at that time there were no Muslims at all on Mainland Mindanao and the Maguindanowan and Maranaw (Maranao) hadn't even entered existence (both are merely Islamicised offshoots of the Iranun Tribe).So you see,there is an incredible amount of propaganda and manipulation taking place even within the Philippines,

On timber output...In terms of illegal output noone can honestly say but in terms of legal output Caraga is number 1,and is also the most heavily forested region according to the government.Of course the Philippine Government's data is nearly inconsequential so...

I just saw you mentioned Col.Lademora,guess I should read your post in its entirety before composing a response hahaha.He was never involved in any drive for autonomy or independence and in fact isn't even a Cebuano.He's an Ilonggo who settled in San Franz (Agusan del Sur) because of his relationship with Conjuangco,and also because Marcos urged him to.The UN wanted him tried for War Crimes and Marcos had enough headaches.At the time there were no phones in the interior,only a gravel track where National Hiway now sits so that the isolation was a factor.

The Maneros,though I don't know them personally (actually Col.Lademora was their handler for awhile so maybe in a 6th Degree of Separation type way I can say I know him) also never bothered with autonomy or independence.

Col.Noble was a unique man.I did know him but not well but enough to understand why others would follow him.He was an opportunist though,what Pinoys love to call a"military adventurist."He apparently didn't think in the long term.His big coup attempt wasn't planned.He scrambled to make a deal with Reuben Canoy,the island's biggest partisan for independence but just in the way he did it...As I said there were no phones in the interior back then (aside from the goverment call centres which rarely worked) and so to broker his deal with Canoy he loaded up 11 truckloads of Lumad guerillas and drove from Butuan to Canoy's home in Cagayan del Oro,back then it was an 8 hour drive (actually not much better now at almost 5 hours). Then,securing that he tried capitalising on the momentum and linked up with RAM.He actually did come close to overthrowing President Aquino but she managed,as always,to dodge the bullet (Hmmm,maybe not a good turn of phrase considering Ninoy's Assaination hahaha).RAM would have eliminated Noble had they been successful so it was best that he lost in the end.

Luce was another one who was almost entirely apolitical.He simply wanted to be able to live without people trying to steal his land.Those people happened to be Muslims so it wasn't even ethnically driven,at least in the beginning.
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Old 05-24-2011   #30
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Originally Posted by Rachamim View Post
In the Cordilleras,I think that the profusion of sectoral front organisatiobs is a natural outgrowth of the above board engagement I envisioned for Caraga.The armed movement in Northern Luzon,excepting Abra,is nearly inconsequential.Outside of Abra it is a policing action.Just going on memoury,I believe the Cordilleras has had only 2 fatal Armed contacts,neither of them tactical.
There are occasional encounters. In my immediate area we had an ambush in my town Jan 2010, 5 military killed, then just down the road 8 wounded in June and another 7 killed in July. These involved NPA from Abra coming over (I can walk to the Abra border in 5 hrs, less than it would take me to drive) and trying to kick things up over here. Basically they were trying to beef up the military presence in villages on this side of the mountains, hoping they will provoke incidents that will rebuild support for the NPA. No notable success; the military behaviour is better than before, though still less than exemplary, and people see through the plan. The military is not quite what they were: in '88 drunk soldiers opened up in the center of the town where I live, killed a couple of kids and created a whole bunch of insurgents. I don't know if they're any nicer now, but they're a little smarter.

I'm not sure the Cordillera model can be replicated elsewhere, as it's heavily built around the dominance of tribal groups within their territories and substantial cohesion within those groups. The NPA flourishes in Abra because the river valley and the poblacions are dominated by Ilocano settlers and the Tingguian/Isneg tribal people are largely marginalized... sort of a replication of the Mindanao model, with Ilocanos instead of Visayans and the Tingguian/Isneg playing the "Lumad" role.

Certainly there's a sense of cohesion among the Visayans in Mindanao, though I can't see that as specific to the Caraga construct in any way. There is an identity, but is it specifically "Caragan"?

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However,the push in Caraga has almost always centered upon a push for a Federalist Government,either within the Philippines or else as part of an independent Mindanao.Caraga and most of ComVal (Compostela Valley),Davao Rwgion (the 3 Davaos), most of Zamboanga and the Northern Coast up to Iligan City inMisamis Oriental Province.This"Christian,"or Bisaya zone would comprise 1 of 3 federated states or regions.

The Lumad would have Bukidnon,most of ComVal and roughly half of South Cotabato and Sarangani Provinces and part of the Pulangi Plateau in North Cotabato.The

Muslims would get the rest (ARMM,island provinces of Basilan,Sulu and Tawi Tawi,and roughly 1/3rd of the Zamboangan Peninsula.
This sort of geographical division is commonly tossed around in Mindanao political circles, and has been for years... especially when there's a bottle or two in the middle of the circle. This sort of division is completely impractical and would cause more conflict than it causes... couldn't be enforced without ethnic cleansing, or something very much like it. Do you really think the Visayan majority in Bukidnon, especially the ranch and plantation interests, or the "large scale small scale" mining interests in ComVal would let the lumad "get" those areas? What would happen to the lumad in the "Visayan" areas, or the Visayans in the Muslim areas? Sounds appealing, but I can't see it working, the populations are far too mixed for a geographical separation to be viable.

Instead of trying to separate them, it makes more sense to me to provide them with equal protection, opportunity, and status in all the places, rather than trying to divide them... but we all know that won't happen either.

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Interestingly,the Mindanowan Bisaya,despite having kinship and cultural ties with Cebu and the rest of the Eastern Visayas haven't moved to unite with the autonomous anf independence movements centered in Cebu City.I am afraid that a Balkanisation of the Philippines is inevitable and that it will take place sooner,rather than later.
I don't really see balkanization happening. These groups exist, but they are largely personality-driven and have minimal appeal to the broader populace. How much real public support is there for an independent Visayan state? Lots of talk, but I don't see it going anywhere.

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For the first time since (the current) Aquino took office the local powers that be have begun agitating for independence.It happens every 2 or 3 years with everyone getting stirred up until they lose interest.It will only take the right leader to make it happen.
They stir the pot to get concessions from the central government, then shut up til they want more... usually concessions involve CDF releases or other political perks. That dance has been going on a long time. I'm not sure if it's a leadership deficit or a followership deficit... I don't think the average folks really care that much. It gives the politicians something to talk about that doesn't involve their own corruption and ineptness.

The groups exist, in Mindanao and the Visayas... but do they really have political support? Are they really that interested in the nominal political goals, or are those window dressing for an essentially personalistic agenda?

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"Settlers"...Here is the thing,the whole "Settlers"thing is almost entirely manufactured by Muslim propagandists.On Mainland Mindanao only 3 provinces have ever held Muslim Majorities (North Cotabato, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur).Those 3 provinces have never been united,and have not,contrary to Muslim propaganda,been at war with"invaders"for 400 odd years.
Constructed history is a common theme in Mindanao, and not just among the Muslims. The Visayan/Christian side plays the same game, often in an attempt to overstate their own indigenous presence. The actual historical record (often Spanish and Chinese) is extremely sketchy, often contradictory and seldom reliable, and all sides cherrypick those records freely in an effort to "prove" their own points. The Visayan narrative is no more credible and no better supported than the Muslim narrative.

Settlement and migration remain at the core of both insurgencies in Mindanao, despite all efforts to deny them.

Certainly there is an indigenous Visayan population in Mindanao, particularly in the north and east. As you point out, until the 1920s most Visayans were coastal. Today the interior population is dominated by them. How did they get there, if not by migration and settlement? How many Visayans lived in Agusan Sur, for example, before the 1920s? How many are there now?

Even a cursory look at population increase makes it clear that there was enormous migration from the Visayas into both interior and coastal areas. "Butuanon" and "Surigaonon" are not discrete "tribes", no matter what anyone says... nobody knows who in those areas is of indigenous descent and who is descended from settlers, but it is absolutely certain that a huge part of the Visayan population in the north and east, likely a majority, is migrant or migrant descended, including most of the elite population. There is no way that the rate of population increase we see in those areas could possibly happen without massive migration. Look at Cebu... virtually no arable land, reefs ravaged, fished out, population soaring? Migration is a natural solution, and there's a huge diaspora of Cebuano migrants. Many went to areas of Mindanao that were already Visayan-dominated, and settled in.

I can't buy the idea that there are no settlements in Caraga. When I lived in Agusan Sur virtually every Visayan I met was a settler or no more than 2 generations removed from settlers. We had entire barangays settled in the last decade by Ilonggo refugees from the fighting in Coatabato... settlers twice over. Any Ilonggo in Mindanao is by definition a settler or descended from settlers.

In Agusan Sur, and in much of the rest of Caraga, the coast was once dominated by the Vidayans, the interior by the Lumad. Today the Lumad have been displaced, forced back into the mountains and marginalized by Visayan settlers. And as you mention, virtually all of the NPA footsoldiers in the area are Lumad. Coincidence? I doubt it. The problem of the Lumad, ultimately, is the same as the problem of the Muslims, they just gravitate to different ideologies in the search for a solution. Either way, it's the eternal flood of land-hungry Visayan migrants driving the indigenous populace deeper and deeper into marginal zones that lies at the core of why the fighters fight. Of course the Visayan populace has their own constructed historical narrative to toss up against reality, but it's very thin and really doesn't stand up to much scrutiny.

In Cotabato (the old Cotabato, not the subdivided variant) in 1918 there were 61,053 non-Muslims and 110,926 Muslims. In 1970 there were 711,430 non Muslims and 424,577 Muslims. Or for a more extreme example, look at the Kapatagan Valley in Lanao, fertile and readily farmed. In 1918 there were 24 Christian settlers. In 1960 there were 93,000 immigrants in the valley.

I don't see how you can manage a population transfer on this scale without tension, and generally violence, between the settlers and the indigenous populace.
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Old 05-24-2011   #31
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It seems I am verbose today. Nothing very unusual.

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For example,Col.Lademora,whom I just mentioned?He settled in Caraga because he was employed to"acquire"land for the Guthrie Palm Oil plantation in Agusan del Sur Province.Entire vilages were burned out but by and large these were isolated events.
He had interesting ways of "acquiring" land... learned, not coincidentally, in Cotabato. I lived in Agusan Sur from 79 to 81, and at that time the NPA presence was minimal. NGPI was the lever the NPA needed to break into the area; the people displaced by that project were their initial targets for organizing. I went back in 82 and it was a whole new ball game, an amazingly rapid change.

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On the term"Caraga."You wouldn't have heard it because in those years the Regional Administrative System hadn't been created.Caraga Region (Region XIII) was created in 1995.The term historically can be found in the 18th Century annals of the Jesuits who tried prostelysing.It is usually spelled"Karaga."It was a Spanish bastardisation of the word"Kalaga,"or"Kalagan" (both were used interchangably).The Kalagan were a Bisaya Tribe indigenous to the area.The reason the name is used in Davao Oriental Province"us because a band of Kalagan had settled there.The first concrete history of the Kalagan was recorded by the Spaniard. Francisco de Castro in 1538.Ironically,at that time there were no Muslims at all on Mainland Mindanao and the Maguindanowan and Maranaw (Maranao) hadn't even entered existence (both are merely Islamicise[d offshoots of the Iranun Tribe).So you see,there is an incredible amount of propaganda and manipulation taking place even within the Philippines.
Yes, and as I said above, the distortions take place on both sides.

The term "Caraga" is a historical relic of rather dubious origin - as said above, Spanish records are far from reliable - long expired, revived for political reasons.

Not quite correct to say there were no Muslims on mainland Mindanao in 1538... Kabungsawan's arrival is generally dated to 1511. Really pretty irrelevant, though. In 1500 there were neither Muslims nor Christians, just a scattering of tribes, with numerous relationships among them. Some were Christianized, others were Islamicized. Others remained unconverted, and were called Lumad. The friction among them didn't reach the level of large-scale violence until sponsored migration drastically altered the demographic pattern and the balance of power.

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I just saw you mentioned Col.Lademora,guess I should read your post in its entirety before composing a response hahaha.He was never involved in any drive for autonomy or independence and in fact isn't even a Cebuano.He's an Ilonggo who settled in San Franz (Agusan del Sur) because of his relationship with Conjuangco,and also because Marcos urged him to.The UN wanted him tried for War Crimes and Marcos had enough headaches.At the time there were no phones in the interior,only a gravel track where National Hiway now sits so that the isolation was a factor.

The Maneros,though I don't know them personally (actually Col.Lademora was their handler for awhile so maybe in a 6th Degree of Separation type way I can say I know him) also never bothered with autonomy or independence.
I remember those days well. In 1979 San Fran was a one-street town with a really striking resemblance to a set for a Western movie. Swap stagecoaches for battered jeeps, horses for 125cc Honda dirt bikes, winchesters for M16s, and you'd have it. Disorder on a similar scale as well... landgrapping, claim-jumping miners, corrupt politicians and hired gunmen, the works, despite a severe lack of strong silent heroes riding over the horizon to liberate the little guys, though the NPA tried to fill that role!

Way too many stories to tell, including one or two involving Lademora and his guys... shouldn't get started though.

I didn't mean to suggest that Lademora or the Maneros had an independence agenda, only to cite them as examples of the kind of essentially personalistic leaders/groups with a nominal political agenda that features so prominently in Mindanao micropolitics.

Is Lademora still alive? He must be well up in years by now. He was no spring chicken when I met him, and that was... 82 or 83, I guess.

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Luce was another one who was almost entirely apolitical.He simply wanted to be able to live without people trying to steal his land.Those people happened to be Muslims so it wasn't even ethnically driven,at least in the beginning.
One might wonder how a guy from Panay (I know some say he was Tiruray, some say lots of stuff) managed to acquire land in Cotabato in the first place. Back to acronyms, you do of course know what ILAGA was taken to mean in those days...
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Old 08-01-2011   #32
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Dayuhan: When we speak of Bisaya (Visayans) nowadays we tend to be talking about Cebuanos but from Oroquita City all the wat aropund the island, moving east, until the border of Davao Oriental and Davao del Sur was populated by Bisaya. Indigenous languages like Suriganon and Butanon are Bisaya languages. Though Bisaya are traditionally coastal dwelling the also settled along rivers such as the Agusan, into Agusan del Sur as far as Esperanza. In terms of the historical record the Jesuits and Recolects both had missions at key points and more than a couple of priest slash missionaries recorded local languages and cultural mores to a high degree. If we include Bohalanos as Bisaya, we have Dapitan on the Zamboangan Peninsula who migrated to Dapitan in thevery early 16th Century, before the arrival of Islam. The Tausug in Sulu are Islamicised Butuanons who migrated south at least 2 centuries before the Spanish Era and so there really is no question of Bisaya being indigenous to Mindanao.

The Maguindanowan and Maranaw (Maranaon) are both subsets of the Iranun (Illanun). The Iranun are from Sulawesi. The Kalagan (another Muslim tribe) converted in the early 20th Century. The Kalimbugan are merely Subanon (Subanen) who also converted in the early 20th Century. On Mainland Mindanao not a single Muslim claim predates the Bisaya. This isn't negating Muslims' right to exist in Central and Western Mindanao, only showing that the entire Bangsamoro narrative is bogus.

"History is sketchy...": The British, Dutch, French, Spanish, China, Brunei, and various petty principalities like the Sultanate of Johor all offer historical records. There is a fair amount of knowledge about this side of the island. In 1902 when the first Colorum insurrection tookplace the Americans as well talk about the Bisaya in the north and east. Even Magellan, when he celebrated Easter did so with 2 local chiefs , blood relations of Cebuano chiefs so no, the Bisaya aren't newcomers. The Ilonggo in Central Mindanao are an entirely different dynamic. Magsaysay transplant entire Illokano and Tagalog communities into the central part of the island. I remember operating in the Surallah Valley and finding entire barangays speaking Tagalog as it was spoken in Bulacan 50 years ago, as if in a time capsule.


"Karaga...": It is corroborated by Maguindanaw Tarsila, but OK, for the sake of discussion, what about the Tausug, Butanon, Suriganon, all Bisaya Tribes from Caraga. It is a fact.

"In 1500 there was neither Muslims NOR Christians...": But THAT is exactly my point. Both are foreign imports. The Bangsamoro narrative holds that when the Spanish arrived Islam was firmly established and that Christianity is entirely foreign, a relic of colonialism. This despite Islam having been introduced by a a man from Johor. The Maguindanowan and Maranaw didn't even exist! When de Figueroa sailed up the Pulangi Buayan hadn't even converted. This narrative is then used to disenfranchise people who are more often than not just as indigenous to the island as any Muslim.

"Govt. sponsored settlement scemes upset the demographic balance and created the strife.": As I noted in another recent thread, Datu Ali was slaughtering Christians (and Lumads) at the turn of the 20th Century. In the 17th, 19th and early 19th Centuries Muslims from Central and Western Mindanao were attacking, killing and enslaving Christians in wholesale fashion. Did the Government's exercise of its sovereign rights to utilise Public Lands as it saw fit exacerbate this bloodshed? No. You pick an era and I can gie you lists of massacres and campaigns by Muslims against non-Muslims on the island. The Government didn't evict Muslim families or plow under their rice paddies. It used vacant, non-productive land to create new communities. The newcomers were of a different faith and culture and more importantly, they wouldn't even condider paying obesiance to local datus as some semi-enslaved Lumad Tribes had been compelled to. The Lambangians, Tedura, B'laan, and T'boli Tribes all lived as sub-humans and in exchange for giving the majority of their crops were allowed to remain on ancestral lands. The problem isn't Christians.


"Agusan 79 to 81.": Admittedly before my time but yes, many say the same thing. 78 was the year the NPA finally took hold on the island but due south in Davao del Norte, in what is now ComVal (Compestela). Leonicio "Ka Parago" Pitao and Edwin "Ka Julie" Brigano were among the first recruits in that sector as a matter of fact but the centre of gravity was Agado District in Davao City. In Agusan 1983 was the lynchpin year.

"Col.Lademora acquiring land.": You were in Agusan when he first moved there. You are correct that he was deployed in Cotabato, he was the 3rd PC liason with the Ilaga after making Captain. It was he who steered them away from Muslims and towards the NPA. He came to Agusan after Marcos retired him because of the Samar incident. The opposition in Manila was screaming about War Crimes. After that early retirement Conjuangco, one of the Rolex clique, hired him to "convince" land owners to sell to Guthrie, the huge palm oil plantation one sees on both sides of Agusan-Davao National Hiway soon after passing the San Franz rotunda.

Conjuangco gifted Col.Lademora with 20ha just south of the plantation, on the right hand side. That's where he built his house and headquarters of his para. That is the same para that laid the barrel of an M16 on the hood of an SUV bring the Secretary of Agriculture to the plantation in 2008 and told him to turn around. It caused a national incident but after the AFP admonished the Secretary there wasn't much he could do. The Colonel's son and daughter alternate with an uncle of my wife's as mayor of San Franz so the Colonel certainly found a home.

"San Franz looks like a Wild West town.": Hahaha, absolutely correct. Still does despite the Jollibee the put on Roxas in 2008. It has come a long way though. The NPA ran parallel governments in the farthest outlying barangays but by 1993 they were gone and today, despite operating in Lianga, Trento, and Prosperidad (the towns surrounding it) they won't raise their voice in San Franz. Maoist dogma teaches the path of least resistance. Between the Lademora and Beldad paraas in addition to the Bungkatoal (BULIF) there is just too much fire power running contrary. However, move 4 klicks south of the rotunda, a klick south of the Colonel's tract and the NPA is running the show. The set up checkpoints in daylight on National Hiway though only for 1 to 2 hours at a time, hoping to capture another soldier or cop.

"Is Lademora alivel: Yes but sadly, not for long. He has had a very long life though, as you know. His son, though not as charismatic, runs things day to day.

"Luces as Teduray.": No, you got it right the first time, definitely from Panay. At the time many poor Bisaya Christians were duped in scam land deals like the one that victimised his family. Most of his men were Teduray though so that could be why some confuse him as a Teduray. Another one who is still living. Like Kumander Dante, a relic who just wants to farm.
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Old 09-03-2011   #33
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I'm going to discuss some of that on another thread (one of these days), and try to keep this one focused on the NPA and the east of Mindanao.

78 sounds about right... when I was in Trento (79-81) everyone knew they were around in Davao Norte (now ComVal), but there was very little fighting, mostly they were lying low and organizing. When it did kick off, it gained momentum very fast.

Having been there at the time, I'd point to 3 reasons. NGPI, had an impact well beyond the immediate area. Rumors went all over that new areas were being targeted for plantation development and more farmers were going to be chased off the land. The people who were evicted scattered and brought their stories with them. The NPA could not have asked for a better entry point.

Lademora... engaging conversationalist, comes off as benign as your favorite uncle. The stories aren't fiction, though, whether from Cotabato, Samar, or Agusan. Call him war criminal, serial human rights violator, whatever you want; there's a history there and it's an ugly one. The evictions and the way they were carried out were a major boost to the NPA and a major factor in the rapidity of their rise in the east.

When I talked to Lademora he never admitted a thing. I also talked quite a bit with some of his guys, who were a lot less circumspect, especially after a few drinks. They weren’t the least bit ashamed; quite the opposite… the idea that a communist (very loosely defined), or still more a Muslim, had “rights” would have struck them as completely absurd.

The second major factor was the farcical 1981 election, which had an enormous impact in Davao. Marcos called that election after the (very nominal) lifting of martial law, to put a little democratic veneer on the whole mess. The opposition boycotted it, and they couldn't find a candidate to run against Marcos. Finally they drafted a retired general named Alejo S. Santos.

The campaign in Davao was a joke. In those days the newspapers all called Marcos "FM", by his initials; Imelda was "FL", for First Lady. The papers in Davao all referred to Santos by his initials as well, which happened to be ASS. Every night kids would go out and paint BOYCOTT in big red letters on every available surface, every day obedient government employees would paint it out in white. We all called the ritual "sa pula/sa puti, like at a cockfight. Everyone joked that ang manalo sa Davao ay si Boy... sino pa kundi si Boy Cott.

Then Time and Newsweek ran features playing up the humor. FM (or maybe it was FL) got inis and told his crony on the spot to get it under control. He had access to his own equivalent of the lost command: the prisoners at Davao Penal Colony worked on his plantations in Tagum, and performed odd jobs on the side.

Suddenly kids were getting picked up on the street at night and their bodies were turning up in the morning on Times Beach. Sometimes shot, sometimes stabbed, sometimes just hogtied and thrown in the water to drown. Escalated very quickly, pretty soon it was open season on anyone even vaguely connected to the political opposition. Of course the main beneficiaries of all that were the NPA; within a few months Agdao was Nicaragdao and the Sparrows ruled the streets. Of course they abused their power every bit as thoroughly, setting up the rise of Jun Pala (another quintessential Mindanao lunatic that I managed a few conversations with) and the Alsa Masa.

Another thing that helped kick it off was that by ’82 Marcos was really and truly losing his grip. That sounds far away from Mindanao, but there were real repercussions. Marcos may have been a scumbag, but he knew how to keep his boys in the field balanced and under control… like any good feudal lord, he played his barons against each other and used the pork barrel to good effect. When he fell apart the barons went out on their own, complete free-for-all, with the military and police running with whoever promised them the biggest payback. After the Aquino assassination in ’83 the loan guarantee circus shut down and the pork barrel dried up; with nobody in charge the level of abuse and exploitation shot through the roof. You had all the psycho sects, Tadtads and Rock Christ and 4k and Pulahan. Putian, killing anyone who couldn’t fight back and trying to carve out reputations as the nastiest guy in town.

Yes, it started in the late 70s but took off in the early 80s, with NGPI, the Davao debacle, the collapse of central authority. Of course the NPA was growing at a similar rate in a lot of other places at the same time. A lot of the factors that torpedoed NPA growth elsewhere were also present in Mindanao, most notably the internal purges… so why were the eastern Mindanao NPA able to resurge after the 90’s retrenchment?

Partly money, of course. Small scale miners, plantations, logging, all easily “taxable”, and the area has a long tradition of submission to extortion. Money makes it a lot easier to sustain a rebellion.

Then of course there are the Lumad, a ready-made source of footsoldiers, with the grievance but not the organization to try and redress the grievance on their own. As you’ve pointed out before, without the Lumad the NPA in Mindanao would be crippled; they’d have leaders but no followers, officers but no soldiers, drastically reduced support base in the hills. In theory, by resolving the issues driving the Lumad to affiliate with the NPA you could deprive the NPA of manpower and mass base and weaken them. That worked in the Cordillera: when the dam, logging, and mining projects were dropped the indigenous population backed away from their (always rather tentative) alliance with the NPA and stopped fighting. They’d won, why keep fighting?

I don’t see that working for the Lumad, because the Lumad aren’t going to win. As far as I can see the Lumad are stuffed. They waited way too long to fight and when they did they didn’t control their own fight, but supported a group that has no real concern for their interests. The NPA are ultimately just another bunch of intrusive outsiders using the Lumad, if they ever won (unlikely) the Lumad would be just as screwed as they are now.

Where do the Lumad have real control over their own ancestral domain, in anything but miniscule fragments? Where do they have control over resources? Are there any Lumad congressmen or governors? How many mayors? How many barangay captains, especially if you don’t include those who are tools of some settler politician?

The Lumad are toast, gone, swept aside by the settler tide. They’ve lost control of their land and they are too scattered and fragmented to regain it. They’ll end up like the Aeta or the Mangyan; powerless, scattered, marginalized.

Of course, as you say, the State has the sovereign prerogative of allowing settlement wherever it wants. The state has a bunch of other sovereign prerogatives as well. They can dam the river and flood you out, they can strip every tree from every hill, they can throw you out and turn the land over to a mining company, they can seize your land for a plantation and shoot you if you don’t want to leave. The only way indigenous communities can survive the sovereign prerogatives of the state is armed resistance, and the only way to succeed is to resist from the start.

The Igorot core communities have kept control of their land and resources through a policy of zero tolerance: don’t accept ANY settlers, don’t let Manila get a foothold. The local attitude toward settlers taking over land is that that if you allow one in, tomorrow there will be ten, in a week a hundred, in a month a thousand and in a decade they’ll be the majority and you’ll be on your way to perdition. They’re right, and the only reason they still have what they have is that they’ve fought for it, from the start. If they’d taken the “just get along” route they’d be in the same boat as the Lumad. In places around the periphery where they have taken that route, that’s what happened.

If you want an example, look what’s happening right now in the islands north of Palawan, in the ancestral domain of the Tagbanua. Visayan settlers are moving in… starts with a temporary hut on the beach for passing fisherman, then the hut is permanent, then there’s a family there, then there are more families. Pretty soon the dynamite fishing starts, and the cyanide, and the deforestation and all the other things that the settlers did to destroy the places they came from. The Tagbanua are not aggressive people; they just try to co-exist. As a consequence, they are chased back from the seashore, crowded off their fishing grounds, left with the scraps. If they go to town they are treated like subhumans. Government does nothing for them; even when the areas being settled are legally restricted to Tagbanua. That’s what co-existing gets you.

So in theory, you could disable the NPA in eastern Mindanao by addressing and redressing the grievances of the Lumad. In practice, this will be very difficult to do, because, as you say, the settlers aren’t going away, and there’s little or no chance of the Lumad ever regaining control of their land or resources. If they won, they could stop fighting, as the Igorot did… but they’ve already lost.
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Old 09-04-2011   #34
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Default Why the "peace talks" won't produce peace...

http://af.reuters.com/article/worldN...7820JA20110903

Quote:
Maoists want Manila to free more rebels before talks resume

MANILA (Reuters) - Maoist rebels Saturday demanded the release of at least five more detained guerrilla leaders before peace negotiations could resume with the Philippines government, the chief negotiator of the communist-led National Democratic Front said.

Luis Jalandoni, a former Roman Catholic priest, said his group had also offered a truce and power-sharing deal with the government of President Benigno Aquino, opening a second track of negotiations to speed up the slow and tedious peace process.

"It's a bold and innovative proposal," Jalandoni said, adding his group sent a confidential letter to Aquino on January 18, proposing an alliance and truce with government.

He said the proposed political deal envisions social and economic reforms and nationalising industries, including mining and oil-and-gas projects.
Always amusing when people with no power offer a "power-sharing deal". I don't know what Jalandoni is smoking in that peace pipe, but I suspect it's fragrant...
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Old 08-01-2012   #35
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Default What now for the Philippines' Communist insurgency?

A short commentary that seeks to:
Quote:
Given the recent rise in violence, it seems pertinent to make a realistic assessment of the ongoing Communist violence – considered the longest-running Communist insurgency in Asia – its impact on the larger socioeconomic and political fabric of the country, the direction of the movement since its inception, and future prospects.
Link:http://www.opendemocracy.net/opensec...ist-insurgency
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Old 08-02-2012   #36
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Some valid points here, but a few question marks as well.

It's suggested here that the NPA have at some point received significant aid from China, Vietnam, and the Soviet Union. I've seen and heard no evidence of that. There were a couple of abortive attempts to ship arms from China in the '70s, beyond that very little. Most external financial support has come from left groups in Europe. Cutting that support off was the main point of designating the NPA a terrorist organization (a rather awkward designation, as it really isn't one), which appears to have been pretty successful.

A bigger question mark, for me, revolves around this claim:
Quote:
It needs to be understood that left-wing extremism in Philippines is not a national security issue in its current shape; rather it is a localized problem, which can be solved by local governments in coordination with Manila.
and subsequent suggestions that a "solution" would revolve around delivery of infrastructure, services, and "development" in general. This seems to me an adoption of a flawed premise that recurs often in US approaches to insurgency.

People don't go to war because the government fails to deliver infrastructure and services. They complain, but they don't fight. They fight because they see the government as a threat. The issue to me is less delivery of development than delivery of justice, and local governments aren't part of the solution, they are the core of the problem.

The NPA typically flourishes in places where local governance is dominated by powerful families controlling political dynasties. These families typically dominate all political, judicial, and economic life and operate above the law. They are abusive, exploitive, and oppressive, frequently operating their own private armies (a glorified name for gangs of armed thugs) and frequently co-opting state security forces through shared profits from illegal business.

Infrastructure and service delivery is not a bad thing, but for me the key element in reducing the influence of the NPA is a concerted effort to bring local governing elites within the rule of law. Local elites will resist, as they rely on impunity to sustain their power, but as long as these elites remain above the law the NPA will be able to cast itself as the only alternative to their dominance.

The Philippine Government is actually lucky that the leadership of the CPP/NPA and its assorted splinter factions is generally incompetent, obsessed with infighting and absorbed in their anachronistic mantras and incomprehensible rhetoric. A capable opponent could make matters much more difficult for the government. The NPA has declined as much due to its own ineptitude as to anything the government has done to fight it.

I see no need to address the NPA's claims about the US-Philippine relationship. These issues only matter to the core ideologues, who are not going to convert under any circumstances. The most effective way to reduce NPA influence is to resolve the issues that lead the fighters to fight, and those issues are overwhelmingly local. The average NPA fighter knows little and cares less about the relationship between the national elites and the US, they care about the local boss and his henchmen taking their land, exploiting their labor, and generally kicking them around.
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Old 08-02-2012   #37
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Dayuhan,

Have to agree with you on this one. Increased infrastructure and other economic development won't hurt, but won't resolve the real issues. This is the persistent dumbing down effect our COIN doctrine has on its fans who believe if you simply sprinkle some economic development around the conflict area the insurgents will simply turn their weapons into plows and reintegrate into society peacefully.

The other flaw was the author's claim that the threat was localized and local government should be able to deal with it. The CPA and their armed wing the NPA are a national movement, and more often than not, as you pointed out, local government is the problem.

It was my understanding also that most of their external support which was very limited came from leftists in Europe in the form of donations. Every now and then in the 80s I recall seeing a report in the press of low level contacts from PRC, North Korea and Cuba, but the NPA never desired to become a puppet for another state, it is mostly, if not entirely, a nationalist movement.
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Old 08-02-2012   #38
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Default Concur on Development

Bill and Dayuhan,

Your comments remind of the the meeting we had with MILF spokesman Moqtadar Iqbal a few years ago. As we discussed the conflict in Mindanao he made two points that were very interesting. First he said you Americans can solve the problem in Mindanao by forcing the Philippine government to give in to the MILF political and ancestral domain demands. (I think he misreads US power and influence and he was in effect telling us we should step all over Philippine sovereignty for his benefit!)

But more germane to both your points and one with which I do agree is that he said the Philippine and US governments and military forces can do all the development they want, the MILF is happy to receive development aid but he said, if the political problems are not solved the insurgency will continue. Development is useful as Bill says but it is certainly not the key to conflict resolution or the end of or even prevention of insurgency unless there are acceptable political accommodations that can made (acceptable to both sides). Otherwise regardless of the ability to physically suppress the insurgency the seeds of conflict will remain to be germinated later.
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Old 10-27-2012   #39
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A little window into left infighting...

Just as background... Akbayan is a group that used to be hard left but split away from the Sison-led movement, rejected Sison and the NPA, and moved into the political realm, though still well on the left side of the political spectrum. They've attained some influence under the Aquino administration and have some members appointed to significant posts. Bayan Muna and associated groups are closely associated with Sison and the NPA and are widely regarded (not entirely without reason) as above-ground agents of the NPA. Both groups have members in Congress through a highly fragmented "party list" scheme intended to provide representation for marginalized sectors. These Congressmen receive government funding intended for development projects for their constituents through a rather bizarre pork barrel scheme. The hard line left groups are widely suspected of channeling these funds back to the NPA. They fight a lot, the current incarnation of the fight being described here:

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/296296/...-party-listers

Quote:
Akbayan hits back, seeks ouster of Red party-listers

Groups allied with the Akbayan party-list group are urging the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to disqualify “communist party-list groups” from the 2013 elections, claiming that some P770 million in pork barrel funds were being channeled to the operations of the communist New People’s Army (NPA).

In the latest escalation of the increasingly acrimonious quarrel between the well-connected Akbayan on one hand and rival progressive groups, the People’s Advocacy for Collaboration and Empowerment (PEACE) Friday reiterated a letter-complaint it filed in the Comelec last month calling for the delisting of Bayan Muna and other groups that it said were creations of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)...
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Old 01-08-2013   #40
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A few times in the past I've made the point that the most important security-related challenge facing the Philippine Government is not confronting the NPA, the MILF, or the Abu Sayyaf, but cleaning up its own security services. This little vignette illustrates why:

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/336805/...uthern-tagalog

This story broke a few days ago: a van and an SUV were stopped at a checkpoint and fired on police and military operatives; all 13 occupants of the vehicles were killed on the spot (no wounded, no survivors, nobody taken to a hospital). The dead were immediately described as members of a criminal syndicate.

Then it got more complicated: it turned out that among the dead were 3 policemen, one of them a Superintendent (equivalent to a military Colonel), and either 1 or 3 military personnel (one confirmed, 2 others may or may not have been carrying false ID).

The complications are escalating: it's now claimed that the people killed were members and protectors of a major illegal gambling syndicate, and that the people at the checkpoint were associated with a rival syndicate. There's also talk that a large amount of cash was being transported in the vans, though none was reported recovered.

Perhaps significantly, there's very little public surprise at all this: it's simply accepted, all over the country, that virtually every kind of organized crime in the Philippines operates with some degree of official collusion. It's well known, for example, that criminals, rebels, and terrorists typically acquire their arms and ammunition by buying them from the police... yet how many military and police officers have ever been prosecuted for disappearance of arms and ammunition?

This to me raises some questions about US aid to and cooperation with the Philippine security services... we talk about "capacity building", but what capacity are we talking about? Not saying that every apple in the barrel is rotten, but until the ones that aren't rotten stop looking the other way and and take action against the one that are, I can't see how progress is going to be made.
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