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Old 11-12-2007   #21
CalmSeas
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CalmSeas (I would hate to see rough seas if this is calm), I understand your frustration with the corruption in the Philippines (and other developing and non-developing nations), but when I think of revolutions I think of Castro, Mao, and Lenin who led revolutions to throw the bastards out, only to be replaced with much worse systems. The book answer is to ensure that the government enforces its anti-corruption laws, but of course we know that is a joke, the enforcer will not throw him/herself in prison.

Transforming the government has always been the most challenging, and often unattainable, goal for COIN or peace enforcement missions, especially in places in the Philippines, most of Latin America, and all of Africa, where corruption is embedded in the culture. We can develop tactically and technically competent security forces, but as we all know this isn't enough.

I'm sure there are a few discussion threads on this somewhere in SWJ, but without this government/cultural transformation any victory will only be transient in nature.
Then..what would be your recommendation for solving the morass here in the Philippines?

Remember...the Philippines has had their Independence since 1946 and WAS the most promising nation circa 1950s, but due to greediness, corruption and what is commonly referred to as "Ako muna (Me first, selfish, individualistic mentality)" they are almost in last place here in SE Asia.

Democracy is a sad joke here, with massive cheating at all levels of elections. The current "Illigetimate President" resorts to buying off the congress in order to kill impeachment raps and political salvagings (state sanctioned murders) have topped 800+ and some reports have them at over 1,000.

From a moral stance this place has turned into "Sodom and Gomorrah (sp.)."

You hit it on the head that there needs to be a "Cultural Transformation," since this is the main excuse given for many of the things that occur here (It is part of our culture).

Believe me, I have racked my brain trying to figure out another avenue of establishing some form of normalacy here but it is beyond hope at this time in history. If you have a better idea lets hear it.

Not all "Revolutions" are in aid of establishing a communist type regime. One could argue that our own "War of Independence" was a Revolution. The French had their own Revolution, etc. A Revolution of the entire system (ruling elite http://www.endpoliticaldynasty.com/) is what needs to occur. If it can be done within the constitution, then all is good, but we know that that is not going to happen. A "rough and questionable model" would be S. Africa, in which the controlling elite is made to answer for all of their past sins...but I do not see the masa (people) having the intestinal fortitude for such a feat.
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Old 11-15-2007   #22
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Default calm seas, what is your beef?

Calm Seas:

What is your beef really?

Truth to tell, I cannot fathom from where you are coming from politically? In this thread, you sound as if you were a Filipino campus radical of the early 1970s crying out bloody revolution.


Yet, in the other, you sounded as if you were someone to the right of the political spectrum, even if only to the right of center.



A revolution to knock off the oligarchy? For starters, no attempt at armed struggle to topple the government has ever succeeded.

So, history would be immediately against those who advocate such in my country.

And Yes, there is an oligarchy. And yes, there is corruption here. Which is sad.

But Filipinos have the tendency to highlight their shortcomings while failing to count their strengths.

Have you ever wondered why the Philippines has never sank into the ocean, in spite its bad press since the 1950s? Its because of the Filipino people's resiliency.

And inspite the political heat right now in the Philippines, its economy is still doing fine, Thank You.

My take as to why this is so: reforms of the political and economic variety since Corazon Aquino's time are now having a cumulative effect.

It would be best for US security interests to nudge these incremental steps towards progress further.

And that goes also for the Armed Forces of the Philippines--an institution where the United States has plenty of clout.

Last edited by pinoyme; 11-15-2007 at 08:26 AM. Reason: take out unnecessary last graf
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Old 11-15-2007   #23
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Default calm seas?

Calm seas?

The tenor of your postings belies the avatar you have chosen for yourself. Hence, the question mark as you can see.

You appear to be frothing with anger at the Philippines and Filipinos.

Why so?

Yup, you bash us Pinoys as we have been bashing ourselves.

Yes, there was cheating in the elections. In the usual place where they have been done--in that distant area in Mindanao where the birds and the bees have voted as a matter of course since 1949.

Incidentally, such practices were also rampant in US cities in the late 1800s where machine politics dominated. But did the US of A sink into the depths of the ocean never to recover?

So, you have been here 10 years already.

OK.

Yet, you fail to have seen sectors among the middle class in this country who have been advocating for reforms. You have failed also to see the incremental progress taking place over the past two decades.

Or that the Philippine economy is humming once more. Or that the NPA is nothing more now than an extortionist gang stupidly mouthing Maoist slogans.

Or that the Abu Sayaff is a threat only in a very tiny slice of Mindanao. And that the rest of this island has an economy now on the bounce.

So, where have you been in the Philippines all these years?

And once again, what have you got really against my country?

As for PMA not the equal of West Point. Maybe.

But it does have alumni whose tactical and operational skills are first rate.
Now if only hazing there were to be minimized, many of them would perhaps not be that brutal as they conduct COIN operations.

And the US could play a key role in influencing this badly-needed reform.

Meanwhile, pray tell me: what happened to you here that you are so angry at the Philippines, Filipinos, and US policies in this country?
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Old 01-17-2008   #24
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I pretty much agree with "Calm Seas", much to the chagrin of "pinoyisme". I too, lived in the Philippines for more than 10 years, speak the language and have always viewed the AFP and their exploits with a healthy dose of skepticism. Jeez, with all of the coups that were initiated by members/former members of the military, you start to wonder whose side they were fighting on. Gringo Honasan never received so much as a slap on the wrist for his role in the coups and eventually became a senator of the land. In another instance, the AFP surrounded a whole group Abu Sayaaf members in a hospital somewhere in Basilan (probably around 1998 time frame) only to let them slip through their "cordon sanitaire" once money exchanged hands. I got to see the AFP in action up close and personal on March 29, 2003 when the NPA decided to try and celebrate their 34th anniversary with a bang near my house on the boundary of Angat and Pandi in Bulacan. I don't question the loyalty and bravery of the enlisted soldiers, who went into battle without many of the advantages and the gear that American soldiers have. That battle raged almost constantly for more than 13 hours, but somebody in the chain of command had the audacity to schedule a lunch break promptly at 1200 and then call off the attack at 1815 local even though they had military superiority, several armored vehicles and had the bad guys boxed in. Barking dogs let everyone know the egress route of the NPA, but the AFP had called it quits because it was getting dark. I could list other specific examples, but why bother. Just please explain to me how someone with an AFP military salary obtains the money to buy houses in exclusive neighborhoods and properties in the provinces if their are no shenanigans going on? I'm sure things have improved incrementally as they always do in the Philippines, but let's deal with reality and not view things as the spinmeisters wish they would be.
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Old 01-20-2008   #25
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Default on bulacan

acostaraybies:

I do not know what nationality you are. But your bluntness indicates you might be American. Or at least in the Western Hemisphere of the world.

The AFP has many problems. Including its having been heavily politicized by Marcos. It also tasted political power, because of him.

Solving this problem is like putting back toothpaste into its canister. That is a tough job. And that is why many of the problems regarding the AFP have persisted.

But haven't you noticed? Several parts of the Philippines are enjoying an economic boom, fueled by the country's natural competitiveness in services. And also by the money being sent in by Filipino contract workers.

And that is why the Philippines is not about to go under. And it never will.
Inspite of the AFP's faults which you have cited.

Yup, incremental progress is being made. The reality of the Philippines dictates this is the way to go.

As for Gringo? Well, what about Oliver North?

Does North's behavior and appeal speak for the entire US Army?

Like it or not, the insurgency in the Philippines is a symptom of the painful process the country is going through as it moves towards a mature economy and democracy.

Due to its history, this will be a long,uphill, and plodding slog.

But the Philippines does have its strengths and talking points. Better to work with these than to knock it down for its faults.

And so, you have been in my country for 10 years. So that means since 1998.

It still has not sunk, hasn't it?In fact, most parts of it are floating very well, thank you.

So please don't punch more holes into it. Plugging those found on Good Ship Republic of the Philippines is a difficult task. But inspite everything, the job is mostly being done.

I ask you to be patient. Please do not try to do to the Philippines what the US did to Vietnam. Abandon it in its most desperate hour when progress was already being made under General Abrams.

Cheers.
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Old 01-20-2008   #26
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As for Gringo? Well, what about Oliver North?
Does North's behavior and appeal speak for the entire US Army?

Oliver North was in the Army? That explains a lot
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Old 01-20-2008   #27
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Default apology

Selil:

I apologize for the booboo.

But in the Philippine context, my statement would have meant, " Does he speak for the US Armed Forces?"

I stand by the rest of my post.
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Old 01-20-2008   #28
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Selil:

I apologize for the booboo.

But in the Philippine context, my statement would have meant, " Does he speak for the US Armed Forces?"

I stand by the rest of my post.
In the sense of American military politics saying a Marine is from the Army would be likely saying the finest rare breed Rottweiler is a poodle. Please accept the humor in which it was meant.
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Old 02-22-2008   #29
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Default MILF and the Peace Process

Zachary Abuza, writing for the Jebsen Center for CT Studies, 21 Feb 08:

The Philippine Peace Process: Too Soon to Claim a Settlement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front?
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Peace talks between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the government of the Republic of the Philippines were stalled for more than eleven years until November 2007, when a breakthrough was reached. Yet, in the following month, the MILF walked out of the peace talks, and they now remain deadlocked. Back-channel talks continue, but the issues are complex, and spoilers on all side abound. What is at stake in the Philippine peace process, and what are the implications for international security and counter-terrorism?
Complete 8 page paper at the link.
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Old 02-22-2008   #30
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Default USIP: Towards Peace in the Southern Philippines

USIP, 20 Feb 08: Toward Peace in the Southern Philippines: A Summary and Assessment of the USIP Philippine Facilitation Project, 2003-2007
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Summary

• The Muslim inhabitants of Mindanao and Sulu in the southern Philippines, known as Moros, have resisted assimilation into the Christianized national culture for centuries. Since Spanish colonial times, Moros have been marginalized from Philippine society, politics, and economic development. Moro-dominated areas have suffered from the effects of war, poor governance, and lack of justice. High crime rates, internal clan-on-clan conflicts, and corruption and abuse by local leaders also beset Moro communities. For nearly four decades, Moros have rebelled against the Philippine government and sought self-determination. The rebellion was led first by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and then by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). In 2003, the U.S. State Department, seeking to prevent international terrorist groups from exploiting the conflict in the Philippines, engaged USIP to facilitate a peace agreement between the government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the MILF. The State Department felt that the Institute’s status as a quasi-governmental, “track one-and-a-half” player would allow it to engage the parties more broadly than an official government entity could. To accomplish its mandate, USIP launched the Philippine Facilitation Project (PFP).

• PFP faced many difficulties at the outset. The Malaysian government had served as host and facilitator of the GRP-MILF peace talks since 2001 and opposed an American presence at the negotiating table. Moros suspected USIP’s presence, motives, and relationship with the U.S. government. USIP, lacking a permanent base in Mindanao, also faced challenges in establishing strong channels of communication with the GRP, MILF, and civil society. Multiple changes in the composition of the GRP negotiating team, and divergent perspectives and agendas within the Moro leadership and communities further complicated the peace facilitation effort. At times, senior GRP officials’ lukewarm support for an equitable and effective peace agreement hampered the efforts of skilled and committed negotiators. Corruption and criminality among the Moros, exacerbated by centuries-old clan loyalties, created other hurdles.

• Despite the challenges, USIP managed to build productive relationships with both the GRP and the MILF, helped the parties come up with creative solutions to stubborn issues of ancestral domain, and started dialogue between disparate Moro ethnic groups. PFP’s multifaceted approach included directly sharing lessons learned by principals from other conflict areas around the world; training civil society leaders in conflict management; promoting interfaith dialogue and cooperation via the Bishops-Ulama Forum; supporting the training of Mindanao history teachers on teaching a historical narrative that is more inclusive of the Moro experience; and launching dialogue among young Moro leaders. To improve media coverage of the conflict, PFP held two training workshops for media representatives. It also conducted six workshops on conflict management, negotiation, and communication for Philippine military officers.

• Through its activities, USIP introduced concepts and approaches that were useful to both government and MILF peace panels. It helped inform the Philippine population, and elites in Manila in particular, of issues underlying the conflict in Mindanao, while presenting potentially viable means of resolving them. The Institute’s efforts have added marginally to more balanced media coverage. USIP funding supported the publication of policy papers, which were distributed to scholars, analysts, journalists, and policymakers. USIP also sponsored educational materials for use in Philippine schools.

• Philippine economic progress and U.S. counterterrorism objectives will remain precarious until the Mindanao conflict is resolved. The roots of conflict in Mindanao are primarily political, not economic or religious. Preference for military “solutions” will likely miss the delicate nuances of intergroup conflict and could even worsen the situation. To move the peace process forward, U.S. policymakers must give higher priority to the GRP-MILF negotiations and commit to working with both parties long enough to reach an agreement and implement it. The Philippine government, for its part, will need to muster the political will to address Moro grievances more effectively, especially on land claims, control over economic resources, and political self-governance. When an agreement is reached, implementation will require long-term monitoring by a committed international body. Today’s complex diplomatic landscape increasingly requires new tools and techniques of conflict management, including quasi- and nongovernmental actors, to accomplish U.S. foreign policy goals. Because of its ability to deal with nonstate actors and sensitive issues underlying civil conflict, USIP can be a useful instrument for advancing U.S. interests.
Complete 24 page paper at the link.
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Old 05-07-2008   #31
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I think the main problem is not the Filipino people but the Philippine gov.

The Philippine gov is basically a corrupt oligarchy in which power is basically in the hands of political, business families and reform to change to country has to come from the top and not from the bottom.

First the Philippines has to have political change then economic then social.

I think the Philippines is not ready for U.S. style democracy and I think a South korean/Singapore authoritairan type gov. but done right(developing and reforming the economy) before democracy. Marcos could have done it but he was corrupt. The South Koreans and Singaporeans were lucky to have Park Chung Hee and Lee Kuan Yu.

I also come from the Philippine and while I highly agree that the Philippines has tribal ethnic prejudices(Ilocano, Tagalog etc.) many Filipinos are patriotic in the western sense. Depends on the crowd you meet but many Filipinos think of themselves as Filipino first----tribe second----. This is more prevailent among the educated and the cities.

But when compared with the USA(and I have lived there btw), our ethnic groups live in relative harmony with each other(try walking and driving as a Chinese and Asian in Watts Los Angeles and you'll know what I mean, ). You may hear news in Mindanao but the Christians and Muslims live in OK harmony there too(I know of many instances where after fighting each other, the same AFP and MILF troops would drink with each other in the same bar while resuming fighting the next day).

As for self first.....I think this is very much prevailent in the world not just in the Philippines.

As for the AFP, the AFP is not as bad as it looks. The AFP has basically defeated the NPA, the MNLF and the MILF(while the NPA and the MILF still exists, they are basically emasculated though the MILF might be a future threat). If it was poor quality it could not have done this.

Also the AFP has poor equipment when compared to its neighbors since it does not have a major foreign threat or dispute(the Spratly dispute with China is laughable) and it relies on the USA for its foreign defense(USA-Philippine defense pact). Its equipment is good for its counterinsurgency situation.
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Old 08-12-2008   #32
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Default Recent Philippine Action

Story from BBC here about some recent operations.
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The Philippine military says it has "liberated" five more villages from rebel control, as the fighting in North Cotabato province continues.

Rebel commanders have confirmed that their forces are withdrawing to camps in adjacent Maguindanao province.
And here is a link to a decent, short BBC backgrounder for those who might want more information about some of the factions involved.
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Old 08-23-2008   #33
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Default Liguasan (Ligawasan) Marsh, Mindanao

http://www.atimes.com/se-asia/DC22Ae01.html
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"No one is allowed to get our natural resources," vows Margani, with an intense gaze and a clenching handshake. "We want the United States to help us develop our oil, as long as they recognize our sovereignty."

Observers note the irony of intense Muslims calling for American liberators. "The Americans who uprooted the Sulu sultanate [90 years ago] are coming back to install the sultanate," says a respected Muslim professor. "They are here to advance their protection of oil fields and shipping lanes. That's why the sultan of Sulu is pro-balikatan [balikatan: literally shoulder-to-shoulder, joint Philippine exercises with US soldiers]. That's why Malaysia is scared of the American presence here."
http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5025/
Quote:
Liguasan Marsh, the country's largest wetland, had been the site of major encounters between the government, Moro rebels and lawless elements in the past using its forested portions as lairs.

Tons of bombs have been dropped and bullets fired at the jungle portion of the marshland that severely eroded its environment.

But just recently, two programs aimed at salvaging the marsh from further destruction has been launched at S.K. Pendatun town in Maguindanao.
http://www.intellasia.net/news/artic...11247285.shtml
Quote:
The Liguasan Marsh holds a huge reservoir of natural gas worth hundreds of billions of dollars and the Bangsamoro people could become one of the richest if this area is placed under their control, the chief of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) said over the weekend.

MNLF chair Nur Misuari revealed this during a peace summit held in Patadon village of this city where he addressed his followers and other participants.

Misuari said that some American oil engineers told him about the abundance of natural gases in the Liguasan Marsh, the country's largest wetland.

The Americans estimated total earnings from the natural gas of Liguasan -once explored -will amount to US$580 billion, Misuari said.
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Old 08-23-2008   #34
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Default Maps of Mindanao

(RUMINT)

http://blogs.inquirer.net/current/20...ater-malaysia/

Quote:
What many don’t know is that no less than US Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte discreetly came to Manila right after the Supreme Court temporarily halted the signing of the controversial GRP-MILF agreement last week. Prior to that, rumor has it (I can’t really confirm this) that US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney went to Bangkok to meet with President George W. Bush, who was then en route to China for the opening of the Olympics, to brief him on the Bangsamoro issue. Ambassador Kenney, by the way, had been meeting with MILF leaders before this whole imbroglio broke out.

These only prove the fact that the United States’s involement and stake on the Bangsamoro issue is deeper than we all thought. And as always, the Americans would do all it takes- even thread dangerous waters if need be- just to pursue their national interest.

I believe the United States is coddling- if not outright aiding- the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in exchange for major pro-US concessions.

As early as 2003, the United States Institute of Peace, which is funded by the US Congress, has been involved in the “peace process” in Mindanao.
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Old 10-25-2008   #35
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ICG, 23 Oct 08: The Philippines: The Collapse of Peace in Mindanao
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On 14 October 2008 the Supreme Court of the Philippines declared a draft agreement between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippines government unconstitutional, effectively ending any hope of peacefully resolving the 30-year conflict in Mindanao while President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo remains in office. The Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD or MOA), the culmination of eleven years’ negotiation, was originally scheduled to have been signed in Kuala Lumpur on 5 August. At the last minute, in response to petitions from local officials who said they had not been consulted about the contents, the court issued a temporary restraining order, preventing the signing. That injunction in turn led to renewed fighting that by mid-October had displaced some 390,000......
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Old 02-18-2009   #36
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ICG, 16 Feb 09: The Philippines: Running in Place in Mindanao
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.....Peace is not around the corner in Mindanao. No one should have illusions that the government’s move toward reestablishing its negotiating team presages a new political will to address the complex issues that scuttled the MOA. But if a settlement seems unlikely during the Arroyo administration, there is still much to be done now that might help make a future peace stronger. The MILF negotiators have studied many of the autonomy agreements reached around the world in the last decade, but there are still lessons to be learned not just in what provisions were included but how compromises were reached and what tactics were used......
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Old 06-02-2009   #37
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http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/MAN494095.htm

Quote:
COTABATO CITY, Philippines, May 27 (Reuters) - Fighting between Philippine troops and rogue factions of a Muslim rebel group has spread beyond oil and gas-rich wetlands in the south, and more guerrillas could get involved, a rebel leader said.

Rogue MILF factions went on the rampage last August and attacked Christian-majority towns after a peace deal between the government and the MILF leadership was aborted. Nearly 600 people have been killed since then.
MILF leadership generally accepts Philippine security force operations against rogue MILF elements, but now that conflict is effecting main stream MILF areas, and it is creating a significant humanitarian problem for the Moros who have been displaced by the fighting, thus risking another war with main stream MILF (which would be significant). A few stray operations can easily undue years of hard won gains through a hearts and minds approach. This really creates a catch 22 situation for the security forces.

Quote:
Tens of thousands of villagers have fled areas near the marshlands because of artillery bombardments, taking refuge in mosques, school buildings and gymnasiums elsewhere. At least 500,000 people are described as internal refugees.

"They're trying to drain the pond to catch the fish, but that counter-insurgency strategy has been proven to be a failure," said Iqbal of the offensive. "I don't think the government can defeat us militarily. We have the support of the people."

Iqbal said his group has not abandoned attempts to resume peace talks, but any deal was unlikely under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who leaves office next year.
There is another side to this story, but it is interesting to hear the views of MILF leadership.
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Old 06-02-2009   #38
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There are always many sides, and many perspectives.

My greatest (not sole, but greatest) frustration with OEF-P is that if the MILF of Mindanao and the MNLF of the Sulu Archepeligo wanted the ASG and JI (our two targets of OEF-P, and the reason for US engagement) out of the Philippines, those guys would be gone within a week. So long as they provide sanctuary instead, the security forces of the Philippines will never be able to drive them out. So the clear main effort is to get the Government of the Philippines to work out a compromise with these two main groups that contains that removal of those other two groups as a contingency, while granting the first two full legitimacy in the government.

We should offer the Philippines aid and support contingent on them working seriously to do this (carrots); and tell them quite seriously that if they won't help the populace of the south, then we will, and that while a separate Moro state is not our ideal situation, if that is how government wants to play it, then that is their choice (sticks).

Second order effect would likely be a push by the communist insurgency in the north and a toppling of the ever-fragile national government by either them or by the military. Regardless, we would be able to work with whichever group took power and continue to work toward accomplishment of all of our national objectives in the region if this did occur. The Fils know this; and I am sure they often wonder why don't do the obvious.
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Old 06-20-2009   #39
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Bob,

I certainly share the frustration, but I think you're missing a few points.

if the MILF of Mindanao and the MNLF of the Sulu Archepeligo wanted the ASG and JI (our two targets of OEF-P, and the reason for US engagement) out of the Philippines, those guys would be gone within a week.

First, minor point: getting ASG "out of the Philippines" really isn't an option. They didn't come from out of the Philippines, they are indigenous, and sure as hell nobody else wants 'em.

More important, I think you're overlooking the reality that the only effective chain of command in Mindanao belongs to the US Armed Forces - and I very much include the Philippine civilian and military authority structure in that estimation.

Does the MILF Central Committee have the capacity to stop its base commands from dealing with JI? Realistically, no. Maybe under Hashim Salamat that kind of centralized authority existed, but Al Haj Murad simply doesn't have it. Look at the problem he has with les rogues du jour, Umbra Kato and Commander Bravo. Murad can't confront Kato because Kato belongs to the Maguindanao aristocracy that forms Murad's key support base, and if push came to shove they might well support Kato. Bravo is just a thug, but he's a Maranao thug and the other Maranao base commands will stick with him; if Murad confronts him he risks losing the entire Maranao contingent.

Don't assume that power and internal legitimacy flows from the Central Committee to the base commands. It's more the other way around. Murad is "in charge" because the field commanders let him be "in charge". He's more spokesman than commander.

Ironically, the shaky position of the MILF central leadership stems at least partly from the reality that the MILF has never had a consistent source of external funding. If they had money flowing from the outside, the ability to allocate or withhold resources would give Murad some leverage. At this point, he has very little. The money flows from internal taxation/extortion and other business/criminal ("/" = "blurred distinction") activities, and the base commands, which actually hold territory, are in a better position to collect revenue than the center.

If the MILF has weak leadership, the MNLF has none. Nur Misuari is a spent force and no credible successor has emerged. Field commanders are making whatever deals and whatever alliances suit their immediate personal needs, with all manner of strange bedfellows involved.

The situation of the Philippine Government is in many ways similar to that of the MILF. For the last 5 years or so the Macapagal administration has been mainly preoccupied with keeping power, which it has done by shoving candy down the throats of various support blocs and trying to keep everyone on board. Arroyo cannot take charge of the military and she cannot take charge of the powerful Mindanao politicians/feudal lords, neither of which really wants a peace deal: she needs their support too badly. Once again, the puppets are pulling the strings.

Nothing productive will happen until the 2010 election is done. Best case scenario there would be a clear winner with unquestioned legitimacy, but the probability of that is low. In the meantime, the AFP will play whack-a-mole with the ASG, the Americans will pat each other on the back and call it all a great success, the MILF and the AFP will avoid both war and peace... in short, things will carry on much as they are.

We should offer the Philippines aid and support contingent on them working seriously to do this (carrots); and tell them quite seriously that if they won't help the populace of the south, then we will

I'm curious: how exactly do you propose to help anyone outside the framework of the Philippine Government? For all the mess, it remains an allied sovereign state.

Second order effect would likely be a push by the communist insurgency in the north and a toppling of the ever-fragile national government by either them or by the military.

The communist insurgency is not in a position to topple anything, except possibly itself. I would not anticipate a successful military coup either, and if that happened it would be close to a worst-case scenario for US objectives.

Regardless, we would be able to work with whichever group took power and continue to work toward accomplishment of all of our national objectives in the region if this did occur. The Fils know this; and I am sure they often wonder why don't do the obvious.

Most unlikely: neither a communist government nor a military one would be likely to give priority to US objectives. Has it occurred to you that "the Fils", individually and collectively, may have objectives of their own, and that they may not be inclined to prioritize US objectives over their own?

When you find yourself wondering why somebody doesn't "do the obvious", there's usually something in the picture that you don't see.
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Old 06-20-2009   #40
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Fair comments, and I recognize yours are made with a greater knowledge of the Philippines from your time living there, and mine made with a greater knowledge of the nature of populace-based conflict.

The reality is of course, is that "it's complicated."

The US, realizing that as a maritime nation with an economy rooted in trade needed the proper "infrastructure" to sustain a naval presence along key trade routes, looked at a map of the Pacific and placed pins in the three largest harbors across that broad ocean: Pearl in Hawaii; Apra in Guam; and Manila in the Philippines. Our interests in the region have driven our engagement in the Philippines for about 110 years now; and while that has paid many benefits for them, it has come with baggage as well.

Today US interests still drive our engagement in the Philippines. Our concerns with terrorism, far more than any altruistic desire to help the Moro people, drives our presence and the nature of our engagement in the South. Our concerns with China, far more than any altruistic desire to help the Philippine people as a whole, drives our presence and the nature of our engagement with the government in Manila; and also shapes the nature of our engagement in the South. The surface tells one story, beneath that surface are many others.

For the Philippine people this is equally true in terms of their own engagement, actions and inactions. It's complicated.

But I do hold to my position that any true solution in the south, both to the things that concern the US and drive our presence there, and the things that are of greatest concern to people of that region, lie in the north. We must get straight with the central government before we can get straight with the problem in the south. (Same, by the way is true in Afghanistan, Pakistan and many other places).

The problem is that "getting straight" with each other is not a thing that governments and politicians are particularly keen to do. I'm not one, so I don't pretend to understand their rationale. Far easier to focus on some secondary or tertiary manifestation of poor governance, and send the military in to "resolve" the problem there instead.

I welcome your insights to this forum. The Pacific / Asia area is a critical one for the world and the US; and our focus, as the focus of SWJ, has been elsewhere of late.
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Last edited by Bob's World; 06-20-2009 at 01:21 PM.
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