THERE is no seriousness in the way the Aquino Administration is addressing the threat to our country and people posed by Daesh. This is the name mainstream Arab Muslims use to refer to the jihadists and Islamic extremists who call themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The BS Aquino crowd’s cavalier approach to the Daesh threat is profoundly unsettling and dangerous because it is merely wishful and not at all realistic.
The nation would have more confidence in the Administration’s stand that there is no credible threat from the ISIS forces, despite recent armed clashes in Mindanao involving Daesh-sounding polemics, if the official conducting the media briefing were a high-level and responsible official of the government’s security services agencies–and not just BS Aquino’s chief communications man.
A field for professionals, not amateurs
It is entirely different when it is the defense secretary, or the interior and local government secretary, or the national security adviser who conducts the briefing. Because then we would know that they understand the subject of national security, because they are in a position to explain a serious threat assessment of the peril posed to the nation by ISIS-allied forces.
They can convey to us what our security agencies really know what the local forces supportive of the Daesh agenda are doing. They would have access to the latest intelligence gathered about Daesh- related action and propaganda in our country.
Without hard information and credible intelligence, what the government would have is no more than guesswork and speculation.
Without belittling the office of and the person of Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., we submit that he should not attempt to replace the defense secretary, the interior secretary, the national security adviser, and the commanding generals of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Philippine National Police, who are entrusted the important and delicate task of maintaining peace and order and keeping us Filipinos ever alert and vigilant over every threat to our republic.
Mr. Coloma’s words do not carry the gravity and import of an official who is deeply involved in the protection of the peace and security of our people and our country.
His assurance that there is no credible threat from ISIS is itself not credible, because he made light of real armed clashes that have occurred in the South, wherein eight people were killed, and which involved a group that claimed affiliation with ISIS. The fact that among those slain was a foreign national, an Indonesian, is additional cause for concern.
Regardless of what the AFP and the PNP may have told Mr. Coloma, a threat assessment provided by a high police-military officer would have been better and far more credible and reassuring than anything Coloma has said. Because at least he could competently answer technical questions about the threat level, and provide some knowledge of the links of rebel groups in Mindanao to Islamist forces in the Middle East.
National security deterioration under BSA 3rd
Until the presidency of President Benigno BS Aquino 3rd, our nation has had reason to be confident about its security from outside threats. Peace and national security was always upheld as the first duty of government by every sitting president and his/her Cabinet. It was assigned the highest priority by the President and our armed forces.
The National Security Council was a body that met regularly to assess the national security situation. And regular briefings were provided to the public and the media. Under president Aquino, the council has not met even once, in spite of all the threats faced by the nation. The public does not even know the face or the name of the national security adviser.
The so-called security cluster, which is used as a favorite prop by the government to assure the nation, is not a substitute for a serious and working National Security Council.
God only knows what grave perils really threaten our people and our country.
We are not confident that President Aquino or Mr. Coloma is competent to know what these grave perils are either.
We express our reservations because national security is a field for professionals, not amateurs. Only officials thoroughly conversant with peace and security matters, can provide a competent and credible briefing on a matter as important as the extent of the threat of Daesh to this country.
We express our concern because President Aquino loudly proclaimed last week that the Philippines IS joining the global war on terrorism. His ignorance of the fact that without making an announcement, the Philippine government has been an important player in the anti-terrorism war. We should not doubt that BSA’s words were heard in Daesh citadels, and that some kind of response will be made. We should not fantasize that Aquino’s declaration was dismissed out of hand.
Daesh, the ISIS, is what it is. If we have learned anything from recent history, it is e fact that ISIS does what they are committed to do. We pray that despite the amateurism of President Aquino and his closest associates, there are enough high officials in our national security establishment who are seriously and professionally doing the necessary.