Duterte must do an Assad or he falls

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MAURO GIA SAMONTE

(Continued from yesterday)
I WOULD discover eventually that such a conclusion was not a lonely one. In the course of my research for a book I am writing on the life of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) General Manager Alexander Ferrer Balutan, former commander of the 1st Marine Battalion Landing Team of the 1st Marine Brigade, I stumbled upon an issue of Manila Hotline, bannering a story thus: “US funds Maute grouping.” By-lined by Waldy Carbonell, the story minces no words in denouncing the US as being the “force behind” the attack in Marawi City.

Here is a substantial quote from the story:
“The force behind the Maute group is none other than the United States of America (USA). This was the gist of the revelation given to this writer by a source who appealed for anonymity for obvious reasons.

“This is the reason why American Air Force and Special Forces have been bold enough to display their ‘technical support’ to cover up their actual role in the massacre of Filipino Muslims. The source likewise named the American handler of brothers Omar Khayam Maute and Abdullah Maute as a certain Don Fisher of the Homeland Security Command under Deputy Director Daniel Wilson (who was said to have trained IS in Mindanao).

“The source was quick to add the logistic support was so much that it will take a much longer time for the AFP to completely ‘neutralize’ the Maute terrorist group.


“It will be noted that the Maute group has ample issues of Barret Sniper rifles—a special firearm powered by 50 cal. ammo. (It is said that a Barret Sniper can hit a targeted head from a telescope distance of 2 kilometers.)

“This makes the Barret rifle a strictly regulated weapon for exclusive use of US military forces. Not even an American gun aficionado can access or own [one]. Judging from the number of military casualties who were sacrificed as collateral targets of this high-powered gun, there is no doubt that the Maute’s superior firepower has set back the AFP’s campaign to pulverize the [terrorist]Muslims.

“A fellow journalist has told this writer, ‘Pare ang galing ng Kano. Pinagsasabung-sabong tayo at ginagamit ang Pinoy military para mapulbos nila ang tinaguriang Pilipino Muslim terrorists. Walang duda tulad ng pagbuo nila ng Abu Sayaff, CIA rin ang nagbuo ng Maute Group’ (Pare, the Americans are so clever. They are pitting us against one another and using the Philippine military in order to pulverize what they term Filipino Muslim terrorists. Doubtlessly like their formation of the Abu Sayyaf, the CIA likewise formed the Maute Group).

“The alleged CIA handler is a certain Donald Fisher whose cover is that of a treasure hunter who actually transported through Balikatan exercises valuable treasures and historical items from Mindanao under Task Force Recovery of the US State Department…

“Due to the blatant ‘weight’ throwing actions of the US military amid the anti-Maute war in Marawi, no less than President Rodrigo Duterte expressed his confusion as to why the US military has embroiled itself in the Marawi fiasco.

“The President has publicly asked, ‘Who asked them to help us?’”

Despite claims of the Philippine military to the contrary, the Marawi crisis continues to rage. It just challenges logic to say that only a handful of militants – and all foreigners at that – remain putting up a fight; the entire Maute and Abu Sayaff groups are said to have fled the city, mixing with civilians incognito. The continued use of air strikes against suspected hideouts of the Muslim fighters just belies this claim.

So now, here is the nation in its entirety, though not quite having hints on what ramifications the Marawi crisis has deeper than terrorist attack, it is quite outraged by an evident resurgence of extra judicial killings that have been the singular characteristic of the Duterte anti-illegal drugs campaign.

Comments
To serious observers, the wide attention that has been given to the killing of Kian Loyd de los Santos is bothersome. Under the Dutere regime, that killing is just one of some 8,000 already done in connection with the President’s war against illegal drugs, and certainly even less atrocious than the deaths of many of those earlier done in. For instance, in one case nails were hammered into the skull of an alive victim as a way of ending his life; he should be in a knelt position similar to that of Loyd when done in, a situation which President himself called “murder.” Not a whimper of that brain-nailed alleged illegal drugs pusher was heard in the media, in contrast to the loud roars being ventilated widely in protest of Kian’s killing.

Expert observers, like Chairman Jose Manuel Diokno of the Free Legal Assistance Group, have a favorable view of the development. “Public opinion is changing, people are more willing to speak out,” he says. “As more abuses come to light, more will oppose it in public.”

And I might add my say, the more throng of protesters register their opposition in public, the more likely that opposition can degenerate into a widespread upheaval. And for that what? The President calls in the armed forces, per provision of the Constitution, to quell the trouble. But trouble is, the more the military quells trouble, the more trouble erupts. In the end, total chaos.

Seven years ago, Syria was far from the mess it is today. But fanned by the revolt in Tunisia in 2010, the Arab Spring swept through the Middle East, crowds pouring out into the streets, calling for regime change. This wave of protests was what brought about the downfall of Muammar Gadhafi in Libya, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, and Saddam Hussein in Iraq, among others. Syria, though appearing not to be similarly affected at the start, was plunged into far worse trouble when Assad, or his regime anyway, committed the mistake of arresting two youth activists painting protest graffiti on a street wall, and then immediately tortured them to death.

That was the spark. People in their thousands showed up in streets in protest against the youths’ killing. It does not matter that those protests were deemed peaceful in the beginning; what matters is that before long, the peaceful demonstrations developed into an upheaval that beginning in 2012 threw Syria into the seven-year civil war that it has become.

So, here we have crowds reminiscent of the Marcos Martial Law days, ventilating against the police murder of Kian. This should put the nation on the balance. Are we to take this as a genuine campaign for justice, in which case it should deserve our active participation? Or, are we to view it in the context of the heightening tension between the United States and Russia in their respective drive for world hegemony. Initially supported by the United States on the sly, beginning 2011 the Syrian protests degenerated into a violent upheaval in which Assad’s intransigence in holding on to power forced him into committing virtual genocide against the Syrian people. Russian support has enabled him to deal effectively with the people’s uprising.

Has Duterte such intransigence as to put up with a burgeoning civilian unrest, the likes perhaps of what Goldberg must have outlined in the blueprint he recommended to the US State Department back in December last year? If he has, then pray the Marawi crisis and the worsening campaign against illegal drugs do not bring the disaster they actually forebode.

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