• HAS ARMM ALLOWED THE MILF TO FLOURISH?

    SAF 44 massacre saved nation from dismemberment

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    The horrific massacre of Special Action Force (SAF) troops last year in Mamasapano stopped dead the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), one of the main projects of President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd, whose incompetence and hubris in undertaking Oplan Exodus resulted in that carnage.

    That was, in a way, also the thinking of Senate President Franklin Drilon: “We were on our way to approving the BBL. The committee hearings were going smoothly until the Mamasapano incident took place. The environment became very toxic. I can say that, I think, the BBL is the 45th victim in Mamasapano.”

    Our republic was so close to the brink of dismemberment, what with Aquino’s drive for BBL to be passed.

    After his huge but useless and unjust project to take out Chief Justice Renato Corona, Aquino shifted the focus of his entire yellow political and media army to get the BBL passed, with such passion and frenzy that could only be understood in the context of an outgoing President’s wish to win for himself a Nobel Peace Prize. Funds running in the tens of billions of pesos from the unconstitutional Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and the renamed pork-barrel allocations must have been used to bribe traditional Muslim politicians and the Congress to pass the bill.

    Even after the SAF 44 massacre in Mamasapano in January 2015, Aquino demonstrated his continued use of his political clout when the House committee evaluating the proposed BBL approved it. Fifty affirmative votes were led by Cagayan de Oro Rufus Rodriguez, and included that of vice presidential candidate Leni Robredo.

    Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. was practically alone at the Republic’s ramparts, vociferously yet reasonably criticizing the bill in the Senate. However, as details of the Mamasapano massacre surfaced, more and more legislators shirked the responsibility of getting involved in the hearings by simply not attending the Congress sessions. The other day, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, one of Aquino’s most loyal lapdogs, declared it dead.

    Region for massacres? Above, Maguindanao (Ampatuan) massacre in 2009; below, Mamasapano massacre in 2015.

    Region for massacres? Above, Maguindanao (Ampatuan) massacre in 2009; below, Mamasapano massacre in 2015.

    But somehow, this unfortunate country manages to strike some luck sometimes, although in the Mamasapano case it was paid for by the blood of the SAF 44. I have written so many articles arguing point by point that the BBL would be the first step in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)’s long-term strategy or carving out an Islamic state in the heart of Mindanao.

    Bangsamoro: Moro nation-state
    The Malay name itself – Bangsamoro – means Muslim nation-state, and the BBL itself lists attributes of this entity that political scientists use to define a sovereign state: a clearly-defined territory, for its inhabitants or people (in this case the Moros), having sole monopoly over the use of their security force, (in the BBL case, disguised as the Moro Police). Only naive people, like the academic Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and a bleeding-heart NGO activist Teresita Deles, would insist that the MILF did not have another agenda behind the BBL.

    I was the first journalist to visit the MILF’s camps, when in 1996 I went to its main Camp Abubakr (which President Joseph Estrada’s troops, however, attacked in 2000) and interviewed its head, then Chairman Hashim Salamat, for a story I was writing as the Philippine bureau chief for the regional magazine Far Eastern Economic Review.

    From the lowest-ranked commander to then vice-chairman Ebrahim Murad to Salamat himself, I got the same firm idea of their strategy: the MILF will not really fight our armed forces until its Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces are on par with our military, which the Islamic insurgents quantified as having seven divisions in the 1990s (it is now 10).

    Their strategy is to pretend to talk peace while building their camps in which they quietly build up and train their army and amass arms, and even manufacture them. When I was in Camp Abubakr in 1996, they were making the launchers for rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), which were not too difficult to produce as these were essentially converted plastic pipes fitted with a trigger. However, today, they manufacture the MORE technologically sophisticated Barrett sniper rifles, used with deadly efficiency against the SAF 44 when they were mowed down with these high-precision weapons by MILF snipers a kilometer away.

    The MILF’s strategy has been to create the skeleton and command structure for their five divisions, down to the battalion level. These are then gradually filled up with new trainees, who, after their intensive training, return to their farms but remain on call for swift deployment when the MILF thinks it is ready to fight the government. The objective may not really be to defeat the government forces, but to grab a chance to establish a sovereign Moro state. For example, the MILF force that fought in the Mamasapano firefight has been identified as the “7th Brigade of the 105th Base Command.” That means it was part of the “1st Division, 5th Regiment,” although the reality was that this division probably had only a tenth of the usual 10,000 soldiers of a division.

    The BBL, which would have given the MILF its autonomous state, would have been a quantum jump in its strategy to build up its army.

    The massacre of the SAF 44 torpedoed the BBL because the tragedy exposed to both legislators and concerned Filipinos the following three realities:

    The MILF, under a continuing expansion of its own army, has sufficiently trained its own forces in Mindanao and equipped them with sophisticated weapons (such as the Barret sniper rifle) so that it can even defeat the government’s best-trained troops. The MILF can also swiftly call on other non-Muslim armed groups so its bigger force could defeat a Philippine military or police contingent.

    The ruthlessness with which the MILF killed the already wounded government troopers indicates its view of the Philippine police and military as enemies, not fellow Filipinos. Heard from the video footage of the SAF troopers lying dead on the ground and shot point-blank is the spine-chilling “Alahu Akbar.” (God is Great!)

    The MILF does not recognize our rule of law. It refused to submit to an investigation into the massacre, much less surrender to the authorities its armed men identified to have killed the government troops.

    How did the MILF grow to acquire such military power, and why do their troops treat the Philippine armies as enemies?

    Autonomous Region
    It is the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) – which has been a huge flop of an experiment – that has provided a chance and the territories for the MILF to quietly grow and allow the largely unhampered expansion of its army.

    The murder of the government troops in Mamasapano should trigger an in-depth study on whether the creation of the ARMM has been a wise decision or one of the most foolish things we have done as a Republic

    The autonomous region for Muslims, forced upon us really, first by the Libyan strongman Gaddafi in 1978 and by Corazon Aquino through her 1987 Constitution, has only created a territory beyond the national government’s normal reach.

    Only in the Philippines, in fact, is there such an autonomous region for Muslims within a country, and don’t give me the argument that China has “autonomous regions” such as that of Tibet and Inner Mongolia. These are obviously charades for the very centralized Chinese government to annex independent or near-independent nations in the past.

    Shouldn’t this fact alone prompt us to study the very idea of “autonomous regions” to determine if it was responsible for actually making the provinces under it, such as Maguindanao and Ifugao among the poorest in the county?

    “Autonomous regions” are seeds of separatism anywhere they have existed in the world, as minorities in such areas reinforce their differences with the nation they are part of, with their ambitious politicians ultimately demanding independence.

    In our case, it has spawned corruption among Muslim leaders in a scale of which we are hardly aware, among them rich and powerful warlords as the late Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan, Sr. With confidence in his political power, he got away with an order for such a horrendous massacre as that of 58 people, including journalists in his province, and grow a clan whose more than two-dozen members are mayors, vice mayors or council members in the area.

    It is an open secret that ARMM political leaders and MILF are allies, not for ideology, of course, but for their mutual benefit. ARMM governors and mayors do not interfere with the MILF, not even alert the military about the insurgent activities. They even provide arms and finances to the MILF. In exchange, the MILF maintains peace in the turfs of ARMM politicians, and even go against their political enemies.

    The first step of the next Administration and Congress is not to come up with another version of the BBL. It should first study in depth what went wrong with the ARMM, to correct its weaknesses, and if these can’t be corrected, to abolish that autonomous region through a constitutional referendum. The overarching priority is how to absorb Muslims, especially its youth, into mainstream modern Filipino society, and not to provide them with more institutions to emphasize their differences.

    The history of nations anywhere in the world involves a process of different cultures, different ethnic groups melding into one culture, one nation, never into a collection of autonomous regions.
     
    tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com

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    27 Comments

    1. Hindi naman dapat isyu yung pagkamatay ng SAF44 kasi alam naman nila na patayan ang pupuntahan nila at hindi binyagan o fiesta o kasalan. Napatay naman si Marwan yung ang mission nila di ba?
      Siguro kung lima o sampu lang ang nalagas walang problema sa iba, pero sabi ko nga giyera ang pinasok mo dapat handa ka mamatay walang sisihan.

      • as for my own opinion, may taong nagkamali dito at hindi ang SAF, dahil ang ibang Armed Group ng goverment hindi daw tumpad sa usapan na coordination. at yung artillery support na hinihingi ng SAF hindi nabigay kung kaya’t ganyan karami ang namatay sa hanay ng mga SAF. at isa pa sa may nag utos na Negative, Negative, Stand Down. kung kaya’t walang reinforcement na nakarating na tutulong sana sakanila. kaya They Deserve Justice! thank you

      • exjopa dagenpas on

        Hindi nagpunta ang SAF sa mamasapano para makipagiyera. pumunta sila dun para hulihin si marwan. pero nawala yung element of surprise kaya nagkaputukan. Kaya naging issue kasi 1. marami nga ang namatay 2. Walang tulong o reinforcement o nagrescue dahil walang order galing kay panot. 3. Walang awang tinapos yung mga buhay pa sana. 4. walang concern ang panot nung dumating yung mga bangkay sa villamor air base. paanong di dapat na isyu ang pagkamatay ng SAF 44..Ang tanong na dapat may sagot eh kung sino ang may kasalanan sa pagkamatay nila?

    2. Malaysian are the main culprit, they want to divide the country as a buffer zone for Sabah. They brain wash our muslim brothers and sisters not to be loyal to Philippine government. They infiltrate and assimilate with Filipino people and because of money they become powerful individual ready to disseminate lies against the government.

    3. So then prepare for WAR and while we are too busy killing each other, China is just a few kilometers away from Palawan….

      I hope they pass a bill that all Filipino Males turning 18 years old will render 2 years of military service and will serve to fight rebels in Mindanao…I bet politikos with sons will find an ultimate solution to the Mindanao problem if they see that their mama’s boy sons is on his way to Mindanao….

    4. Salamat na lang at nagkaroon ng isang Bongbong Marcos sa 16th congress ng Philippine Senate.

    5. Unless the MILF and other Muslim groups/leaders think and believe that they are indeed a part of the Filipino nation and are Filipinos themselves and stop their feelings of bitterness, jealousy and hatred to the Christians in Mindanao, the BBL will make sense. If not, the BBL will just catalyze as the fruition of the initial step towards separation of the Bangsamoro people..

      • If ninoy Aquino still alive, he should faced the firing squad of . Sabah in return to topple Marcos is a crime of treason.

    6. I have mentioned here many moons ago that the SAF 44 should be considered as reluctant heroes for being sacrificed in order to expose the evil purpose of the so called BBL.

    7. Mr. Tiglao, I totally agree with your write ups today. A former american general once said there is no peace if there is no war. When the american pacify the philippines during the phil-american, they implemented a simple policy – war and total extermination of revolutionaries. They take no prisoners, they burn villages and destroy all source of foods for the revolutionaries. When Apolinario Mabini requested for a cease fire so to commence negotiations, Americans answer was to lay down arms first before negotiations commence. Those muslims are not Filipinos coz they really don’t consider themselves as Filipinos. Our gov’t should emulate the strategy utilize by the american against our ancestors more 100 years ago. It is only thru complete extermination of muslims there that peace will be achieve. if the Gov’t has no balls to do that then the only option in order to achieve peace in that region is to give their independence.

    8. LOLO makapili, Tatay ibenta sa malaysia para lang maging pangulo ng pilipinas, Nanay takot sa Malaysia at itinuloy ang pangako ng aswa. Anak ibinenta ang ARMM. Mga pamlya talaga ng mga traidor. Treasons of the highest degree.

      • Ang tunay na layunin ng mga Aquino at pinaboran ang Malaysia ay dahil sa OIL in Sabah kapalit ng pilipinas..Dahil dugong intsik,wala silang pakealam basta pansarili muna nilang uunahin. Ang mga aso ni Abnoy ay nagkakagatan ( Poe, Palengke at Binay) at matira ang matibay. Babaluktutin ni Abnoy ang constitution dahil di naman siya nagpapasakop dito dahil oligarch sila ay laging “above the law”. Wag iboto ang Buong LP at mga ungas na nasa UNA dahil magkakkutsaba ang mga ito ang ang panginoon nila ay si Abnoy..

    9. Please do not make a mistake of comparing the Crdillera Administrative Region with the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. The CAR was made because the ethnic groups in the northern Philippines fought for recognition and equal treatment as Filipinos after decades of meglect, racism and bigotry. Let us not forget that majority of casualties in the SAF 44 came from the Cordilleras and are proud Filipinos.

      • That is the biggest problem of electing officials along dynastic nostalia and supposed family “legacy” considerations without the person having any historical learning or background of our country’s past.
        . Almost always children of previous Presidents have nopt lived up to the morals of good and honest
        governance

    10. Leodegardo Pruna on

      It is now being established that the 44 SAF members who gave up their lives unknowingly to a grandiose personal plan of P-Noy are heroes and should be honored and accorded their due respect for the sacrifice they did for the country. They aborted the dismemberment of the country which P-Noy beginning with another president bearing his surname wanted just to earn the “Nobel Peace Prize”. Whatever evil there was came to end. God bless the Philippines.

    11. Putang-inang ABNOY wala talagang malasakit sa kapakanan ng masa.Pinamasaker ng gago ang SAF44 para lang sa pansariling ambisyon(nobel prize).Sabagay lahi(ninuno ay makapili sa panahon ng hapon) kasi ng mga traydor ang gago.

    12. Nice and enlightening piece, sir bert tiglao, sana mabasa ito nina president aquino, senator frank drilon, ferrer and deles, para maintindihan nila ang treasonous act nila, katangahan o kabobohan nila..CONGRATULATIONS, SIR TIGLAO, more columns like this….

    13. I AGREE 100% THAT YOU ARE CORRECT. WELL BY ALL MEANS IT WAS THE EVIL DICTATOR CORY THAT SHOULD BE BLAME FOR THE COUNTRY’S PLUNGING INTO THE CHAOTIC SITUATION.

      HAD THE EVIL DICTATOR DID NOT LISTEN TO HER SUBALTERNS, LIKE JOKER, SAGUISAG, THE COUNTRY WILL RUN SMOOTHLY UNDER THE 1973 CONSTITUTION WHICH I THINK WAS THE MOST BRILLIANTLY CRAFTED OF COURSE WITHOUT THE AMENDMENT NO. 6.

      WE DO’NT NEED ANOTHER DISASTROUS CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION THAT WILL BE DOMINATED BY THE OLIGARCHS POLITICAL FRIENDS AND YELLOW ARMY’S OPERATIVES. WHAT WE NEED IS THE PUT THE 1973 CONSTITUTION INTO REFERENDUM FOR ITS APPROVAL BY THE PEOPLE, LETS GIVE THEM THE EDUCATION ABOUT THE 1973 CONSTITUTION JUST LIKE WHAT MARCOS DID IN 1971 ALL EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION WERE FLOODED WITH LEAFLETS DETAILING THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF THE CONSTITUTION AND THE DIFFERENCE WITH THE 1935 CONSTITUTION.

      LET’S DO IT BEFORE THE YELLOW ARMY GAIN ITS COMPOSURE AND ITS OLIGARCHS TO MANEUVERS FOR THEIR INTEREST IS AT STAKE.

    14. Edgardo S. David on

      Very interesting, informative and intelligent analysis. we wish to read more of this especially the impact of the trashing of BBL and how Marcos fought single-handedly against its passage before the Mamasapano massacre. Thanks.

    15. Good narrative and analysis. More people should read your column. This one really shines a light on a a subject that ought to be closely examined. It will be for the good of the country to do so.

    16. Our God still loves this country but we have to sacrificed 44 of our own to stop Pinoy Aquino in allowing our country to be divided into parcels of land like what is happening in Syria an Lebanon . Watch out the whole Middle East will be divided if nobody wll not stop them. Pilipinos made the biggest mistake in voting for Aquino. This person is not qualified and do not have the guts to run this corrupt country. A few more days and he is gone but if we continue to vote for any Liberal Party candidates, we will be doomed for the next 6 years.

    17. Noynoy is even willing to dismember and balkanize Mindanao provinces from the Philippines just to get the much coveted Nobel Peace Prize award.

    18. These have been my exact sentiments for a while now. I’ve always expressed a strong opinion about dissolving the ARMM. I’ve also stated more than once in response to various articles how our SAF paid for the nation’s awareness about the unconstitutionality of the BBL/BLBAR is.
      But something you said did catch me off-guard : “The overarching priority is how to absorb Muslims, especially its youth, into mainstream modern Filipino society, and not to provide them with more institutions to emphasize their differences.”
      It just hit me right now. Could we be sorry in the end for what we ask for? Isn’t ‘Islam Deradicalisation’ and integration into mainstream society nationwide the reason why countries now struggle with Islam in their capital cities (Germany, Norway, Belgium, France…the list goes on)?
      It is far from being a ‘religion of peace’, and uses its religious ideology in lieu of a secular constitution in places where they hold enough demographic influence (aka voting power).
      In places where they do start to settle, they exude such an incompatibility with Christian or Secular society to the point where they realize they have to self-segregate anyway. There are ‘Muslim areas’ in several places in Manila alone, where one feels a bit wary to walk around in being what they consider as an ‘infidel’.
      Let’s say that we view our history in the future, fast-forwarding past the death of the BLBAR, the dismemberment of their failed Autonomous Region, and successful integration all throughout the country. What then?
      I’m sure we both know that they consider their religious beliefs the same as their secular law. Although our government has always been at odds with itself in implementing the ‘separation of Church and State’, Muslims have no such qualms. While we as a nation are evolving into a more secular form of society that respects all kinds of beliefs or absences thereof, Muslims believe that the proper direction to go is to become a nation under their one god, Allah, with the Quran presiding over all other Laws.
      Strange. I wonder now if their segregated state in Mindanao isn’t such a bad thing anymore.