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PEACE INITIATIVES

By LEONARDO Q. BELEN, myhometown2010@live.com

Worst Scenario: PHL A Chop-Chop Country!

Blame Congress for lack of vision!

AN UPDATE - It appears that the MILF has given Pres. Aquino two choices - peace or his popularity! Or a Muslim "substate" (an expanded ARMM). The substate will elect its own chief minister who will run the affairs of the state except for national defense, foreign affairs and currency which will remain with the national government! 

We cannot imagine yet what is the government's counter proposal. But one thing is certain: the MILF will not downgrade its "substate" demand!

The Philippine government appears to have been cornered and it has no leeway to move around. As the MILF has earlier stated, it's "substate" or we stop going to the negotiating table, and probably resume its own military operations to demand a full independence!

Without undermining the capability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), it will be very difficult for the AFP to fight a guerrilla warfare initiated by the MILF. The MILF knows the terrains in Mindanao better than the AFP.

It is needless to keep on repeating that the very root cause of rebellion in Mindanao is the gross government neglect of the people there, Muslims or Christians.

While many politicians wallow in wealth amassed through graft and corruption, the more that the people in Mindanao are neglected or taken for granted by these same politicians and government leadership. When a full-blown shooting war resumes in Mindanao as a result of the 40-year government neglect, blame these politicians, particularly lawmakers, and leaders who never had any vision for Mindanao!

As former President Joseph Estrada said, we might soon need to apply for a visa when we want to travel to Mindanao! (Posted August 16, 2011) 

 

We said earlier in this column (scroll down) that within the next five to 10 years, the Philippines shall have already become a "chop-chop" country! Blame this to Congress for its lack of vision on the territorial and political integrity of the country! If there has been anything to which lawmakers have focused their passion, it is their "pork barrel!"

The so-called secret talks of Pres. Noynoy Aquino, (photo, right), with the chieftain of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, is now being described by some quarters as "gift" of the President to MILF!

The "Gift" is for the President to accommodate the demands of the MILF for an expanded version of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), or for the establishment of a "substate" which cover practically all the islands of Mindanao including Palawan!

In a statement, the MILF leadership said that if their demand for a "substate" is not accepted by the Philippine Government, there is no more use of talking any further or negotiating peace with the government!

If and when the peace negotiation fails and a full shooting war between the MILF and the Philippine Armed Forces suddenly erupts, God forbids, it will be the bloodiest war ever, because by that time, the MILF will no longer be fighting for a "substate" but for an entire secession from the Philippines and establish their own independent Muslim State of Mindanao!

The MILF will then apply for an immediate recognition of the United Nations as well as from the Arab countries! Considering its belligerent status, the MILF will immediately receive recogniton from the Arab countries, and diplomatic exchanges will be undertaken. Assistance from the Arab countries, in all forms, will start flowing into the Muslim State of Mindanao!

The oil producing Arab countries may also suspend exportation of oil to the Philippine government, thus, the country will be kneeling down to beg for oil and for its life! 

Considering the current military strength of the MILF, which some quarters in the AFP estimated as 35,000 armed Muslim soldiers, the AFP will become the underdog in a full shooting war with the MILF. Because the MILF is now fighting for independence, for a Muslim State of Mindanao, all other rebels or breakaway rebels will gravitate around the MILF and together, they will fight the Philippine armed forces. Even civilian Muslims, who have been frustrated for having been neglected or abandoned by the Manila government, will also join the MILF and help topple any semblance of Philippine government authority in Mindanao!

The war for independence will not last long! Diplomatically, the MILF has a great advantage over the Philippine government! It is a momentum that no one can stop,not even the United States nor the United Nations. The US, considering its own interests, will not lift a finger to send troops to aid Filipino soldiers. Some quarters are saying that with a Muslim State of Mindanao, it will be easier for the US to promote its own economic interests, for there will be practically no red tape yet in the new Muslim State of Mindanao!

With all Arab countries having recognized the Muslim State of Indanao, the United Nations will have no choice but to recognize the Muslim State of Mindanao, defending such recognition that no people should be barred to pursue their own destiny!

Besides, the MILF can easily win political and diplomatic recognition because it already has a territory of its own!

By that time, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, devoid of adequate military strength and fire power, shall have been weakened more than enough that it will be relegated to some islands in the Visayas!

As of today, the AFP has only about 137,000 officers and men, no air power, no adequate high powered guns or weapons, no capable navy ships, and many more inadequacies!

When I asked the former AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Yano if he had any plan to increase the personnel strength of the AFP, he said that he had a plan, but it is Congress, he stressed, which has the final say!

With the Muslim State of Mindanao in place, and the AFP now teriribly weakened, the New People's Army (NPA) will also begin harrassing all military installations in Luzon and some parts of the Visayas.

Never underestimate the NPA, because recent events showed that they can stage ambushes against military convoys or even attack military and police detachments!

Some quarters in the military estimate that the NPA has 12,000 armed militias. But how about their civilian supporters which also number by the thousands?

The reason for the current weaknesses of the AFP and PNP is the lack of vision of Congress for the territorial and political integrity of the country! Add to this the well-entrenched graft and corruption, particularly among officials, of both the AFP and the PNP! (To be continued, posted August 15, 2011)   

GRAFT & CORRUPTION IN THE AFP

SOME generals and officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have shown themselves as among the most corrupt in the country!

The Senate inquiry unearthed this well-entrenched corruption in the AFP! How can tbis so corrupt institution protect the people and uphold the territorial integrity of the country?

No way! The worst scenario is that the Philippines will be divided between the NPA and the MNLF! Luzon for the NPA and Mindanao for the MNLF. The Visayan region will be the subject of a later negotiation between the MNLF and the NPA!

With its outdated weaponry and a stagnant personnel strength of 120,000 or 127,000. the AFP will be unable to face a two-front war - one against the NPA and the other, MNLF!

The Philippine Airforce (PAF) does not even have a single, effective fighter plane! The joke is that the PAF has only "air," no "force" at all.

The Philippines has the longest coastline in the world, yet, the Philippine Navy does not even have more than a dozen gunboats! So how can the PN protect the country from smugglers, human trafficking and illegal drug shipment!

Blame Congress for these shortcomings of the AFP! Congress seem not to have any vision at all for the integrity and security of the country. If the members of Congress are busy, they are busy working out plans for their respective re-elections!

In the meantime, the Philippines continues gasping like a dying old man - helpless as politicians and foes alike "chop-chop" it into smithereens! (Posted March 30, 2011)

THE gesture of President Noynoy Aquino to have increased combat pay from P250.00 to P500.00 monthly is a move towards the right direction if that incentive pay does not end there. Our combat soldiers have always been the least priority of government in terms of salary increases. All becasue the soldiers cannot assemble and demonstrate for salary increases like the other employees of government.

As the President himself admitted, the combat salary increase is very miniscule. Indeed, it is "nakakahiya pa nga," in Tagalog parlance!

The President has also added that combat weapons will be improved, perhaps through the acquisition of high-powered ones. In fact, it is a public knowledge that the weapons being used by the rebels are better than what the military has!

In terms of military offensive or operations against the rebels, the Government will never win the war, nor subdue the rebels. Up to now, the New People's Army (NPA) decides when to strike and they do so successfully! Recently, the NPA ambushed a military detail and killed eight soldiers.

The NPA has been there for more than 35 years, and inspite of Government's pronouncements that the NPA's backbone has been weakened considerably, the NPA still lord over some vast territories in the country, especially in Luzon including the island province of Samar. The NPA territories are well-identified, yet no government troops csn penetrate them, nor has been there an effective strategy that could have reduced those NPA territories to a negligible sizes.

WRONG GOVERNMENT POLICIES

There must be some serious errors in government policies in combatting the rebels or winning them over to the government.

The first error belongs to Congress, both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Both Houses are insensitive to the urgent needs and requirements for an effective and respectable military organization, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Congress is also insentive to the needs and requirements for an effective police organization, the Philippine National Police (PNP) to implement peace and order in society.

Visit any police precinct in the country and you will agree with us that it is not provided with adequate tools for peace and order mission within the community.

Reason? Grave or serious budgetary constraint!

Some peace and order experts say that the ideal ratio between police and the citizenry is 1:500, or one policeman for every 500 citizens! Let us forget that, it is not attainable in this country yet, not in the next 10 years, considering the "open drawer" graft and corruption now prevailing in the country!

Several decades back after World War II, the AFP strength, officers and personnel, haven't increased to a significant number. It's still an average of 120,000 at any given year! The NPA's are estimated at a minimum of 12,000 or at a maximum of 25,000. Rebels in Mindanao - the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) for instance - are estimated at no less than 35,000!

Assuming there is suddenly a declaration of war by the NPA vs the AFP, and the MNLF also making a declaration of war vs the AFP and simultaneously with the NPA, how do you expect then the AFP to fight the two rebel groups?

We will all be scared shit and kneeling for mercy as the MNLF and the NPA cut the Philippines into two, Mindanao for the MNLF, and Luzon for the NPA! The two rebel groups will leave the Visayas for later negotiations between them!

There shall be no more Congress and pork barrels, and all suspected corrupt officials will be lined up before the next sunrise and executed! The ordinary Filipinos will then hail as heroes the NPA's, for finally, they have brought justice and stopped oppression by corrupt politicians and their business cohorts!

The MNLF shall also be hailed as heroes by the Muslims, for they have stopped negligence from the national government, and for now government attention shall already be given them in full!

The above scenarios are possible, if the Government does not improve its policies of combatting rebellion or winning over the rebels! And we would like to stress that you cannot improve the efficiency of combat soldiers by increasing their combat pay from P250.00 to P500.00 a month, for it requires more than this, and it must begin with Congress!

INCREASE AFP & PNP PERSONNEL STRENGTH

There are many areas in the Philippines where government presence is not felt at all! I did a documentary on evacuees in North Cotabato and I noticed this anomally. And there were also areas where no government vehicles - even military vehicles - were not allowed to enter or pass through.

If there were military detachment, I did not notice them. Which means that even military presence was not felt in those areas, or totally non-existing!

When I covered the national election in 2004, I noticed that from Tagum, Zamboanga to Dipolog, a three-hour ride by land, there were areas where there were practically no population. A discreet inquiry made by us revealed that those areas are rebels's territories, and that there were also no military detachments.

From Lucena to Daet in Bicol, there is a long stretch of road which snakes itself along or between forested hills, and these too are known to be rebels' territoritories. I also noticed that there was no military detachment.

With the present personnel strength of the AFP and the PNP, these rebel-infested areas cannot of course be patrolled regularly by the military or PNP.

Congress must wake up, it must not allow itself to wallow in comfort with their pork barrels. Or else, it will be the first victim of its own insensitiveness to the security and territorial integrity requirements of the country! If Congress can afford to appropriate its own excessive pork barrels, there is no reason it cannot appropriate enough funds for the increase of personnel strength of the AFP and the PNP! (To be continued, posted December 27, 2010)

 

 

 

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