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Tribune Editorial

Priceless peace, order

Tuesday, 27 June 2017 00:00 Published in Editorial

The end of Ramadan yesterday gave Filipinos a sense of unity that cuts across religion and ethnic divide, which is a trait that is inherent in the warm-hearted members of this nation but which a foreign-inspired ideology of hatred has disrupted.
The military offensive against the IS fanatics who tried to occupy Marawi City has been going on for more than a month that had unveiled a full-blown plot that could have led to a more disastrous situation had it not been interrupted by an attempt to arrest bandit leader Isnilon Hapilon.
Rody’s quick response to the situation in issuing Proclamation 216 which imposed martial law on Mindanao and suspending the writ of habeas corpus in the region also nipped in the bus the plot to turn Mindanao into an IS base in Southeast Asia.
The existence of holdouts that appears to have stockpiled ammunitions for a long-drawn war is prolonging the deplorable situation in the predominantly Muslim city, particularly for its residents who all want the armed conflict to end and for them to continue with their lives.
Marawi City since May 23 experienced its first day of relative quiet last Sunday after Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Eduardo Año agreed to an eight-hour humanitarian pause to give way to the Eid al-Fitr holidays.
The ceasefire started at 6 am and ended 2 pm. AFP spokesman Restituto Padilla said the halt in offensive was meant to give reverence to the peaceful, joyous and festive spiritual celebration.
The bandits are banking on soldiers and the government for their resolve to weaken in their battle against the militants as a result of the rising casualties which Padilla said is impossible since morale among troops remains high.
Padilla said the government is working hard and is focused in resolving this crisis soonest and that even the wounded troops are raring to return to action.
Many of the wounded who sustained superficial wounds wanted to go back, join their units and fight again and help liberate Marawi, he added.
Around 300 members of state forces that included policeman and soldiers were wounded in battle.
The government earlier said that 66 had thus far died on the side of state forces in the ongoing strife while 26 dead civilians have been identified.
The casualty among the terrorists was placed at 268 dead among the Maute group-led bandits.
The challenge to the government remains daunting due to the huge logistics backing that somehow gets into the hands of the state enemies.
The Palace believes that more than IS, the bandits are receiving support from drug syndicates that want to bring down Rody and return to the good old days of unhampered drugs trade.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the uncovering of P10-million worth of shabu inside the house of former Marawi City mayor, Omar Solitario Ali, brings to bear the realities existing in the area about the close relation between the illegal drug trade and the ongoing rebellion.
Rody had long surmised that at some point, the blood-thirsty bandits in Mindanao and the drug lords will unite against him.
The drugs trade has been severely dislocated since Rody took over as he targeted the disruption of the drugs network.
Ali was among the local government officials that Rody tagged as being deeply involved in the illegal drugs trade.
“His name is likewise included in the arrest order of the Department of National Defense (DND) in connection with the Marawi rebellion,” Abella said.
What is alarming is the migration of terrorists into the country that should be addressed through transnational cooperations mainly through the Association of Southeast Asian (Asean).
The government is checking reports that 89 foreign terrorists have entered the country to join the IS fanatics in Marawi City.
Peace crosses religious and ethnic boundaries while the IS can only instill its ideology of violence by destroying norms to which people have been accustomed.

Asean should evolve

Monday, 26 June 2017 00:00 Published in Editorial

The regional bloc Association of Southeast Nations (Asean) which saw light last 2015 showed that it can’t be a factor for assuring the security of its members under the current setup in response to common threats such as the Islamic State (IS) incursion in the region.
The Marawi City siege is not yet a full-blown IS assault since groups competing for recognition from the global terror network were those responsible for it but it nonetheless exposed the new dangers that the region is facing.
The Asean is limited to being an economic union which has a very strict non-interference policy even on issue that has the potential of growing into a crisis involving the region such as the South China Sea conflict, in which a common position has been difficult to obtain.
Only recently, for instance, did its members act as a bloc to draft a code of conduct on conflicting maritime claims after 15 years of indecision.
The recent move of the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia for joint efforts and cooperation in addressing terrorism and violent extremism was even held outside of the bounds of the Asean and was considered an undertaking among neighbors.
Yet, leaders of the countries comprising Asean recognize the immediate threat of terrorism to the region.
Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi said the threat that the region was facing was imminent.
“No action is not an option. Thus, it is incumbent upon us to embark on taking concrete actions,” she said.
Malaysian Foreign Minister Dato Sri Anifah Haji Aman noted that challenges posed by terrorism differed from those in the past.
“In the past, terrorists maintain a sense of self-preservation unlike today. It is far more difficult to stop people who are willing to die. Now, secondly, technology has enabled terrorism to spread their message faster and more promptly than ever before,” he said.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said joint action to combat terrorism would be raised during the Asean Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) in October.
The statement of Cayetano was a recognition that amid Asean’s integration concept, there is not much of a cohesive program outside of the economic sphere such as lowering tariffs and ease of travel of citizens of nations in it that the bloc can provide its members.
An agreement for military cooperation will be a long shot but the Asean should have an agreement that would enhance common security beyond the sharing of intelligence.
Its more powerful partners such as China and Japan should also be tapped in providing the capability in fighting the terrorism threat in the region.
As it stands now, it is the United States and Australia, thus far, which have provided tangible assistance to the Philippines in the effort to purge the IS-inspired occupation of Marawi City.
India also offered help for the Asean to craft a “regional security architecture” against emerging and non-traditional challenges.
The Marawi City siege provided the bloc a glimpse of not only a threat to security but as well as the economic future of the regional bloc.
The Philippines as the Asean chair this year is in a pivotal position to recommend a stronger character for the bloc that will address emerging problems expected to pose a hurdle to the mainly economic goals of the Asean.
Rody said he wants all the IS-affiliated jihadists in the Philippines dead which should be the aspirations of all the Asean members.
More than 60 groups have pledged allegiance to the IS in the past three years and some 16 of these groups are based in the Philippines. An IS video online showed a Malaysian fighter urging viewers who cannot travel to the Middle East to go to the Philippines instead.
A prospective jihadist can travel from Malaysia to the Philippines and given a complimentary weapon with just 500 Malaysian Ringgit.
The Asean should be more meaningful than being an annual social event and negotiating platform for border policies.

Tall tale worse than fake news

Sunday, 25 June 2017 00:00 Published in Editorial


fter a long layoff, tall tale teller Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV was at it again, now saying that it is Criminal Investigation and Detection Group Region 8 chief Supt. Marvin Marcos and another policeman orchestrating a Philippine Death Squad from his earlier allegations that it was Rody who is directly on top of the group formerly known as the Davao Death Squad (DDS).
He also linked Rody’s son Paolo Duterte to the forming of the nationwide vigilante group.
In journalistic parlance, Trillanes appears to be a master in SS or sex stimulation of a dead story in which a new angle is injected to seduce interest.
Of course, Trillanes is again targeting foreign media for his extended version of the yarn that stemmed from the involvement of Marcos in the killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa.
An apparent attempt to consolidate his attacks on Rody into one compact smear job, Trillanes has to link Marcos with the overall extrajudicial killing (EJK) spin on Rody.
Thus, he coined the Philippine Death Squad and placed Marcos on top of it.
The tale, however, now goes against the narration of Trillanes’ own pawn former Davao City police chief Arturo Lascañas who said it is Rody who oversees the EJK first as Davao City mayor and now the President.
Lascañas’ lawyer Jude Sabio filed the case against Rody with the International Criminal Court (ICC) for supposed crimes against humanity using the DDS allegations.
The ICC complaint accused Rody of “repeatedly, unchangingly and continuously” committing crimes against humanity and that under him, killing drug suspects and other criminals has become “best practice.”
Sabio alleged that Rody committed “mass murder” through his war on drugs.
Sabio is also Edgar Matobato’s lawyer, another Trillanes character who claims to be a DDS hitman.
Two Senate probes on the DDS yarn were held and both concluded that the claims of both Lascañas and Matobato were myths.
The ICC complaint was meant merely for vicious noise, as presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella puts it, since it herded Cabinet members who spoke in defense of Rody and his war on drugs such as Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, Philippine National Police chief Ronald de la Rosa, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, former Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno, National Bureau of Investigation Director Dante Gierran, and Solicitor General Jose Calida and even Sen. Richard Gordon.
Gordon was sued for coming out with a Senate report throwing out the testimony of Matobato, saying EJK were not state-sponsored and for abruptly ending the Senate probe on alleged extrajudicial killings. Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano was also named for “aiding and abetting” the killings.
Since the ICC case failed to generate the excitement that Trillanes expected, he is now turning to coming up with a new edition of his allegations linking Marvin Marcos to it.
Trillanes was apparently following the line of the story that international news outfit Reuters came out earlier alleging a rewards system for policemen in purging drug personalities.       
In his new-found twist, Duterte, he said, set up the Philippine Death Squad immediately after assuming the presidency while tapping a certain Supt. Leonardo as the point person with Marcos among the so-called “members” of the “organization” within the police organization.
Trillanes claimed that Leonardo is godfather to an offspring of Paolo Duterte and a classmate of Marcos in Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) where they graduated in 1996.
Then he claimed most of those involved in EJK were members of the particular PNPA batch.
Trillanes claimed he has several pieces of information regarding his new revelations.
Of course, he is not filing a case in court since the real intent is to stir up more detrimental stories against Rody and his administration.


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