Mamasapano: who was at fault, and why

GBU-16 Paveway II Laser Guided Bombs

GBU-16 Paveway II Laser Guided Bombs

We have seen a frenzied hunt for culprits for the death of 44 SAF troops at the Battle of Mamasapano being carried out in the Senate, the House, and the Philippine tabloid media. As if finding someone to paste the guilt on would somehow make the pain go away.

Some of the hunting has taken a political slant, going up a hypothetical chain of command to President Aquino’s desk. One wild-eyed legislator said the President was more responsible for the deaths of the 44 than the MILF. Then a couple of weeks later, distinguished (?) Senator Santiago said virtually the same thing.

Others focus on SAF General Napeñas and resigned PNP Chief Purisima, a couple of Dr. Strangeloves concocting their military plots. And of course there is a rage directed at the Moro rebels, by whatever initials they walk under. That rage even hit the peace negotiators for seeming to defend the MILF, about the last place guilt ought to be assigned. Other suspicions fall on the AFP for an extraordinarily slow response on the day of the battle. And the United States.

All of the accusations tend to ignore the interrelationship of events, or the context, in which each party operated. Investigators and public critics seem determined to find culprits, almost as if they want to put a stamp on someone’s forehead. They want someone to say to say: “I did it. I killed the 44. It was me.”

No one will. No one should.

Many people influenced the outcome of the battle. President Aquino by authorizing the plan, PNP and AFP officers who engaged militarily in a well-intended mission to rid to the planet of two really nasty fellows, and for sure the Moro rebels who shot and shot and shot. And we must add the peacekeepers who could not keep the peace when it was needed most. And maybe even the United States, a shadow over everything, a stealth actor on a deadly stage.

My goal is to focus on the CONTEXT rather than the individuals. Without that context, the decisions would have been different. Therefore, the context is the real culprit. Within the context, we can identify those who were guided by it, and complicit in the deaths, but who were not singly at fault.

The context was shaped by years of hunt for the deadly terrorist bomber Marwan. It was shaped by various incidents and mistrusts that arose over the years that came together at Mamasapano. It was shaped by the human condition, one of ego and jealousy and personal ambition. I will consider six parties and look at their roles in shaping the context for the deaths.

  1. President Aquino
  2. The tandem of SAF General Napeñas and PNP Chief Purisima
  3. AFP General Pangilinan
  4. The Moro rebels: MILF and BIFF
  5. The peace negotiators
  6. The United States

I’m not going to do a recitation of all the details of involvement, timelines and where the troops were when, but will focus instead on the significance of certain events.

President Aquino

The President agreed to the high priority of getting Marwan. He had been guided over the years by Chief Purisima and his people, very likely working with intelligence supplied by the US, and he had endorsed various operating initiatives over the years. This was not his first “go” decision. Unfortunately, in the context of politics and the culture of corruption, his key man had been suspended. The man with all the secret information, the historical background, the insights into people. The President decided he needed that expertise, no matter the political implications.

Mr. Aquino’s visits or other contacts with suspended PNP Chief Purisima were entirely within his right as President. Purisima had detailed and classified knowledge that DILG Secretary Roxas and Acting PNP Chief Espina did not have. Perhaps there was fault with the President for not including Roxas and Espina in the briefings, but there was also reason not to: they had no “need to know” of the operating details; neither was ever engaged in the Marwan hunt or knew the intricacies and history of that hunt.

The President went directly to Purisima and kept it simple and secure. Purisima had hatched the plan. He should be allowed to bring it home along with the veteran operation head of the Marwan hunt, PNP General Napeñas.

The President’s final guidance to General Napeñas was “coordinate with the AFP”. That simple statement of guidance absolves the President of culpability for the way the operation turned out because Purisima and Napeñas declined to follow the President’s advice. They felt it would endanger the mission, and they had something to prove.

Any claims that President Aquino was complicit in a “botched” raid are strictly political and have little to do with the well-being of the Philippines.  They merely underscore the political aspirations of the complaining parties. The politicization of some of the charges are perhaps best represented in Senator Marcos on Day 3 of the Senate inquiry when he seemed to blame Mr. Aquino for not ordering artillery to fire. He wanted MORE engagement by Mr. Aquino. Meanwhile, the tabloid press has been in an uproar for weeks under the belief that Mr. Aquino DID provide direction for the operations. Critics wanted LESS engagement by Mr. Aquino. And more.

The point of this absurdity is, of course, that politics is politics, even in fact-finding hearings. Politics is a part of the news we read and a part of the bad information that the public is given by the  tabloid press.

Yes, the buck stops at Mr. Aquino’s desk, but he acted in good faith, for good aims, and had no personal control of events after Napenas and Purisima left his office. The context at the time was just that: a mission of good aims undertaken in good faith. That is the President’s part in it.

The tandem of SAF General Napeñas and PNP Chief Purisima

SAF General Napeñas  and PNP Chief Purisima consciously decided to ignore the President’s guidance and cut everyone out of advance knowledge of the operation, ostensibly because it would complicate or even endanger an operation that had failed over and over again, sometimes because of suspected leaks. They would advise everyone “Time on Target”, or right before the operation began.

The context of their decision-making was mistrust and deep resentment toward the AFP formed as a sequence of several prior failed efforts to get the terrorist bomber Marwan, to wit:

  • The AFP refused to provide mechanized support for the previous operation after it had been built into the plan. The operation was cancelled.
  • The AFP undertook their own operation to get Marwan before that without consulting with SAF. The operation failed. The two services both wanted credit for the capture of Marwan.
  • When AFP was involved in prior operations, the targets evaded capture. Marwan had fled, as if informed of the SAF approach. The operations failed.

Napeñas’ counterpart at AFP was General Pangilinan.

It was clear to Napeñas and Purisima that AFP was working against them for their own ambitions. Certainly, a general who got credit for Marwan’s capture had a bright future ahead of him.

Napeñas and Purisima had had enough. They would do the mission “Time on Target”. They could not bring Espina or Roxas into the picture early because then they would likely be told to bring AFP into the picture.

No way.

General Napeñas and Chief Purisima made a conscious decision, considering all the facts at hand, and went “Time on Target” for all coordination.

This decision gives the two officers major culpability for the outcome. But not total culpability. If we consider context, it is the same kind of decision countless military leaders have faced in conflict. Consider all the circumstances, many of them on imperfect information, many without much time, many with life and death outcomes. Make your best choice. No guarantees.

And countless military leaders have paid the price for losing battles. That is an accepted tradition in the military services, as acceptable as dying in battle. It comes with the job.

The military mission was a success. But the price was too high for popular acceptance in the emotional Philippines. Napeñas and Purisima will pay the price.

Two people who have spent their lives working for the Philippine nation.

AFP General Pangilinan

Some attention has been given to the reasons for the AFP’s delays, but not enough. If the slow response on day of battle was because of inter-service animosity, General Pangilinan is just as responsible as General Napeñas for the outcome of the battle. By all evidence, he did not try to read the situation aggressively and quickly, and his units responded poorly. These were command decisions.

He can point to his achievements. But getting to first base is not an achievement when you need a home run.

One can’t help but think that if a neighboring AFP post had come under fire with only one shot, resources would have been rushed to the scene to guage and engage. But not here, even with a full-fledged firefight going on just a few kilometers from his position. Pangilinan claimed “no urgency was conveyed”, “we had no knowledge of who was where”, “our units were pinned down”, “we couldn’t fire artillery because of doctrine”. A request for artillery came in early in the morning, yet that was not read by AFP as a statement of urgency.

What was missing from AFP’s engagement was any kind of purposeful battlefield initiative. AFP was passive and made no effort to understand the scene. Why did it take hours instead of minutes to reconnoiter in broad daylight to FIND OUT what was happening? Why did the generals seem to read cell phone messages as social media chat? Where was the drive to get better information when a firestorm was going on “right over there”?

I rather think the investigation of AFP needs to be done from OUTSIDE AFP. Not inside. The prior incidents involving the Marwan hunt should be a part of this inquiry. Any stigma of a whitewashed report should be avoided.

One universal military motto is “no excuses!” General Pangilinan read every excuse in the book, and the units under his command achieved weak results, helping extract the 84th. But not the 55th.

He should pay a military leader’s proper price for his command decisions, too. He for sure helped define the context of the mission – mistrust and resentment – as it went from well-intended to tragic.

The Moro rebels: MILF and BIFF

The Moro rebel “army” is made up of a number of independent, largely uncontrollable clans headed by warlords who act for their own benefit, not that of the MILF negotiating team. Force is their language of choice. They are well armed and have fought for the right to claim their own territories. Marwan was in BIFF territory, 500 yards from MILF territory, and locals respected the dividing line between the two forces.

Moro rebel allegiances in a battle situation would be, in order of allegiance:

  1. The clan or troop
  2. The MILF leadership
  3. The Philippine state

The MILF fighters at the scene were fighting for the clan, as were BIFF. MILF leadership wants the peace agreement to come to fruition, but this is not shared by the hard core fighters. BIFF wants the peace agreement to end, and one would suspect they were instrumental in the brutality of the battle.

The slaughter of SAF troops, done in ISIS style, is reflective of the new, intensely brutal method of Muslim extremist fighting that uses horror to instill fear, and that ignores any human decency or compassion. The deeds done were the work of clans, of warlords. Not the MILF leadership. That leadership is now in a box because they have no standing for acting without the approval of a council of warlords.

The MILF leadership system is a tangle of interests, a super-bureaucracy, at the ground level.

MILF Chief Negotiator Iqbal on Day 3 of the Senate hearings made clear that there are also emotions to deal with among the Moro people. He itemized the massacres they have suffered over the years, and the history of their disenfranchisement and neglect. He explained that the fighters were not shooting at SAF troopers but at years of oppression. He asked for patience as they worked through steps to demonstrate they are committed to the peace plan.

It is important to acknowledge the Moro context, years of disenfranchisement and oppression. General Napeñas and Chief Purisima had nothing to do with this context.

The remark went by quickly during the heat of the hearings, but Chief Negotiator Iqbal, when asked about the brutality of SAF executions, emotionally characterized it as “perhaps more than terrorism”. In other words, inhumane.

The Moro rebels committed murder in a violent and inhumane way. They turned the context to tragic, and even horrific. They are as culpable as culpable gets. There likely will be no Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) until fire-fight commanders or terrorist Usman are arrested and the MILF re-establishes a measure of trust. If that is ever done, the law, now in draft form, will be amended to prevent such wanton disregard of State civil processes in Bangsamoro territory.

Moro rebels are culpable both for murder and potentially killing the peace agreement.

MILF negotiators were pretty much like Secretary Roxas. Not consulted. In the dark. And unable to act on the day of the fighting because of the bureaucratic tangle that required getting agreement from the fighters themselves.

The fighters were busy.

The peace negotiators

The House inquiry panel turned on the peace negotiators almost as if they were a representative of the Moro rebels. Secretary Deles tried to explain the context of the MILF thinking and the House members did not want to hear it.

The peace negotiators want peace. That is why they are there. They have the most difficult of jobs, negotiating between sides that have been at war for decades. Those who refuse to listen to the peace negotiators are themselves culprits assuring further hostility.

But subordinate to the peace negotiators are other coordinating bodies, including a cease fire team.

Members of the cease fire team arrived on scene early in the morning of the battle. They immediately got bogged down in the logistics of getting people together and trying various ways to stop the shooting. They had no success until late in the afternoon, about three hours after the wipe-out of an entire SAF unit. Their failure to stop the shooting requires thorough investigation. Perhaps the reason was “we would be killed if we tried to get to the rebels”. That has some legitimacy. But the point is, like the generals, their mission was not accomplished until it was too late.

The same kinds of questions asked of General Pangilinan need to be asked of this group. Why not faster, more aggressive work? Not to relieve people of jobs or assign culprits. But to establish firmer, faster methods to get shooting stopped in the future. Sending unarmed peacekeepers between firing units is obviously not the way.

The context: ineffective cease fire methods assured the tragic ends.

The United States

Well, we can’t know what we are not supposed to know, but we can guess based on what we are told we should not know. We can bet that Purisima knew, and Espina did not.

The United States supplied information as to the location of Marwan and Usman. The US declined to put a smart bomb through the roof of Marwan’s hut as requested by General Napeñas.

The enduring Filipino political mistrust of the United States established the context for how the hunt for Marwan would be carried out: it would be ground attack, and men at risk. Cutting out all the middlemen, the discussion went like this:

  • General Napeñas: “The best way is to have the U.S. put a smart bomb through the roof.”
  • Legislature: “That would be a threat to Philippine sovereignty.”

Never mind that the United States respects Philippine sovereignty in ways that other nations do not.

How is sovereignty defined in the Philippines? Applied mistrust, or ability to command resources in the best interest of the nation?

Legislators argue intellectual constructs such as sovereignty to advance their political aims. This is done with the same moral certitude that terrorists argue religion and history to advance their political aims. When legislators restrain the Philippines from using all the resources at her command, then the Legislature has taken a decision that establishes the context in which 44 people lost their lives. Actually 66 if we remove our socio/political bias from the tabulation. The 67th, we are well to be without.

That is the problem with all this finger pointing and denial of accountability. It always circles around.

In the whole context of what transpired, the Legislature caused this needless loss of 66 lives as much as anyone.

Representative Bello, Senator Santiago . . . you did it.


289 Responses to “Mamasapano: who was at fault, and why”
  1. sonny says:

    Joe, I told Karl this is a doozy.

  2. Jobzstryker says:

    I think the president just got exempted here. I strongly feel he should carry the load not the characters around him.

    • karl garcia says:

      Many have the same sentiment,but what do we want? hear him say ok ok it’s my fault, i am resigning and to the VP I am turning over the country to you. Is that what we want?
      I ask you now, Do you want Binay to take over?

      • Joe America says:

        That is really the key point, isn’t it? How many mistakes do we allow our president? None? Or as many as he makes unless 44 people die? I guarantee that China has been emboldened by this national case of apoplexy and weakness in Philippine national discipline.

        • karl garcia says:

          As you have been saying,military failures has been happening since day 1 or even before that. SNAFU is the perfect four letter oops that is five letter word for it,
          this happens everytime,it is normal but it is effed up.

          Command responsibility is supposed to be for war crimes, is there a war crime going on,blaming the commander in chief.
          Was there anything unlawful the CiC has done passively,or actively to be accused of being remiss in his command duties.

          I maybe ranting,but what the ef is going on?

          • Joe America says:

            Desperate opportunists are making it a big deal, rebels seeking to destabilize so they can rise because they can’t do it on the strength of their ideas and character. That is mainly the big thrust. Behind them are self-serving opportunists each seeking a cut of fame (the Senate deteriorated into being a pack of these people, from Marcos to Cayetano to Legarda . . .). I think it is time for sense to move to the forefront, and for the Philippines to get on with business.

        • karl garcia says:

          we must turn this national apoplexy to national consciousness.Joe you made a succession powerful blogs, about the incident and the senate hearings and the power will spread beyond internet traffic and that will drive national consciousness .

          As Edgar said peace is darn hard but attainable, I say the same for discipline, i don’t know if it supposed to be so darn hard to attain, but it is attainable.

        • ericdraven says:

          the key word here is that “good faith”

          • Joe America says:

            Indeed, it is. I think the mission was carried out in good faith. I think a lot of the criticism is politically motivated, not really in good faith. The first two days of the senate hearing were good faith inquiries, and on the third day, it turned to showmanship and gameplaying. If there are more hearings, I’m not sure I’ll watch. I don’t like being played for a fool.

    • Joe America says:

      The characters around him disregarded his instruction to coordinate with the AFP. Why do you believe the President made a mistake?

      What would you have done if Purisima had come to you and said “we have good intel that both Marwan and Usman are together, and we can get them both if we move quickly”?

    • Bert says:

      Come on, Jobstryker, say it. Or, was it just a “strong feeling” that made you think the president is mainly to blame? Blame for what? For the death of Marwan? Death of the 44 policemen? What? Come on, please tell us.

    • jolly cruz says:

      In my post in the previous blog, I asked why the inquisitors want the president to explicitly admit that he was responsible for the operation. He was responsible for sanctioning the operations not in designing and commanding it. It was admitted by gen napenas when he said that the president had tacit approval and this was confirmed by the Jan 9 meeting in the white house. If the president accepts all responsibility, what do you want to happen then?

      It appears that this is what the investigation is all about. The two chambers already have a conclusion. And this is that the president is to be blamed for everything. This is what they want the resource persons to say. Anythig less than pointing to the president would mean that the resource persons are lying.

      • jolly cruz says:

        I guess the real question for the people asking for the president to accept responsibility for everything is : What then? If he accepts responsibility what do you do then?

        The answer to that will of course be for the president to resign. And we all know who benefits from that.

        So are we still in the “dark” regarding the forces behind the calls for his accountabiity ?

      • Joe America says:

        Jolly, I don’t think it is the entire Legislature that is on the President’s case. The more extreme the legislator, the more vested the personal interest, the louder the voice. What is astounding is the lack of national dignity represented in the witch hunt.

        • PinoyInEurope says:

          That is what many have written – that Filipinos do not really see themselves as a nation. They may have a common language by now, but otherwise they cannot unite in common purpose except in very particular groups. Not even the Yellows are exempted from this.

          What is frightening is that the Moros seem to have more sense of nation, as evidenced in the “pintakasi” that allegedly happened when they noticed that the SAF were there. They do fight among themselves, but not the kind of undignified show Filipino Christians offer.

          I don’t see any leader, not even Noynoy, coming out and saying people let’s take time to find out what happened and at the same time see how we can solve the problem. Except Duterte who actually said that while everybody in Manila is discussing, who is minding the store? This guy may be ruthless and roughneck, but he does have a certain down-to-earth realism that I happen to like – not living in a fantasy like many others.

          • Joe America says:

            I wish Duterte exhibited a better sense of control and rational judgment. He is a little like Miriam Santiago to me, speaking for shock affect and in big, controversial pronouncements (like doing away with congress). I tend to see turmoil rather than rational solution.

      • ericdraven says:

        the prez has nothing to do with it,,,with an operation of this magnitude,the prez has nothing to do with it,like it was reported,he’s in zamboanga becoz of the bombings not with this so called oplan exodus something…carry on prez,uv made us proud with ur firm and wise decision and….Good faith..

        • Rudy Portugal says:

          If the President has nothing to do with this operation, then what is he as comander-in chief, as a father of this nation? If he can not or if he is not capable of being the comander-in chief, then he better relinguish that capacity and someone who is willing to do it better take over.

          • Joe America says:

            All commanders delegate. CEO’s delegate. It is a required skill, not easily done. Mr. Aquino can do it. A lot of Filipinos, I would observe, cannot, for they cannot delegate up to their president the right to make hard decisions. Delegation requires “letting go” of decisions, but keeping accountability. Mr. Aquino has acknowledged that he is responsible for all that happened.

          • karl garcia says:

            This is what an icon like FVR has done, people still listen to what he says even if it is an outburst.

            The media definitely tried to get his inputs being the”authority” figure, but they got his inputs at a time of anger, so what follows is more anger.

            People took his word for chain of command,and command responsibility even if many others offered an alternative explanation, they don’t want none of it.

  3. PinoyInEurope says:

    The same military that did not help the SAF 44 helps the MILF just shortly after, in Basilan: – against Abu Sayyaf. A Filipino officer once told me that when push comes to shove, for example in a coup situation, the main loyalty of the Filipino soldier is to his commanding officer. Do we really know if some army commanders in Mindanao have become de facto warlords?

    • karl garcia says:

      the abu sayaff has been kidnapping and terrorizing everyone and you don’t want them stopped even with a little help. this is not PNP vs AFP and it should not be that way.
      As to coups, our peace forces must not support any idea of a coup

    • Joe America says:

      That is the investigation that should take place. Why did the AFP fail to earn the PNP’s trust? Why was the response so passive? Why did the AFP fail to support the prior operation, and conduct it’s own without coordinating with PNP? Those questions were not pertinent DIRECTLY to Mamasapano, but they established the framework for it. Those questions were not asked during the hearings.

      • Steve says:

        Was it ever established why the other 300 SAF men failed to reinforce the group that was under fire?

        • Joe America says:

          I’ve not followed the tactical details. I believe they were stopped from reaching their assigned positions when they came under fire, and they remained under fire. One group of 28 was evidently rescued by MILF troops.

      • ericdraven says:

        yeah,that should be asked in those hearings coz they are more important,why there is no trust among our waryors,are there any trust issues?we could also invite trust councilors during future hearings so that they could patch up those trust issues….the main problem here is not that those 44 commandos were killed by milf or whoever,its about trust,..i think this is DIRECTLY significant…hope senator drillon or bam can expound on this for the rest of those hearings…lets stop blaming the prez,the milf,peace keepers, and everyone..this is about trust

        • Joe America says:

          It is indeed. It is all about trust.

          • PinoyInEurope says:

            The most successful societies are high-trust societies. But it is hard to build trust in a society where it is so sorely lacking because people do not know where to start. Starting by trusting Binay for example would definitely be the wrong place to start.

            Whom would you trust among the top guys in the Philippines now? Sorry I don’t really trust Aquino, he seems to care more for his followers than for the entire people, but that is the mold of the typical Filipino politician. Ramos used to be OK but I think now he is nuts.

            PNP General Espina actually impressed me, his concern for his men seemed sincere. Filipinos would probably trust a political leader they perceive to be there for all the people. Many thought Erap would be that kind of guy but they confused him with his movie roles. Duterte might be someone a lot of people trust because he seems very down-to-earth. Noynoy had a big bonus in the beginning but he lost the very fragile trust of the people, especially in his communication during what happened recently, where in my opinion he came across as elitist and distant, which is a no-no in a country where there is already a big divide between the elite and common people, both culturally and economically, and ordinary people DO NOT trust the elite that sold them out so many times in history.

            • Steve says:

              Part of the reason for the trust deficit is, I suspect, the priority on individuals rather than institutions. You see it in the military and police when officers prefer to deal with their PMA classmates or others with whom they have existing personal relationships, and you see it in government all up and down the line. In high-trust societies it tends to be the institution that is trusted, and expected to keep the individuals in line.

              • Joe America says:

                That would also explain the weakness in ethical foundations in institutions such as the Senate and judiciary.

              • jolly cruz says:

                Precisely ! This lack of a sense of nationhood in favor of individual interests is the malaise that affects this country. You can see and experience it everywhere. It is this me first mentality that is the root cause of all that affects our country.

                The Church should be at the forefront of instilling trust and selflessness but how can it do that when the members of the CBCP, the Bishops themselves, are corrupt at the most and coddlers of the corrupt., at the least.

              • edgar lores says:

                The Church suffers from me-tooism as well. Look at their stance on the RH Bill, look at their endless meddling in political affairs.

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                True: you have old-boy networks even in advanced countries, but the difference is that in advanced countries, you have institutions that are respected and that work. The U.S. Constitution is over 200 years old, the Philippines had 3 Constitutions in the 20th century.

                In the Philippines, institutions are often just a cover-up for personal or group agendas and are only at the surface related to what they are supposed to do officially.

                Again this has to do with the split-level (dirty kitchen, clean kitchen) mentality that many Filipinos still have. On the surface one pretends to have institutions, underneath it is just groups trying to survive or get a larger share of the spoils and nothing more.

            • Joe America says:

              Keep your eyes open for Thursday afternoon’s blog.

  4. edgar lores says:

    1. I like the twist at the end. Essentially it says that the finger-pointers are the ones responsible.

    2. If I were to extend the proposition… then I, too, am responsible.

    3. Huh?

    4. It has to be. Because I am a finger-pointer myself — and I am very inclined right now to point the finger at culture and religion.

    5. Hang on, wait a minute. The extended proposition is not as absurd as it sounds. Perhaps, peace will not descend and reign on earth until I — and each of us individually — attain peace within ourselves. Until we are at peace with ourselves.

    6. If we are at war with ourselves, we are necessarily at war with each other. And if we are at war with each other, how can peace be realized?

    7. It is impossible!

    8. So I shall go now and make peace with myself. And if I do so, it will — admittedly — be a separate peace.

    9. But if I succeed — and because no man is an island — peace should eventuate.

    10. Fiat tantum pax in terra.

    • karl garcia says:

      I love it,where have you been?

      • edgar lores says:

        Thank you.

        Trying to attain that… separate peace.

        • karl garcia says:

          let there be peace on earth and let it begin with asking you not to go on separate peace because no man is an island.

          • karl garcia says:

            Since you mentioned the delai lama, ask for directions to one of MRP’S recommended Nepalese masseuse.

            • edgar lores says:


              Ahaha! The Dalai Lama is from Tibet. Tibet is north of Nepal. Not sure if Nepalese masseuses are better than Tibetan ones.

              But Tibetan massage (Ku Nye) seems to be very sophisticated. From the Internet: “Tibetan medicine begins with the premise that we are made up of five basic elements: earth, water, fire, wind and space. Tibetan massage is primarily concerned with bringing the wind element into balance.”

              Perhaps we should try it out in pursuit of peace. Or, at the very least, to get rid of excess wind. 🙂

            • Joe America says:

              You have a crackerjack memory, and your spelling is superb. I suppose the Nepalese masseuse goes down in Society history as one of the most quotable quotes of all time. I need to compile a blog of Edgarisms and MRPisms and maybe even a Garciaism or two. And of course a Bertism or five.

              • karl garcia says:

                spelling? haha but still I thank you and the good company I am proud to be associated with. It is an honor, just more practice in eloquence,grammar ,etc and spelling and I will do justice to you all.

              • Joe America says:

                Cheers! May your Nepalese masseuses always be kind and gentle.

              • karl garcia says:

                Yeah, I hope so, once I get information from the Dalai Lama on how to go from Tibet to Nepal without having to climb Everest. Kampai!

      • sonny says:

        “Fiat tantum pax in terra.” Let such peace be on earth. Adveniat! (Sen Miriam, eat your heart out)

    • Joe America says:

      I think we all should be accountable to an understanding that perfection is not attainable, on earth, and forgiveness is better than a mad hunt for who is mainly responsible. For the main players, none can seal himself from what happened at Mamasapano, like the protecto-shield my son throws up when we are playing space invaders. Let them look within before finding culprits without. It’s a rather disgusting display of avoidance of accountability from where I look.

      • PinoyInEurope says:

        Avoidance of accountability and witch-hunting go hand in hand in the Philippines, in fact they are two sides of the same medal. People avoid accountability because those who get caught making a mistake are punished out of proportion, in fact some Filipinos have told me what the hell they were stupid enough to get caught, and then they were weak enough to admit they made a mistake so they deserve it. Ever saw pictures of shoplifters in Philippine stores: they catch them with minor things, then they make pictures of them with lots of stuff they could never have tried to steal. People who make mistakes, get caught and admit them in the Philippines get pilloried or burned at stake. Mistakes are not seen as an opportunity to learn how to do it better next time, they are seen as an invitation to ridicule or treat with scorn and contempt, honest people are seen as weak and foolish.

        • jolly cruz says:

          Your last statement speaks volumes of what kind of society we have. Honest examiners at the BIR and Customs, straight poiicemen and even politicians who have a pure heart are looked upon as stupid and naive if they dont enrich themselves while in office.

          They are looked down by their peers and their own community considers them as unwise for not taking advantage of the opportinities presented them. Consider this, how many of these honest people are top of mind of the people in their communities whenever they choose whom to be their compadres in their children’s baptism/marriage. Even if they know that the wealth of their future compadre came from illegal means they willingly overlook the fact and are even proud to be compadres just because they are rich.

          Who am I to judge when even the priests and bishops themselves associate themselves with these known corrupt people. Where then do the Filipinos turn to for their ethical and moral education.

    • Bert says:

      Some would say the most peaceful place on earth is in the cemetery, the religious would say, “No, it’s in heaven”. They were both right, of course. It’s the same neighborhood.

      I totally agree with Joe and Edgar.

      • edgar lores says:

        There have been men of peace who are revered – Gandhi, Siddartha, Jesus. I would include the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh. So personal peace is achievable. It’s just so darned hard.

        And let’s not forget the peacemakers. It is hard work.

        • Micha says:


          Maybe the way to peace is in coming to terms with the problem of evil.

          Or at least understand why that menace is so pervasive in the whole history of life.

          • edgar lores says:

            There is individual action and collective action. I tend to think that collective action stems from individual action. So, yes, coming to terms with evil is definitely part of the solution but it has to start at the individual level… and spread outward.

            Consensus is a result of the balance tipping in one direction. The tipping point is reached when a sufficient number of individuals group together on one scale. It is not that the other scale is heavily populated; it is that many individuals have not made a clear choice and are on neither scale.

            Attitude is all important. One must accept that man is imperfect. But one must believe that man is perfectible.

            It is a matter of degree. In other societies, there is a consensus that corrupt behavior of public officials is not acceptable. In our country, that consensus has NOT been reached. Again, Binay is the proof of that lack of consensus.

            Similarly, there must be a consensus for peace… on both sides of the divide.

  5. manuel buencamino says:

    Demagogues always stand on flag-draped coffins when they spread their venom.

    • Micha says:

      Marcos Junior seems to have found the perfect opportunity to do just that – and boy, won’t mother Meldy be too darn impressed.

      “My son’s a politician, like his father. And my dear darling can be President.”

      • sonny says:

        Fortunately, it skips a generation. what am i saying?

        • karl garcia says:

          You are saying that Ferdinand Alexander Marcos III will one day be…….

        • sonny says:

          Karl, I did a mythical, almost mystic, trip through the Ilocos (La Union, Ilocos Sur & Norte, not quite Cagayan valley). Very enlightening, I don’t mind a second one. 🙂

          • karl garcia says:

            Again, we differ, sure I grew up idolizing Marcos,being a military brat like you, but born in the seventies, but it stopped at age 12. I can understand that you are from Ilocos,and all.

            Micha has a question for you below.

      • ericdraven says:

        that opportunity was given to him on a silver platter after 44 saf troops died in mamasapano, if not for that pyrrhic victory,the son would have been irrelevant

    • Joe America says:

      Demagogues, indeed. There are a lot of them these days, both here and afar . . .

  6. karl garcia says:

    We both respect FVR, but what is he up to?
    innuendo after innuendo.
    Thoughts please in plain english.

    • mercedes santos says:

      “Sad to say I’m on my way, STILL be back for many a day ” el dice (DUCE ?)

    • sonny says:

      Karl, he has disappeared from my radar screen. Last time I heard about him was his trip here in Chicago to promote his book. He just came and went. Point me to him.

      • karl garcia says:

        Back here in the homeland. He has been paying tribute to heroes a lot and slwsys leaves an innuendo or two about chain of command.

      • Joe America says:

        He is clearly in a “get Aquino” frame of mind, which, by American custom, is the most disgraceful thing a former president can do, to sharpshoot a sitting president. To do so diminishes the office itself, as much as the man.

        • karl garcia says:

          One Sonnyism I remember is Compos Mentis. I am beginning to have my doubts if FVR is still Compos Mentis.

          • karl garcia says:

            or is he already non compos mentis. a few years back I thought Miriam was one as well,but she prefers to be called brenda, for it is much more trendy, and because being called non compos mentis would make her ballistic.

          • Joe America says:

            🙂 Compost Mental . . . word association . . . sorry

            • karl garcia says:

              that would be the sad truth for the two 1992 bitter presidential rivals.

            • sonny says:

              Two US institutional alumni. Hmmm… (no offense intended, Joe. I am one. also Spanish and Filipino for that matter) 🙂

              • Joe America says:

                Spanish university? Or did you visit the Barber of Seville. I once had occasion to meet “the mad butcher of Cordoba”, who lorded over his section of the market from an elevated platform behind the meat counter, and who thumbed the scale and nibbled of the prosciutto after it had been weighed.

        • sonny says:

          @ Joe, I agree about FVR doing second-guessing PNoy. If it does not help, listen. Emeritus position of FVR should suffice. Collective wisdom should be maintained for the office. Criticism from him must be also vetted just like any that is warranted. I admire the golden silence that US past presidents maintain.

          @ Karl Another retroview. FVR had a steep military ascendancy. This was generally accepted. He leveraged this well. To his credit, he seems to have drawn a line, during Marcos’ time, beyond which he did not go. Proof was disgusto of FM in favor of Gen Ver the reputed FM axeman. FVR won the presidency but with a weak mandate (for whatever the nature of Philippine mandate at the time).

          I believe now, his technical savvy on counter-insurgency principles must be his only currency. His ‘compos mentis’ status is critical factor and the AFP/PNP brains can determine that.

        • mercedes santos says:

          Hue ☺ Hue ☺

          Class ’50 West Pointer; should have known BETTER , hrummp !!!

  7. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    The confusion of unmitigated leaked and public information has become bizarre and incredible by the day. AFP and the Legislature are a bazaar of ignorant talking heads that cannot know what information to be made public.

    Soldiers who have not seen a drone ever in their life, 99% of them have not, recalled a twinkling light over Mamasapano as American drones taking videos of comedic act not the glittering shimmers of stars in clear night sky over the cornfields.

    Filipinos love to conjure incredible bizarre plots. Was it a twinkle from the MILF guns? Was it a star? Or, a selfie twinkle from smartphones flash documenting the last gasp of life? As truth commission drags on, the U.P. legislature makes public of their investigation, bloggers scrutinize, rip and analyze their fairy tale stories, THE ACTORS ALSO ADJUST THEIR STORIES TO PLUG HOLES OF THEIR NEVER ENDING EVER INCREASING SPECTACULAR STORIES.

    Why in the world droning out Marwan a violation of sovereignty when the Filipinos gave up their sovereignty to Chinese Forensic Experts to investigate Chinese Massacre? The Chinese also violated the last remaining tattered sovereignty of the Philippines by instructing the President of the Republic NOT TO MAKE PUBLIC the findings until Chinese check for completeness and veracity of their counterpart in Manila.

    These U.P. graduate senators and congressmen should realize that Filipinos are leaving a sinking country in the guise of OFWing. Nationalism, Patriotism, Pride is gone. IT IS ABOUT LIVING. SURVIVING. Sovereignty is to the romantics. I am not sure if I am a Filipino or an American. My citizenship doesn’t matter to me. Those Filipinos standing in line thru smog and rain at American Embassy is a surrender of their sovereignty to apply for re-colonization to former colonial master so they can be raised by Americans like heaven than by Filipinos like hell.

    Let the Americans have a run of this country. They know better. They know best.

    Many Filipinos asked me why I hate U.P. so much. They do not understand. My premise is if U.P. cabinet ministers, congressmen, senators and “journalists” are so ignorant of simple matters JUST IMAGINE THE MINDS OF 98% FILIPINOS WHO HAVE NOT EVER STEPPED FOOT IN U.P it is not a disaster waiting to happen, the disaster was is happening right at this very moment.

    • Micha says:

      @Mang Renato

      Pakistan and Yemen allow drone-dropped Hellfire missiles delivered to terror suspects in their frontyard. How effective was that to mitigate the problem and growth of terrorist ideologies in those countries?

      • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

        It does not mitigate but exacerbate the problem. Peace is only solution. And Peace will be taken advantaged of by the violent. So, it is lose lose situation …

        The government cannot even declare open hunting season because Philipines is too weak … there will come a time when peaceful people says, “enough is too much”!

        • karl garcia says:


          So strength before peace.
          Without strength there can be no peace.

          If that is what you are saying, then damn straight!

          • karl garcia says:

            a chinese proverb about the bounded sticks says that in unity there is strength.
            MLK, say people fail to get along because they fear each other.
            The Jacksons say that We are Family….
            a dysfunctional family that fails to get along and failing to attain strength in unity probably bcause or fear….so there is nothing to fear but fear…
            where do I insert the word peace in this mess?

            • Joe America says:

              The question is the statement.

              • karl garcia says:

                can’t do poetry.must learn organization of thoughts from Edgar and Joseph, first.

              • sonny says:

                Karl, add to poetry and logic, patience and read up A HISTORY OF WARFARE by John Keegan. I’ll do the same. Can you find out what Prof Ricardo Trota-Jose is up to nowadays. I sincerely wish you could take lectures by him (see his schedule). I read his book on the Philippine Army in the Commonwealth period. It is history gold. Also keep picking your dad’s brain on the PMA/AFP. I missed my chance w/ mine. Next time I come home, let’s do Inasal and San Miguel Pale Pilsen (over ice, me only). On me. 🙂

              • karl garcia says:

                Miss Raissa did an interview with him a few years back.

                You mentioned your father was an adjutant during world war II was he adjutant capt Rivera…

                I was reading about fake medals of marcos and your mention of Prof Trota trigerred another vivid flashback.

                Inasal and beer with ice sounds good Kampai!

              • sonny says:

                Your grandpa probably served with my dad in WW2. Dad was a 3rd Lt PC conscripted into the USAFFE and served under Lt Col Russell Volckmann in 1945, USAFIP-NL. FVR was a newbie platoon leader fresh off USMA ’50. First assignment was IIMA BCT, where dad was camp adjutant, Col. Mendoza commandant.

              • sonny says:

                Not Capt Rivera.

              • karl garcia says:

                oh, I see.sorry for my long shot guess, tradeoff of too much reading, and over thinking.

              • sonny says:

                No problem, Karl. Hats off to your grandpa and our greatest generation.

            • karl garcia says:

              If only R Hiro does not stuff everythingng in one suitcase
              Or at least be back for healhy exchanges without turning things ugly like during the hvrds and jag days,he would be a great addition here.

              • karl garcia says:

                i wanted to ask him questions without opening with pardon my ignorance, a sort of phobia that is hard to overcome.

              • karl garcia says:

                screw my apprehensions

                R Hiro,

                About funding sources of the potential new autonomous state.

                Where will they get it, without economic development ?

                In the senate even Senator Ralph Recto asked about it, but got only a mother and child answer, so that means the national the budget, right?

              • Joe America says:

                There is a concept of “social restitution” of prior neglect that would justify money coming from the national government to build a stronger local economy. In the US, the idea was crystallized in “Affirmative Action”, a program of racial discrimination (for the benefit of) that sought to make up for the social disenfranchisement experienced by blacks and others of color, both at universities and large corporations. It succeeded in bringing those who were historically penalized for social reasons into the mainstream of opportunity, and made great strides forward in breaking down American racial stereotypes. If it gets to lasting peace and decent opportunities, national spending is a worthwhile investment, I think.

              • karl garcia says:

                I would now think the same,it would be a worthwhile investment indeed.

              • edgar lores says:

                In Oz, the federal government redistributes largesse from the rich states to the poor states.

              • Joe America says:

                Haha, so does Makati. 🙂

              • edgar lores says:

                Ahaha. Come to think of it, yes. But in Makati, the motivation is not pure.

              • karl garcia says:


              • R.Hiro says:

                The autonomous State? Have we gone Federal? The so called “”Republic” is still going through tremendous birth-pains in its plan for devolution to local governments. The thesis is that once sustainable peace can be achieved the whole universe will change. The autonomous region may or may not be the basis for Federalizing the country. Cannot see it progressing unless it does Federalize. Economic development is contained in the MDTDP
                done by NEDA under close supervision by the IMF_WB

                The Federal government in Washington unlike the European Union does fund less developed States through the Federal Budget. They can do it due to having a unified fiscal policy and a common currency that they own.

                As an added piece on the Big suitcase analogy—


                Americas clear role in Mindanao operational intelligence on jihadists.

                Since the 50’s during the counterinsurgency campaign vs the leftists, the U.S CIA was deeply involved with the Philippine military so much so that they, the CIA hired a Filipino Colonel to work with them in counterinsurgency operations in Vietnam and in the run up to the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba.

                Karl do you remember the name of this Philippine colonel? For some he was infamous and for some a famous hero…

                His counterinsurgency model it is said led to Operation Phoenix in Vietnam…

                Unfortunately for the CIA and the Americans they were fighting the wrong war in Vietnam of their own making.

              • Karl garcia says:

                Thank you R. Hiro for replying, I forgot who that colonel was, but I will find out.

              • Karl garcia says:

                Colonel Valeriano. Sir.

              • RHiro says:

                Yup you are correct.

      • macspeed says:

        Well, I see a simple problem grew into an everlasting killing since the Marcos era. Poor private got an order from Commanders, from Generals and from Commander in Chief. Shit flows downhill, ever since the beginning that was the ways. How can this problem be solved? Go back to the basic, give what they wanted, in a graceful way<<>>

        These, UP graduates media and politics cannot even solve their personal domestic problems instead propagating news so they can get good wages, what? Is this the main idea why we have news? Distorting facts more than information shredded away to bin to cover up? But hey, my station is rated no. 1, this is the goal….common guys, stop these false news and politicking, when one accepts payment from a politicians, same aim, boom, political destruction.

        Well, time too leave Philippines? Nope, I am too old to be approved, though my mother is a US citizen via my brothers in California, still I prefer to die in my native land. Somehow, I may make a difference among these UP like trends in politics and media, inject here and there some critical comments such as MRP’s.

        Wake up guys in politics and media, help build Philippines by rowing along the good peaceful things President Aquino is dealing with

        • macspeed says:

          inside the <> is the word PEACE, well it was removed automatically by magic and intricate programming of the blogs he he he.
          “..Go back to the basic, give what they wanted, in a graceful way…PEACE”

          If one is superstitious, you may think, there will be no PEACE in Mindanao, probably true.
          Can anyone try to type the word PEACE enclosed in <>, see if the word PEACE disappear.

  8. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    “US behind Oplan Exodus” – SAF Officer

    The U.S. is right! The Filipino Armed Forces should be under the command of the Americans in U.S.-Philippines military “cooperation”. Because the Filipinos cannot keep their mouth shut. To this day, The American Embassy in Roxas Boulevard is not saying anything. They must be shaking their heads how unreliable the Filipinos are. Even Tulfo and the Tabloid media knew what Binay and Benigno were talking about in Malacanang.

    If Americans were really involved, I mean REALLY, they already knew there would be leaks and distrust. The U.S. is not leaking. Not even Obama is not congratulating nor Homeland Security is talking. The Silence from the White House is deafening. It could either be a condemnation of the Philippine Military or the Tabloid.

  9. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    It has been a week already the Filipino Armed Forces accused the Americans of involvement. The Americans are yet to be stalked by tabloid media. The tabloid media rely on rats, snitches, and 15-minute famers at the Senate and AFP. I still have to see Ayala, Ongpin and Americans subpoenaed to get clearer picture. Yes, of course, they are tough on their fellow browned-skin pig-snout thick lips Filipinos. When it comes to non-Filipino they are quaking in their knees to hand over the subpoena. Forget the Chinese on ZTE, The Chinese smirked, spit on their subpoena by asking “If you have evidence we will come”.

    Instead of accusing fingers “American this, Americans that” WHY NOT SUBPOENA MY AMERICANS? Would the Americans come? I doubt. And I even more doubt that they subpoena the Americans because all the Filipinos have is dal-dal and pang-damays.

    When can Filipinos ever stop talking? When can they ever start talking when they have evidence? If Filipinos wanted to be believable, GO THE WAY OF VERIFIABILITY. GATHER EVIDENCE. 2015 is not the year when Mary Magdalene attested that she saw Jesus Christ risen from the dead and everybody believed her. This is the year of EVIDENCE. The century of VERIFIABILITY. And the Filipinos just do not get it at all.

    Always be reminded, The White House is still not talking of their involvement, and, if Marwan is dead.

  10. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    “The fact that the index finger of Marwan’s that had been cut off for DNA processing was immediately turned over to US Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in General Santos City by one of the SAF troopers…” – TABLOID EDITORIAL

    A lowly private SAF trooper saw an American in Zamboanga handed over the finger. The operative phrase here is “lowly private SAF trooper” not some General or Colonel or Captain but a “SAF TROOPER”. So, a SAF TROOPER all 44 and surviving SAF TROOPERS knew who the FBI agent was and handed over the finger !

    THAT IS JUST INCREDIBLE !!! TOTALLY ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE !!!! In operation like this only the commandante knows the contact NOT EVERY SURVIVING SAF TROOPER!!!!

    INCREDIBLE! WHEEEW!!!! NOT THIS MAKES MY DAY !!!! Could this story being made up by Inquirer Tabloid Editor?

    The FBI agent was expecting a body of Marwan instead he got a finger !!! Definitely that lowly SAF Trooper must know how to speak very good English to communicate with FBI agent.

  11. Steve says:

    Couple of details…

    “the MILF fighters at the scene were fighting for the clan, as were BIFF. MILF leadership wants the peace agreement to come to fruition, but this is not shared by the hard core fighters.”

    Actually most of the MILF combat commands have been supportive of the peace process. The particular units in that area are closely linked to the BIFF: the 105th base command was once commanded by BIFF leader Ameril Umbra Kato and is still led by his brother. The loyalty of this unit to MILF command has been suspect for a long time. Marwan did not choose that place at random:

    “The slaughter of SAF troops, done in ISIS style, is reflective of the new, intensely brutal method of Muslim extremist fighting that uses horror to instill fear, and that ignores any human decency or compassion.”

    It’s not new and it has nothing to do with ISIS. This runs back to the 70s, when local militias, the martial law-era military, and rebels openly targeted civilians, took no prisoners, engaged in massacres, and mutilated the dead. This conflict has had that edge of brutality about it for many decades.

    I still wonder how many of the people in the area, including BIFF, MILF, and their respective civilian bases, knew that the guy hiding there was Marwan. My guess is not many. I’m sure it was generally known that there was a guy there who was lying low and had people looking for him, but that is not all that unusual down there: those marshes have been the refuge of choice for those wanted by the law for a long time. Given the price on Marwan’s head, he would surely have kept his identity held to the smallest possible circle and would have had a cover story and cover identity in place. I’ve no doubt that most of the fighters and civilians in the area knew there was a guy in that hut who was hiding out, but my guess is that very few of them knew it was Marwan

    I think part of the reason why people are so reluctant to take responsibility is that investigations here have an element of the witch hunt about them. It’s not about learning what happened and ensuring that it won’t happen again, it’s about finding someone to burn at the stake. That approach does not encourage forthright testimony.

  12. chit navarro says:

    Raissa termed it as ” a dangerous Power Vacuum”> And I blamed it on the Courts / Judiciary because when the suspension of PNP Chief Purisima was questioned by his lawyer (on the chain of command legality), the Court threw it back to the Ombudsman and did not render a specifc decision, one that would have clarified the chain of command in the PNP.

    Why would everyone say that this Operation Wolverine / Exodus was a failure when in fact they got Marwan? Only, at the expenses of lives lost. But that is war!!!! And that is the price of having too many lawyers who will question each and every move the government makes in relation to the United States of America…. And now, we have too many “oldies” with warped brains and timelines demanding the resignation of the President….

    Love that side bar of yours, Joe, re coup participants…

    • Joe America says:

      Let me put it here so that it does not get lost when I find something else to stick in the right column:

      It is fascinating for us newbies to witness a coup attempt taking shape. Here is the cast of characters who can be identified based on their obnoxious acts:

      Former President Ramos, trying to get the PNP riled up against President Aquino by saying PNP Gen. Napenas should not take the fall for the mission. Aquino should. As if Ramos never made command decisions. My enduring impression of him will be a senile old man in a red beret trying to bring back the banana republic.

      Five priests and pastors formerly loyal to Gloria Arroyo, who defended her against calls for resignation, and who . . . now . . . want President Aquino to resign. Lunatic, money grubbing political priests seething in anger.

      Juana Change and a pack of rabble who believe they know how to be president better than Aquino. More lunatics and not on the fringe. Shrill Gabriela malcontents who can’t get a popular backing at the ballot box, and so want to get it through destabilizing the nation.

      Vice President Binay schmoozing up to families of the SAF 44 to make sure he has the wherewithal to use them for personal advantage.

      Unnamed old fart generals, fat and cranky in their waning years and aching for proof that their lives were not really pitiful for ruling over a military in such crummy shape.

      You can tell desperation has set in. When people can’t wait for an election just over a year away, they are in full panic mode. And putting together a cast of pathetic losers given space and air time on the pathetic tabloid media that have nothing more important to do.

      Addendum: The billionaire backer of the coup that Senator Santiago failed to name during her Senate rant is allegedly Bobby Ongpin, who was close to Arroyo and is close to Binay.

      Senator Trillanes has also said former defense chief Norberto Gonzalez is a part of the coup group. Trillanes called him a “socio-path.”

      He seems to fit in perfectly . . .

      • edgar lores says:

        I wonder what factor — jealousy or envy — motivates Ramos more.

        Is it jealousy that Pnoy will take away from him the recognition that he, Ramos, has been the best post-Marcos president so far?

        Or is it envy that Pnoy already possesses that recognition?

        Ramos has claimed the accomplishment of driving the BIFF off the edge of the cliff and into the sea. But if the BIFF has been resurrected and are back in full strength, what accomplishment is he talking about? It sounds as spurious a claim as G.W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished”.

        • Joe America says:

          I don’t know, but I hold in my mind the latest Inquirer photo, an old clown in a red beret, desperate to be someone. It is a fairly sad picture.

          Tactically, I think he is a part of the rumored coup package of old farts and his assigned role is to divide the PNP and military against President Aquino. I can just imagine him leading the coup-minded generals in a march down Roxas, wheel chairs and walkers all aligned, most of them still mentally acute enough to know right from left.

        • chit navarro says:

          Can somebody remind FVR that he owes his 2nd life to the People Power at EDSA called for by citizen Cory & Cardinal Sin when the forces of Gen. Ver were on their way to crush both him and JPE? If I am not mistaken, FVR & JPE were holed in their respective camps when they tried to go against the dictator then. And the forces of Marcos & Ver were enroute to EDSA to crush them (that was one coup which execution is like the Mamasapano – a failure.) The rest is history. But truth be told that without the People Power in EDSA, I wonder if JPE & FVR would have reached this number of years in their lives. And it was Pres. Cory who anointed him as her successor.

          Where have all the good, old memories gone? Perhaps he is now afflicted with “half-zheimers:….

          And to all the young techno geeks here commenting, can one of you come up with a sim card that will make one self-explode and distribute these sim-cards to all those advocating for the President’s resignation. Let’s start with the hacenderos – those with 350 hectares or more; the developers of the BSP proeprties; the KSP oldies and all those enumerated above by he blogger…remember the sim card similar to that in the Kingsmen movie….

          • Joe America says:

            Ah, yes, FVR does disappoint, doesn’t he? Half-zheimers it might be, or a last grasp to be somebody again. This is all so alien to this American where coups are not a part of “due process” as they seem to be here. The idea that a former president would lead an attempt to unseat a duly elected president . . . incredible . . . Now the people might bring heat to bear, as they did with Richard Nixon, but the succession of leadership is followed in a regular way.

            Very clearly this is the last dying gasp of the Binay presidency.

            Binay sees it slipping, slipping, slipping away . . . .

            • BFD says:

              I wonder why he didn’t do that during the reign of Gloria when corruption charges were flying thick and fast and everyone, I mean, everyone was shouting to high heavens that Gloria step down, but alas, no Ramos to lead the people back to moral ascendancy….

              Maybe because top retired generals were in Arroyo’s cabinet?

  13. josephivo says:

    I like the analysis, the search for context, the surprise conclusion but I miss the “Why”. Why do you need to find culprits? What will it achieve?

    1. To satisfy your justice instinct? Or as an intellectual play?
    2. To support the morning relatives of the victims by helping them to address their anger?
    3. To deliver justice. We believe in laws and killing people is extremely unlawful. Except in a (civil)war where it is only unlawful for the losing party.
    4. To prevent that the offending individuals repeat their mistakes? But military (and Filipinos?) are “process” or “procedural” driven, more than individual. Adjusting laws and procedures being more important.
    5. To analyze the “criminal” minds of the identified perpetrators to re-educate them? And to improve education and or selection criteria?
    6. To have the perpetrators pay restitution to the relatives?
    7. For a political purpose to strengthen the yellow or the red fraction in the next elections?

    The exercise to find who was at fault is futile if the purpose of the exercise is unclear.

    • Joe America says:

      I intentionally left the “why” up to the readers to figure out. Your questions are excellent. My own answer is that it is rather futile and destructive to be washing the national laundry so shrilly in the tabloid press, and I figure that people ought to summon up a little more humility, a little more inward looking accountability, learn and move on without ripping the nation to shreds. My vision is of the Chinese sitting behind palms on their lovely little man-made islands strewn across the Spratleys, watching the Philippines, and dying laughing.

      • edgar lores says:

        I can think of several why’s.

        The primary why was to assign accountability. However, the President has assumed full responsibility.

        The secondary why’s range from (a) determining what went wrong; (b) ensuring that it will never happen again; (c) destabilizing the President for political gain; and (d) to projecting an aura of statesmanship (and/or holiness) for political (and/or sectarian) gain.

        I believe the last two why’s rank foremost in the minds of every senator, congressman, vice-president and bishop.

        • Joe America says:

          Nice synopsis. (c) and (d) are prominent. What is apparent is that bloggers can identify this and report on it, but the tabloid press do not. I think they are a huge part of the problem rather than any part of the solution.

  14. ella says:

    wow, I like the description ….. TABLOID Phillipine media…. this describes all media in the Philippines!

    Operation to get Marwan was a success … they got Marwan … lot of lives were lost … the operation highlighted the mistrust between the PNP and the AFP. General Pangilinan should also be fired for taking his time to respond … or I should say not responding to a comrades request for help. The Operation also showed that there are people during the carnage THAT ARE NOT people but are animals or even worst than animals – both peace negotiating panels must consider these creatures and come up with mechanisms on how to deal with them without involving politicians and media.

    • Joe America says:

      I used to think there were actual newspapers here, and some tabloids. But it is evident that that is not true. They are all tabloids, sensationalist rags.

      The operation would have been a STUNNING success if: AFP had moved with purpose, or the cease fire team had moved with purpose, or the MILF leadership had moved with purpose, or if BIFF were not bloodthirsty destroyers. Those obsessing about President Aquino have very disturbing political motives. The killers were not in government. It was murder.

      • josephivo says:

        And alternative narrative could be:

        The operation would have been a STUNNING success if: the American advisors had realized the sensitivities in the AFP, or the distance between ground commanders and the cease fire team, or the distance between the local military MILF commander and its leadership, or if they realized that the BIFF were bloodthirsty destroyers. Those obsessing about President Aquino have very disturbing political motives. The killers were the planners overlooking many possibilities of disaster.

        • Joe America says:

          A report in the Inquirer today alleges that Americans drove the whole operation and had a person with the invading force. We don’t know for sure where on the continuum American involvement lay, from providing information on Marwan’s location or driving the deal, which I don’t think is allowed. The US has had a long history of engagements in the Philippines and that joint work has been successful in driving most of the rebel forces off Mindanao to the distant islands where they can conduct their beheadings in a serene jungle setting. The US supposedly scaled back the number of people here a year or so ago. I have no idea of how they are engaged. My take on it is if they are engaged at all, it is with Philippine approval and accountability, and attempts to lay the blame on the US are just more of the same political rant. Many say the Philippines wants sovereignty, but then they refuse to accept the accountability that goes along with it. By their thinking, if it went bad, put it on the President or the US, and get rid of them both. Then we can go back through the cycle of instability and another armed uprising in Mindanao opposed with zero intelligence sources.

          • Joe America says:

            And a lot more than 44 dead.

            • josephivo says:

              If one day Filipinos realize they can do it better at their own, they will be able to find lasting solutions dealing with Moors, better than everything offered by whiter outsiders the last 400 years. Eventually resulting in a lot less than 44 dead.

              • Joe America says:

                I suspect that is true. That is a great tragedy of this incident, beyond the deaths. The Philippines has been on a path to reconciliation done right, with more investment instead of disparagement aimed at Moro regions, but that is now derailed in the emotionalism, stoked by tabloid media and political opportunists. The Philippines could still put together a model for peaceful reconciliation if the legislators would stop showboating and get back to work. Senator Santiago was the worst of the worst, in my opinion, arrogantly laying blame everywhere to look profound. Hey lady, it is not a court of law, a kangaroo court, it is a discovery panel.

            • josephivo says:

              Maybe I’m voicing my own frustration as a consultant in the Philippines, often called in because the words of a Kano have more impact. It took me a few years to realize how naïve I was on one side and how real it was, even scary, to see how they took everything I said as the ultimate wisdom. Now I often do sympathize a lot with Mariano.

              • edgar lores says:

                There you go. For the most part, Filipinos do not rely on themselves, do not think on their own. We follow the voice of authority — whether that voice is politician, pedagogue or priest. And if the voice is non-Filipino, a Westerner, than the wisdom — as you say — is taken to be implicit.

                Marcos had to hear the words of Senator Laxalt to know his time had come and gone. Catholics and Muslims must follow their priests and imams, and not self-thought out reason or conscience. Is it any wonder we have no philosopher of note? Is it any wonder we are the maids and lackeys of the world? And is there no little irony in the fact that we converge at JoeAm’s blog?

              • Joe America says:

                Ahahahaha, people converge here because there is no place else to go, other than Raissa’s blog. It’s a desert out there, and I merely offer a cup of water. I don’t offer no voice of a-u-t-h-o-r-i-t-y. Just s-a-n-i-t-y and r-e-a-s-o-n.

              • edgar lores says:

                🙂 🙂 🙂

          • Steve says:

            Actually almost al of the US engagement has been on the islands; chiefly Basilan and Jolo; Mindanao has had far less attention, mainly because the initial nominal target of US action was the Abu Sayyaf. I don’t discount the possibility of US intel being involved, but I think most of what’s in the news re US drone activity and/or direct US involvement is fantasy. Some of the stories just seem badly researched and very amateurish. Certainly the stories seem conspicuously unsourced.

            The point is often made that the police were on a legitimate, legal operation, but in reality, how were the BIFF/MILF/Armed locals supposed to know that? They would have seen an armed group and reacted in the way that they react. They would not ask to see a warrant, not would there be any effort to show one. The fog of war is a very real presence, and it’s likely that when the shooting started command-level personnel weren’t even around or informed: fighters would just react to the presence of armed intruders. Once the fight is on, good luck stopping it.

            • Joe America says:

              I hope that is indeed the case. I am developing great distaste for the Philippine media, to print anybody’s version of things as the truth, as long as it is more shocking than the prior versions.

              • chit navarro says:

                sorry to write this – feels like a treason to my fave blogger Raissa = but here, there is a healthy discussion of views; no sign of one trying to trash another or “feeling superior” because of supposed inside info… And I do learn a lot here especially “logical thinking: … steps 1-eternity then he therefore’s and the wherefores. And I hope there will be no more criticisms on spelling & grammar… 🙂 🙂 🙂

              • Joe America says:

                Yes, I occasionally have to police the comments when trolls visit. Usually the most popular articles bring a few out. I don’t get the sense that Raissa’s blog is much different, with the exception for Parekoy, who for some reason detests an American on Filipino property. Put him aside, and the occasional troll, and the conversation is above board and informative . . . and she has a wealth of contacts and resources that I can only dream of.

                I think poor Art got beat up about his grammar comment. Well intended, but it came off wrong. Hey, it’s “style” in my book. One of my favorite resources is the Urban Dictionary. Believe me, the streets don’t do grammah good.

          • jolly cruz says:

            What’s with these reporters? Why are they making this US involvement like the US forces took part in the operations? Are we capable of getting such accurate intelligence information? Of course not. Do we need US intel capabilities ? Of course.

            Will our officers allow US officers to order them around. I think not. Our officer corps has a lot of pride and will not let officers of another country, even the US to order our troops around. The leftrist idiots and the gullbile tabloid press will swallow anything fed to them even without thinking if it will involve the US. They think our troops have no honor.

            What these people want again is a categorical statement that US forces took part in the operations. This is what is forbidden in the Constitution and this is what the leftists and tabloid press wants to hear. Look at their obsesion with the initial rumor that a Caucasian was also a fatality.

            We all know how sensitive the US is about the safety of their personnel. Just look at how protective they were/are of Pemberton. Do you think they will allow their forces to be sitting ducks without doing anything? Common sense people.

            So if its intelligence info that was provided, what’s wrong with that?

            • Joe America says:

              The tabloid media recognize juicy conflict, love the leftists for that reason (which is why they portray them in tight camera angles so a crowd of 100 looks like a raging mob), and know nationalists go nuts over the US issue. The media are not FOR Philippine stability or even rational sense. They are for angst and anger. More and more people are starting to recognize this if I read the various comment threads correctly. Fortunately, the view you express is actually quite common and I think will prove dominant on this one. Some legislators and PNP officials have acknowledged how helpful US information has been. I’d suggest punching up the “must read” article in the right column to understand that there are also some sensible media people in the Philippines. Kudos to Rappler on that one.

      • PinoyInEurope says:

        The only Philippine “paper” I see with some semblance of professionalism and sobriety is Rappler, but even they do not come close to the level of for example The Daily Beast. I still miss a really professional, comprehensive and well-researched report on Mamasapano with timelines, maps and profiles of all key players, as objective as possible. One still has to piece the big picture together from bits and pieces of reports everywhere.

        • Joe America says:

          I agree, but Rappler’s layout befuddles me, and there is not enough hard news. Most journalism here is “cheap and easy”, with reporters being young people of little training or experience going out to shoot quick statements back. There is little work done on research or building intricate stories because that costs money, and there is no payback on it.

          • Pallacertus says:

            So it is the case elsewhere, where there is no peculiarly strong journalistic tradition couched within firm and defined history, where government support (akin to the set-up the BBC enjoys) is at best sputtering, where the profit motive must reign supreme or else.

            Say what you want about the veracity of statements from the government or from the Inquirer or from the second noisy beggar on the fifth filth-ridden side-street, but the fact is that here there is no way to choose between multiple assertions of truth regarding critically important events (and especially something as extremely critical as this), and thus one is forced to mix and match between tidbits of information most congenial to his tastes, motives, and disposition.

  15. Micha says:

    And then there’s the imbecile CBCP head Socrates Villegas joining the pack of vultures. Maybe his antipathy towards the President hasn’t yet ebbed since Pope Francis was told that some bishops and cardinals are coddlers of corrupt politicians or are themselves corrupt.

    The obscenity of these modern day Padre Damasos is so galling even the reformist call of the present Pope will most probably fail.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, Villegas for sure knows how to drive the Church into irrelevance. Maybe you should be cheering him on? The social media are climbing on him pretty hard.

      ps, I think the guy has a genuine dislike for Pope Francis. Different set of values entirely. Villegas is political, not humanitarian.

      • Micha says:

        The conservative retard Villegas couldn’t stomach the enlightened liberalism of Jorge Bergoglio.

        • Joe America says:

          Ah, I love the shyness in your point of view. ahahahaha

          • Micha says:

            I apologize for my use of language Joe. It’s just that I find the egregious attempt of that holy priest to impose theocratic arrogance in the affairs of a secular government to be blatantly offensive.

            That, and the fact that he speak for an institution whose history of murder, pedophilia, corruption, and violence had largely remained un-atoned.

            • Joe America says:

              Oh, hey, I found the direct-speak refreshing. I’d like to use it more often but am afraid that once I started, it would be hard to stop.

              It helps that I share both the direction and intensity of your commentary.

  16. Bing Garcia says:

    When legislators restrain the Philippines from using all the resources at her command, then the Legislature has taken a decision that establishes the context in which 44 people lost their lives.

  17. Jun M. Rustia says:

    History will tell that there were Death Tolls before Peace were achieved.

    Ilan Filipino ang mga namatay noong panahon pananakop ng Kastila bago nagkaroon ng kapayapaan? Ilang Katipunero ang mga namatay noong panahon ng digmaan sa Amerikano bago nagkaroon ng kapayapaan? Ilang sundalong Filipino ang namatay laban sa mga hapon noong WW1?

    The Peace Agreement in progress is very important to to P-Noy. But it didn’t mean we should let notorious criminals to get away during this peace process. The PNP-SAF was tasked to get Marwan as they are duty bound to do so as peace keepers and law enforcers.

    The mission was successful but it had a very high price to pay. Marwan is dead. If he is alive today more bombings will continue. More than 200 deaths in Indonesia. There are bombing in Mindanao and in Metro Manila. If Marwan is alive, where will be his next target-it could be you or family, friends or loved ones.

    AFP was not mobilized to full force to reinforce and rescue the SAF 44 because it will compromise the ongoing peace process.

    P-Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy) is so committed and determined to push this agreement to end the war in Mindanao will the Moro people and bring peace and progress to this part of the country before he steps down. A legacy to Filipinos.

    The blaming issue now should not pointed to P-Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy) but to the MILF and the entire Moro people must do their share to achieve this peace agreement. They should show the sincerity and that they are civilized enough to manage a government as part of the institution-The Republic of the Philippines.

    That was really a tough decision for the P-Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy). But Peace has a Price to pay. Norh America suffered deaths before peace was achieve. Likewise, in Europe.

    But they all realized that more deaths will come if no peace agreement will be made among themselves.

    Today, Philippines is at Peace and in Economic Partnership with Spain and Japan and America is always by our sides every time we need them.

    Tanong ko lang – Payag ka ba na ipadala sa Mindanao ang asawa mo, anak mo, kamag-anak o matalik na kaibigan para sa walang katapusan digmaan sa Mindanao?

    • Joe America says:

      Nice overview, Jun. Yes, it may have been a tough decision for President Aquino, to undertake such an operation while the peace agreement is with Congress. Few are willing to give him credit for the strength it takes to say “go”. It’s all strange to me, that so many Filipinos would paint their leader as a “loser”, thereby painting the Philippines and themselves that way, too. I think maybe they don’t see the connection. Where have all the patriots gone? Generals plotting coups, people walking on the dead to get ahead, tabloids characterizing a successful mission, an important mission, as a “debacle” as if they could have done it better . . . I don’t know where the patriots are . . .

      All I see are fair weather friends and, in the sports vernacular, bad losers.

      • PinoyInEurope says:

        The thing is, why doesn’t PNoy just admit he gave the orders to conduct the operation. Why does the Palace say PNoy doesn’t have to attend the Senate inquiry, why doesn’t he step forward and give his opinion publicly, it seems to many that he is hiding. Yes it is true that in the Philippines, they tend to go on witch hunts. Especially toward leaders that are perceived as not having cojones, or are simply declining in strength like Marcos in 1986, remember who the two were who turned their backs on him then to put Cory in power. Basically as a figurehead constantly threatened by coup attempts and dependent especially on Ramos to back her up because he had the rep among the armed forces – Noynoy was around all the while and should basically know who he is dealing with – leading Filipinos is no joke even at the most basic level, I wouldn’t want to do it even if I could earn ten times more than the Binays, I prefer to be abroad and earn my money.

        • Joe America says:

          The President is a step by step “due process” kind of guy. He has been that way for every incident in which the rabid tabloid media demand an answer and accountability TODAY, without regard to the facts. He doesn’t operate like them, giving knee-jerk responsive answer. He will await the findings of his appointed panel of PNP investigators, and then he will announce a complete version of the findings, to the extent that he does not reveal matters of national security. Believe me, the President is more serious about his job than all the political players screaming for blood. He to me is amazingly strong in that he does not succumb to the popular cries for immediate findings, devoid of facts.

          • jolly cruz says:

            I too had wondered why Pnoy doesnt just go and do what the bloodthirsty mob wants. For him to expressly admit his role in the mission, that he sanctioned it. If the mission did not result in the deaths, Pinoy could then say it meant that the MILF meant well and the BBL should be passed.

            The fact that the MILF was not to be trusted should not make him culpable for gross incompetence. It was his faith in “due process” that made him decide to trust the MILF. Remember that there had not been any clashes with the MILF for the past 3 years or so that the peace talks had been on going.

            It is only the die hard anti Pinoy who would not accept this reasoning. Keeping silent brought out a lot of speculation which the “up to no good” people” are taking advatage of.
            He should have opted for the truth at the earliest time..

            • Joe America says:

              Ah, might have made a big difference, I agree. The problem was that no one was in a listening mood because he did not attend to the caskets. And he is not exactly a public relations schmoozer who can twist things to beautiful.

      • We are here Joe, but clearly outnumbered :(! Called Pnoy apologist or Noytards 😦

        • Joe America says:

          No, not outnumbered, I think. It’s just that the opposition to President Aquino is organized and loud. I personally think Binay is pulling out all the stops to try to force a resignation from Mr. Aquino, as he sees the election slipping away. He can’t do it himself, but he has lots of friends who would gain from it (like crooks wanting pardons). So there is a lot of noise, including trolls infesting the news article discussion threads.

    • jolly cruz says:

      Jun you are correct. The mission was a success. What made it seem like a failure was the number of fatalities. But it should be emphasized that the investigation revealed that many of those that died did not suffer fatal wounds but were dealt the death blow, summary execution style. Thus, it can be said that treachery by the MILF/BIFF was the cause of the deaths and not poor planning and execution.

      The immediate cause was trusting that the ceasefire mechanism would work once a firefight occurs. On hindsight, this seems to be the biggest mistake of PInoy.

  18. R. Hiro says:–nye-2015-02

    “I should, indeed, with peculiar delight, have met and exchanged there congratulations personally with the small band, the remnant of that host of worthies, who joined with us on that day, in the bold and doubtful election we were to make for our country, between submission or the sword; and to have enjoyed with them the consolatory fact, that our fellow citizens, after half a century of experience and prosperity, continue to approve the choice we made. may it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the Signal of arousing men to burst the chains, under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings & security of self-government. that form which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. all eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. the general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view. the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of god. these are grounds of hope for others. for ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.” Thomas Jefferson

    It took Europe over 300 years of blood and guts to dump religion away from the political spectrum.
    Today we are witnessing the spread of ideas that are convulsing and setting up secular islam vs the radical Jihadist Islam centered in the “Vatican” of Islam, Saudi Arabia.

    The radical branch owes a debt of gratitude to the U.S. for support, supplies and know how against the Soviets in Afghanistan…Marwan and the rest of the JI were graduates of that conflict directly and indirectly.

    Jefferson and his successor president, John Adams, dies on the same day, July 4, 1826. They were ideologically apart on politics. Adams a centralist while Jefferson the champion of States rights and slavery.

    The U.S. had to go back to the drawing board after Iraq and Afghanistan and set up its own global anti-jihadist counterinsurgency force. In the Philippines they are known as the Joint Special Operations Task Force. They are all over the country. There are also private contractors assigned to the U.S. DOD.

    How long it will take for countries whose people are principally Muslim will take some time. it will not take as long as Christianity to be consigned to the sidelines in politics. There are over a billion people in South Asia and South East Asia who consider themselves Muslim. The jihadist branch of Islam is using “Islam under attack” as a rallying cry for agitating, organizing and mobilizing young men into their fold.

    A weak State like the Philippines has become a pawn in the big game of geo-politics. The Moros have long been left behind and even they have become pawns of the Muslim States supporting the jihadist movement.

    It does not help that opportunistic politicians here are fanning the flames of conflict by their demonizing and demagoguery of the unfortunate events last January 25.

    Hindsight is 20/20. Arriving late at the target area proved to be big disaster for the policemen. They lost the advantage of darkness on their exit. Their blocking force were caught in the open and in daylight and found themselves in the midst of a meat grinder.

    The MILF obviously cannot claim control of the areas they operate in. More so the Philippine Republic. There are vast areas that can be described as “no man’s land.” “Mad Max” areas so to speak…

    That is why putting in place a peace process is the way forward out of the present barbaric system of having no State presence in these areas.

    Senator Cayetano must be reminded that von Braun was a member of the NAZI party and the SS and later became the father of U.S. ICBM rocketry and space.

    • PinoyInEurope says:

      Filipinos never were a nation, they are just a collection of territories first ruled by the Spaniards then by the Americans. The education given to them by the Church then by Uncle Sam is only skin-deep at best, they barely understand the spirit of their own laws, they changed their own constitution three times in the 20th Century while the USA has had only one Constitution since its Independence. Nearly everything the Filipinos put up is a show, starting from Christianity up to democracy and modernity – all of this is like the “clean kitchen” well-off Filipinos show to guests but rarely use, the actual cooking is done in the dirty kitchen – in the dirty kitchen of Filipino politics, it is all about ethnic groups and clans and their power and business interests, the idea of a nation has not been internalized, their is no such thing as the “common weal” that the Anglo-Saxons always believed in.

      • Joe America says:

        Nice analogy, to the dirty kitchen, clean kitchen.

        • PinoyInEurope says:

          The old Jesuit observation that Filipinos have “split-level Christianity” applies to almost every level of how most of them are. This article sums it up well: . It took ME many years of living abroad and a good “puti” friend who knows a lot of Filipinos to realize how split-level I was, how I acted a part outside and remained “primitive” inside.

          “So it is with the split-leveled person; at one level he professes allegiance to ideas, attitudes and ways of behaving which are mainly borrowed from the Christian West, at another level he holds convictions which are more properly his “own” ways of living and believing which were handed down from his ancestors, which do not always find their way into an explicit philosophical system, but nevertheless now and then flow into action.”

          As long as perceived authority figures are around, or figures toward which one wants to show a certain kind of behaviour for prestige reasons, for example most “Joes” or Kanos, most Filipinos will behave in one way. As soon as they are gone – like the Filipinos almost immediately after the Americans left (witness this article from the 1950s: ) or even more after the bases left – they revert to their old way of doing things.

          Filipino democracy and free press is a sham covering up a factional, clannish and tribal system: in fact Filipino Christians are very much like Filipino Muslims except that the latter more openly live their real ways while the former try to give their ways a Western coating.

          Indonesians and Malaysians also come from the same tribal and clannish Malay culture, but I feel that they have progressed much further because they never tried for hundreds of years to pretend that they are something they are not without really understanding what the Spanish priest or the American Joe is telling them – or worse not really caring at all, I don’t see the Filipinos as stupid like some blog sites do, for the most part they are ignorant by choice which is worse because it means not using one’s potential.

          • sonny says:

            Much food for my thought, PinE. I can relate. The Dutch, the Spanish and the Americans have marked differences in colonization. And now: the Filipino colonizing Filipino. (My thoughts in the centennial years). The phenomenon of dressing and undressing native substrates/cultures, e.g. USSR breakdown back into Russia and the soviet component nations comes to mind, is not new. So also in theological legacies: Islam/Unitarian Allah vs. Christianity/Trinitarian God. The Philippines as recipients of a Christian/Malay(animistic) hybrid and the rest of the great archipelago as recipients of an Islamic/Malay (animistic) hybrid makes for very interesting cultural consequences. Much parsing to be accomplished.

            • PinoyInEurope says:

              More that that: what is today Indonesia and Malaysia was at a higher level of development than the Philippines AND was ruled more indirectly by the Dutch and English. Philippines was ruled by the two colonial powers with a very missionary orientation – Spain insisted on making all their subjects Catholic and America still insists on teaching democracy to everyone in their sphere of influence. The tribal people that became Filipinos later on were overwhelmed by this, it was too much for them to handle because cultures usually need generations to learn and adapt new ways of doing things.

              The Filipino defence mechanism has always been pretend to do as the master wants when the master is around, then switch back to one’s own ways when the master is not around – even OFWs do that routinely and perfectly. Trouble with that kind of defence mechanism – understandable as it is – is that it prevents real learning.

              As for internal Filipino colonization – it has always been there. Most rajahs and sultans in pre-Spanish times were slave-raiders. Major noble families surrendered to the Spanish in exchange for exemption from forced labor, a lot of them were assimilated into the principalia and helped the Spanish rule. Muslim Filipinos enslaved and/or converted the original population of Mindanao. A large part of the Filipino elite shifted to the Americans when they saw the opportunity, skillfully sucking up to the Sams and Joes who were always in many ways arrogant on one side but well-meaning and naive on the other, pretending to be democratic while they were still there and showing their true faces soon afterwards. What does the Philippine economy thrive on today? Mainly on BPO and OFWs – read cheap labor = the elite selling its own people, educating them only as much as needed for them to be qualified to do the work, but not to think independently too much.

              • sonny says:

                The Philippines seems to be, using this lens, a courtesan culture or a mimic to a Franco-Anglo-Iberian cultural hue with a veneer of Uncle Sam’s egalitarian packaging. If hybrids evolve strong strains, then the Filipino will prevail like the coconut! (my algorithm) Everybody’s welcome in Dec-Jan-Feb for the holidays and then go back to your own diaspora the rest of the year.

              • sonny says:

                Just to complete the coconut trajectory, our archipelagic culture can aim for an Italian denouement or a Zionist one to accommodate our fast secularizing Judaeo-Christian Malay provenance!

              • Joe America says:

                I am reminded of the time when we were having a large party where I used to live in Mindanao, a birthday bash for lola. I heard all this laughter and loud conversation arising from the back house where the kitchen was, and where the help slept. I wandered in, and there was a separate party going on there, all the help and their families, eating by hand and lounging on beds and floor and everywhere. My good friend the fisherman waved me in with a smile, and said simply, “we can be ourselves here”.

                He was well aware that they lived two identities.

            • Joe America says:

              It would be a great day when the Philippines developed the national identity of being proud of its diverse local identities, and accepted that it is a richness, not a bunch of peoples who do it wrong.

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                This identity IS actually developing, another 10-20 years and the Philippines will be a very different place from what it is now – my prediction. Those who want to impose an artificial “Filipino” identity defined by Manila on the other regions are not going to win anyway.

                Plenty of OFWs gain experience abroad and learn not only how other people do things, but also that there is no mystery in it, that the “white gods” are not that godly after all.
                Those who are from the “educated” classes and go abroad are not part of this process, they will become increasingly irrelevant as time passes by. They usually still have a postcolonial mindset, wanting to have the clean kitchen only and do away with the dirty kitchen, when in fact most “puti” in reality have something in between, which is good.

                Even advanced Western countries have a lot of senseless political fighting, direct and indirect corruption, bungled police and military operations, badly-planned public projects, powerful families running the show for themselves, weak leaders and more. The main difference is that here the situation is somehow handled without over-dramatizing things, and there are institutions in place that are respected by people because they are the machinery that make life easier for everybody in the long run – and this is understood.

                An English colonialist once said “our superiority is mainly a matter of bluff” and this is true for all colonial regimes. Telling the moon to cover the sun when you happen to know that there will be an eclipse. Parts of the Filipino elite have copied this approach toward their own people, some of the “educated” OFWs or migrants try this as well – probably because they are just better secretaries in the countries they went to. But in the age of internet it is getting harder to fool all the people all the time. Which is a good thing.

                The strong personal ties that Filipinos have are an advantage in this learning process plus the possibilities that social media bring, which Filipinos use.

              • Joe America says:

                I’m wondering, could you take this as the core material for a guest blog? Something that looks forward to an evolved Filipino character, and an evolved nation? Peg it 25 or 30 or 50 years down the pike. Whatever works. I think your perspectives are very elegant, and positive, and putting them in a blog article will get them circulating here.

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                I would gladly write a guest blog, many thanks. My perspectives have sharpened, especially in the past month or so, and I am nearly ready to put them into an article.

              • Joe America says:

                Great, I look forward to that. Thanks.

          • Joe America says:

            A very interesting read, PinoyinEurope, thanks. I found myself nodding along and saying “that makes sense” with what I observe. In some wry humor, I am inclined to say every Filipino should marry an American for an “instructional period”, because my wife has certainly lost any inclination to live a split life and can be found speaking her mind everywhere to anyone, especially this poor kano if I accidentally misbehave. But then, on reflection, that is not true, because the Catholic her can occasionally be seen, when under the weather, with a spent bullet casing tied around her neck or waist warding off the spirits of sickness.

            The point you make in the last paragraph, that Filipinos are smart, also rings true. I think it is all just a matter of enough people having enough time to live a whole (non-split) life. The middle class, to me, is that core of good reason and wholeness. It is not just an economic class, but a class that deals with matters frankly, is connected on line to pick up healthy values, and may still have the old ways tagging along, but they are no longer dominant.

          • josephivo says:

            I come from a country in the well connected and fertile center of Western Europe and thus always occupied by the most powerful states of the moment, France, Spain, Austria, Germany… We also have this double thinking of what the master/occupier expects and what we would do on our own. Today that duality evolved in a skill of finding compromises more than switching between two worlds. Isn’t something similar going on in the Philippines? Isn’t the new generation more than switching between two cultures living in a fusion culture?

            • PinoyInEurope says:

              That kind of thinking does exist in many parts of Europe, you are right, especially in those countries that were on the losing end of European power struggles. Of course it has advantages to be good at adapting, it is a skill that underdogs have to learn.

              That skill is what makes Filipinos good OFWs and good call center agents. The danger is getting used to being the underdog and therefore not doing anything to be more than that.

          • Bert says:

            Let us be. We will cope, and we will adapt, in our own time. No amount of pecking will change anything. I don’t subscribe to the idea that we are ignorant by choice because that is tantamount to saying that we as a people are dumb and stupid. It’s just that we behave according to our own personal discretion that can be interpreted by ‘outsiders’ as weakness of character. We don’t mind, and we don’t care.

        • mercedes santos says:

          WE became a NATION when we ALL learned to speak tagalog despite our tribal collectives. Pinoys use their lingua franca when talking to one another when overseas. In a large hotel in NYC, my brother was there to meet his boss, spotted a group and excitedly mumbled “ay Pinoy”. The group turned around and one of them started chatting with my bro like they were old acquaintances. In a Sydney airport I was spotted by a group of Pinoys and one of them said “ay Pinay”

          • mercedes santos says:

            And in a train in Tokyo a guy with his girlfriend/wife awkwardly asked me “Pinay kayo?”

          • sonny says:

            “Pinoys use their lingua franca when talking to one another when overseas.” As we proudly should, if only for the chance to rest our weary ears and brains processing other languages.

          • Joe America says:

            My first inclination was to argue about that, but as I reflected on it, I do agree that there is missing some point of commonality among the diverse segments that make up the Philippines. Patriotism does not quite seem to be a tie that binds, above loyalty to locality or family. If it existed, the coup plotters would be universally scorned. Language could be that tie. So could social media, perhaps, the chain that connects more people to national interests. And maybe the development of a stronger national sense of loyalty.

    • Joe America says:

      “. . . having no state presence in these areas.” What a blunt and perhaps unrecognized truth. Indeed, we need to factor into the equation man’s great ability to adapt, which often is enough to help us recognize the baggage we carry, so we can pitch it out the train window as we cross the trestle over the river.

  19. David says:

    Whitewash. Whichever way you cut it Abnoy thumbed down the chance to save the 44. That’s it. Case closed.

  20. Payutenyo d agimas says:

    I agree. The only thing i want to know is if the Pres ordered the AFP and the rest of SAF not to rescue those pinned by the rebels

    The planning and execution of the operation was made by Napenas and Purisima, not the Pres. That is very clear. Even if the Pres didnt give the approval, the operation is legitimate. The only reason it reached the office of the pres is to get funding

    • Steve says:

      I have not heard any credible source saying that there was a specific order from the President not to mount a rescue mission. I have heard many accuse the President of not ordering a rescue “at all costs” or whatever. Personally, I don’t think a President should give such an order. Beyond the basics of policy, like setting of strategic goals, I don’t think a President should interfere in the strategic, let alone tactical, decisions of a military campaign. He has people under him that are specifically trained to perform that function and it would be inappropriate for him to tell them how to do their jobs. The idea of a “hands on” President makes great PR but it’s actually more often an obstacle to getting a job done.

    • Bert says:

      I have no proof, but I tend to believed some reports that the order to the AFP to stand down during the encounter came from the component of the peace panel under Deles. The President has nothing to do with the order.

  21. karl garcia says:

    I have learned s lot in this continuous learning session of ours.

  22. karl garcia says:

    I wanted to comment on Joseph’ s frustration as an expat consultant that pinoys can be pasaway or stubborn at times,but looking at pinoy in europe’ s comment that more than explains our behavior.

    • josephivo says:

      My frustration was rather opposite, Filipinos accepting and enthusiast in the classroom rather than critical objecting or defensive. Outside the classroom nothing happened until the real boss gave instructions. But PinoyInEurope above explains it very well.

      • karl garcia says:

        yeah i wanted to say that we too can be stubborn,not withstanding our enthusiast for authoritative exception to the rule thing.PIE hit the bull’s eye.

  23. Micha says:

    sonny, would you mind to give some details about your “mystical” trip to Ilocoslovakia or why do you favor a second serving of the Apo?

    • Bert says:

      Solid North, Micha, solid North. But Sonny will prove me wrong.

    • sonny says:

      Would be happy to, Micha. Bert, also.

      I am Ilocano as you might have guessed. But born in Manila and grown there too. Just on a lark my sister and I packed some lunch and started from Baguio intending to cover as far north as we could with no plans. Before this trip (2012) our claim to being Ilocanos only took us on annual school breaks which brought us as far as Vigan. As senior citizens we are more flexible in money and time, hence the spur of the moment trip.

      We have never been to Ilocos Norte. We are from La Union but trace our original roots to Laoag. Yet this time, upon literally crossing over to the first town of Norte (Badoc), maybe it just might have been my imagination and the almost sudden change in terrain that something came over me that made me see the geography around in a way that is different during previous trips covering the succession of towns lining La Union and Ilocos Sur. The grade of the coastal highway was now different, drive was no longer a flat straight way w/ some curves. From Badoc to the succession of Batac, Paoay, San Nicolas, Laoag, northward thru Bacarra, Pasuquin, Burgos, Bangui, Pagudpud, turn back and eastward to Dingras and Solsona then shoot west to Currimao and return southward to I. Sur to Baguio. We made stops at the “shrine” of Marcos (Batac), Malacanang of the North, the lake and church at Paoay town, the sand dunes of Laoag, the lighthouse and dragon fruit farm at Burgos, the white limestone rock and the wind turbines of Bangui, the majestic beach at Pagudpud, then on the way, the rice fields of Dingras and Solsona, and back to the coves (y-looc hence the name Ylocano) and beaches of Currimao.

      The mystical part: The original Ilocano barangays first settled in what is now Ilocos Norte. I allowed myself to soak in the the sweet Ilocano sounds of the people, the coasts, the mountains, the coves, the flat ricelands, all these vistas, the diversity of what I saw physically just transported me back in time to the legends of Lam-ang, the first boat loads of Ilocanos coming to settle the land from who knows where; the serenity of Lake Paoay juxtaposed to the murals of Marcos’ vision housed in the Malacanang of the North museum and finally the living mausoleum of Ferdinand Marcos: his legacy can be seen immediately in how well he took good care of the roads of Ilocos Norte to connect to points in the province ; if one allows himself to dream with Marcos in the murals that are in the palace overlooking Lake Paoay, then one understands the dream he had for not only Ilocos but for the entire Philippines and the Filipinos. He knew he will not have enough time. Hence the seemingly hectic timetable he was pursuing. How to consolidate a fragmented people, a fragmented archipelago, a not-yet-educated populace (Dona Josefa the schoolteacher and had much influence on Marcos the man). While viewing the murals of the plans he had for the country, I said a silent prayer for that future Filipino to dream similar dreams for the Philippines and Filipinos.

      This was my mystical trip to the roots of my “tribe.”

      • edgar lores says:

        That lunch must have been something to last from Baguio, through all those towns and places of three provinces, and then back to Baguio. A miracle of the loaves and fishes.

        • sonny says:

          I skipped the large snack stops at Balaoan, Vigan and Tagudin. 🙂 🙂 Yum

        • Bert says:

          :), The first instinct in my mind upon reading your observation, Edgar, was that it was somewhat Sonny’s way of following the well known Ilocano tradition of good economical management, heheh. Sorry, Sonny, my bad.

          • edgar lores says:


            My first instinct is to say, “Huehuehue.” My second instinct is to say, “Watch it, buster.”

            Disclosure: I am an Ilocano… but from Sur.

            No need to say sorry to Sonny or me. We are both big thinkers and, therefore, big spenders. Or so I hope.

          • sonny says:

            Ado iti naimas nga saramsam idiay dalan ngamin. Travel light nga konada ngem agaload ta di ka mabisinan. Ni kabagis ko iti nagbalon ken isu pay iti adda ‘cuarta’ na. 🙂

          • sonny says:

            Bert, I couldn’t believe the abundance of food to buy along the way, all kinds. Being a foodie myself, I had fun and fill on the trip. It was at Vigan and San Nicolas.

      • Micha says:

        Thanks for sharing sonny.

  24. josephivo says:

    From my friend Alec, a notorious double agent.

    He does not understand why Zulkifli Abdhir was not mentioned in Joe’s list as being at fault. According to him it is well know that the IS operational leadership is of the internet generation, understanding the power of dispersed resources, unlimited connectivity, videogame gimmicks and strategies… and Zulkifli was vital to them.

    IS has a separate arms development group working at different new weapon systems. Different experts in different locations are developing the necessary components. “Reverse Cluster Bombs” is one of their high potential projects. It is intended as a swarm of small drones with explosives coming together to form one big explosion, the opposite of a big cluster bomb splitting up to create many small explosions. It comprises different components such adapting mass-available high performance drones, GPS navigating, smartphone connectivity, intelligent cameras and undetectable liquid explosives…

    Zulkifly or Marwan was working at detonation systems for bombs delivered by drones and triggered by GPS coordinates or by it’s on board cameras with face recognition software. Due to several delays the plan was postponed to attack the Pope with a swarm of such intelligent drones. The dramatic increase in communication to prepare for the assault triggered the NSA attention and made the decision to eliminate contributing experts as Marwan a priority.

    Alec’s theories explains many things. The lack of open communication by the President on this highly classified information, the presence of many testing drones in the area, a nipa hut as the best hiding place for advanced technology and high ranking expert, the urgency of the FBI…

    Please do not share this information with potential terrorists.

    • Bert says:

      Joe, this piece by Joseph is no scalpel but more lethal, I think my weapons are obsolete already.

    • karl garcia says:

      i think it was wrong for the philippine army to broadcast that it only has two drones in its inventory.even for transparency’s sake.

      • Joe America says:

        Rule #1: Never believe anything that the military/industrial people say about anything having to do with national security.

        Well, it’s an American rule. I have no idea about the Philippines.

        There is no second rule.

    • Joe America says:

      Well, your source is up on modern technology, for sure. The exclusion of Marwan was done because the nation-wide hunt for culprits is aimed solely at friendly forces, not the enemy. Odd that is, now that Alec brings it up.

      If we attacked the enemy with equal vigor, I suspect there would not be so many enemies about. Alec’s enlightenment on new terrorist warfare techniques makes one wonder if the Philippines has ANY technological warfare capability on the drawing boards or in production, or if leaning on Uncle Sam is deemed a better use of time and money. It would require an executive session to continue this dialogue, but I believe all the conference rooms are spoken for.

  25. pinoyputi says:

    It is not easy to determine guilt , especially in the Philippines with its weak media , and certainly not if you want to base it on facts, not emotion. Additionally, you run the risk, when giving opinions and conclusions, to fall into the trap of the political trolls . In addition, I also suffer from emotions that causes the death of people.
    There are many people that call the action a success because Marwan was almost certainly killed. But this important fact , however, need not be decisive for the success of the action. It depends greatly on what the predefined goals are . If bringing home the troops safely is part of the goal then the mission is only partially successful (failed).

    With the hitherto known facts , I am inclined to give President Aquino blame for this affair. Not so much the death of 44 SAF troopers but more because of the strategic mistake he made by approving the action.

    1st . As President , he is not only a political responsible but also by his deeds or lack of.
    February 2011, the peace negotiations under his leadership started again . January 2014, the result was signed in Kuala Lumpur. BBL has yet to be rectified but peace seems in sight , according to the president himself.
    He then gives approval for an action with enormous military and political risks.

    2nd. Sticking to his professional relationship with Purisima and not involve his key ministers in the police action was a big mistake. Purisima now appears not only corrupt but also incompetent, something that was already suspected in previous performance metrics.

    3rd. Given the importance of the peace pact he should had to verify 100% that planning , coordination , equipment (communication , silencers , etc.) and contingency were well covered. This was not just a simple police action, already stopped several times before, but a special one, with the help of foreign assistance (sensitive), in an area that just had a peace agreement signed.

    4th . Aftercare (management) after the release of the action and the death of all these people is downright depressing. No knowledge and feeling of the average Filipino, no control on expressions of politicians , AFP and PNP. No media control . Absolutely no crisis control. Was probably not included in the contingency plan.

    I am not in favor of the BBL but if you as the President thinks this is the right way then you must conduct this kind of planned actions. You balance the risks to the gains and make damned sure that the plan has a more then 90% success rate.

    Is President Aquino now a bad president? No, not yet. He drops a large number on my list but I don’t see anybody doing a better job yet. But if someone goofed, say so! Walk the straight path.

    • Joe America says:

      Again, I think you speak for many. I have a couple of disagreements, but they are just shadings, and I don’t really have a problem with your findings, as you have constructed a case based on facts, rather than taking as given that the president is a screw-up and adjusted your facts to fit that preconception. The latter is mainly what is being done, I think.

      My two differing views:

      1. The hunt for Marwan and Usman has been going on for years, and I suspect the President has also given the okay on prior initiatives. But I imagine the scenario went something like this, as Purisima outlined the circumstances:

      “Boss, we have it confirmed. BOTH Marwan and Usman are in the same vicinity, within 50 meters of one another. If we move now, we can get both.”

      “US confirms?”

      “Yes, they have cell phone traces (or drone video or a man on the ground or satellite shots), they are there.”

      “Go get them.”

      The only way a person in that situation could say no would be if they had foresight. I don’t believe the President does. BBL didn’t matter, because MILF cannot object to lawful acts to get terrorists.

      2. The President should not be involved in police and military operations. He has professionals to do that. Had he not had obligations in Zamboanga, he might have called key military and police people to be in the room with him, but he trusted in his people. As he must do to carry on the thousands of important activities going on within the Philippines every day. Again, only with foresight could he have determined that this operation needed special care.

      • pinoyputi says:

        You could be right on the first one, and I agree on the second but in both cases, considering the importance of the peace process the balancing of risks and gains was poorly done.
        I am a firm believer in trust to my staff but to gain confidence in my decisions i need to ask questions, questions and questions when the life of people depend on it.
        The aftercare is purely of his own doing.

        • Joe America says:

          Ah, and with that, we have crafted a peaceful agreement, even to the punctuation mark on aftercare.

        • PinoyInEurope says:

          My analysis, after nearly one month of reading about the situation, is that the ones in charge were overconfident. If you go into someone elses turf, you have to be extra careful because they are always at an advantage knowing their own terrain.

          Maybe they wanted to get in done quickly after so many failed attempts. Maybe they felt emboldened and were in high spirits after the Popes visit. Who knows why it happened.

          I remember now the failed attempt to rescue the hostages in the American embassy in Teheran: . Politically similar to Mamasapano in some ways because the hawks blamed Jimmy Carter for it. Jimmy Carter was also seen as a weak leader and was a bit weak in many ways but also a scapegoat in a political situation where America projected its own weakness at that time on its leader. At the time of Operation Eagle Claw, the US still felt weak from having lost in Vietnam.

          At this point in time, the Philippines is feeling very weak as a nation, left behind by its ASEAN neighbours and with China able to do what it wants. Units like SAF are symbols of strength, them losing so many men is very much worse than Pacquiao losing a fight.

          Of course Aquino is not really a strong leader, he never was. But in the long run it is not good for a country to rely only on strong leaders. Institutions should be strong enough so that strong leaders are rarely needed and competent, honest leaders are mostly enough.

    • PinoyInEurope says:

      Aquino IS a weak leader, agreed. But so is France’s present President Hollande. The only thing is that in more advanced countries institutions are stronger and the respect for them. Most people know how to be professional. Makes up for a lot of human shortcomings.

      The problem is that in the Philippines “institutions” are used as cover-ups for personal and group agendas. The President himself violated his own government’s institutions by not informing his own DILG secretary, by using his own “personal” PNP chief. By doing that, he himself eroded his own institutions instead of strengthening them, which is unfortunate. So he cannot say what Germany’s former Chancellor Schröder once said to political rivals – if you can’t respect me personally I don’t care, but at least respect my position.

      Imagine for a while what would have happened after the Charlie Hebdo thing if the French acted like Filipinos. OK the French can also be drastic, but when they are they at least see it through, not making all kinds of drama like Filipinos with two EDSA “revolutions” and many coup attempts but nobody really got punished for anything. I’m not saying that anybody should have been guillotined but why go through all the drama for nothing.

      Also the French do not do things in an amateurish way when they do things. I do believe that the SAF is professionally trained when it comes to tactics, the amateurish way of acting was at the higher levels of leadership and sorry, not only Noynoy acts that way a large part of the Filipino “leadership” does – a municipal fire brigade chief that acts the way Napenas or Purisima did, or the way some of the military people did – especially the press statements, would lose his job and be a laughing stock in most advanced countries.

      Hardly anybody acts like a true pro in the Philippines and that is the core of the problem – an immature society. Not the President, not the press, not most of the Senate. General Espina was the most professional in my opinion, the SAF did a good job as well I assume.

      • Joe America says:

        My response to your early remark that the President went with his personal loyalty rather than the institution is that it is, after all, the Philippines. Although American or European constructs might to us seem to have some benefits, I’d imagine it is hard for someone who has lived a life within the master Filipino “institution of personal loyalty” to somehow start acting like an American. It is also unlikely that the other institutions and people would respond or respect a Western cultural overlay. The President would seem even more compassion-less and rude to boot.

      • Bert says:

        I’d think that weakness or strength of a leader is in the eyes of the beholder. To some extent, it could be merely based on personal bias perceptions, or maybe on the physical appearance and demeanor of that particular leader. On the other hand, some observer can see it on a more solid ground based on the actions that had been undertaken by that leader. President Noynoy’s demeanor and perennial facial smirk can be deceiving. I think that it’s not a proof of weakness.

    • Bert says:

      Of my understanding of the events that occurred and from various versions about the incident, there was no one claiming that the President has nothing to do with the operation and therefore squeaky clean. Certainly the President goofed, the SAF commander goofed, the AFP goofed, the Deles group goofed, everybody goofed, if only for the fact and because of too much lives lost. The President accepted responsibility for what happened, and as far as I can see, never diverted from the straight path. As to the operation, according to General Napenas, there was a three-day window available to them, supplied by the intelligence component of the planners, if I recall right…Jan. 23, 24, and 25, for the various SAF groups to move and execute the plan. It was a now-or-never operation, and they had? taken the chance however slim. It was a good though tragic move.

      • pinoyputi says:

        For me, putting the loyalty on his personal friend first rather then the interest of country and right cause is a deviation of the right path. He started his presidency on integrity, the straight path, my hopes were up high. Maybe unrealisticly high for the Philippines. Sometimes I can be so damned naive.

  26. edgar lores says:

    1. Is Pnoy a weak leader?

    2. There are several references made here and in other social media to the effect that he is one, and there seems to be a consensus that he is.

    3. I read him differently. To me, he marches to the beat of his own drum.

    o He had Corona impeached.
    o He has broken centuries-old Church domination with the passage of the RH Bill.
    o He has resisted calls to fire his sub- and non-performing KKK.
    o He defended the pork barrel.
    o Under his regime, serving senators are under detention.
    o He has not submitted meekly to a Supreme Court ruling.
    o He does not follow the dictates of culture.
    o He has not been perturbed by the calls for him to resign.
    o And, last but not least, he has resisted the temptations of many Eve’s.

    4. If GMA was considered tough, I find her toughness was that of teeth, a show of naked power. I find Pnoy tougher than her. His toughness is that of tongue, of subtle, restrained power.

    • Joe America says:

      Thank you, I was starting to wilt under the pressure of a string of smart people calling him weak. I look at him as more corporate in style than predecessors, and so rock firm and steady. He is so focused on the nation’s well-being, emotionless and business-like, that he would go to a Japanese groundbreaking ceremony to encourage more investment in the Philippines, and let his staff greet caskets. It is this stability and pragmatic sense that investors prize, so I can’t help but think that is a strength and a major contributor to the nation’s economic progress. Never mind that the emotions of the nation went out of control, and THAT is not perceived as weakness. Also, he has worked to set up and use metrics for performance measurement for the cabinet agencies. This is the opposite of personal favoritism; it is striving for results, and nothing but results.

      • Joe America says:

        Plus all the other things I get tired of listing, diplomatic calm in the face of a raging Taiwan president and the entire city of Hong Kong; deft handling of a Sultan’s international escapade, firmness in the face of Zamboanga hostage taking, law-based ITLOS filing that has given the Philippines a leadership position in Asia, the BBL which is so close to being a rare success in a world consumed by faith-based havoc, a “due process” orientation that does not have him bending in knee jerk fashion to tabloid-inspired popular conflict, respected by his cabinet officials from all I can tell. Gadzooks, what would a STRONG president look like, anyway?

        • edgar lores says:

          I think in the eyes of Filipinos, GMA was strong. To me, she was brazen.

          • Joe America says:

            Gadzooks, if she was strong then I am totally lost as to the standards by which a president ought to be judged. I thought it was results.

            • Bert says:

              You’re absolutely right, Joe, result it is. Results are the criteria therefore both GMA and Pnoy are strong presidents. The only difference is polarity: GMA=negative results, Pnoy positive.

            • pussyfooter says:

              Results! With all due respect–which is a lot–it looks like you need to live in this country quite a bit longer, then, so that you’ll learn that pretty much the last thing born-and-bred Filipinos want is results. What they DO want is someone to make them feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Hence all the utterly irrational emphasis on the president as the “father of the country” / “ama ng bayan”. To paraphrase Dr. House: We don’t want someone who’ll help us live. We want someone who’ll hold our hand while we die.

              (Sorry this comes in so late, but just couldn’t resist. 😉 )

              • Joe America says:

                Late is better than never. I just posted this on Raissa Robles’ blog. Clearly I am a slow learner . . . people do expect a lot . . .

                “Remember “The Truman Show”? Played brilliantly by Jim Carrey. Truman was a guy whose whole life was a reality show witnessed by a voyeuristic nation every day.

                I’m thinking President Aquino must feel a lot like Truman after he figured out the truth. I think the President will be ready for retirement. I think I’ll invite him for a beer or to go shooting. I think he is actually just a regular guy thrust into a hell of a job. I find it amusing how many people feel they can do the job better, or are better at expressing compassion, or better at running a manhunt for a mad bomber, or better at being perfect.

                Must be a lot of really capable people in the Philippines . . .”

      • PinoyInEurope says:

        It could be that the Philippines and its institutions are not yet quite ready for that kind of leadership. Just to compare – France today is able to work quite well with a quiet leader (maybe weak is the wrong word) like Hollande, in 1961 it needed a “strong” leader like De Gaulle with his wartime reputation to stop the coup-d’etat by retired generals in Algeria. The problem is that in democracy, leadership is not just about results, it is also about communicating those results to the public who vote you. To use the Noynoys analogy of the people being his boss – sometimes doing good work is to no avail if you can’t convince your boss that you are doing good work, so communication is a big part of the deal. It is true that Filipinos – I include myself – are at the gut level attracted to “strong” leaders in the sense of charismatic and domineering people, a trait of those who have historically been underdogs for so long that we for example share with the Russians. A long history of anarchy and disorder also predisposes us to like harsh leaders like Duterte – one must never forget that Marcos rode to power on a groundswell of dissatisfaction with the disorder that Filipino democracy became after the Americans left. So the boss is not fully objective – no boss is – and has many reasons for being skeptical. And there are many others competing for the job, who may just be able to communicate better – or may just be better at shouting the others down. Noynoy may be objectively good, but part of his job is keeping people in line because they do not know how to fall in line by themselves – yet. He is like a Mamas boy from the East coast trying to tame people in a Wild West saloon, such a guy simply gets punched in the best case. The country still needs someone or a group of people to create some order and “lay down the law” in a way that most people actually understand it, live by it and respect it because they see it works better that way.

        • Joe America says:

          That all makes sense, but points to endless cycles of futility as a saloon cowboy is put into power to corrupt the institutions and get thrown from power in favor of some east coast dude who seems always to talk or behave funny. How much better that we respect the institutions and grant the dude some wiggle room to have a personality. Guide him with criticisms, sure, but be happy that we, as a nation, are getting richer, and grant him some patriotic respect for not screwing it up as badly as so many have before him. I think the problem is that idealism is not recognized as idealism. It is not achievable. It just points the direction we ought to go. It is better to change the attitudes of the nation about what democracy means rather than keep up the endlessly destructive cycles in search of perfection, where perfection is someone who looks and thinks exactly like us.

    • josephivo says:

      Leaders you can best measure at the strength of the people they select. Strong leaders, strong “coworkers” and weak leaders, weak “assistants”. Often domineering behavior is confused with leadership strength.

      The choice of non-corrupt top officials is limited, but still he managed to get many tough nuts surrounding him – with few exceptions. Compare this with the arrogant, incompetent or subservient secretaries in GMA’s time.

  27. Nimfa Bangay says:

    Simply , some people will be used as instruments in life towards change… and some people will be blamed but what is important is to face reality and continue the fight … move on.

  28. Did you see Teddy Casino’s opinion piece in the Inquirer today? I am so disappointed at him. He wants P-Noy to resign and wants him to be replaced with some sort of “council”. My assumption is that this could be the National Transformation Council. Could this mean that the leftists, long known to be anti-Gloria, have now joined forces with pro-GMA people to overthrow the government and put themselves in power?

    I am so disappointed at Casino. There was a time I liked him. But his (and the leftists in general’s) silence on Binay’s issues has made me lose respect for him. I’ve asked him both on his blog and on Twitter why he’s never rallied against Binay: he never replied. And it’s not just me who he’s snubbed. If you read his WordPress blog, there are lots of comments regarding the same thing as well. It’s such a shame. He has a lot of good ideas, but he just can’t execute them with the ideology that he has. Besides, it’s known that the once indirectly defended the NPA in a debate (look for Hontiveros vs. Casino senatorial debate). Well, maybe not exactly “defended”, but in his debate he kind of made it appear that the military has done more wrongs than the NPA.

    There is nothing wrong with criticizing Aquino. In this case, yes, I believe he messed up. I believe he and his government should be accountable. Purisima resigning, as belated as it was, is a step in the right direction. But impeaching/getting rid of him, especially when you have Binay or an untested council consisting of allies of known corrupt officials waiting in the wings, is not the solution. In fact, it would probably cause more problems than curing them. As an Inquirer columnist (forgot who it was) said: “the cure is worse than the disease”.

    Now, as to prevent me having any pro-Aquino bias, I’m also against Binay stepping down. I’d rather have him finish his term. Just a year and a half to go, anyway. Then, he should be disqualified from running, then jailed. Just like I complain about the leftists’ lack of consistency, I must practice what I preach.

    • Joe America says:

      Casino joins the list of opportunists who do not believe in democracy, but power. He is forever scarred as a self-dealer who can’t get traction with ideas and therefore must cheat his way into power.

      Forget him. He is irrelevant.

      • bendiskurso says:

        Well teddy casino in the UK’s parliamentary system has only to please 150 thousand voters to become a member of parliament. But perhaps needs only 75000 plus 1 of the same set of voters to get himself recalled and kicked out of parliament simply for being inconsistent.

        Chalk one up for fickle minded voters if this happens. Fickle voters, 1; Teddy Casino, 0.
        Who’s up next?

  29. Funny, just recently (today?) a survey apparently came out by a certain “Laylo Research Strategies” which says that more than half of NCR people believe that Purisima and Aquino should accept responsibility for the SAF44. Which I agree on. However, the survey is, to me at least, very suspicious, for three major reasons:

    1. The survey was commissioned by The Manila Times. In case you didn’t know, The Manila Times is a known anti-Aquino paper and also a pro-Gloria newspaper (on par with the Manila Standard Today/The New Standard), so that’s already a red flag as to the neutrality of the survey (or lack thereof). For the record, if the survey had a more positive view of Aquino and was commissioned by the Inquirer, I would have these same feelings of “this seems biased”. The survey would probably have been more credible had the survey been non-commissioned or by a person/firm which is known not to have any political affiliation, be it pro or anti-government.

    2. Laylo Research Strategies (henceforth LRS, website is at, for reference) is not a well-known survey firm. It is not like SWS and Pulse Asia which, despite accusations of bias over the years, have tended to be respected by the public. In contrast, LRS is almost a complete unknown. In fact, prior to the release of this particular survey, the firm had been inactive for more than a year, their previous survey having been made in January *2014*. I can’t help but feel that alarm bells should ring at a very inactive firm suddenly came back to life at a time like this.

    3. This would not be the first time they encountered a problem. Back in 2013, the Standard claimed that, according to a survey by LRS, the government’s approval rating plunged (source:, which is now a dead link). However, LRS came out and said that no such survey was ever commissioned (source: The latter link also mentions that “Our commissioned survey projects are private and confidential; results of which are not meant to be published.” If this is the case, then why all of a sudden, the results of this were being spread? I can’t help but feel that the Times has an agenda with this survey. To be fair, if the Inquirer did the same thing, only this time a survey would defend Aquino, I would feel the same way.

    I normally trust surveys, regardless of the results (if Aquino’s approval sinks, then so be it, if Binay remains popular, then so be it), but I can’t help but ponder on this particular one. Things don’t seem to add up. Reminds me of that one time that a survey by a certain “Novo Trends” claimed that Binay remained popular. Given the circumstances of the survey’s commissioning, and the firm itself, I’m pretty sure that this survey was made, not primarily to gauge the people’s feelings, but to be used as propaganda.

    tl;dr, The survey is non-neutral. Honestly, I would have believed the report if it was made by Pulse Asia or SWS instead.

    • Joe America says:

      Your comment was delayed because three links puts it into moderation.

      Thanks for pointing out that background on this survey. Newspapers busy “making” the news, eh? Sounds suspiciously unethical to me. I tend to take the survey polls for what they state as well, but only the major polls that have a track record.

  30. Ley... HelloJoe says:

    There’s no hard evidence that local filipinos , those who are public servants are skillful at governing, managing its own country. It has always been the international community who provides skillful, evidence based consultation in guiding the Philippine government towards prosperity. . Filipinos in public service are inherently corrupt, opportunitistic and are shameless. Can you imagine where Philippines would be now if AMericans did not teach us English. In economic sense, filipinos are employed internationally not because we speak Tagalog but because we speak and understand the Universal language- English. ( just one example)
    I dont believe in the talent of public servants that they can implement peace and grow the country forward. They are always stucked at their own talent limitation and what’s left of that is pride… Wrong pride leads to wrong decision, putting more people at risk to live a poor life.

    BUT I believe that there are few filipinos who are talented in singing and boxing as evidenced by Manny Pacquaio and other internationally known filipino singers.

    • Joe America says:

      Ah, my, Ley. You are in crisp form today. The discussions of the past few days have highlighted the Filipino penchant to deal inter-personally, collections of individuals, rather than institutionally, where respect is granted to institutions like elections. Thus we have coups rather than patience to wait until the next ballot. That is because people know they can’t succeed by playing it straight, so they play it crooked. And there is no sense of self-sacrifice of the kind that it takes to respect a president who does things his way rather than ours.

      I agree that English and American teaching gave the Philippines an edge over other nations, and that edge is only partially being realized (call centers, OFWs). It is is another “institution” that is not even recognized, much less respected. English-speaking Asia.

      I don’t actually think the problem is one of incompetence though. There are a lot of bright, youngish people, any of whom could be effective as president if the institution of the presidency were better respected. It is more a lack of experience in dealing forthrightly, aiming for results rather than personal chits.

      • Ley... HelloJoe says:

        If Noynoy will run again, I’ll vote for him. He will win again. Took me a while to know this man. He does appear weak but his execution style is definitely not of incompetence. He’s the only one with guts and he made himself the President I trust.

        im hoping Filipinos will not vote for Binay to be President. Its hard to trust the people’s money to him.

        • Joe America says:

          Yep, me, too. The President is a master of disguise, competence in a geek’s suit . . . fools a lot of people . . . Hey, I like the guy for having style. Like, Mitt Romney would just not look right here . . .

          • sonny says:

            You got me believing too, Joe. It’s like many styles in this blog, the art of misdirection. Or, maybe there is the getting sensitized to PNoy coming across and looking for history and context of action and follow-thru. Thanks for staying on course.

          • Pallacertus says:

            I personally want more flair and verve in a president (“presidential”, so to speak) — to cite American examples, it’s not good enough to play like an Adams (father and son) or a Taft while in power with all the public watching your every twitch. While in public, act like an exhibitionist.

            (Should I add Polk in here somewhere? “Polk like a polking polker-figure?”)

            • Joe America says:

              That says, in order, Santiago, Duterte, Cayetano. At least among those currently in or on the fringe of the running. The first two scare me for their volatility and erratic ways. Cayetano is better centered on ideals.

            • Joe America says:

              That says, in order, Santiago, Duterte, Cayetano. At least among those currently in or on the fringe of the running. The first two scare me for their volatility and erratic ways. Cayetano is better centered on ideals.

  31. Aldrin says:

    Wow! A bit long, but exactly on point! Your insight cuts through the Gordian knot of faultfinding regarding this issue. You put into words my inarticulate sentiments on the issue. Here’s a question if you have the time – How do you assess this seeming juvenile culture of the Filipino about faultfinding everytime an event goes awry, and that undying perception of the president as larger-than-life, superman kind of guy? Do you think we (Filipinos) will ever overcome these, and improve on this kind of thinking (zeigeist, if you will)?

  32. JM says:

    I was listening to the radio earlier (Kabayan). A UP professor (Ronald Sibugan?, Sonar) was expressing his opinion regarding the “misencounter”. He wants Aquino to resign. Who would replace him? Binay? Hell no. He is also highlighting the US involvement in the operation. His reason as to why the US did not participate directly compared to other operations around the world is that it would get Americans killed and not the political reason, which is Americans shouldn’t meddle with Philippine internal affairs. I disagree with his reasoning. Americans can use drones and bomb Marwan if they wanted to. Sadly, many Filipinos will fall prey to his speculations and blame America as well when the role was probably limited to providing intelligence. He made it sound like it is America’s problem and why didn’t America clean it up while forgetting the fact that these terrorists are within our country and training the rebels how to build bombs. Time and time again people from UP protest about something and express their opinion without really thinking about it. They should be the cream of the crop but they act like a bunch of morons.

    I am not defending America because I have colonial mentality (Sadly, the company I work for is afflicted with this mindset). I just don’t like blaming the country helping us kill some terrorists. Lastly, BBL is unconstitutional. I wouldn’t deal with rebels. I don’t want my taxes going to those animals (Have you watched the video of the killing of one SAF already down?). I’d annihilate them all if I were the President.

    • Joe America says:

      I’m with you on the first paragraph, JM, but not the last. I believe the extremists ought not be mistaken for the rational of the indigenous, and the task of marginalizing the extremists falls to their brothers. When MILF calls for American drones to help them out with containment of BIFF, then we are on a path to resolving the matter. But solutions can’t be imposed from outside, as it only broadens the opposition. I think that is the Great American Lesson of the last 50 years, from Viet Nam to Iraq.

      • RHiro says:

        I congratulate you for having a more progressive view of U.S. misadventures. Blow-back is a bitch… could be crucified by some quarters in the U.S. for your view.

      • JM says:

        I respect your opinion but I just don’t agree with you when it comes to these rebels. I am not sure why you would classify my suggestion as coming from the outside. We are all Filipinos. They just have a different religion. From the report, they killed the wounded by shooting them in the face/head. They did not take any prisoners. They murdered policemen without second thought and they should pay for the crime. If they were seriously considering peace then they should have handed over those that killed the policemen. What if the 70 billion pesos that will go to MILF will be used as funds to further strengthen their military and create more havoc? What if more members from the MILF will join the BIFF? What would happen if the military attacks the BIFF that are the neighbors and relatives of the MILF? Muslims are taking over western countries. I hate to see my country follow suit. I prefer to use the 70 billion put them down once and for all.

        • Joe America says:

          Yes, all are Filipinos. A remark made by Chief Negotiator Iqbal in the Senate hearing caused me to sit up and take notice. He said something along the lines of “they (MILF/BIFF) were not shooting against SAF, they were shooting against oppression.” That is the line that exists within the Filipino community, a line that would be hardened by military action, and softened by legitimate economic improvement in a very poor and (to us) uncivilized area. Yes, there have to be firm checks on how money is spent, and the BBL includes them, along with checkpoints for surrender of weapons. I think the surrender of weapons can be indicative of good faith or bad faith.

          The return of 16 automatic rifles falls short of a good faith demonstration to me, and suggests the MILF leadership really does not have command of the clans/armies, but rather tries to craft a position they might be able to buy into as an alternative to death and disenfranchisement. As the government hardens its position to expect more of the MILF, I hope good faith measures continue to build legitimate markets and economies in the region. Soften the line and push for accountability . . . and rewards . . . for people long marginalized.

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