Moving forward after Mamasapano

mamasapano rappler

[Photo source: Rappler]

 I have a hard time doing a comprehensive review of Day 5 of the Senate public hearings on the Mamasapano conflict due to periodic brownouts on Biliran.  I did catch the middle part of the hearing, and it was pretty heavy . . . emotional, tense, argumentative. Constructive.

Here are the highlights of what I saw:

  • Passionate questions arose repeatedly from the senators about how ready MILF is to be a constructive part of the Philippines. Senators cited the failure to return SAF personal effects and the apparent coddling of terrorists. MILF and peace agreement reps countered by citing several instances of assistance by MILF to capture criminals. Senator Honasan stated the issue in very stark terms, something like: “If the Philippines were invaded from an outside hostile force, which side would MILF fight for?” He did not expect an answer, but the question brought silence to the room. The strongest argument for the peace process was made by AFP General Orense, who has spent much of his career in Maguindanao, when he said, from the heart, “we have invested a lot in peace and it is working”.
  • The PNP and AFP generals were at each other again with Napenas complaining that artillery fire was never delivered and prior missions involving AFP failed, and with Pangilinan complaining that there was no coordination, and AFP did its best.
  • It was confirmed that Chief Purisima was responsible for the overall operations plan, and for ignoring President Aquino’s directive on coordination. It was confirmed that General Napenas was responsible for the operation itself.
  • The slow cease fire team results were explored again. Credit goes to Senator Marcos who was past the blame stage and looking for solutions.
  • The failure of AFP to deliver artillery was reviewed again. Senator Honasan cited the repeated requests coming at 4 or 5 different times during the day. There was a change in rationale for not firing. Early, it was because it might interfere with the peace process and later because of “protocol”, essentially an inability to identify locations of rebel troops, friendly troops and civilians.
  • Secretary Roxas and Secretary Gazmin both testified that the overall working relationship between PNP and AFP is close and constructive, and the units are capable of responding to any threat as an integrated whole. The siege of Zamboanga was cited as an example.

With the hearings now complete, the committee will prepare its final report. Here’s my own look at what might be done to move forward constructively.

  • Disciplinary steps will be taken and I’ll leave that to the authorities. Regardless of how those turn out, Generals Napenas and Pangilinan failed to establish mutual confidence and an ability to operate effectively as a team. Both should be moved out of their assignments in the region. Fresh leaders are needed.
  • Better steps to secure operations from leaks need to be developed: strict security clearances at leadership levels; putting in place counter intelligence operations; tighter stealth operations; restricting “who needs to know what” to last last minute routines.
  • The BBL will need to be revised to review certain authorities assigned to MILF to plug holes that may produce conflict rather than peace. For example, I’d argue that the Bangsamoro right to expand their territory on a majority vote of a contiguous local community is a sure recipe for conflict should intimidation be applied to gain territory. Boundaries need to be fixed or reviewed periodically, outside of local initiatives. There are likely many other provisions that need to be rethought.
  • The MILF needs to demonstrate good faith. That may be difficult because of the decentralized power structure among its members, and the exclusion of other groups from the peace process. Confidence that they are a loyal member of the Philippine state is greatly shaken. Hunting down Usman as aggressively as they attacked the SAF would be one demonstration of good faith.
  • The cease fire protocols need a complete overhaul to focus on speed in ad hoc crisis firefights. Communication. Decision-making authorities. Reaching commanders engaged in the fighting.
  • The PNP needs better communication gear. The AFP needs better artillery protocols for close-in fighting. For example, artillery batteries should have time-delay fuses in stock and the ability to fire white phosphorus above the ground for the first adjustment round. Any fighting in Filipino jungles would require close-in artillery-fire techniques.

As a former artillery officer in the US army, I find the failure to use available resources strange. Different excuses were cited by the AFP generals at different times of the day. When AFP engaged the enemy, they presumably knew where the enemy was, knew their own location, and knew that fighting was in flat fields away from townships. Presumably they had a qualified forward observer with them. Yet artillery was not even used then. It was daylight.

The first contact with the enemy was around 7:30 in the morning. The units evidently were held in position and artillery was not used to free up the frozen AFP rescue forces.

General Pangilinan made the heartfelt appeal that the AFP did all they could do. Maybe so, but two questions need to be asked: (1) did artillery have time fuses? and (2) why was artillery not used to free up frozen AFP rescue forces? I don’t want to make the unkind accusation that anybody was blinded by incompetence, but, for sure, the Lone Ranger (or Zorro or the Count of Monte Cristo or the Scarlet Pimpernel or any other assorted hero) did not ride to the rescue on this operation.

General Napenas will receive his punishments, I expect. His main fault was that he was obsessed with getting Marwan. That impelled him to skip past precautionary steps like advance notice to AFP and aborting the operation when support teams could not get into place. But we can at least say for him, he got his man, and the world is a better place for it.

It seems to me that Mamasapano can be recorded in military history books as a case of two generals, one too aggressive, one too timid.


144 Responses to “Moving forward after Mamasapano”
  1. vicki ordoño says:

    thanks so much!

    • Joe America says:

      You are most welcome, vicki.

      • Like your last line, Joe.
        If the advise was not intended as an order and coordination was before and not on-time, to quote Barbara Tuchman, “then it must have been intended for commanders to interpret as they saw fit, which brings the matter to that melting point of warfare—the temperament of the individual commander.
        When the moment of live ammunition approaches, the moment to which all his professional training has been directed, when the lives of men under him, the issue of the combat, even the fate of campaign (peace process) may depend upon his decision at a given moment, what happens inside the heart and vitals of a commander? Some are made bold by the moment, some irresolute, some carefully judicious, some paralyzed and powerless to act.”
        ― Barbara W. Tuchman, The Guns of August
        Yes, the Mamasapano incident showed the diverse temperament of several military commanders and civilian personalities. Lots of lessons to learn from the incident, but will we be wiser for it?

        • Joe America says:

          Good question, Bebot. I think so, but I’d also say the military method and discipline and skill set needs a significant shoring up. No way should force commanders be so obstinate and incapable at being able to see the matter through their colleague’s eyes. Thanks for the Tuchman excerpt. Very very pertinent. I wish all those hunting for a culprit would read this passage and grant military commanders the latitude to take risky decisions. Without them, every war would be lost.

  2. josephivo says:

    So you missed Caytano and discussion on peace with the MILF? For me he missed a few essential concepts:

    1- Peace is make with an enemy not with your best friend. Indeed enemies were enemies with very good reasons and often these reasons were reciprocal.

    2- In a democracy it is about majorities, not consensus of all. If both are democracies, then it is peace between two majorities. Not all in MILF are equally motivated, not all in the majority are equally motivated. At both sides some still like arms, some still like an all-out war. Even in Germany 70 years later there are still a few Nazis and many more sympathizing with their thoughts.

    3- Peace comes in steps: peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding. We are still at the first step. When the peace is signed the next big effort will be to keep the peace. Eventually peace has to become the new normal.

    4- The new approach to peace is trans-rational. The mind isn’t enough there has to be a heart component.

    It is too easy to have an opinion about war and peace from a comfortable mansion in Pasay or Makati. Listen instead to the people affected in Mindanao .

    • PinoyInEurope says:

      Cayetano is not treating the MILF as friends. Deles and Ferrer seem to be.They are naive.

      • josephivo says:

        Naïve and peace go together. Aggressive and war too.

        And what we prefer is not so relevant ask the people in Mindanao that will have to experience the shooting.

        The perfect peace deal with an enemy does not exist, only the best possible. Yes, if we can improve the peace deal of the “naïve” negotiators.

      • Joe America says:

        I think it is their job to translate MILF expectations to those in Manila. If the hearing were held on Bangsamoro territory to investigate why so many Moro people were killed, they would likely be accused of representing Manila.

        • PinoyInEurope says:

          No it is IMHO not their job. It is Iqbals job to translate MILF expectations to Manila.Their job is to translate Manila’s expectations toward the MILF.

          If you are the American ambassador the the Philippines, your job is to explain the Manila what Washington wants – and tell Washington but not publicly what Manila wants. The British rotated their colonial staff every three years – to keep them from “going native”.

          • PinoyInEurope says:

            Three years rotation is still more or less the standard in diplomatic practice to prevent going native. Joe you are going Filipino native which is a good thing, so you know what it means. But in matters concerning Filipino-US relations, your loyalty to your original country remains, which I also very much respect.

            • Joe America says:

              Yes, for sure, I am loyal to the United States. I have yet to find the predicament, though, that this means I have to be disloyal to the Philippines. My son is both Filipino and American, by citizenship, language, and culture. He is the future.

              Or maybe he’d better learn Chinese, too . . .

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                As an Anglo-Saxon you may know the expression that “once you start paying Danegeld, you will never get rid of the Dane”. – Aethelred the Unready payed tribute to the Danes who invaded England – he was called the Unready because he was a boy when he came to power and the Danes of course never left, but were superseded by the Normans. Sorry in my impression the 70 billion that they want to give the MILF is like Danegeld, who can be sure that they will not buy arms with that money? MILF has apparently used the ceasefire to rearm, therefore it is a legitimate concern. Malaysia involved is not a nice thing either.

              • Joe America says:

                See my other comment.

          • Joe America says:

            Well, that is Cayetano’s view, too. I see it differently, that it is their job to see both sides, and represent both sides, one to the other. I suppose it all depends on where one starts. Do the Moros deserve restitution for years of disenfranchisement, or are they just more poor Filipinos who don’t need to be listened to? And if you can’t get all the subordinate populations to agree, do you just forget it, or do you start with a large block of people and try to establish the kind of stability and economic potential that moderates the extremes? The peace process has produced, what, three years of peace and even some economic achievement, as General Orense pointed out. Seems worthwhile to me.

            • PinoyInEurope says:

              Hmmm… I think that does not work in the Philippines. People are factional in thinking.
              What would happen to Iqbal if he agreed with anything the Republic told him? Well actually he did admit that he found what was on the infamous killing video barbaric and THAT may cause some people on his side to hate him. Yes the Moros deserve affirmative action – I would distribute the 70 billion to those clans that lay down their arms, not allow it to be distributed by an organisation with possible terrorist connections that may just use the money to buy more arms and possibly even terrorize more of Mindanao, even Manila.
              15 billion only for AFP modernization, 70 billion to possibly make MILF even stronger?

              • Joe America says:

                I think my next look at the BBL will be the financial sections, and any protections against misuse. Thanks for pointing me in that direction. Also the disarmament provision and timeframe.

              • 70 billion, that’s a lot of moolah… but then, wouldn’t that be under a budget proposal from the executive subject to an intense scrutiny by congress and further subject to strict monitoring by the COA as safeguard to diversion of of funds ie… grand mansions for muslim executives and worse, acquisition of firearms to be used against our soldiers and police in case of “mis-encounters”

    • Joe America says:

      I did listen to the Cayetano discussion. It probably does deserve special treatment other than simply including his bit in the bullet point about MILF.

      1. Your point on peace being with enemies is probably the heart of the matter, and seeing other Filipino citizens (Moros) as enemies is a distinction that none of the senators really made. The perspective of all was dismay that Filipinos who supposedly want peace would behave this way, for example, as to not return personal effects of the slain SAF troops. Missing is the sense of outrage felt by the “enemy” that a large band of troops would intrude into their territory at night for an unknown purpose. Repel them. So I guess you have answered the question posed by Honasan. The Moros would fight for themselves . . . whichever side had their interests at heart. If the external enemy funds their weapons and feeds them and says the right things, they would fight for the external enemy.

      2. This divided aspect is pronounced within the Bangsamoro territory because the warrior groups are powerful and do not take instruction.

      3. A couple of days ago, I discussed the matter of peace being “life by a thousand cuts”, essentially characterizing the almost torture-slow path to harmony. Or what you call the “new normal”. So I think you are exactly right. Steady steps, some of which will not go smoothly. The choice all the way along is more death, or life through a thousand cuts.

      4. A lot of heart was on display at the hearing, with General Orense’s being perhaps the biggest. Some of the passions expressed were not for peace, but for justice. Justice on the battlefields is usually found on more battlefields. So maybe it is best that people look for justice by looking for peace.

      Indeed, armchair generals and lecturers are a dime a dozen, and worth about that amount. I found the most dramatic part of Cayetano’s orations being the challenge to the peace negotiators as to whom they represented, the Philippines or MILF. Pretty brutal words to say to those who have worked for years crafting a document aimed at peace. Of course they represent the MILF as a historically disenfranchised part of the Philippines. I also think Iqbal held his ground well. I think some of the senators are unable to grasp that his position is not one of commander, but liason.

      All that said, I think Cayetano properly reflected the angers brewing ever since the caskets set down in Manila. He spoke for a whole lot of people. Now getting those people to listen to anyone but themselves is a huge challenge. Even today, after it was revealed that President Aquino’s involvement was wholly removed from the battlefield, people are still after his hide.

      But some I think (protest leaders) are not actually for the well-being of the Philippines.

      Others simply can’t accept that their anger has been misplaced.

      • PinoyInEurope says:

        Joe, let me place the concern this way. A business connection of mine here in Europe used to be the boss of a major BPO operation in the Philippines. He told me one of the reasons his Swiss company set up shop in the Philippines is that Filipinos are the most Westernized people in Asia. Do not forget that Charlie Hebdo and other things have been happening in Europe that also play a role. Now what if we lose that image? Then one of the major factors that led to the economic boom of the past few years is in danger. – and why is the MILF giving their Mamasapano report to Malaysia first? They seem to trust them more. The danger of Bangsamoro and later Mindanao becoming a Malaysian client is IMHO real.

        Joe, the general problem of ALL Filipinos is that once they start to get worked up, they forget to listen to the other side. The impression I have of Iqbal though is that he is listening and understands, but does not really care. Speaking as a Pinoy with a Catholic background (no longer Catholic now but the cultural background remains) – the impression that WE have of extreme Filipino Muslims is that of thinly disguised contempt for us Christians – “you were conquered by the Spanish and we were not”, something Iqbal actually said to the Senate recently, the subtext being “we Muslims are the brave ones, the unconquered, you Christians are cowards”. They should tell that to 27 of the 44 SAF who died who were Igorots, some of the bravest warrior races ever. Lots of Igorots are GIs.

        • Joe America says:

          Interesting take. I didn’t hear that remark from Iqbal and would like to see it in the entire context of the discussion. It doesn’t mesh with what I have seen, an articulate, bright, and even sensitive man with no real power having to speak as if he had some. Some of the contempt I have read today coming from the catholic side of the country is not even thinly disguised, so I’d say that cuts both ways.

          • PinoyInEurope says:

            Yes of course it cuts both ways, it always does in such a conflict, anywhere you go. Distrust as well – which is why you need a neutral party to help mediate such a conflict.
            Malaysia was not a good choice because it is quite clear on whose side they might be. MILF sending their findings to Malaysia first shows quite clearly who they respect more. This will be seen as a provocation by Manila, MILF will be seen as clients of Malaysia.

            A mediator in any conflict has to be someone who is trusted and respected by both sides. The absence of such a mediator is sorely felt now. Iqbal may actually be a tragic figure caught between sides, just like Deles and poor Ferrer – whom I actually know personally. Good international expert but too theoretical to deal with the difficult practical aspects, unexpectedly caught in the middle of a conflict where both sides – Christian and Muslim – are unruly and hard to lead because they do not trust others even among their own…

            • Joe America says:

              “shows clearly who they respect more.” I’d imagine the operative word is “trust” rather than “respect”, but maybe that is a quibble. My sense is that President Aquino has a good relationship with Malaysia’s leadership and probably appreciates their interjection if it tempers the mistrust. I don’t sense that he has an ego about such matters and will likely just roll with it. I believe the peace negotiations have had people from other nations engaged as well. It is not just a Malaysian deal, is it?

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                Trust and respect are closely related. Easy to lose but very hard to restore once lost. Which is why peace negotiations are never easy in any part of the world. Looking at the history of Malay tribes – even the way Malaysia and Indonesia used migration against their minorities in Borneo or Irian Jaya – you have a history of deception and distrust. It helps that the MILF trust Malaysia, but giving them too much of a role raises distrust among the other Filipinos – it is a delicate balancing act and I would NOT want to be in Aquinos place.

                Thanks in advance for looking at the disarmament and the financial part of the BBL. The worries of the general public are justified – that MILF might cheat on their part of the bargain and that Aquino might end up selling out the Philippines. These worries have to be addressed properly, especially with a harsh inquisitor like Cayetano asking questions – I just looked up his background, by the way he talks and argues I knew it – Jesuit-trained.

        • JM says:

          My girlfriend is an Igorot. While she is more patient, there are others that are really pissed. One more incident would probably endanger the muslims in Benguet from what I am hearing. Our stand is NO TO BBL. Aquino is selling out Mindanao by giving them 70 billion. They can have their own place but they should stay there. Move all the muslims in the areas covered in BBL and do not give them our tax money. They can govern themselves as much as they want. But if they start to pillage, kidnap, bomb NCR, or hide terrorists then I am for all out war, wipe them all out this time around. These moros value religion first before blood and country. (Moros should include an “N”).

          I also read a post regarding Malaysia. Didn’t Malaysians kill the people sent by the heirs of the Sultan when they tried to claim Sabah? And they still trust Malaysians? I am not certain about the history of Sabah but from what I understand is that UN “granted” Sabah to Malaysia because the people “voted” to be part of Malaysia. What if these moros decided to vote and join Malaysia? What will the Philippines do then? Lose more territory? We are already losing territory to the chinese thieves. This is such a failure of a country.

          • Joe America says:

            The Bangsamoro territory would be a part of the Philippines, not separate. So no vote could be undertaken to legally align the region with Malaysia.

            The Philippines has not recognized the Malaysian plebiscite and holds that Sabah is correctly a part of the Philippines. That is likely to be the stand foever, because it is unlikely that Sabah will vote to join the Philippines, and woe to any Filipino President who gives up the claim. So limbo it is.

            Your view is very hard line. I won’t argue with you, but do suggest checking to see if all of your assumptions are correct. And see if you can concoct a way to get from A to Z, Z being peace and harmony, without causing a lot of grief for families, whether they are Muslim or not.

            • JM says:

              End result is that Malaysia holds Sabah. Filipinos cannot enter without a passport. There are even news that Filipinos are badly treated in Sabah. As for A to Z, sometimes you have to cut an arm to save yourself. Reminded me of walking dead

    • PinoyInEurope says:

      “Listen instead to the people affected in Mindanao”. Then don’t send theoreticians like Deles and Ferrer to negotiate with the MILF, especially not women who they will never take seriously given their cultural prejudices.

      Send someone like Duterte with a proven track record of knowing exactly how these people are and who is respected by them. Just an example.

      • Joe America says:

        That’s an idea. Pass the draft BBL by Duterte for a read. He can read, can’t he? Does he have enough patience to read it?

        If Cayetano had been the negotiator, we would be at war. There is something to be said for the sensitivity of smart women for nuance, so there are some advantages to that. I wonder who the lawyers were on the team. Did the ladies craft it? Then I share your concern. I think the BBL reads a bit like a high school term paper, not, for instance, like the ITLOS filing which was done by the best legal minds in the world. I’d rather have skilled lawyers do the document rather than theoreticians or Duterte.

        Maybe a little late for that . . .

        • PinoyInEurope says:

          Duterte is a lawyer for all his wild aspects. He has to be that way because Mindanao is the Wild South and you need to command respect to be heard – Iqbal probably has the problem that the is seen as too much of an intellectual by some MILF tough guys.

          Actually I admire Duterte’s results – in Davao Christians, Muslims and natives live together. Of course it WILL fall apart without him just like Yugoslavia fell apart after Marshall Tito died, so I do admit that he might not be able to really draft a lasting solution.

          You need a team actually – skilled lawyers and experts, plus people who understand the mentality of the people involved and can sell it to them. Plus seasoned military guys to deal with the practical aspects of it. Come on Joe, even for some in theory highly educated people in Manila, constitutions, institutions and the rest are just pieces of paper to be disregarded if necessary, how much more for people in the Wild South?

          • Joe America says:

            Yes, disregard is a skill and art, but I think for that to change, the practices have to be disciplined and tightly bound. I had no idea Duterte was a lawyer. That is rather amazing. I don’t know what I thought he might have been. Not a professor.

            • PinoyInEurope says:

              In fact Duterte once reportedly said when asked about extra-judicial killings: “Killing people in court is something I would never do, as a lawyer I respect the court too much for that”. Not admitting anything but not denying it either, in a way many people liked.

              Actually Duterte is another example of the highly split-level thinking many Filipinos have – even myself from time to time. Theory and practice are seen as two different worlds.

          • josephivo says:

            Your last paragraph is totally correct, that’s why current peace and reconciliation experts speak of “trans-rational” peace. Iron clad texts don’t mean anything. Respect, trust (result of walking the talk), sharing of expectations and fears, knowing each other families, food… all this internally and externally.

            I assume that preparing for war as a back-up is your advise to MILF, knowing what happened in the past.

            If you stopped reading the Bible after the Old Testament, please keep reading, the New Testament has some nice messages too.

            • PinoyInEurope says:

              I know the New Testament, but it doesn’t help if the others have only read the Koran and apply its more aggressive passages. You need a back-up just in case the other group does not fulfill its promises. But in the end you need a spiritual process of healing.

              Thanks for explaining trans-rational peace. The major trust crisis is now and the MILF has not really walked the talk on this. Come on, the SAF 44 were on there way OUT, there was no objective need to surround and kill them. Shooting with them when they were in the middle of MILF territory may have been understandable. But in a way the MILF people are typical Filipinos too – unable to stop that easily once rage gets hold of them… 😦

          • BFD says:

            Actually I admire Duterte’s results – in Davao Christians, Muslims and natives live together. Of course it WILL fall apart without him just like Yugoslavia fell apart after Marshall Tito died, so I do admit that he might not be able to really draft a lasting solution.

            Ah, there is that problem surfacing over there. It’s not to be borne on the shoulder of one man alone because if something happens to that one man, it will collapse.

            What we really need to is to foster peace first, really develop the place second, pour in investments and capital and infrastructure and education for our people in Mindanao, so that the people there can live harmoniously, and if there is some people who will be opposed to the peace, let the MILF as embodied in the BBL go after those guys.

            • PinoyInEurope says:

              “if there is some people who will be opposed to the peace, let the MILF as embodied in the BBL go after those guys.” THAT is basically sacrificing the people in Mindanao for “peace”. It will be an MILF dictatorship, if you look at how they have acted until now.

              And who knows what they will try to do next – get the whole of Mindanao? Try to separate completely – then establish a jihadist state? What are the safeguards against this?

              • BFD says:

                What I mean by this is that the BBL establishes the MILF’s disarmament and absorption into the PNP ARMM area. It would be their responsibility to oversee that their area is clear of terrorists and other lawless elements.

                Of course, safeguards would be in place to protect the sovereignty of the Philippine government, but let the Senate and House Representatives refine the BBL first and put the safeguards in there.

                But let’s give peace a chance first.

  3. PinoyInEurope says:

    The bird’s eye view of the killing field is very interesting to give context:

  4. Jose Guevarra says:

    I have a couple of questions for the MILF. Let’s say we succeed in having some version of the BBL passed, and some kind of peace in Mindanao is achieved. Let’s say we are able to establish a democratic Bangsamoro sub-state beacause of all this peace brokering between the Philippine givernment and the MILF. What will happen if we are somehow able to hold and have truly free elections there and they lose? Is the MILF ready to accept defeat from the very people they wish to govern? Or will they wage war against the people themselves? Or will some of them for yet another breakaway group, just like what the MILF did to the MNLF?

    • josephivo says:

      I have a couple of questions for the Government. Let’s say we succeed in having some version of the BBL passed, and some kind of peace in Mindanao is achieved. Let’s say we are able to establish a democratic Bangsamoro sub-state because of all this peace brokering between the Philippine government and the MILF. What will happen if we are somehow able to hold and have truly free elections there and the Yellow coalition loses? Are they ready to accept defeat and accept the new government turns around the agreements to start an all-out war as Estrada did? Or will they try to regain control? Or will some of them go to the SC to get a TRO?

      • Jose Guevarra says:

        Cory Aquino endorsed and campainged for Nur Misuari to govern the ARMM. He was elected, and then the MILF broke away from the MNLF. The Government has nothing to gain from getting a peace treaty signed and then suddenly turning its back against their very partners during election time. So at least during the first couple of election cycles, Government will work with the MILF in trying to field candidates they can agree on. My question to the MILF is what will they do if the people themselves refuse the MILF’s leadership?

    • PinoyInEurope says:

      If even Filipinos in allegedly more civilized Manila cannot yet fully be trusted to respect the results of elections, how much more for the guys down South? 😦

      • Jose Guevarra says:

        My point exactly. If despite all of the government’s backing, the MILF loses in an election, will the MILF use its ire against the very people that refuse to be governed by them? Or let’s not even go there yet. What is the very people of Mindanao refuse to ratify the BBL? What will the MILF do?

        • PinoyInEurope says:

          Let me ask the primary question – what the hell is the government backing the MILF for? Just because they are the most dangerous force? That is like backing down from bullies – it will only encourage the next bully to come – look at BIFF…

          • karl garcia says:

            agree there. another chicken egg thing. strong,modern,effective military would counter bullies. we don’t have that yet.
            to have that we need man power, modernized afp,etc.
            man power=government already the employer of the nation with personnel services eating up bulk of its budget add to that pension.
            the military and police has its own salary/pension ticking timebomb.

            internal or external or both
            warplanes or just helicopters
            big war ships or many small capable ships

            priority problems in addition to a very meager budget.
            having said that I am still for peace and figure out how to keep off from bullies later.

  5. BFD says:

    Why was artillery not used to free up frozen AFP rescue forces?

    Yes, this is the puzzle that begs an answer.

  6. Noel Parin says:

    May the final report enlighten the minds of the people so that we can move again as a nation for peace and progress.

  7. PinoyInEurope says:

    My bigger question: why did they not have Scout Rangers as backup? Infantry are the wrong people to have as backups in a jungle fighting situation. Seems like the command was overconfident and did not expect what happened, which is why everybody seemed unprepared.

  8. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    I disagree to use artillery pieces to extricate the SAF44 from Mamasapano:
    1. It is not practical
    2. Mamasapano is out of reach from artillery
    3. Artillery is not accurate
    a) in the hands of, I am sorry, Filipinos?
    b) they did not even know the coordinates
    c) too many collateral damage that creates too many investigations
    d) to move artillery in within target range and position would take hours
    4. Loud boom and bang would create an impression of all out war. If MILF were able to muster
    MILF soldiers within minutes and surround SAF44, therefore, MILF can muster their soldiers
    to attack AFP camp within the hour and that would create another investigations
    6. Artilleries are not used in modern warfares because of too many collateral damage.
    They use pinprick pinpoint accuracy by using AFP rangers transported by helicopters.
    7. Artilleries nowadays are only use for 21-gun salute and Waterloo-like warfare

    My military strategic opinion is based on Jack Ryan movies which does make sense. I suggest PMA should be forced to watch all American war movies. At $7.99 subscription at Hulu, Amazon and NetFlix are more cost-effective than studying synchronized marching band at PMA.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      Where are those dozen of gleaming European helicopters that were intended to vanquish the Chinese in Spratleys?

      Why didn’t they send the European Helicopters around Cotabato in the guise of buying Tuna in General Santos and fetch queridas in Cotabato City for Military Brass so as not to give away the impending ground operation in Mamasapano if they cannot trust anybody up and down the chain of command.

      They sent Special Forces with long barrel M-16s as what was surrendered by MILF? These are not Special Forces weapons. Special Forces Weapons are short, light, with snipe scopes!

      Special Forces (starring Bruce Willis) did not go to open field LZ until it is clear.

      Special Forces (starring Arnold Schwarzenegger) do not trut in an open field. They still clear from open fields.

      And Just yesterday’s Tabloid Inquirer, one general blamed SAF44 for not following thru the plan.

      When this report is finalized, THE BLAME WILL BE ON SAF44 !!! They did not die! They committed suicide. That is the only happy ending for the Generals.

      I thank the Hollywood directors, scriptwriters, military consultants movies, actors and actresses for educating me in military strategic planning.

      I think, therefore, I am not a Filipino.

      • PinoyInEurope says:

        Maybe there is no such thing as a Filipino, because there is no real Filipino nation yet.

        That is why I call myself a Pinoy – I was shaped by the country in my youth, I was once patriotic only to find that people only cared for their own group interests to I left. 😦

        Just looking at the videos and the pictures that show the land from a birds-eye view, what you are writing makes a lot of sense – the whole area is very much open with hardly a place to hide. In the end it might be that they simply sent under-equipped (hand-grenades not working for example) well-trained but for this kind of stuff undertrained young men into a trap in an overconfident manner. Once all reports are out I will put them together and see if I can ask a friend of mine, former French foreign legion, what he thinks about it…

        • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

          The Generals and PMAyers need shaming like they shamed Binay and all the accused in violation of “Geneva Convention” or its equivalent.

        • Joe America says:

          Please let us know.

          • PinoyInEurope says:

            Actually met him a few weeks ago when he was passing through, he didn’t have much time but he said two things: 1) normally they should have gotten out, why didn’t they? 2) blaming the president is just stupid politics, sometimes things just go wrong in reality…

            But I will grab a hold of him next time, the information that is now available online is a lot, and have him give an idea. After all the guy is a real pro when it comes to such things.

        • Joe America says:

          “because there is no real Filipino nation yet.” I heartily disagree. It may be diverse and divided in that diversity, it may be 7,000 islands, it may be a racial stew pot, it may be dispersed around the globe, it may be imperfect in form and execution, it may be poor and argumentative, but the Philippines has Constitutional definition, a government that often functions better than the American version of same, investments in itself, a people of heart and generosity, and more and more people who are making it on a decent job. It is what it is, and as any nation has it’s character, as every person his or her personality, so too, the Philippines.

          • Joe America says:

            I would add, it is easy to sit from afar and criticize, and the sum of such criticisms forms a style of commentary that is akin to what we read on Get Real Post, where the criticism becomes self-defining, and the way of things. So I will take care to make sure this blog does not go down that path. There are too many people who do not have access to this forum, and it is important that their views somehow be incorporated, too, whether by hearsay or imagination.

            • PinoyInEurope says:

              Thanks for calling me out on that – as you know, I have a hopeful article this evening. The trap that GRP and AntiPinoy fell into is a real danger for those living abroad – thanks.

              Those of us who are abroad actually live a mixture of hope and WTF when we read news from back home. Those who have a broader perspective who have come back or been exposted to abroad – same thing. But not all have learned to be that articulate…

              • Joe America says:

                Yes, that’s exactly the trap I fell into when I first started blog commentary. A lot of constructive ideas come from outside, but the reality from inside is what decides if they are practical or impractical. So it is important to understand both the way it is, where to go, and from that articulate a reasonable “how to approach”. Thanks for taking my remark constructively.

          • I am humbled by this, Joe….God bless you for this… Like NHerrera, this is making me misty eyed

          • stpaul says:

            Thank you Joe. Teary-eyed now 😦 !

      • Joe America says:

        One does wonder why generals look so hard for someone to blame when the truth is, the combined SAF/PNP force was simply out-maneuvered on the field of battle, and out gunned.

        I think, therefore I am not a Republican.

        • Nadine Navarro says:

          Not only outmaneuvered but outnumbered. The Board of Inquiry said that around 700-800 MILF forces joined the battle. So Napenas was not exaggerating when he said it was overkill.

          • Joe America says:

            Yes, it was both a victory achieved and a battle lost, for the number of casualties. I’ve been reading of the history behind the famous poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade” (it’s on Wiki). Amazingly similar circumstances, poor coordination, casualties, finger-pointing, even congressional testimony. It seems to me that the Philippines thinks that, in war, all battles are to be won. The mind also freezes here is to comprehend that the MILF/BIFF were operating as enemies. And, tactically speaking, they just beat the combined SAF/AFP in the battle phase after the Marwan killing. More firepower, better knowledge of terrain, excellent execution (to block the rescue forces).

            • Nadine Navarro says:

              That is why it is on MILF to show good faith. I am no warmonger but the position of MILF further erodes the already fragile trust there is and they need to sway public opinion that they are serious in the peace process.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      This is the fastest ever investigation the Senate INvestigators have had since Phhilippines were discovered 500 years ago.

      The 2nd fastest investigations was made on Chinese bus massacre.

      The longest which will have no end is Binay investigation.

    • mercedes santos says:

      You are right, those cadets do a lot of “marching time”. . .

    • Joe America says:

      During the Viet Nam war, the US was cranking out artillery forward observers like a manufacturing mass production line. The brightest guys went to the fire control centers to do the calculations that aimed the guns. Back then we had a slide rule device that made the adjustments for wind and humidity and the effect of the spin of the shell on the trajectory. If the coordinates called in were right, the accuracy was right. In my final exam, the instructor had me shoot one shell in a high arc, the other on a low arc, the goal for both to land on a car shell in the target area at the same time. Nailed that baby.

      The “FO’s” would go off to Nam where their term of duty was often fairly short because the VC knew who to shoot first. The guy talking into the radio. The stories of artillery being called on one’s own location are legend. The Philippine artillery should develop SKILLS, man SKILLS.

      If they HAVE those skills, what a pity they remained silent on the 25th until late in the day. One shell in the morning would have switched firepower from the rebels to the SAF in a heartbeat.

      • mercedes santos says:

        Whatever happened to the “running amok” reputation of Pinoys ??? Seems like it
        only works with grog . . .

      • josephivo says:

        Skills? Not only that. In my experience it is very easy to make Filipinos enthusiast for whatever new approach, especially if nice and clear forms have to be filled out. But when you come back 3 weeks later, nothing changed, the plan is not executed. But in a rush and this time with the plant managers instruction they achieve a lot in working endless hours. What a difference with Germany where they disagree with everything you present, argue arrogantly, don’t want to waste time in filling out new forms, but at the end of the week when eventually they understood and found better ways they will put their plans on paper too. No need to return, 3 weeks later everything will be implemented, 100% according plan.

        In superficial understanding (ability to repeat) and adding detail to forms (OPLANs ?) Filipinos are world class. Commitment? Execution? Only if instructed directly by the boss. For Germans signing a form is very, very serious, because once signed your honor is at stake, you committed to a stranger to do something so you have to deliver, regardless the circumstances.

        In top artillery is mathematics, not the most favorite thing for most Filipinos. Multiplying by 10 an issue. Difference between cm and inch, where is my ruler?

        • Joe America says:

          Most interesting view. It is clear that in the Philippines, one’s signature is not taken as a statement of honor, which is why a notary testament is required on so many official forms. As if attorneys have honor. It all has to do with disciplines and punishments, I think. Punishments here are rare and random, and, indeed, rewards are often material if one does a sneaky transaction, like two valuations of a property on purchase, one for the seller and a different one for the tax agency. “It’s the way we do it here, Joe”, I have been advised by honorable attorneys.

          • karl garcia says:

            notary publics, like one in evey corner. So many law graduates, not much engineering graduates,not much science grads,etc
            discipline and punishment. I remember a comment on presidential accountability,where he cited Nixon,South Korea, etc.
            do we blame culture that we don’t do harakiri or sepoku once we are caught?
            those honorable nations do slick things too, as long as they don’t get caught no need to commit suicide.

        • PinoyInEurope says:

          You are mentioning a very important aspect here. Could it be that the tactical training of the SAF 44 was very good but limited to some memorized routines. My experience with working with Filipinos is that in a corporate setting they can learn memorized routines perfectly but once they are confronted with an unusual situation – or having to apply the knowledge to something outside the taught examples – they will stand with their mouths open and not be able to improvise – because they have hardly internalized anything. This is only in professional settings, in their own private settings they will indeed use Filipino ingenuity to find a solution and work together because it is one’s own group where there is trust and it is for one’s own benefit, in professional settings they are afraid to be blamed for mistakes so they will wait for the boss. Looking at the lone SAF survivors interview on video, I did not see very much of a special forces guy left, could it be that the training these guys got was good but too superficial for unexpected situations?

          • karl garcia says:

            could it be that no deskarte is used because of fear of reprimand, or being frowned upon with eyebrows raised by colleagues?

  9. JM says:

    Hi Joe, I am not sure if this has been raised before but I am curious. From what I’ve been reading, you support the BBL (Correct me if I’m wrong). If this happened in America, American Muslims decided they should have their own place, demand money, and kill 44 of your policemen, would you support it? Would majority of the Americans support it? Or would America bombard the Muslims to oblivion?

    • Joe America says:

      I support the BBL, with revisions. I would not support a similar idea in the United States for Muslims there. Nor would Americans. Nor would they bomb them to oblivion. But the situation with the BBL is more akin to the American Indian, or Native American, situation than a religious predicament. It has to do with those with deep, long-lasting historical roots in a region being disenfranchised by the occupiers, and how to make that right. In this case, it is the Moro indigenous people, along with other indigenous peoples recognized in the BBL. The fact that most are Muslim is simply something built into the agreement to recognize their long-standing cultural and religious values. The BBL is not a religious document.

      America went through the same thing years ago (ask General Custer about it), and settled the matter by establishing Indian reservations as separate nations within the US. Now if all Indians in all reservations started demanding the entire State of Arizona as the one official, economically viable Native American state, within the US, and started shooting to enforce their territory, then we might have a better parallel.

      It is best to go directly to solution and forget the gunfire.

      • Joe America says:

        I would add that solution is generally one part economic and one part respect.

      • JM says:

        I do get your point but I am not sure if you can compare it as such. Native Americans are not related to the European settlers. They are separated by oceans and thousands of years of human adaptation before they met. The moros are of the Austronesian/Malay race, the same race as the Christian Filipinos. It’s not like this is the first time Christian Filipinos and Moros met. Christian Filipinos are not foreigners and did not invade Mindanao. Both are “indigenous” to the Philippines. I doubt anyone can distinguish people from Mindanao and Luzon easily.

        As for the solution, it’s like a chicken and egg thing for me. Without economic development, they would become poor and rebel but because of the rebellion there will be no economic development. One has to give way. With such heavy stakes and their reluctance to prove that they are trustworthy I doubt this would end well.

        1. I read reports that the guns they turned over were defective. Spare parts were taken.
        2. They are not giving up the ones who brutally shot the SAF in the head.
        3. They killed the wounded/cannot fight without remorse. Regardless of the lack of coordination, you don’t treat your fellow countrymen that way unless you see them differently.

        • Joe America says:

          JM, they do see it differently. As Iqbal put it during the hearings, “They were not fighting SAF troops, they were fighting oppression.” I think it may be hard for you and me to comprehend exactly what it is like to live in the mind of a disenfranchised warrior who has been indoctrinated for a lifetime as to the inequities of treatment, and can witness it in the poverty and misery his family lives in.

          It is my understanding that Christians were transplanted to Mindanao in mass as an early way to tame the land.

          But I take your point that the situation is different than the American Indian one. It is a unique circumstance. Many nations are dealing with how to integrate Muslim faiths with mainstream institutions. The Philippines had a program going that was possibly a breakthrough in search for peaceful solution, and the Mamasapano incident upset that. Peace is “life by a thousand cuts”, a steady and not always easy reconcilation and integration of different attitudes and beliefs and cultural styles. The US has been at racial integration for decades, and still has big problems. But the nation has come a long, long, long way. The BB: is just the beginning of the walk for the Philippines. It has promise. It will have bumps. We ought not give up too easily, I think.

          • PinoyInEurope says:

            Who came to Mindanao when is a complex story and I fear with little unbiased research. Every side has its own version I guess. Just to summarize what I know until now:

            1) Islam came to the Philippines around the 1300s from further south.

            2) When the Spanish came to Manila, it was under a Muslim ruling class, related by marriage and clan affiliation to the Bolkiahs, who already ruled Brunei then. From what I know Palawan was Muslim as well. When Suleiman and his family lost to the Spaniards, they quickly converted to the Catholic faith and submitted to Spain in exchange for having to to less “polo” – forced labor – than their subjects.

            3) Visayas was pagan when the Spanish came, that is for sure.

            4) The Spanish founded Fort Pilar im Zamboanga very early (1635) to have control over the area. The Spanish creole language Chabacano still has around 600 thousand speakers there, it was the lingua franca of the diverse people that were sent there.

            5) Who owned what part of the land when is unclear, but a large part of the interior of Mindanao must have been originally pagan. What I have read so far is that the Muslim tribes either forced the pagan tribes to convert or enslaved them. Muslim (and Dutch!) slave raiders regularly terrorized the coasts of the Philippines, most especially Visayas but not even Luzon was spared. I actually doubt that the Muslims had the whole of Mindanao.

            6) When the US fought Christian Filipinos from 1898-1901, they had promised the Moros that they would respect their independence. As soon as they had subdued the Christians, they began subduing the Moros. The war with the Moros took longer, until 1913. It was a very brutal war, the US employed very harsh tactics, according to some accounts the 45 caliber pistol was invented (it’s “superior stopping power” highly praised) to stop Moro juramentados, swordsmen who tried to kill as many Americans as possible even while they were already hit by gunshots – and already had been given full burial rites by an imam.

            7) The first Christian settlers were sent to Mindanao in the 1920s by the American colonial regime. The second wave was in the 1950s, mainly by Magsaysay to help defuse the Hukbalahap uprising that had the root cause of tenants feeling exploited by hacienderos.

            8) The start of the present conflict was the Jabidah massacre in 1968 – allegedly Philippine officers killed Muslim recruits who refused to join in attacking Sabah. . The massacre has been kept alive in the Muslim community by the more radical groups as a reminder of their “jihad”. Looks like the SAF 44 massacre could be a similar symbol for some Christian Filipinos.

            • Joe America says:

              Thanks for the crisp historical brief, PIE. Sharp close. Reminds me of how hearts are hardened.

            • karl garcia says:

              anything about the Ilaga?

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                Ilagas are basically a Christian militia composed mainly of Ilonggo settlers.

              • karl garcia says:


              • PinoyInEurope says:

                Welcome. I used to know a former Ilaga once, an OFW who was a pretty tough guy and a Muslim hater. More interesting though are the stories I heard from an old lady, originally from Davao but her father came from Cebu and did illegal business under Ampatuan protection. She told me when the Ampatuan massacre happened that the older Ampatuans were harsh but honorable men, whereas the Ampatuan who ordered the massacre was known to be a drug lord and half-crazy drug addict and that what he did fit in with his character.

                She also told me stories about her family: about how her cousin was on her way from Cebu to Davao and was killed by Muslim bandits. How her nephew, a small boy, survived by playing dead under his dying mother. How he swore revenge and for that reason joined the Army – to find and hunt down the four men who killed his mother 20 years later. How her cousin once fell in love and eloped with the daughter of a Muslim datu. How they fled into the jungle because her clan chased them. How the clan hired an Army helicopter with soldiers to attack the hut they were hiding in, how they were suddenly fired on by high-powered machine guns from the helicopter and how his girl finally went back to her clan and he hid in the mountains to avoid their revenge, becoming a contract killer to survive… I actually have not yet talked to her about the SAF 44, I rarely talk to her about her area, only when we are alone and when she wants to, out of respect but one day I will and let all know…

            • PinoyInEurope says:

              Interesting link on the Spanish Moro Wars, worth reading: . Major highlights:

              1) continuous conflict from 1635 onward

              2) escalation in the late 19th century

              3) enter the USA starting 1898

              There is a link to the Wikipedia article about the American war against the Moros there as well. One more thing: many of the US soldiers who fought in the Moro Wars were veterans of the Indian Wars and acted accordingly.

            • pinoyputi says:

              On nr. 5, the Dutch did not raid the Philippines for slaves. They bought them from the moro’s or traded them for weapons.

            • josephivo says:

              On #1. The Muslims just took over the existing Hindu kingdoms in the 1300s. The Hindu’s were attracted to the Philippines by the richness of gold and spices in the 1000s.

              On #5. The Dutch were no altar boys neither. The Indonesian Banda Islands were the sole known producers of nutmeg (more expensive than gold) in the 1600’s. When they sold in secret to the English, the Dutch sent a reprisal army to massacre the complete population of Banda in 1621. Out of fear the Sultan on Magindanao, where in reality most nutmeg came from, had all his nutmeg plants destroyed, the main source of his wealth.

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                Correct, the Hindus were all over the Malay area – what later became Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia – before the Muslims. The Javanese were Hindu before they became Muslim, the Balinese are Hindu until today. That is why Filipino kings were called rajas, even if they were mostly pagan, but even the Muslim Suleiman who was Manila’s ruler when the Spanish came called himself a Raja.

                The Dutch aspect is very interesting as well, I did not know about the nutmeg, but they were pretty harsh also and controlled what is now Indonesia for hundreds of years. What I have read somewhere is that they invaded Manila once – I don’t know if La Naval de Manila is still a holiday, but combined Spanish and Filipino forces defeated them. And that Dutch pirates, officially having nothing to do with the Dutch colonial administration but supported by them, did do raids on the Luzon coast until the 1800s. Apparently the Dutch controlled an island of the Bicol coast, between Camarines Sur and Catandaunes, for quite a while and mined for gold but I would have to look for the source.

              • pinoyputi says:

                True, the Dutch were no altar boys. But i merely tried to correct the facts. The Dutch bought or traded them, used them and mostly probly killed some. The never raided the Philippines for slaves. Once they attacked Manila in 1646 but did not succeed.
                Nutmeg is indigenous in Banda island not in Magindanao. The moro’s planted after trading it from the the Banda islands. Too bad they destroyed it. It could have changed them from pirates to planters and traders.

              • karl garcia says:

                nutmeg can stop the plague?
                let’s have a nutmeg mania,like we did the tulips,let’s control the nutmeg market?

                the fruit eating birds did not get the memo and crapped nutmeg all over the world,and the french smuggled some too.

              • PinoyInEurope says:

                There were Dutch pirates attacking the Philippines, especially Bicol: . “The baroque church of Cagsawa was built by Franciscan friars during the Hispanic occupation of the Philippines in around 1724, to replace an earlier church that had been burned down by Dutch pirates”. Many Spanish churches are like fortresses because that is where the Spanish friars collected their flock when pirates came – usually Moros, less often Dutch, I remember having read about them but the sources are scarce so I guess it did not happen that often… Wonder who knows more details on that.

              • pinoyputi says:

                @pie i am sure there were some individual pirate raids on the Philippines by dutch pirates but no organized slave raids. Here is a link to some more reading on maritime raiding in SE Asia.


          • PinoyInEurope says:

   -> Indonesians also migrated people from the main islands to the more remote islands – making the entire country more Islamic. Same thing actually with Malaysia, the encouraged heavy migration from the mainland to Sarawak and Sabah, marginalizing the original inhabitants who were partly Christianized (by the British) and the Tausugs and Samals who are related to those in Sulu. This has a lot to do with regional power politics, the East Timor issue also being related.

          • pinoyputi says:

            “They were not fighting SAF troops, they were fighting oppression” are you buying that for an excuse? Which oppression are they talking about, the same oppression that any other poor Philipino has to endure in this country. Or mayby the oppression from the moslim Datu’s and clans that keep the simple poor folks down. Isn’t it time somebody put the facts out on the MILF, Biff, Abu Shiaf and all the clans. These fighters hardly worked a day in their life, were never opressed and ruled with guns over the poor people who had to feed them.
            While he was standing over the wounded police man, he looked at him, ignored his plea’s, and shot him, on close range through his head, while thinking “there you go oppressor” .
            This is the same cruelty that ISis is showing in other parts of the world.

            • Joe America says:

              Yes, I am saying it is not for you and I to judge based on what we think others ought to think and feel, based on our long-distance assumption. We ought to listen, test for validity, and not object because it strikes us wrong. To reject Mr. Iqbal’s words I would say is a huge mistake. It is clear that you have some very hard opinions drilled into your mind, and not much is going to change them. You have shut off your listening mechanism.

              Iqbal also said the execution of the SAF man shown on video was “beyond terrorism”. He was clearly emotional when he said that.

              To lay ISIS on Muslims who are working earnestly to find a solution for their people based on peace and economic well-being I believe is outrageously harsh. Lay it on the commander of BIFF, yes. But not on people working for peace.

              • pinoyputi says:

                In that, we don’t differ so much. I am listening, reading and viewing. And i hear dishonesty and lies, terrorist that are being hidden, cooperation with all the terrorist group, training and arming for war, video’s of murder , recent pictures of the combining terrorist groups video’s from weapon factories.
                My mind is open for change if enough evidence comes to us. You accept words as oppression from Mr. Iqbal not knowing if its true for a fact. I believe he is sincere in his emotion about the execution, but we don’t sign a peace treaty with him, but with the MILF that he can’t control.
                You and I have every right to judge what other people think, feel and do, thats what we do all the time on blogs and comments. That’s our freedom in the western countries and i wish that we can promise that to the people of Mindanao.

              • Joe America says:

                I accept “oppression” as a word from Mr. Iqbal, not knowing if it is true for a fact, correct. And I share your dismay at the failure of MILF to demonstrate good faith, as in today’s announcement that they will not submit MILF commanders to interviews by anyone but the peace negotiators. I wonder what Sec. De Lima has to say about it.

                And for sure we are entitled to have different views, express them openly without prejudice, and are also entitled to disagree honorably.

                For me, personally, I think peace is likely to be a rough road, but ultimately has better chances than further attempts to dominate those who refuse, to the death, to be dominated. The solutions for peace have to come from within the MILF, and ultimately a broader range of Mindanaoans, as peace cannot be imposed by outsiders either. Outsiders can only offer to help the locals out.

              • pinoyputi says:

                Good, we agree on peace. I desperately want peace. I only missed WW2 by a few years but lived the scars of my mother. Yet, we choose a different path. There cannot be peace when large weaponed groups don’t accept the control and the democratic laws of the Philippines.

              • Joe America says:

                Yes, that is a problem. And, as always, I appreciate that you are willing to step forward with an objection, and wage the healthy debate.

        • josephivo says:

          What about the Irish and the Brits? The Scots and the English? The Catalan, the Bask and the Castilians? The Flemish and the Walloons? The Czech and the Slovaks? The Kurds and the Turks? the 2 sides in Ukraine? The 2 sides of Timor? The French Canadians? The breakup of Sudan? This are all current examples, if we go back a few 100 years we could fill a pages with examples of breaking up partly or complete in more peaceful or more violent ways.

          • PinoyInEurope says:

            Or ex-Yugoslavia with three religions and various ethnic groups.

          • karl garcia says:

            what will happen to russia without siberia?

            • Joe America says:

              She’ll be a lot warmer and have fewer frozen gulags.

            • PinoyInEurope says:

              Russia will never leave Siberia, having outnumbered the indigenous tribes there by settling. Siberian Russians are partly mixed with indigenous tribes but will never admit it, being the most patriotic Russians that there are. But also friendly and used to hardship.

              Had a Siberian girlfriend once, with green eyes shaped similar to Korean eyes. Didn’t work out because her family didn’t like Asians, also she preferred the cold and I prefer heat…

      • sonny says:

        Joe, a side comment. It seems that the width and depth of our discussions here are begging of analysis and synthesis worthy of a Hudson Institute-like consultancy, even just to pique the interest of the movers and shakers of our modest republic. I for one sincerely wish the Society becomes so. The landscape strongly suggests this. IMO only.

        • Joe America says:

          We do stand as an informal consultancy to a number of people in important positions, behind the scenes. The site is becoming a “go to read” for progressive thinkers, I believe. And a broad read, in fact, for people tired of tabloid pap. There is nothing like brainstorming with no agenda but the well-being of the nation, when the brains are excellent . . .

          Thanks for the note.

          • Nadine Navarro says:

            I assure you, yes, the site is a “go to read” for progressive thinkers. The views expressed here, both by JA and the comments, lead to further discussion. So discuss away.

            • Joe America says:

              We also have a class C/D/E progressive thinker, smart dude. But I think he may be out back under the mango tree sipping tuba and coke.

              • sonny says:

                2 questions, Joe. Being a latecomer in the blog, what are the descriptions of categories A,B,C,D,E? Is the thinker/smart dude by any chance the Ilocano guy I am guessing? 🙂 If yes, then let the tree shade him and let the nectar & ambrosia take effect freely.

              • Joe America says:

                They are generally used to designate Filipino economic classes from rich (A) to destitute (E). B and C are sorta like middle and lower middle class. D and E are laboring and day laboring groups, the subsistence folk. I believe you have him correctly identified.

      • pinoyputi says:

        Hi Joe, “The BBL is not a religious document? Already in the preamble are they imploring the aid of the Almighty. Sharia will be enforced. This BBL is an example of a religious document if ever I’ve seen one.

  10. noelle:-) says:

    The fight for peace in Mindanao is inseparable from the question of social and economic development. It is also means putting an end to all forms poverty, inequality and injustice. The problems of Mindanao cannot ne reduced to the Moro national questions. The regions in Mindanao are among the poorest regions in the Philippine archipelago. I am also referring to the regions of caraga, Surigao, Agusan, Davao del Norte and the Bangsamoro territories in central mindanao. Mindanao is potentially a rich island but its potential wealth needs to ne owned and controlled by its people and not as at present by an alliance of corrupt government officials, land owners and the multinational corporations. It is also beset with the continuous exploitation of the working class (farmers) by multinational companies like Dole, Del Monte etc., landlords with private armies continue to resort landgrabbing, exploiting agricultural and mining resources ( Taganito, Surigao) and its forest. In addition, human rights violations committed by AFP and the militarise police continued to exist. Private armed groups in Maguindanao, mostly identified with the corrupt government officials ( Ampatuans & Mangundadatus) continue to sow fear among ordinary civilians just to hold on to power. Last month I made a comment regarding the wooden bridge in Mamasapano. For me the bridge clearly symbolized the economic status of the place. Shame to Mayor Ampatuan, Gov. Toto Mangundadatu and Gov. Hataman. While living comfortably in their luxurious mansions, the people of mamasapano are pretending to be satisfied with the wooden bridge also known as ” farm to market bridge.” Poor thing.

    Poor regions like Maguindanao, the Caraga, the Agusan are usually the haven of corruption. Guns, Gold and Glory. I strongly believe that BBL is not the long term solution towards peace. I am afraid that BBL will become a tool again to propagate corruption. And Nur Misuari is the living testimony of that premise. MILF is not fighting for a real cause. They are fighting because they wanted power sharing, wealth sharing at the expense of the Bangsamoro people. The real solution is to fight corruption. Top to bottom, bottom to top. Lets start in Bangsamoro areas, Caraga and Surigao.

    • Joe America says:

      That’s a fascinating alternative, noelle. It is rather like conquest in the days of Alexander the Great. Conquer a community by installing good governance, invest there, and move on to the next city. There is some attraction to that, although I’m not sure DILG is that organized or centrally powerful. Plus the BBL is a movement of some force that is already started. I think it has the same idea, but with a regional approach.

  11. PinoyInEurope says: one of the guns given back by MILF was the one used to kill the SAF shown in the notorious internet video, according to PNP…

  12. caliphman says:

    Hi Joe, sorry for such a late post on this topic but I only got to read it after a link from raissa’s site.
    My curiosity is piqued by your concluding your piece that Mamapasano can be summarized by the tale of two generals, one too timid and the other too aggressive. Please correct me if I am wrong but by the former you must be referring to General Pangilinan. In particular, I am guessing that his characterization as timid comes from his failure to use artillery in what may or may not have changed the situation on the ground favorably for the trapped SAF commandos. There were three specific situations were the use of artillery might have or actually proved to be instrumental in rescuing the commandos.
    Firstly, in the morning of January 25 when elements of the First Mechanized Brigade with several Simba AV’s accompanied two DRC platoons and by 100 SAF were unable to make progress against hostile fire from fighters hidden across them in the swampy marsh. The trapped 55 SAF were only 300-500 meters away so it was vital that the AFP and SAF forces breakthrough in order to relieve the encircled but still much alive commandos. The Simbas were rendered useless by the soft and watery terrain and could not move forward. Why did not the local AFP commander not call for mortar or artillery support to suppress the hostile fire? Would not 105 mm howitzer rounds with proximity fuses showering shrapnel from airbursts down on the crouching fighters hiding in the corn done the trick? During the hearings, I saw the senators quizzing the AFP and SAF about this engagement but their focus was why the reserve SAF forces could not save their comrades and when Pangilinan was explaining why the ‘tanks’ could not enter the marsh, the whole discussion was postponed for executive session.
    Secondly, there was also the possibility of artillery support being directed in the vicinity of the cornfield where 55 SAF lay pinned and trapped. This was the focus of most of the discussion on whether the AFP could have provided artillery fire and rescued the SAF44. Pangilinan defended the decision to withhold such reports stating possibility of friendly fire casualties, civilian presence, lack of FO forward observer,etc. and for the most part it was arguable whether the reasons while within military guidelines were adequate given the urgency of the SAF’s situation.
    Thirdly, late in the afternoon after the MILF fighters had withdrawn from the engagement, the AFP fired some white phosphorus shells in the vicinity of 84 SAF and drove away the remaining BIFF fighters threatening the endangered unit, ultimately enabling the rescue of the surviving commandos.
    Of these 3 situations, it is only the first where the reasons given by the AFP for not using artillery fire are clearly not applicable. First of all, they were receiving and would be responding to direct hostile fire. They had possession of enemy grid coordinates. They had FO’s or could easily call one given their proximity to the main force on the highway. There were no friendlies in the marshes where the fire was coming from.
    It is unfortunate that the senate hearings did not bear down on the failure by Pangilinan to use artillery in this particular instance since this is when it could really have saved the SAF44.

    • Joe America says:

      You took my closing remarks absolutely correctly. Napenas too bold. Pangilinan, too timid. Your questions zero right in on what I believe is the greater failing between the two. I don’t know why Senators did not pursue that. They were getting oh so close, but never got there . . .

      • caliphman says:

        Napenas for me had the greater failing, being principal author of a badly planned, poorly executed, minimally coordinated operation that exposed his hapless but heroic men to a virtual suicide mission with little hope of rescue. But this is not news to many including Pinoy who have also reached the same conclusion. What is news is that you pointed out what almost everyone else is missing, there was a specific opportunity for Pangilinan and his local commanders to use artillery under terms he stated he was willinging to use it. He failed to provide artillery support to his own troops to suppress the hostile fire that was preventing them from reaching and rescuing the teapped 55 SAC commandos.

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