BenJolo


benjo_boxer1-e1343477973477 In June 27, 2013, a loud bang was heard at the lower House of Congress.  Congressional staff who had been busy packing their  things at Cagayan de Oro congressman Benjo Benaldo’s office heard it coming from the latter’s room. They rushed in to see the young congressman bloodied behind his desk.  He sustained  a single gunshot wound on his chest.  ABS-CBN news was able to interview another house employee  who swear to see a pair of suicide notes and money supposedly for the congressman’s cremation.  Whether it is a suicide or an accident, no one can  really tell.  A few months later, Benaldo announced that what happened to him was an accident.

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Just at the end of February 2015, another young politician –  this time the vice governor son of disgraced Senator Ramon “Bong: Revilla was subject of an suspected suicide.

Well, some observers are predicting that Jolo will soon do a “Benjo Benaldo” by saying that what happened to him is purely accidental.  This early his ace of a lawyer (and spokesperson?) Atty. Raymund Fortun is making rounds to lay the basis for what could be the sanitised version of what happened.  However, Pro-Gun Philippines is quick  to belie this version.  Nobody can be accidentally shot that way, the Pro-Gun experts claim.

This blog does not in anyway hint about what really happened in both suspected suicide cases.  What it want to present is a bleak possibility – two young politicians who are moneyed and powerful – who could  just throw everything away  just like that!  Why will they do that?

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Are they not thinking about the sexy partners they will be leaving behind? With such trophy babes “to play” with back at their bedrooms, why can they even think about playing with guns? 071113_Daiana cosmobody with jodi sta maria daiana 4 jodi-sta-mariaff8555041  Jodie Sta Maria Preview Magazine March 2013-05

FUBAR.


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In times of war (or even in internal conflicts), fighting men die.  Sometimes their deaths are without reason or stupidest reasons.  Whether this outcome is due to bad military tactics of their commanders or by poor decision calls by the individual soldiers on the field, the buck stops there.  That is just war – a FUBAR (fucked up beyond all recognition) situation.

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In 1944, a total of 8000 American soldiers died in the disastrous Operation Market Garden.  Some war historians attribute this terrible disaster on logistical and intelligence blunders.  Other observers simply point to the mad race by Allied commanders Eisenhower and Montgomery in reaching Berlin by Christmas of 1944.  Despite the staggering loss of men, nobody went to blame the leaders of the Allies.  Neither Churchill or  Roosevelt was crucified for the bloody fiasco.

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In recent history, we also heard about costly bungled military operations.  There is the infamous “Blackhawk down” incident (Official code name: Operation Gothic Serpent) in Somalia during 1993.  It was even  immortalised by a Hollywood blockbuster movie that illustrated how bad luck can be so bad.  The American military that sent its best fighters – the US Special Forces and Army Rangers to capture a Somali rebel leader, belittled the adversary.   As a result, it lost two Blackhawk helicopters and a total of 19 US servicemen.  General William Garrison, commander of the US special forces in Somalia, took full responsibility and  only retired from the military a day after the Somali rebel leader was killed.  However, President Bill Clinton was never blamed for disaster.

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Another military disaster featured in a Hollywood film is Operation Red Wings against the Taliban in Afghanistan.  Packaged for the general audience as the blockbuster movie,”Lone Survivor” it highlighted bad-decision making by men on the ground that cost the military a Chinook helicopter and deaths of 19 Special Operation personnel including 8 elite Navy Seals.  Again nobody raised hell on the Bush Administration for this incident.

Now, why do Filipinos blame President Benigno Aquino  for the operational lapses of the unsuccessful police operation at Mamasapano, Maguindanao?

Based on reports from the media and the on-going Senate investigation on the incident, 392 fully armed Special Action Force (SAF) members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) were tapped for the operation.  These are the best of the best of the Philippine police force that trained intensely on combat tactics and equipped with the latest weapons.  Out of this total number, only two companies penetrated the target area: one was designated as the strike team and another a “Blocking Force.”  Those who did not join the group, remained on the highway as back-up.  With this set-up, any President is confident that the job will be accomplished.

However, it was not what was envisioned.  What supposed to be a simple police operation of arresting or killing an international terrorist became a mother of all police operation disasters – 44 SAF commandos mercilessly slaughtered.  Here are probable reasons why the operation turned into  a massacre:

First, the PNP-SAF did not consult the military forces that are familiar with the area.  It is puzzling that a military base sits just  5 kilometres away from the killzone but nobody bothered to ask them about what to expect in the field.  At the very least the military commanders who are familiar with the terrain, could have advise where to situate the blocking force.

Second, the PNP-SAF did not have good intelligence on the security force of their primary target, Malaysian born Marwan .Instead of mastering the perimeter defense of Marwan’s hideout, they just barrelled into it like blind mice.  As a result, booby-traps supposedly placed by Marwan around his perimeter warned him of the approaching SAF.

Third, the PNP-SAF should have known where to situate its “blocking force.”  The location of the blocking force at the cornfield (with its back to the river) is a poor choice as  MILF and BIFF snipers  have a bird’s eye view of the area.  As such, they had a field day  shooting the SAF commandos one by one  (even inflicting head shots on 29 of them).

Fourth, the PNP field commanders (including General Getulio Napenas) did not use sophisticated communication device.  Instead they used text messages (through commercial lines) to reach their men, comrades in the military and superiors in Manila.  Now how, effective are text messages in rural areas where signal is bad or commercial lines are easily compromised?  If only, the beleaguered SAF forces have state-of-the art communication device like satellite phones and GPS, they could have easily relayed their position for reinforcement, extract and fire support.

Fifth, the SAF strike force were not reinforced by their own comrades at the point of the encounter when they can still be pulled out from the area.  What happened to the 300 plus remaining PNP SAF personnel at the highway?  If reports are true that they refused to go with the military forces in reinforcing their beleaguered comrades, the PNP has a serious problem.

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With this scenario, the disaster at Mamasapano could have been avoided at the level of General Napenas.  He could have tailor-made the attack plans to protect his men.  Even if there are “higher-ups” playing armchair general in this operation, Napenas could have acted better by insisting on an over-kill operation (meaning involving the veteran Philippine Army).  And after the smoke cleared, Napenas like General Garrison of the US military should have accepted full responsibility and resign his command.  Not owning up to the responsibility only disheartens the ranks.

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President Aquino, although given the title “Commander-in-Chief” should never be entrusted with the attack strategy to be used in the field.  This the work of his generals like Napenas.  Just like not being blamed for every flat tire government vehicles encounter or every stupidity government employees do, President Aquino (in fairness to him) should be free of blame for the blunders of his men over which he has no control.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you too!


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This coming Saturday, February 14, a series of mini earthshaking events will be happening in selected areas in Pasay, Pasig, Caloocan, and Sta. Mesa in Metro Manila.  These “earthquakes” will not be recorded in the Richter scale does not cause any panic.  In fact, these are only kind of earthquakes that are predictable.

In the occasion of this once a year “scientific” phenomenon only happening in certain areas in Metro Manila, this blog invites you to choose one deserving sexy lady to be the “Miss Valentine’s Day 2015.”

Come and see the deserving ladies at my other blog: sosexyformyblog.wordpress.com.

The New Scourge to the Philippine Armed Forces (and Police).


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During the 1900s and the Moro insurgency of the 1970s, the worry of the adversaries of Moro fighters is the deadly sword called the “Kris.”  This is wavy (crooked) double-edged sword carried by almost all Muslim insurgents and used to charge the enemy or chop-off their heads. BudBagsak Image11

The Kris sword carved its place in Moro war history in the same way the “Juramentado” ( defined as a male Moro swordsman who attacked and killed targeted Christian police and soldiers, expecting to be killed himself, the martyrdomundertaken as an unorthodox form of personal offensive jihad) is widely known.  A Moro warrior charging an enemy position with a Kris has become so frightening that American soldiers who fought them were pressured to come up with a higher caliber side arm, the Colt .45 caliber DA “Philippine” revolver.   This is because its usual .38 caliber ammunition cannot knock down a charging Kris-wielding Moro warrior.

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Currently, the weapons that are most feared by the current adversaries of the Moros, the Armed Forces (and recently the Philippine National Police) is no longer the Kris but  the “home-made” weapons being manufactured in great numbers by Muslim insurgents – the Barit (the Moro’s version of the US Army Barrett M82 sniper rifle) and the rocket-proppeled grenade or RPG that is also being manufactured locally. philippines-cp-wd-7775167 maxresdefault

These weapons cause biggest damage (“Hole”) in the Philippine military armour whether a foot soldier’s Kevlar bullet proof vest or a SIMBA armoured vehicle.  How can the Philippine military and police force eradicate these threats? 8_guns

First, they should go after gun runners inside and outside their organisations.  These supply the ingredients to the Moro’s backyard armament factories – the highly lethal 50 caliber bullets and bomb components like C-4 and mortar rounds.  Without these components, the Moro rebels will be throwing sticks and stones against them. North-American-Rockwelll-OV-10-Bronco-035.preview130412-M-HG547-168

Second, they should go after weapons factory of the Muslim rebels.  These factories should be pulverised from the air or from its ground forces.  The Philippine armed services should make the manufacture of weapons a hazardous job.

Remember the Martyred Fr. Rhoel Gallardo.


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“There are only three choices in Islam…either submit, or live under the suzerainty of islam, or die.”

– Osama Bin Laden

In heat of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) controversy, the question about the sincerity of the MILF and other Muslim rebels to achieve  genuine peace in Mindanao under scrutiny.

For a lot of observers, peace in Mindanao can never be achieved if Muslims and Christians are made to live with each other. No country in the world has been successful in such an arrangement – well, maybe for Middle East countries who tolerate non-Muslim residents for the practical reason that these need manual laborers.  Look at Israel and Palestine and where did peace talks, Nobel Prize and self-rule has brought them.  The Israelis who won every inch of their land through the spilling of blood has swallowed their arrogance and pride and gave the Palestinians self-rule in what they considered their conquered territory (Nobody can imagine that USA will give self-rule to the Indians or Eskimos that are rightfully the first people in their respective territories!).  Yet the Palestinians who abhor Israelites from the beginning considers Palestines, want more.  Most of them wanted to drive Israelis out of what they consider “Palestine” and this mission has not ceased.

The difficulty of peaceful co-existence between Muslims and Christians can be understood in the case of the martyrerd Father Rhoel Gallardo.

Fr. Gallardo, a Claretian parish priest and director of Claret’s School in Tuahubong, Basilan,  along with 52 others, including children,  was abducted by the Islamic extremists, the Abu Sayyaf on March 20, 2000.   A native of Olongapo,  Fr. Gallardo had been director of the school and parish priest of the small village located in the remote town of Sumisip in Basilan province.  He chose to be assigned to Basilan after completing his studies in Manila and serve as parish priest of Tumahubong, considered one of the world’s most dangerous postings for the Claretian congregation.

After two months in captivity, Fr. Gallardo was executed by the Abu Sayyaf after torturing him repeatedly.  Some reports say that he was tortured “like an animal” with his toenails plucked out and bodily parts mutilated because  he insisted on praying the rosary every evening and inquiring about the safety of his fellow hostages.

Fr. Gallardo was reportedly tortured until he died on May 3, 2000. He was only 34 years old.

What is concerning about Fr. Gallardo’s abduction and death was blamed on a Muslim preacher,  Abdul Jandul, an alleged member of the Abu Sayyaf extremist group.  And if accounts are true that Fr. Gallardo was repeated tortured because of his faith, this goes to show that he was a victim of religious extremism in Mindanao.

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Based from history and current events, religious extremism seems to be a monopoly of just one side – those who chant religious verses while chopping the heads of their enemies or blowing people up.  On the side of the Christian, especially Filipino Catholics, religious extremism if ever there is any, is likely circus acts of being nailed to the cross during Holy Week or walking barefoot during the Nazareno at Quiapo.

As long as there is religious extremism that justifies the killing of non-believers, peaceful co-existence between the Muslims and Christians of Mindanao is a distant dream.

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N.B.  Let us bear in mind that a big 70% of the inhabitants of Mindanao are Christians.  Aside from this majority in size, Christian inhabitants are usually the ones possessing economical power. Furthermore, consider that all the progressive cities of Mindanao are predominantly Christian communities (Davao City, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos City, and Butuan City) and hundreds of thousands if not millions of Mindanao based Christians surely does not want to live like Israelis guarding a wall or looking out for sniper or rocket attacks in the future.

Blessed are the Peacekeepers?


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Peace in Mindanao has been elusive for several decades. However, there is group of arm chair peacekeepers who still believe that peace can be achieved in Mindanao.  Not that I belittle their capabilities or doubt their sincerity, I am wondering what makes them disregard the basic problem in Mindanao – Muslims believe that Mindanao is theirs by birth right while  Christians think that this is enough: Muslims by culture are not tied to the land.  In short, the rightful people of Mindanao are those who toil the fields -watering not only with blood but by sweat.

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These peacekeepers headed by peace advocate Miriam Coronel-Ferrer should go to Aleosan Cotabato and talk to the helpless Christian farmers who cannot even fetch water from the neighborhood well without being SNIPED by Muslim rebels.

Thanks to well-respected journalist Ed Lingao, the hardships of the Aleosan Christian farmers are placed on the limelight by his eye-opening video uploaded on Youtube.

See the video for yourselves and ponder – will there be peace in Mindanao if Muslims and Christians co-exist?

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The answer could be seen in countries where this seemingly impossible state of co-existence has been given a chance.  Take a look at Israel and its unsolvable problem with the Palestinians.   For the sake of peace, Israel has given all that they could afford as a sovereign country – give Palestinians a land where they can start on their own.  Even when the Palestinians where given their own territory, peace remains elusive.   Palestinians are not contented because it is inculcated in their minds that the whole of Israel is Palestinian land by birth right. Seems familiar?

The MILF and the Liguasan Marsh.


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Right in the middle of the territory that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) wants to be  placed under its autonomous rule is the 220,000 hectare Liguasan marsh.  This is considered the country’s largest wetland as it stretches through the  provinces of North Cotabato and Maguindanao, two of the provinces that the Moro people have been claiming as part of their ancestral domain.

If stories of its grand potential be given credence, the Liguasan marsh is a treasure trove.  Specifically, it is supposedly a repository of natural gas valued at  staggering 580 Million US Dollars.  None other than Chairman Nur Misuari of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), a fierce rival of the MILF, confirmed the billion-dollar potential of the  Liguasan marsh as this has already been surveyed by American natural gas companies decades ago.

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Aside from Chairman Misuari, several sectors also believe in the multi-billion dollar potential of the Liguasan Marsh.  One of this are supposed leaked documents included in the controversial Wikileaks (http://betterphils.blogspot.com/2011/08/wikileaks-us-says-island-mindanao-has-1.html) that also includes several other areas like the Davao-Agusan Basin and an area straddling Tawi-Tawi and Sulu that supposedly translate into 1 trillion dollars!  This goes to show that MILF, BIFF and the MNLF are sitting on a pot of gold that could make them like the moneyed Sultanate of Brunei.  As such observers believe that MILF which has sworn to high heavens that they are establishing an autonomous government for the Moro people can actually be just after the natural resources of Mindanao.  A casual reading of the “wealth sharing” provision of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) reveals that the MILF wants a bigger share of the natural resources found in its areas.  In fact as early as  2012, the MILF lost no time in entertaining foreign investors to exploit these natural resources.   Chairman Al Haj Haj Murad Ebrahim reportedly received an offer of 2 billion ringgits—about P27 billion from  Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najb Tun Razakhad for the right to search for oil in Mindanao (http://globalbalita.com/2012/10/29/p25b-oil-drill-offer-in-liguasan-bared/).  The Malaysian offer coincided with the call by Ebrahim for the Philippine government  to postpone the awarding of oil exploration contracts for Mindanao until the issue of wealth sharing with the Bangsamoro region can be resolved. (http://www.interaksyon.com/article/46831/resolve-wealth-sharing-before-awarding-oil-exploration-contracts-for-mindanao—milf).  Meaning, the MILF seems to covet the whole pie for themselves, if not a majority of it!

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The problem is that there is no way  the BBL can justify these exploitation of the trillion dollars worth of oil and natural gas by the MILF.  It is against the Regalian doctrine espoused under the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

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The Regalian doctrine  states that all natural resources shall belong to the State (meaning Republic of the Philippines) .  This is provided under Section 2 of Article XII of the 1987 Constitution provides that:  All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. With the exception of agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated. The exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. The State may directly undertake such activities, or it may enter into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or associations at least 60 per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens. Such agreements may be for a period not exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for not more than twenty-five years, and under such terms and conditions as may provided by law. In cases of water rights for irrigation, water supply, fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of waterpower, beneficial use may be the measure and limit of the grant.”

Now, how can the BBL “wealth sharing agreement” justify the  zero share for the State when it comes non-metallic minerals (sand, gravel and quarry materials) found within  Bangsamoro territories?  Where is sharing there?  Furthermore, how can it justify a perpetual grant of authority to the Bangsamoro government to explore, develop and utilise natural resources.  This is illegal as the constitution limits mineral exploration and production permits to 25 years (renewable for another 25 years).   Lastly, how can the  “wealth sharing”  pass the test of fairness if we are to consider the interest of the entire country.   Why will you give a  sizeable share of the nation’s natural resources to certain cultural group just because these are found in its locality?   How about regions without not enough natural resources?

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To sidestep the Regalian doctrine, supporters of the BBL invoked the Indigenous People Rights Act (IPRA).  According to the their interpretation, the IPRA entitles Moro people being the indigenous people of the Bangsamoro territories, to have a chunkier share of income from the exploitation of natural resources.  However, a study of the the IPRA law reveals that  indigenous peoples are actually duty-bound to develop and preserve natural resources within their territories .  They should ensure ecological, environmental protection and the conservation measures, pursuant to national and customary laws.  Most importantly, there is nothing in the IPRA law that bestows to a certain indigenous group ownership and control of  the natural resources found in their territory.  In short, the law does not allow unjust enrichment by any indigenous group.

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Aside from the Regalian doctrine, the MILF’s plan to monetise the oil underneath Liguasan marsh will go against State Policy under the 1987 Constitution which provides “the State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.”  This is echoed by the IPRA when it obliges the concerned indigenous people group to take care of its fragile environment.

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The Liguasan marsh is a critical habitat of several endangered species of flora and fauna.  According to a study conducted by Haribon Foundation, the marsh supports a great variety of aquatic wildlife, including 20 species of fishes, three species of reptiles, and over 20 species of waterfowl, herons, egrets and ducks. Liguasan is the only place in the Philippines where the Comb-crested Jacana, also known as the Lotusbird or the Lillytrotter bird, so named because of its habit of walking on the surface of water by leaping on leaves of louts or water lilies.  The marsh is one of the last strongholds for the endangered Philippine Crocodile and the Estuarine Crocodile.  The endangered Monkey-eating Eagle is reported to be present in the forested areas of the marsh. For the MILF and its oil investors to explore, drill, and cart away barrels and barrels of oil from the marsh will destroy the ecological balance of the Liguasan marsh.  (For those who watched the movie, “Pelican Brief” know that political and environmental repercussions of oil exploration in a marsh land are great and irreversible.)

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With its constitutional infirmities, the BBL’s provision on wealth sharing can never pass judicial scrutiny if challenged before the Supreme Court.  But does the MILF care about this? Will they respect the decision of the Supreme Court nullifying the wealth sharing agreement provision?

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