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Mindanao a laboratory again?

The most derisory spin was given by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. What happened was not a lapse in military intelligence that allowed the Maute Group to enter Marawi. It was a failure “to appreciate” whatever the local spies gave the intelligence unit of the 1st Infantry Division. Lorenzana did not say who failed “to appreciate” the intelligence reports. Keeping it vague exonerates Camp Aguinaldo, and, by extension, Malacañang.

Thus, for over 12 hours no one knew anything definite, including – I suspect – the President and his team in Malacañang (a side question: what kind of information was conveyed to the caretaker committee led by Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno from Marawi and what did Diokno, in turn, tell the President?). The result is a proclamation that was hastily written and improperly formatted (Can a proclamation by the President of the Philippines be notarized with the statement: “Done in the Russian Federation”? Duterte thinks so).

Stoking the flame

More bothering is that the proclamation exaggerates the threat of the Maute Group and thus allows its author to endow the police and the military the carte blanche to do anything to individuals, groups, and communities. Muslim and Christian.

Duterte stoked the flame by warning that the police and army can shoot anyone who violates the curfew in the 4 Moro provinces where freedom of movement was curtailed. In his press conference upon arriving from Moscow, the President even suggested that he might just expand martial law to cover the entire country and for an extended period. His justification: droga, of course.

The panic over Marawi has not only turned into an anxiety over a failure to bring peace and continue the progress in Mindanao, but also into a disquiet that the promise he anchored his presidency on – the war on drugs – will never be fulfilled. 

What makes things doubly scarier now is that President Duterte has concocted this bizarre alliance that has the Maute Group linked to drug syndicates, human rights groups and their European Union patrons, and the US State Department. 

As the President expands his targets of opportunity and makes it easier for them to be attacked, thanks to his martial law declaration, it is once again Mindanao – yes, his beloved Mindanao – that will be the laboratory of this 21st-century version of Ferdinand Marcos’ war. – Rappler.com

 

Patricio N. Abinales is an OFW