Bombs, conflicting reports, a CIA Chief and what all that could mean
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2009-07-12

Are the recent bombings, the conflicting reports of the military and the police, the arrival today of CIA Chief Leon Panetta all connected? You cannot really say unless you see the big picture.

When some bombs exploded in Muslim Mindanao, most of us immediately tagged it to the conflict with the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) for a Moro homeland.

When less damaging bombs were planted in Metro Manila, we wondered if this is already the dreaded martial law scenario that is supposed to keep Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) in power beyond 2010.

But when the bombs in Mindanao started exploding outside the comfort zone of the MILF – causing more fatalities than previous bombs inflicted – then we must start wondering if it is not just the Moro homeland conflict that is fueling the escalation in violence.

National Security Adviser (NSA) Norberto Gonzales was quick to differentiate the bombing incidents in Mindanao from those in Metro Manila (the explosion in the Ombudsman and discovery of a bomb in the Agriculture Department). Good if NSA Gonzales was accurate in his assessment. That means these were separate issues. But what if NSA Gonzales was covering up for an administration plot to set the stage for the imposition of martial law?

It was after the bloody bombing of the Cotabato Cathedral when your Chair Wrecker decided to compare notes with a Mindanao expert. This expert knows the Mindanao problem from ground level as well as from many other perspectives.

It was no surprise that he thought that there could be more to the Mindanao bombings than the suggested MILF misdeeds. He made note of the following oddities:

1. The MILF knows that there is a new discussion on the Peace Pact. They also know that the US is leaning on GMA to provide the Moro homeland. Why would the MILF want to disrupt this favorable situation?

2. There has not been an extensive war front (unlike the all-out war Joseph Estrada unleashed) that would compel the MILF to resort to bombings which can only make them look like terrorists and make things harder for them.

3. The geographic scope of the bombings extended well beyond the comfort zone of the MILF. Mindanao watchers know that the MILF does not liaise with the MNLF.

4. In the past, the separatist rebels never disrupted a lucrative election because they offer their “services” to candidates as “campaign managers” and whatever else they can provide. They know that a lot of money is expected to pour from the 2010 elections. Why would they want to prevent a big payday?

If indeed these Mindanao bombings are not the work of the MILF (or it could also be the MILF working with a major partner), then the likely suspects will have to be the following:

1. The GMA regime – This establishes the predicate for the imposition of martial law.

2. The US – They have the capability to stage these covert operations. Their objective is to force the creation of the aborted Moro homeland where they plan to operate their forces and control the vital sea lanes of the South China Sea.

3. The usual suspects – These would be the JI radical elements, extremists in the Opposition, anti-GMA forces in the military, operatives of another foreign government outside of the US and the Communists.

Because of the scope of the bombings, the ‘usual suspects’ can be considered low probability culprits. Their capability to undertake all those Mindanao bombings in such a short period of time is doubtful. To do these recent bombings, they will need to have an omnipresence of sorts which only the GMA regime and the US (which is all over Mindanao) have.

Filipinos who only see the domestic issues fail to understand the US interest in Mindanao. US power extends only to the Pacific Ocean. But in the event of a projected eventual confrontation with China, the US will need to control the South China Sea. That is facilitated by the aborted BJE (Bangsamoro Juridical Entity).

There is also the control of the big oil reserves in the South China Sea that motivates the US. They went to war in Iraq because of the vast reserves of Iraqi oil.

Nothing best demonstrates the stupidity of the GMA regime than their Alfred Neumann “What, me worry?” attitude when a US destroyer almost had a confrontation with a Chinese submarine near Philippine waters several weeks back. Two superpowers are about to confront each other with the Philippines right in the middle of it and they say: “What, me worry?”

Thus, we cannot help but wonder if the Mindanao blasts, the conflicting military and police reports on the bombings and the arrival of the CIA Chief are somehow connected. Sustained and expanded, these bombings will devastate the economy and can trigger an upheaval of the unpopular GMA regime. If these bombings were CIA covert operations, then the Leon Panetta visit could be the coup de grace in spelling out the US demands.

If this is a US move, then it could also mean that they have tapped and developed their key people within the GMA regime prior to the execution of the plan. Can the recent leave of Ronnie Puno and the unusual assignment of Hermogenes Ebdane as Local Government OIC (instead of a department Undersecretary) be a GMA move to ensure the loyalty of the police force?

If this is a US move, expect them to scuttle Charter change (Chacha). A highly reliable source said that the US prefers the presidential system over the parliamentary system where they’ll have to deal with over 200 MPs instead of just one weak Philippine president. Ferdinand Marcos operated a parliament but that was merely a front for his dictatorship.

Whether or not what is happening in Mindanao is a US move, there is no way GMA or Eddie Ermita and his gang of generals in the cabinet can impose martial law. Like the Marcos martial law, GMA can only enforce it with the support of the US.

But these are different times and Richard Nixon of 1972 is different from Barack Obama of 2009. If the US wants another martial law regime here, they will do it with a different partner – not with the unpopular woman who abandoned them in Iraq and ran to China. The former generals and lady better read very carefully Barack Obama’s lips because their lives might depend on it.

So, very likely we will have our elections in 2010. Very likely too, the US will have their access to the South China Sea and its oil.

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Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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