How accurate are those think tank reports?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2010-11-16
Dissect some of the information that is being fed to you on Philippine media and what sticks out like a sore thumb is that our media hardly verify some of the vital information that they feed us. Inaccurate information can be forgiven when it is in the showbiz section but not when it is passed as national news stories. It’s no wonder that many Filipinos suffer from a big Information Gap.

Take the case of the recent warnings by a group called the Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism (PIPVT) that we are in danger of a terror attack by aliens. The PIPVT warning immediately followed – as if on cue – the US initiated terror threat advisory. Professor Rommel Banlaoi and Retired General Rodolfo “Boogie” Mendoza Jr. were the PIPVT sources and they’ve been countering our intelligence community’s findings that there’s no clear and present danger detected.

It’s one thing for a think tank to project the course of political and geopolitical events and another to claim that they have the intelligence reports that will prove that there’s a clear and present danger to national security. An analyst can follow and even predict the course of political and geopolitical events based on readily available information – a lot of which can be sourced from the information highway.

Claiming to have the knowledge that there are 10 foreign terrorists who have entered the country and are poised to sow mayhem, death and destruction requires the capability for good intelligence gathering, processing and verification. How come no media editor ever thought of questioning the PIPVT how and where they secured their information?

Last Friday, the PIPVT reinforced their claims by releasing to media an alleged photo of international terrorist Umar Patek. There was a bearded man in the photo that looked like a previous photo of Umar Patek but the photo cannot say when and where it was taken. PIPVT should have requested Umar Patek to pose in front of a Mindanao landmark with last Thursday’s Philippine STAR front page displayed across his chest. Nonetheless, media bought the photo lock, stock and barrel and reported Umar Patek’s presence here.

AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) Spokesman Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta was right to express doubts on the claims of PIPVT. Gen. Mabanta was quoted: “Professor Banlaoi is from the academe and he is not an intelligence operative so probably, if I may say, his credibility to give such assessment may be questionable.”

Regarding Ret. Gen. Mendoza, Gen. Mabanta was quoted: “We all know Boogie Mendoza has performed credibly when he was still in the service, but he’s retired at this point and I don’t think he’s able to access the same intelligence agents that he used to have during his time as police officer.”

We will have to agree with Gen. Mabanta in questioning the intelligence capability of PIPVT. Also altogether overlooked is that our intelligence agencies are competent and are able to detect serious threats. In the past, our intelligence agencies were discredited by the way they were used by previous administrations for political purposes.
However, this administration of President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy) happens to be transparent and there is no reason to doubt our intelligence agencies when they say that there is no clear and present danger. If the P-Noy administration can be aggressive in raising typhoon alerts, expect this government to alert us immediately if there is a clear and present danger of a vicious terror attack.

So convinced was P-Noy that the terror threat advisory was unfounded that he protested it during the APEC CEO Summit which he attended in Tokyo, Japan. Usually a non-combative person who would rather reason, charm, and appeal than argue – P-Noy must have been fully satisfied with the reports of our intelligence agencies for him to raise the advisory issue during the APEC CEO Summit.

Many folks fail to appreciate the capability of our intelligence agencies because of the mind conditioning that we lack the training and equipment of top intelligence agencies like the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) and Israel’s Mossad. Technology is a factor but the most important resource in intelligence gathering is the human operative. With all their technology, the US has failed to find and nail Osama Bin Laden.

Unlike the US which is racially and culturally diverse, we here are divided only by religion and tribal affiliation. In communities like ours where everybody knows everybody – intelligence gathering becomes much easier. Sans the gadgetry that we see in CSI episodes, still our police are able to nab criminals due to their community information sources. Unlike US society, it is hard to find the alienated, loner, psychotic serial killer types in our country.

Other than if the information is verified, the unasked question about the so-called intelligence reports being peddled by groups like PIPVT is where they get their information. Information about 10 aliens entering our country in order to sow terror cannot be sourced from the information highway. On the suspicion that the US is conditioning us not to revise or revoke the VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement), it would be logical for them to also be feeding us the terror threat information to reinforce their advisory.

* * *

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

[Click here for the Archive]

Home | As I Wreck This Chair | High Ground | Career Brief and Roots | Advocacies | Landmarks Copyright 2006 The Chair Wrecker by William M. Esposo