P5M Gift for the MILF


October 28, 2011/ Friday
Good Morning Philippines
ON SECOND THOUGHT

The controversy involving the P5M given to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is causing the spokespersons of the Palace to get entangled in different and sometimes contradicting statements about the said gift. Its initial reaction when the story first broke out was to brush it off as the doing of the previous administration (it’s the “blame habit”) and something this administration simply had to comply with. But it must have dawned on them soon after that that explanation would not wash well with all their boasting about the number of contracts entered into by GMA’s administration that they have rescinded due to provisions in those contracts supposedly “disadvantageous” to the government, as they have claimed. They did not mind that the European corporations involved in those contracts would sue the government in international courts and ask for corresponding damages which some have already promptly done or have threatened to do. In other words, they can’t claim to have their hands tied to agreements made by the previous government so now, they will have to switch tact and defend the P5M gift to the MILF as worthy. Secondly, there seems to be conflicting statements as to when the check was physically turned over to the MILF, one saying it happened during the meeting in Tokyo between the President and MILF leaders while another saying it was handed to the MILF peace panel by Mr. Leonen during the opening of the peace talks in Kuala Lumpur. It must be noted that this gift or news of it comes at the wake of the recent massacre of AFP soldiers in Basilan by rebel groups still unconfirmed whether belonging to the MILF or the outlawed Abu Sayaff bandits or both. It has become a sensitive issue to the military because of P-Noy’s lack of sympathy with the bloodied army and seeming partiality towards the MILF which angered not a few in the military establishment. The President has since tried to make up for it by the sudden announcement of the release of P10B pesos for the AFP’s modernization program, something that has long been included in the budget. He has also since authorized the bombing of identified lairs of the Muslim rebels responsible for the carnage, something the military feels he should have done immediately after the killings but instead, ordered the relief of a couple of Army Commanders and its’ spokesman involved in the shootout. He has also ordered an “all out justice” which is a new name for what the military felt he should have done early on – to go after the perpetrators. The coining of the non-sensical “all out justice” order, something unheard of in military parlance, was a way of saving face so as not to seem like he had yielded to the not so veiled threats of some officers’ plans to offer their resignation in protest of their Commander in Chief’s lack of support when they needed it most. This, of course, could have triggered a serious confrontation between the military and Malacanang, something P-Noy is most familiar with from experience during his mother’s regime when several coup attempts had taken place, one that almost had him killed when he received bullet wounds from rebel soldiers at that time. This probably explains the intrinsic antagonism towards the military still felt by the current President of the Republic and Commander in Chief of the AFP, not to mention the vengeful nature most people perceive in P-Noy. If the P5M gift cannot be adequately justified and explained to the satisfaction of the military, the rift between Malacanang and the AFP could widen further and threaten the on going peace talks between the MILF and the Philippine government. For now, the differentiation between friend and foe remains blurred.

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