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All-out war

In 1965, The Byrds recorded a song called Turn!Turn!Turn! (To Everything There is a Season) that was an instant hit because it was released at the height of the Vietnam War when militants all over the world were crying for peace. The song, which was originally written by Pete Seeger in 1959, was actually an almost word-for-word musical interpretation of the Book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, A Time for Everything, that says: To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. The wordings were rearranged a bit, and Seeger added the phrase in the end that says: a time for peace, I swear its not too late. The popular song comes to mind because of the renewed debates over whether the government should launch an all-out war against the Muslim rebels following a series of attacks by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Mindanao that have resulted in the death of 44 persons, many of them military and police troopers. Some lawmakers, led by Senators Panfilo Lacson and Jinggoy Estrada, have called on the government to wage an all-out war against the MILF rebels in the wake of the ceasefire violations, but President Benigno S. Aquino III insists that while the military should go after the lawless elements who instigated the attacks, the government must not abandon the ongoing peace negotiations. Lacson and Estrada said 40 years of negotiations with the separatists had achieved nothing while government soldiers continue to die in Mindanao. Peace in Mindanao cannot be achieved unless a tactical victory is attained by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said Lacson, the Senates defense committee chairman. It is time we untied the hands of our soldiers and authorized them to fight the MILF on equal termsand not handicapped by the so-called peace talks characterized by treachery and deceit. Estrada, Senate president pro tempore, made the same call and demanded that the MILF leadership surrender the rebels responsible for the death of the 19 soldiers before the peace talks with them could resume. As the government has re-initiated a policy of peaceful and diplomatic negotiations, the other side has shown modest interest in attaining long-lasting peace, especially considering their latest show of aggression where 23 of our soldiers and three policemen have died, Estrada said.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, a former defense secretary, said the government should suspend the peace talks if the MILF will not surrender their fighters behind the killing of the troops. What peace talks are we talking about when they are engaging us in combat? he said. Aquino on Friday had instructed the military that that there would be no offensive operation against those responsible for the killings in Al-Barka, Basilan province. The next day, however, he turned around a bit and ordered military operations against the lawless elements in areas where the attacks were launched. This was after reports of demoralization in the military surfaced because of the presidential inaction, giving the perpetrators time to flee the areas. Aquino said the state was determined to run after all lawless elements, especially the Abu Sayyaf group, but not the MILF, with whom the government was honoring a ceasefire agreement. The statement came despite the admission by the MILF that they were responsible for the attacks, which they said was in retaliation for military actions in the areas that they control. Aquino is tiptoeing on dangerous grounds here. He has to do his best to keep the peace talks going because he has promised to bring peace to Mindanao as his administrations legacy, and yet he has to appease the soldiers who have lost a number of their comrades in what they described as treacherous attacks by the rebels. He has to prevent the clashes from exploding into a full-blown war, and at the same time he has to keep the government in a position of strength in the peace negotiations. He wants to bring peace, but he has to stop short of being called a wimp for not standing up to the rebels. As an aftermath of Aquinos hesitancy to mount an offensive against the MILF rebels, reports have been circulating in military camps that a coup may be mounted against him by angry elements of the military. I have always advocated for lasting peace in Mindanao, but at the rate things are going, Lacson and Estrada may have a point in saying that peace talks have only led to failure, and will continue to fail until the military has achieved tactical victory in Mindanao. For 40 years, the government has sought peace with the Muslim rebels. Many thought peace was at hand when the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) under Chairman Nur Misuari signed the Tripoli Agreement in 1976 in Libya that was moderated by the late Col. Moammar Gaddafi. The agreement granted autonomy to Central Mindanao in what is now known as the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. But the peace was short-lived as an MNLF faction, led by Hashim Salamat, rose up in arms again in 1978 under the name Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The government has since initiated peace talks with both the MNLF and the MILF, but none has come close to a lasting agreement that would be acceptable to both the Bangsa Moro people and the rest of the population. The Arroyo administration tried to sneak in a Memorandum of Agreement on Ancetral Domain (MOA-AD) in 2008, but was stopped by the Supreme Court because the proposed accord was obviously unconstitutional because it surrendered sovereignty over that region. Even if the Aquino administration is able to find common ground with the MILF group under Al Haj Murad Ibrahim, there is no certainty that it would assure lasting peace in Mindanao because there are many more groups that have their own version of peace the Umbra Kato faction of the MILF, which is now known as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM), the MNLF under Misuari, the terrorist Abu Sayyaf, and who knows what other rebel group would arise in the future.

It happened in 1978, what would make it different now? In 1978, there was only the Salamat faction to contend with. Now, there are three outside of the Ibrahim-led MILF. The Mindanao situation has gotten more complicated with three different groups seeking a Bangsamoro entity in various forms. The MILF wants a substate, the MNLF a strengthened autonomy, and the Umbra Kato-led BIFM, secession. The Abu Sayyaf wants nothing but mayhem. After several attempts to resolve the Mindanao dispute, the nagging problem remains. Aquino has vowed to bring lasting peace to Mindanao before his term ends, but with both the MNLF and the MILF holding separate peace talks with the government, and the BIFM threatening to reignite an armed conflict, the region may continue to be Aquinos biggest headache and the biggest stumbling block to the countrys full economic development. How do you appease the Bangsamoro people without angering the rest of the Filipino people? How do you allow a Bangsamoro land without surrendering sovereignty? John Stuart Mill, an English philosopher, once said: War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling that thinks nothing is worth a war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing that is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. Mindanao needs peace to fully develop to its potential, and peace is always preferred over war. But as the Book of Ecclesiastes and the song of The Byrds say, There is a time for war and a time for peace. Unless President Aquino is willing to give up sovereignty over Mindanao, which is a foolish thing to do, he may only have his peace if he follows the philosophy of General Dwight Eisenhower who said: We are going to have peace even if we have to fight for it.

ZAMBOANGA CITY: Suspected Muslim rebels shot dead three soldiers in Lanao del Norte province and five rubber plantation workers in Basilan province on Sunday in the latest bouts of violence that killed dozens in southern Philippines in the past week. The weeks killings have put extreme pressure on President Benigno Aquino 3rd to review the faltering peace process with the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), with some leading lawmakers calling for an all-out war. MILF guerrillas ambushed the troops while they were on their way to facilitate the surrender of two militants in a remote area in Mindanao, Philippine Army spokesman Maj. Harold Cabunoc said also on Sunday. The initial report is that three were killed and three were wounded, Cabunoc added. The attack came just hours after a large group of armed men also believed to be MILF fighters killed the five plantation workers and injured eight others in Sapah Bulak village, Sumisip town, in Basilan. It happened at about 11:15 a.m. in the village of Payong in Sultan Naga Dimaporo town, officials said. A Philippine Army commander, Lt. Col. Bagnus Gaerlan, escaped unscathed from the ambush but two of his soldiers were killed in the assault, said Army Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang, a spokesman for the Western

Mindanao Command. Gaerlan is the commander of the Fifth Infantry Battalion. The soldiers were heading to the town of Malabang when gunmen ambushed them, he said, adding that the attackers retreated toward the towns coastal area. Sundays casualties have brought the number of deaths blamed on the MILF to 35 since last week, in what is the deadliest eruption of violence involving the separatist group in recent years. No group claimed responsibility for Sundays attacks but the Armed Forces of the Philippines said the MILF was known to operate in the areas where they happened. The fresh assaults could have been staged by the MILF to ease military pressure against their comrades being hunted down elsewhere in the restive southern region, Cabunoc said. It is possible these might be diversions, that they might be getting desperate, he added. Reports from military intelligence operatives indicated that the 40 gunmen who ambushed the plantation workers were members of an MILF unit led by a rebel called Hassan Asnawi, the Philippine Army said. The gunmen escaped into the jungle after a pro-government militia escorting the workers fought back, it added. MILF fighters killed 19 Special Forces troops who allegedly strayed into a rebel camp also in Basilan on Wednesday, in violation of a ceasefire. The military, however, said that the soldiers were after a rogue MILF commander named Dan Laksaw Asnawi when they were ambushed. That Asnawi in 2007 allegedly joined forces with members of the smaller al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf rebel group in a major clash with Philippine Marines in 2007 in which 14 soldiers were killed and beheaded. He was later jailed but escaped from a Basilan jail in 2009. It was not clear whether the two Asnawis were related or whether Sundays ambush was linked to last weeks attacks. Four soldiers and four policemen were also slain on Thursday in separate clashes in Zamboanga Sibugay province, also on Mindanao, the mainly Roman Catholic Philippines southern third where the MILF has waged a rebellion since the 1970s. President Aquinos peace negotiator with the MILF, Marvic Leonen, said that a thorough investigation of the clashes was being undertaken and warned that the attacks would weigh heavily on the talks. The MILF rebellion has claimed about 150,000 lives, with most of the deaths coming in the 1970s when an allout war raged.

Manila and the rebel group signed a truce in 2003 to pave the way for the negotiations but the ceasefire is often marred by clashes and the negotiations are in a stalemate.

Mindanao Crisis and Its Implication to the Peace and Development By: The MPCPD Secretariate (May 19, 2000) ---------------------------------------------------------------------This document attempts to provide an in-depth study about the clearer picture and analysis of the worsening situation in Mindanao as well as its implication to the populace and the country. It also aims at providing framework for the MPCPD network and other peace advocates actions and programs in responding the said situation. It was based on the MPCPDs clippings and compilation of formal interview documents as well as informal discussion of the Philippines leading personalities from across sections, and summarized insights and thesis of the allied NGO/PO network of MPCPD. The secretariate ______________________________________________________

Preface: Mindanao islands and their natural resources have been illustrated to be the Philippines comparative advantage to global economy by the government and the Imperialist United States (IUS) through globalization and neo-liberal policy. Whether we like it or not, promoters of such policy shall impose this to the people and those who will oppose it shall face the consequence of fascism, hence, the worsening crisis in Mindanao clearly manifests the fascist character of those imposing the policy. It explains and exposes the crisis experienced by the IUS puppet government on policies and programs of the globalization and neo-liberalization in Mindanao. The "all out war policy" of Erap government which is tactically directed to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), is basically and strategically addressed to the entire people who are actively opposing the anti-people policies of the globalization and neo-liberalization dictated by the IUS. The suffering of civilians as an effect of his "all out war" policy is just but secondary thing. Erap through its military advisers and agents covertly revived the infamous conflict among peoples in Mindanao: Christians-Muslims Conflict, Moro vs Lumad. In some instances it created intrigues to gush out the Christians vs Christians and Muslims vs. Muslims within the Christians and Muslim populace. Muchmore, the government propaganda machinery has maximized unverified criminality to justify the attacks to the MILFs position and camps. It is in order to make sure peoples support on military actions on governments advantage. Aside from attributing unverified criminal charges to the MILF, Eraps propaganda machine is now driving MILFs connection to Abu Sayyaf despite of some verified data on Abu Sayyafs history and characteristic. It has been

exposed that this group is a military creation and is until now maintained by some select-officers of the Armed forces of the Philippines (AFP). Reported systematic operation of military agents such as sowing intrigues to Muslims, Christians, and Lumad and then recruiting them to vigilante formation has been widespread. MILFs tactical military offensives as offshoots of the governments attack against them such as occupation of highways, municipal halls, and villages etc. were intentionally highlighted to give more credence of the intrigues. Civil war is inevitable in Mindanao should this scheme continues. In this light, a critical study as well as sharp steps and concerted actions must be launched by the NGOs, POs, groups, individuals, and all peace advocates under Mindanao Peoples, Congress for Peace and Development (MPCPD) in order to squarely address the worsening crisis. As among the leading stakeholders on Mindanao lasting peace and genuine development, let us transforms this crisis into an advantage position to strengthen our resolve on PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT in Mindanao. I. Brief Historical Background of the Situation: A. A. B. 1. 2. The Ramos regime recognized and offered the important role of Mindanao to the development of entire country. It designed Mindanao 2000 that basically anchored to the economic fundamentals of the Philippines 2000, a regimes development package in implementing the globalization and neo-liberalization programs. Recognizing the existence of armed revolutionary groups, he also described "PEACE" as the key to achieve such development. It is in this context that the peace process was conceptualized, thus peace talks were open to all revolutionary forces. However, it was designed as approach to strategically neutralize the revolutionary forces. 3. 4. He tactically prioritized those experiencing revolutionary fatigue, small and less complicated revolutionary groups. He first talked the Revolutionary Armed Movement (RAM) in 1993 while immediately after, he concentrated to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). 5. 6. FVR at this period recognized MILF as a big threat to its development agenda. He then thought of some military covert operation to strategically neutralize the MILF. Through his select military agents, he coddled with some members of the MILF who belongs to an influential clan in Maguindanao with a coup plot against the MILFs central leadership. Integral part of this operation was the re-establishments of vigilantes, through, the infamous Italian priest killer Mr. Manero, an anti-Muslim vigilante member called Ilaga. 7. Circumstances in the Ramos Regime:


In 1996, the peace talks between MNLF and Ramos regime ended with an agreement to establish the SPCPD. It was when Prof. Nur Misuari assured Ramos to adopt the Mindanao 2000 development agenda and framework. Afterwards the MNLF as revolutionary forces weakened and was later completely isolated from the Moro masses.

9. 10. Ramos initiated talks with the MILF in January 1997. However, it did not prosper because it got busy with the presidential election in 1998. Moreover, the Ramos coup plot within the MILF also failed when 200 agents were accidentally discovered and arrested by the MILF. The regime then reduced their tactics towards MILF by using "carrots and stick". Carrots or development funds to maintain the peace process with minimal "sticks" or military offensives/attacks towards MILF position and camps to soften some MILF stance on some particular issues. Meanwhile, Ramos also open talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF. 11. 12. Ramos and his master from IUS worried over Eraps popularity. They expected that Erap would win the election and would not continue the globalization program and neo-liberal policy Ramos had started. IUS, to ensure its interest entered into compromise with Eraps camp. One of the trusted men of Erap was summoned to United States for the deal. In exchange for smooth transition of power IUS asked for their interest including the Visiting Forces Agreements (VFA), and retention of CIA/FVR henchmen like Sec. Aguirre as national security council chief, Sec. Siason as foreign affairs chief, and Gen. Calimlim as intelligence and presidential guard chief. These are the people who will ensure and maintain IUS interest should Erap assumes power. Eraps camp at that time was amenable to the compromise for the reason of ensuring victory and avoiding Erap place in danger like assassination. A. A. B. 1. 2. Faithful of their agreement, Erap adopted policies that support globalization and neo-liberal programs including the affirmation of the strategic role of Mindanao into global economy. He also installed all trusted men of IUS into sensitive position as well as endorsed the VFA. Because of his popularity he implemented policies and programs which Ramos failed to implement such as Marcos wealth resolution, placement of Marcos cronies back to business, charter change etc. 3. 4. In 1999 the peace talk between Government of the Philippines (GRP) and CPP-NPA-NDF collapsed because of differences on the peace talks framework while the GRP-MILF peace talks move very slowly. 5. Circumstances within Erap Administration:


Meanwhile, the economic crisis of the nation continues to break off. Effects of the impact of globalization have worsened this year 2000. Eraps absence of comprehensive development program confounded this crisis. Governments program on empowerment, food security, agriculture and rural development and housing remains a slogan. One hundred million pesos a day expense for military offensive against MILF deepen further the economic crisis.

7. 8. Evidence on cronyism, massive graft and corruption, impact of globalization to the people intensifies: oil price increase and deregulation, also complicates further the economic crisis and has cost seriously Eraps popularity to melt down at negative 16%. 9. 10. Evidence of squabble and differences within the AFP and civilian circles in the Erap government have been reportedly worsened. The squabble is attributed to the serious differences on the handling of the growing effects of the globalization to the people. Hence, the popularity of Erap has overturned and is blamed to his policies and programs that cost the deepening economic crisis in the country. It also worsened the crack within the government and elite, thus plot of coup de tat against Erap emerged from the significant circle of generals loyal to Ramos. It also consolidates the Oust Erap Movement. 11. 12. Meanwhile, this row has been dragged to serious differences over the handling of Mindanao problem. There were two opposing schools of thoughts on how to handle the Mindanao problem that emerged. First the "non-military approach" which is pushed by the liberal circles in his cabinet and other development oriented groups, and second the "military-approach" which is pushed by the Sec. Almonte and Fidel V. Ramos (FVR)s circle of generals and men in the Erap cabinet. 13. 14. The former is basically a continuation of FVR approach with the MILF by pouring development funds so long the MILF sit in the negotiating table. This is being actively played by the groups of Aventajado. However, the militarist advocates who are not comfortable with the said approach have held Erap hostage with the latter. Low popularity rating made him convince to give in to militarist approach. Expecting a bounce of his rating he orders "all out war". Like Mr.Putin of Russia did against Muslim separatist in Chechnya. 15. 16. IUS is also worried over the declining popularity rating of Erap. Its dwindling support to Eraps government is timetable until September 2000 should he fails to regain the rating. Stratford warned him the consequence of military coup, constitutional coup, or a combination of both, like to what had happened to Pakistan and Sri Lanka. 17. 18. As such, Erap quickly followed the IUS advised to take harsh formula in handling the Mindanao problem with the MILF to heal his popularity inspite of strong opposition from his civilian advisers. He also ensure tough

but loyal officers in place in strategic positions like Generals Lacson and Reyes while either removing or floating officers with uncertain loyalty. 19. 20. Eraps "all out war policy" combines scheme of sowing intrigues with Christians and Muslims and Lumads. Among the intrigues it propagated was like this one, "what will happen to Christians and Lumads if MILF version of autonomy is given?" It showed obviously that Christians and Lumads have no place in the autonomy. This issue creates confusion to them. Since MILF also has limited or no ready-made answer to this issue because accordingly they are still talking peace or the autonomy mechanics with the GRP. 21. 22. Included also in the scheme is the operationalization of the vigilantes and fundamentalist groups. The Abu Sayyaf consolidates its organization with anti-Christian posturing; the Christian Liberation Army (CLA) and the Ilaga, with anti Muslim posturing. Concerned Basilan a mix Muslims and Christians group organized by Sec. Aguirre with anti-Abu Sayyaf posturing but also conducts counter-kidnapping. Military agents aided by CIA advisers were reportedly organizing and funding these vigilantes and fundamentalists. Hence, the "all out war" policy and military offensive against the MILF has relatively obtained support from the people of Luzon and Visayas who used to witness war at the tri-media that covers most of the time atrocities of the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan and Jolo. It was also the effects of massive campaign of the Erap government to associate MILF to Abu Sayyaf. 23. 24. Frightening reactions from MILF and its supporters both within and outside the country have also been carried out to contain "all out war policy". However, to the camps of the government instead viewed this as welcome sign to easily neutralize pro-MILF including low profile personalities. 25. 26. In Mindanao after it realized alarming war damages, most of the people call for peace and appeal to resolve differences in the negotiating table. Peace marches, rallies, fora and lobbying to campaign "peace not war" has now gaining momentum and support in the country including the wide section of the population.

II. The Current Situation: In last quarter of 1999 Erap set the deadline to finish talking peace with MILF on June 30, 2000 while the preparation for a joint military exercise with IUS and the Philippines was hammered out to begin and ends in February 2000. The joint military exercise was named OPLAN Balikatan 2000. When the AFP catches justification to attack Camp Omar of MILF in municipalities of Talayan and Shariff Aguak, those who graduated from the said military exercise were deployed and augmented government troops for the assault. Significant victory in Camp Omar over the MILF proved accordingly the effectiveness of the war tactics undertaken in the joint military exercise as well as the military hardware left by IUS soldiers.

After the Omar incident, criminality like bombings with public utility vehicles like ferries and busses as well as bombings of public places became rampant in which MILF, the military suspect denied any involvement. Along these issues, the Manero haste as well as Abu Sayyaf kidnapping activities competes capturing headlines in tri-media. The bombing of passenger ferry that cost lives of 42 innocent civilian again the AFP finds excuse to attack Camp Bilal of MILF. The attack justification was based on unverified intelligence report that that suspects was hiding in the said camp. They, for the second time, employed tactics and armaments acquired from OPLAN Balikatan 2000. Unlike Camp Omar where MILF lost some strategic positions, Camp Bilals MILF troops had successfully defended its position that in 3 day fight the government forces suffer heavy casualty. As offshoots of the AFPs intense attack, the MILF launched military counter offensive by attacking AFPs garrisons and occupied Kauswagan town for 10 days. Later however, MILF forces left Kauswagan in view of the appeal from the civilians and peace advocates. The vigilante group called the "God Shepherd" was then organized with anti-Muslim posturing. The organizers highlighted MILF occupation of the Christian predominated town of Kauswagan. Combat gear wearing President Estrada inspired the groups formation. After Camp Bilal, the military brings the war into the main Camp of MILF, the Camp Abubakar Asidique. The justification by this time is the illegal toll collection in the Narciso Highway where residents denied of such activity. The Narciso Highway traversed the said main camp which MILF manning checkpoints also. The MILF formally informed the government that touching the said highway would mean a big war. Hence, in a peace panel meeting on 27 of April 2000 the MILF brought the highway issue to their attention. Both the government and MILF peace panels came up a "peace formula" on the said highway. Since the issue raised was police matter, they both agreed National Police should the one clearing the area and not the AFP. However, barely 6 hours after, the government troops violated the agreement by attacking the main camp instead MILF garrisons in the highway. Intense fighting ensued after the MILF suspended peace talks in protest with the violation of the agreements at the Narciso Highway and the war had spelled over in almost entire areas suspected near the camps of MILF in Mindanao. Alarmed over the situation, the peace advocates called for the resumption of peace talks and cease-fire between the two warring camps, however, only the MILF responded the call for 48 hours cease-fire, thus war resumed again it lapse. The peace advocates had again asked the MILF to reposition its forces into 1 kilometer away from the contested highway to avoid prolonging the war and ease civilian sufferings. MILF faithfully responded the call but however, the government still continues pounding MILF position with mortars and airdrop bombs. The government has still to decide its response with the MILF repositioning until today. And on the 18 of May 2000, the AFP extended their demands from Narciso highway into additional 3 kilometer repositioning of MILF troops away from the said highway after occupying the Narciso Highway. What the military really wants, the Highway or the MILF camp?, a question that nags the minds of most peace loving people of Mindanao. Gradual and strategic constriction military tactic is the model employed by the AFP-GRP to crush and capture the main camp of MILF, the Camp Abubakar. It employs the elite forces of the AFP, the Marines and Scout Rangers with heavy armaments where the Army and para-military are placed as support forces. The AFP also involved 80% of its ground force, 80% of its air force, 90% of its Marine combat force, and 80% of its naval force. Further 5 AFP Division assigned in different parts of the country was also asked to commit 1500 combat force each as augmentation force in the ground forces. More or less the AFP deployed 50,000 personnel excluding the 42,000 auxiliary forces in Mindanao. To boast militarys moral further, Erap went around the areas near the fighting with complete military gear. The MILF on other hand deploys 12,150 combat force with heavy ground armaments scattered in 4 provinces where the heavy fighting is taking place. These are Lanao Norte, and Matanog- 2 Brigades each, Lanao Sur, Buldon, Zamboanga Sur- 1 Brigade each, Maguindanao and Pikit, 1 division each. The fighting ratio between AFP and MILF is 5:1 respectively. However, in Lanao Norte only 1500 MILF ground troops are fighting against 13,000 Marines.
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As a result of these intense firefights, AFP recorded as of this writing, 324 dead, 542 wounded and 42 missing while 80 MILF mujahedeens dead and 123 other wounded. On the innocent civilians, again massive evacuations and displacements, loss of lives and millions worth of properties are again among the common reality. The government welfare agency recorded as many as 300,000 individuals displaced, 121 innocent women and children killed from indiscriminate firings, airdrops bombs from the AFPs aircraft and artillery. The closures of major highways, sea and airports as well as bombs scare and panic buying have led to the collapse of commerce and business that cost 1 Billion pesos a day losses. It also threatened widespread scarcity of food supplies among the populace especially areas surrounded with heavy fighting. The damaged public utilities such as source of water, light, etc. due to heavy weapons and bombs has further compounded the misery situation. The IUS direct participation in the said war is through their military advisers and logistical and armaments support like the global positioning system (GPS), gadget to take satellite photo to detect MILF position. These are manifested in the MILFs captured armaments and gadgets during the war. Meanwhile, the situation in handling MILF crisis and Abu Sayyaf activities of kidnapping foreign people are also seen not remote in the near future to be among the IUS justification of the deployment of seven fleets in the seas around Mindanao using the VFA.

III. Reactions of the People in the Mindanao Crisis: 1. 2. Church: Organized its response to "peace not war". However, it came late and divided. The position of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Philippines (CBCP) differs to one another: Bishop Quevedo, the CBCP Pres., an advocate for peace has called for the GRP and MILF to go back in the negotiating table. While Bishop de la Cruz of Basilan and considerable number of priests understandably called for "all out war". 3. 4. Business Groups: They position for all out war if the war would only last for 3-7 days. But however, later they called to stop the war when they realized that war has prolonged and already causing more than 1 billion pesos a day loss for business activity. 5. 6. NGO/POs: Reactive and in most cases only confined to relief response activity with the victims of war: the evacuees. Those who are active were mostly coming from Non-Moro NGOs. 7. 8. Local Government: Sold out to support "all out war" but those within the war zones who opposed war were pressured to support the policy. 9.

10. Media: Generally stands for the government. However, some are reporting objectively. 11. 12. Development Agencies: Consider withdrawal of its support in Mindanao Projects. 13. 14. Senators: Mindanao senators (Barbers, Pimentel and Guingona) called for: "resumption of peace talk", stop the war in Mindanao. But majority of the senators and congressman are supportive to all out war. Only 6 of 49 Mindanao congressperson campaign for peace. 15. 16. International Community: Those who were updated of the situation had letter-barraged to their friends and Philippine Government. This is not yet systematic and widespread. 17. 18. International Media (EU, France, Germany): Reacted and penetrated Basilan and Sulu due to hostage taking of Abu-Sayyaf. 19. 20. When the war intensified the Christian-Muslim animosities also heighten. The Christians and Muslim fundamentalist and Christian vigilantes and others have been emerging also. 21. 22. Most of those who participated in the peace campaigns started from above. Minimal coming from the grassroots. The peace campaigns are launched separately and uncoordinatedly. The TFME allied NGO/POs also had relatively failed to immediately react, lead and maximize the opportunity to strengthen peace and development advocacy in Mindanao.

IV. General Analysis: 1. 2. The Eraps handling of the current Mindanao crisis is the concrete approach of the IUS dictated fascist state that fetches modern globalization program and neo-liberal policy. The IUS direct intervention in Eraps handling could be manifested in the MILFs captured US made-sophisticated armaments and modern war technologies on communication used by the AFP in the offensive. 3.


The IUSs war ideology that the number 1 enemy of the world today after the cold war is the "fundamentalist Islam religion and terrorists Muslim" is clearly noticeable on Eraps campaign in handling the Mindanao crisis. The said war ideology has maintained and justified IUS own existence as world police dog and the imperialist country that maintains world peace and order.

5. 6. The advanced capitalist countries such Japan, European Union and US have utilized multi-forms to bring the developing countries into the framework of modern globalization under their control. It employs direct military intervention through provision of military logistical support and multi-national forces especially those countries keeping up problem with revolutionaries and freedom fighters in order to forcibly crush resistance and force these countries integrate to modern globalization. It also maximizes international organizations such as United Nation and World Security Councils to systematically integrate those countries that they have limited control and bring these countries integrate to modern globalization. 7. 8. 9. Mindanao on the Philippine Context: Mindanao has been said the land of promise as declared by almost all governments which passed in the country. The strategic development success of the country depends on the Mindanao significant role and its abundant natural resources. The current government has placed Mindanao as the food basket where foods of generations to come in the country will be taken from Mindanao. In the world economy, it also plays important role in the BIMP-EAGA, and politically and militarily, it has strategically placed in Asia Pacific regional rim. In this reality, IUS tries and wants to integrate Mindanao Islands into world standing politically, economically and culturally. In this context also the Filipino elite represented by Erap also finds no room for Islamic State in Mindanao. The Erap government employs "stick and carrots" approach to assimilate Mindanao and by crushing the rebellion. The "carrots" or development funds are channeled through Aventajado group and "sticks" through Gen. Reyes of AFP. However, Erap prioritized his self-preservation in the face of his dwindling popularity and avoid the coup, thus he seriously considers the step of President Putin of Russia. He used force to appear as hero in the eyes of misinformed general public. 10. Option by Force: 11. This is the modern application of the low-intensity conflict (LIC). It employs modern war logistics, equipment and armament. The Erap government called this as an "all out war", this however to appear his macho image he acquired in filmmaking. This option is also the modern version of "total war policy" of US-Aquino regime launched against the communist. The insincerity of the Erap government in the peace talks is exposed on this option. Meanwhile, other revolutionary forces viewed the Mindanao crisis base on what they think advantageous to them. The CPP-NPA-NDF has entered into tactical alliance with MILF, but it however is not as serious as that. The NDF did this just for propaganda purposes. This group is also looking for the sophisticated military hardware from the MILF. The RPA-ABB-RPM entered tactical alliance with MILF on the bases that they viewed MILF as the representatives of the toiling Moro masses, which is fighting for the right to self-determination. As such, they accordingly are obliged to

support any political objectives of MILF as a proletarian obligation. Thus, recent attacks at the strategic establishment in Metro Manila in support MILF cause were attributed to them. The massive support from the masses to this option by force is also an important element. It would strategically integrate Mindanao to global economy by means of this option if Erap successfully rally the support of the Christian, Moro and Lumad masses in Mindanao. 12. The peace process being advocated by the government within the framework of pursuing the interest of IUS through globalization program and neo-liberal policy in Mindanao would only mean a preparation for a big war by the government against those opposed the said program and policies like the MILF. 13. 14. The Mechanics of OPLAN PHEONIX The Oplan Phoenix is the general military plan that particularized offensive design of the AFP to neutralize, if not crush the MILF positions and camps. (Oplan Phoenix literally means the "use of intense fire/offensive). The primary objective of this designed is to neutralize the MILF leadership and crushes its central base, the Camp Abubakar. It mainly employs military tactics on "gradual constriction" to all MILF recognized camps. It also believes that crippling and crushing one after the other small and satellite camps would ensure AFP-GRPs victory. The Oplan Phoenix also sets for an estimated of two months intense fire exchanges and strong resistance from the MILF should it starts attacking Camp Abubakar. This estimate accordingly, is based on the data gathered from the AFPs strategic agents within the MILF that it losses logistics and war ammunitions for that span of time. The IUS military adviser also affirmed the timetable. The further set the timetable of seven months to completely neutralize MILF force in the entire Mindanao. The Oplan Phoenix was also based on the conventional warfare strategy of the MILF wherein it shall justify the AFPGRP to mobilize their entire heavy war materials and forces. It includes drops of international regulated bombs from its air force, deployment of Naval near suspected sea exit of MILF camps, concentration of heavy artillery as well as all of its elite forces. It also seriously considers modern technologies and armaments acquired from the IUS. Below are some features of the Oplan Phoenix Operationalization: 1. 1. 2. 3. GRP vs MILF The AFP-GRP would use its elite forces as the leading troops in the ground and launch intense and indiscriminate firing of artillery and airdrops bombs. They identified the elite ground forces as the Marines and Scout Rangers while the army, police and para-military shall perform support contingent. It shall also mobilized military reserve forces for medical and food relief operations to the war victims particularly the evacuees. Included also in the tactics of Oplan Phoenix is the massive campaign and launching of provocative actions that comprise indiscriminate mortar firing towards civilian and massive psychological operations against the MILF.

Psychological operation embodies schemes on isolating the MILF by associating this revolutionary force to criminality and Abu Sayyaf activities. It also maximizes the psychic of MILF ranks and files of leader oriented and close family ties to scramble field commanders into emotional state in retaliation of leaders and families hit by the AFP with its indiscriminate firing. It was also designed to isolate MILF with their international support/allies and to weaken support of the Moro masses locally. Further, the Oplan Phoenix also designed scheme of systematic cracking down of those supportive personalities within the government and business community. Witch-hunts undertaken by select-military agents are now plying and it would later mature into sporadic disappearances, salvaging and other serious cases of human rights violation. 4. Muslim vs Christian:

Oplan Phoenix recognizes this conflict to the strategic victory of the AFP-GRP against the MILF. The sensitive and traumatic experience of both Muslim and Christians could be easily maximized once provoked. Thus, criminality, bombings of public places before the attack of MILF camps and the Abu Sayyaf activities had been highlighted. The MILF however repeatedly denied including any relation with the Abu Sayyaf of all cases attributed to them. It also employs kidnapping, counter kidnapping, bombings and counter bombings at sensitive places for the both Muslim and Christians. Included in here is the bombing of Mosque for the Muslim as well as Cathedral for the Christian in Mindanao. This scheme is to ensure moral justification to block any local and international support for the enemy of the AFP-GRP. Below are some nagging data gathered and nagging question taken from an in-depth study with the Abu Sayyaf group. a. b. Abu Sayyaf fighters were initially recruited to be volunteer mojahedeens to fight the American surrogate war in Afganistan in the early 90s.

c. d. Some select military officers of the AFP trained the Abu Sayyaf troops in Sulu, Tawi-tawi, Basilan and other remote places in Mindanao. e. f. The funds and arms of the Abu Sayyaf were provided by IUS covert operators, probably connected to the CIA. Olama Bin Laden could have been the principal courier for either the Abu Sayyaf funds, or the arms or both. g. h. In 1994 an NGO which is an ally of TFME in Zamboanga confirmed that 5 leading Abu Sayyaf leading personalities were actually military agents including Edwin Angeles. For estranged reason, Edwin Angeles was assassinated sometimes 1998. Where are the four others now? i.


Sometimes in 1995, the funds either failed to come or did not come on time, Thus, the Abu Sayyaf troops raided the town of Ipil, Zamboanga del Sur. Their initial intention was to rob the banks of Ipil. Unexpectedly, however, a group of soldiers not belonging to the Ipil Command who were eating in a restaurant engaged them in a firefight. The shoot out drew the attention of the local police and military units who had earlier reported ordered confined to their camps and were thus caught flatfooted by the Abu Sayyaf raid. To divert the attention of the responding police and military units, Abu Sayyaf bandits razed Ipil to the ground.

k. l. Mr. Kadaffy Janjalani, the current Abu Sayyafs commander, was detained in Camp Crames detention cell with a maximum security. But for strange reasons he escaped his cell and went back to the hill immediately after his brother, former head of the group, was killed in a raid. m. n. The spokesperson of Abu Sayyaf in the name of Abu Sabaya was reportedly frequented talking with a certain colonel in AFPs Southern Command before the bloody hostage taking in Basilan took place that includes priest, teachers and students. o. p. Senator Aquilino Pimentel is parenthetically suggesting to read the book: Blowback, by Chalmers Johnson, that accordingly it may justify a deeper study into the affairs of the CIA in our country that have a direct relevance to the problems that the Abu Sayyaf is causing the country today. 1. 1. 2. 3. Christian vs Christian: The Christian church particularly the Catholic is considered to be one the critical institution to the anti-people policies and action of Eraps government. However, recently and perhaps for the first, the AFP-GRP is relatively succeeding to divide the church with the Crisis in Mindanao. In the burning Mindanao crisis, it was very clear that the Catholic Church contradicts its position as institution. The church leaders particularly Bishops and priest differ on its position on the "all out war" of Erap in Mindanao. 4. 5. Muslim vs Muslim Oplan Phoenix also recognized the scheme of intensifying cracks within the Moro society. It designed scheme on how to mobilize Moro personalities within the local government units to support all out war. They mobilized these personalities to convince Moro elders to do away supporting MILF by disallowing their children to actively support MILF cause. However, some minimal number were sharp and smarter to this scheme, they instead join multi-sectoral formation for peace movement. 6. Lumad Communities

There were also scheme being designed to sow intrigues within the Lumad society especially near Muslim communities in order revive the Lumad vs. Muslim conflict. Lumads are now encouraged by their leaders to arm themselves against the Muslims. 1. 2. It appeared those criminality charges, bombings of public places in random urban centers, occupation of town halls, clearing of highways are but secondary things to the main objective of neutralizing if not totally crushing the MILF militarily. These were happening and shall continue happening while MILF, the AFP-GRP suspect, keep on denying any responsibility, until such time AFP announces strategic military victory over the MILF. 3. 4. 5. The Oplan Zero Hour: The "Oplan Zero Hour" (OZH) is the defensive and counter offensive military tactics of the MILF against the Oplan Phoenix of the AFP. Its an "all out Jihad" or holy war. The OZH will according commence should strategic military position at Camp Abubakar are attacked by the military. OZH also embodied plan to spell over the war in all places of Mindanao, Visayas and even Metro Manila. OZH shall engage mainly a positional warfare however, recent war appears that MILF did not only employ positional warfare but combined guerrilla warfare in their offensive. Thus, big damaged had been inflicted with the AFP as it widely believes that MILF would only used mainly the conventional warfare. Meanwhile MILF have also augmented its perimeter defense in Camp Abubakar with their elite forces and heavy weaponry. In some instances, OZH had also flexibly improvised the positional warfare into tunnel warfare. To counter psychological operation of the Oplan Phoenix, OZH employs critical handling of the mass media as well as critically following the peace movement of the masses wherein they base their defensive and counter offensive actions. Though, there were some reported excesses in the field the MILF has imposed strict discipline to its forces. In effect, MILF had successful captured the support of the people across section especially the Muslims and peace advocates as well as the international community when it declared 48-hour cease-fire and voluntary repositioning of forces as its response to the call for "peace not war". In effect psychological operation for the AFP-GRP becomes self-defeating as the Cluster E couldnt even know what to do of such troops repositioning and peace declaration. The morale support from the people to the AFPs action before they attack Narciso Highway is now eroding. The Cluster E of the Pres. Erap and the president himself is now isolated specially among peace advocates in Mindanao. By the way, an IUS boy Sec. Siazon heads the Cluster E, or the executive departments Security Council. What has been lacking with the OZH is the legal machinery that supports military actions with the effective and massive legal offensive from the Moro masses. There were some actions from some legal organization but they still need enhancement into a more coordinated, intensive and extensive in nature at the urban centers. 6. Squabbles within the Ruling Elite:

The ruling elites efficient and effective control in the country is now eroding as the squabbles continue to intensify. Below are some features of these squabbles.

a. b. c. Erap Clique: President Joseph Ejercito Estrada is determined to finish his term in 2004. However, with his dwindling popularity, some sector comments that he might not finish it. The President then employs formula of giving preferential options on the Military to ensure loyalty and avoid the serious threat of coup. d. e. FVR Clique The FVR clique continues to play a big thorn on Eraps government. This group is now consolidating and waiting for a proper time to strategically strike against the Erap government. They are critically watching the popularity ratings of Pres. Erap and the loyalty of the AFP. This clique is the most inheritor sector should the Oplan Phoenix fails and the Mindanao crisis prolongs. IUS is now undertaking trial to the effectiveness of Ms. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. It is the face authorizing her as care taker of the country while Erap was forced to visit other country while situation in Mindanao and in the country is alarming. f. g. Combined FVR and Cory Cliques: Alliance of these two groups is also manifested to some considerable observation especially on their actions and critical position against Erap government. They are of the same tune to maximizing constitutional and extra-constitutional means to disrupt Erap government. This would be clearer during election fever in 2001 and 2004. h. IUS Interest:

The furtherance of the IUSs interest will however be still the determining factor who among these cliques rules. The warring cliques look into the strategic support from the IUS and other imperialist countries like the Japan and EU. Any action coming from those cliques must have the blessing coming from these countries. Interestingly, all of them got the blessing as they all bring the interest of the globalization program and neo-liberal policy. V. Scenarios: Below are scenarios that would help us design our moves and actions to advance peace and development in Mindanao. 1. 2. Scenario 1: GRP-AFP will intensify military offensive against the MILF:

It is the face of widespread and intense military crack down among the combat forces and civilian base of the MILF and declares the suspension of peace process. No cease-fire and No Peace policy even if there is a widespread call from the peace advocates. Bases: a.


The MILF demands are not within the boundary of the Philippines constitution. Erap government is firmed on his resolve to solve Mindanao crisis within the framework of the constitution.

c. d. As of today the ruling elite and the international business community still united on the "all out war policy" in handling Mindanao crisis.

e. f. g. h. The MILF-Abu Sayyaf packaging would succeed. Systematic international opinion over the Mindanao crisis had been problematic and very slow because of the Abu Sayyaf activities. Even most Islamic countries are uncertain of their support especially those IUS allies. 1. 2. Scenario 11: The MILF position weakened: Peace Movement coming from the civil society has still to develop coherent/united peace action.

It is the face that MILF will just go back to the negotiating table at the dictate of the GRP while AEP continues launching intense military offensive on MILF military position and camps. It could also be manifested in the massive crackdown of the personalities and projection of large surrender of MILF mujahideens and demoralization of its rank and file. Bases: a. b. The GRP would successfully packaged MILF to Abu Sayyaf and blocks the foreign support from Islamic world and international peace movement.

c. d. The GRP could successfully inflict considerable damaged to the leadership of the MILF through intense airdrops bombing. Leadership oriented rank in files is vulnerable to demoralization should central leadership is inflicted considerable damage. e. f. Slow response of genuine peace advocates from the Christians, Moro and Lumad populace. It is vulnerable to the reformism and reactionary frameworks towards the handling on Mindanao crisis. 1. 2. Scenario 111: The GRP position weakened:

It is the face of widespread demoralization of the AFP forces over the damaged inflicted on them. Considerable numbers of generals within the AFP and two former Defense Secretaries had expressed concern over the limitation of the Oplan Phoenix military tactics against the MILF. As Senator Pong Biazon has admitted the failure of intelligence community that AFP under estimated the MILF position. A colonel also confirms the anti Reyes-Mercado movement within the AFP. It is now consolidating its ranks to protest Reyes-Mercado policy towards the Mindanao Crisis and attitudes towards the rank and files. It is also in the face that the call for "all out Jihad" to Muslim community gained widespread support from them and even in the international Islamic community. However, it is of course after the MILF would successfully defend on the AFP-GRPs campaign associating them to Abu Sayyaf and the IUSs CIA hands over the Abu Sayyaf would also be exposed to international community. Another feature also would justify AFP-GRPs weakening position is the continuing backlash and division of the ruling elite and business community towards peace resolution and will oppose "all out war" in the Mindanao as well as the international community especially the Islamic world intervenes the peace talks. Bases: a. b. The Islamic world particularly the OIC will definitely decide and they hope this would be June 18, 2000 meeting at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to support MILF. Possibility of imposing economic embargo sanction over the AFP-GRP should it continue fights MILF. c. d. The MILF has successfully rally significant number of the Bangsamoro to their cause and recognize MILF as their sole representative. e. f. The peace movement would intensify while the popularity of the Erap deeply dwindles to the extent the IUS decided to give-up him because of the IUS and globalization interest and neo-liberal policies is threatened.

1. 2. Scenario 1V: The Mindanao Crisis and War Drag/Prolong to uncertain time:

It could be in the face of the following: a. b. The AFP-GRP would be place in the disadvantage position and the rank and files demoralize due to long war while the MILF change its warfare strategy to guerilla warfare. c.


The AFP-GRP will also change their strategy due to sharp decline of Eraps popularity. Possibilities of widespread protest fueled by cases of HRVs committed by the AFP and vigilante groups to the people will complicate further to Eraps downfall. The constitutional coup will happen.

e. f. g. h. 1. 2. Scenario V: The Mindanao Crisis and War Drag/Prolongs to uncertained time but Erap still in control of the Situation: It is in the face of the following: a. b. c. d. e. f. There would be a peace talks but Erap will use the Christian groups and invalidate Islamic world participation and intervention in the talks. If allowed only those allies of IUS Islamic countries. Change the Constitution to accommodate MILF demands. Erap declares State of Emergency or Martial Law. Facilitate easily the alliance of the Revolutionary forces. The MILF will return to negotiating table with big bargaining position.

1. 2. Scenario VI: Massive frustration and withdrawal of development agencies and investors that will result grim economic crisis due to massive damages. 3. 4. Scenario: VII: US-led Direct International Intervention:

It is in the face of the following: a. b. Mobilization of the international organization and forces like to what had happened in Kosovo and East Timor should the situation run uncontrollable. The visit of General Solano of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is one of the obvious examples to this scenario.

c. d. The AFP becomes weak to block this international intervention.

1. 2. Scenario VIII: Proliferation of the so called fly by night NGO/POs:

It has been the common observation that during crisis reality of the so-called fly by night NGO/POs or the "vultures of war" would again proliferate to take advantage of the situation. It is due to unimpressive coordination or loose networking and campaign mechanism with the genuine NGO/POs locally. The suffering of the victims of war again becomes center of the industry for money making. Nevertheless, for those who faithfully sympathize the victims will only do its share for a dole-out scheme, which the AFP-GRP wants to happen. They forget proactive measures to stop the victims sufferings such as actively participate in a campaign to stop the war. VI. The MPCPD Network General Tasks and Call for Action: 1. 2. 3. 4. Educate the Muslim, Christians and Lumad masses using various peace documents including this document with real situation of the Mindanao crisis. Also launch massive peace education and information drive using modern communication technologies especially on creating public opinion locally, nationally and internationally. 5. 6. Organize inter/intra religious dialogue, peace movement, and human rights formations as well as establish broad coalition to oppose "all out war policy" and campaign for peace. 7. 8. Launch coordinated peace campaign at all forms and systematically expose of the real motive and interest of IUS through its puppet government, at local, national and international arena. Strengthen and unify all MPCPD allied members, campaign machinery and actions.

9. 10. Call and appeal our partners from NGO/PO, friends, governments and peace advocates at the international level to launch peace consultations that would eventually come lobby position to stop the war and resolve differences peacefully. 11.

12. Institutionalize humanitarian support mechanism and other related support generation highlighting the victims of war and grim result of the "all out war policy" of the government. 13. 14. Respond to the needs through emergency action and disaster management programs with the victims of war through Task Force Mindanao Evacuees and coordinate institutions, formations and groups engaged in humanitarian relief operation. 15. 16. Organize meeting and discussion for further particularization of this campaign briefing with your respective NGO/POs, institution -and groups.