Uploaded by Leo Nash

S Lawyer S

S Lawyer S
Estrada's All Out Campaign!
Copyright © 2010 by Chester B Cabalza. All Rights Reserved.
“As an ideology, according to Max Weber, it is a sort of religion in which symbols and rituals,
spiritual texts and routinized custodians generate economic profit, or enhance social prestige, or
gain military victory or merely under-gird political legitimation – all in the name of God” National Peace and Development Plan, 2000)
President Joseph Estrada, signed the Memorandum Order No. 88, Approving the National Peace
and Development Plan (NPDP) and Directing All Concerned Agencies to Adopt and Support the
Plan. Precedent of the 29 September 1999 Cabinet Meeting with the favorable endorsement from
the cabinet, approved and adoption of the “Strategy of Total Approach” (STA); the
Administrative Order No. 90, series of 1999, created the Cabinet Oversight Committee on Peace
Keeping and Development Operations to provide direction and supervision in the
implementation of the “Strategy of Total Approach”.
Hence, there is a need to develop an overall plan that shall implement the Strategy of Total
Approach and unify and coordinate the efforts of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the
Philippine National Police (PNP), and departments and agencies to help address armed conflicts
and insurgencies.
The concept of the plan proposes a total approach to the problem involving not only the security
forces but also the entire machinery of government and its resources. This total approach is
grouped into seven main efforts, namely: security, political, socio-cultural, diplomatic,
information, economic and legal.
It was stated that, although admittedly similar to the “Lambat Bitag” series, this Plan carries the
concept several steps more by submitting concrete proposals on the alleviation of poverty, which
is the direct result of the maldistribution of fruits of the land, which, in turn, is the primary cause
of the insurgency.
Counter-Insurgency Campaign Strategies:
What constitutes effective counterinsurgency strategies?
Sosmeña (2008) revealed that such approaches require analytical and sophisticated exercises of
the thinking capabilities of counterinsurgency specialists where policy analysis is an inseparable
part. The challenge of winning is the cardinal goal of the psychological combatants. At the end,
whoever provides the more convincing and populist alternative, which is packaged as the
superior and grand strategy in the confrontation wins the “other war”.
Like other decision making processes in government which are normally made in a highly
charged political environment, choosing the best policies to allow the AFP to counterinsurgency
effectively is not immune from the same hostile environment in public policy making.
He enumerated and took some considerations and useful guides in the policy making process,
based of the following:
- The impact or ability of the institution to develop policies which represents “client’s” interest.
- The value of the policy recommended and to what extent it will assist in the consideration of
the issue.
- The appropriateness of the policy recommendation and its acceptance to an association of
diverse policy makers.
- The extent to which the policy proposed reflects the views of the majority of interagency
decision makers.
- Availability of staff trained to engage in a meaningful and effective effort.
The government challenged by insurgency must be effective in psychological warfare.
Government credibility and what it stands for are prime factors that will help the established
regime survive insurgency. Confidence building measures on the part of the government plus
political leaders who listen to the people, help solve their problems and lead them towards
achieving progress will very well help.
- Implementation of Oplan Makabayan and Oplan Balangai
- Oplan Makabayan (1998-1999)
Oplan Makabayan also known as “OPMAK” by the rebels is geared into action as a militarist
policy of the AFP to wage an all-out military offensive to “crush” the revolutionary movement
and other Local Communist Movement (LCM) in the Philippines.
- Oplan Balangai (2000-2001)
The AFP, according to Quilop et al. (2007), implemented the Campaign Plan Balangai in 2000 as
part of its implementation of the national peace and development plan, which contained the
“total approach” strategy, as well as the clear-hold-consolidate-develop methodology of the
Philippine Government. This meant to provide the AFP with a clear plan and roadmap in
confronting insurgency within the overall framework provided by the National internal Security
Plan (NISP) and which highlights the importance of linking the AFP Internal Security
Operations (ISO) plan to higher national plans and policies.
Both the counterinsurgency programs such as Oplan Makabayan and Oplan Balangai
implemented during the Estrada administration gained good reception to the government and
effective which weakened the strengths of the state’s nemeses, despite several claims of human
rights abuses filed by the LCM (see graph 1 on internal security threats).
Political Context
In the May 1998 national elections, the Philippines experienced a twist of fate, when Joseph
Ejercito Estrada, a former popular actor, was elected as the 13th President of the Republic of the
Philippines with a landslide victory vote, and rose into power as the next Chief of Staff of the
AFP. However, Jayme (2001) opines that he was faced with a growing discontent over his
effectiveness as a leader and accusations of corruption. It was at this time that the peace talks
with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) collapsed and began his “all-out-war” policy.
As part of his governance, President Estrada insisted his government shall refocus to the
country’s security forces and arrangements; provide a circumscribed and effective government;
and promote better management of the economy.
It was, however, during Estrada’s term that massive operations were launched against the
insurgent groups’ main encampments. More specifically, MILF camps in Mindanao were taken
over by government forces, thereby abandoning the peace efforts with secessionist groups. The
search for terrorists’ cells was massively undertaken as well. Hence, based on AFP data, the
over-all armed insurgency trends during Estrada’s administration increased a bit from his
predecessor’s peace efforts which peaked up to 28,532 insurgents, including those of communist
and Islamic secessionists and terrorists, albeit lessened from his Aquino’s high-time vulnerability
but constantly decreasing during his successor’s administration.
Meanwhile, the signing of several agreements on each detail of the peace negotiation only
showed that the confidence-building process has been painstaking and was taking place at a
slower place. Unfortunately, the trust gained from the informal talks was endangered in 46
camps and began attacking few municipalities in Central Mindanao. The Narciso Ramos
Highway, a vital route connecting Maguindanao, South Cotabato and the Lanao Provinces, was
occupied by the MILF resulting in reported cease-fire violations and military offensives
(Hermoso [org. OPAPP, 2006] 2007:63).
Meanwhile, several political and legal factors impacted to the creation of new laws and
agreements such as the GRP-MNLF Peace Agreement, PNP Law Amendment and EDSA II have
also rooted to the alarming yet slow decrease in number of insurgents today (see graph 3 on
political and legal factors).
Ironically, this was also the same time that the formal talks were opened in Sultan Kudarat
wherein GRP and MILF panels issued a joint statement on the desire of the meaningful
autonomy program and consolidate peace efforts. The derailment of the talks was due to several
factors. Among them were the aggressiveness of MILF ground forces, the secessionist groups
demand for the government recognition of MILF camps; and the cancellation of the meeting
between then Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid and Salamat Hashim during Wahid’s
November 1999 visit to the Philippines. These became sources of friction between the
government and the MILF (Hermoso [org. Agustin, 2003] 2007).
At that time, the strength of insurgents based from the AFP data, has reached from 27,410
insurgents by the time President Estrada ascended into power in 1999, sharply decreased to
25,100 insurgents in 2000 after he effectuated his all-out-war policy, but increased again to
28,532 insurgents as he faced his impeachment trial that brought him down into power in 2001.
Based on the data, both MILF and LCM are the two prime insurgents in the country, standing
15,590 and 10,620 increase respectively in 1999 but 12,570 and 11,930 decrease respectively in
2001. However, the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) are
also drawing significance (see table 2 on strength trends as of 1 May 2009).
MAIN PREMISE (Principles/Philosophies)
Because of the looming security problem caused by the Muslim secessionists and terrorists in
southern Philippines, President Estrada insisted that his all-out-war formula was the solution to
the crisis in Mindanao.
After sealing the deal with the MNLF in 1996, the Ramos administration started focusing with its
talks with the MILF resulting in Agreement on the General Cessation of Hostilities on July 1997.
The MILF, however, in spite the organization of a formal dialogue occupied 46 camps and
reportedly attacked municipalities in Central Mindanao. These violations of ceasefire agreement
led to military offensives and ultimately to an all-out-campaign which marked the Estrada
Furthermore, Garcia (2008) deemed that the term of President Estrada was marked by a revived
insurgency. His all-out-war policy in Mindanao redeployed military units from other places,
leaving NPA strongholds thinly held by the government. In 1999, the peace process with the
National Democratic Front (NDF) was terminated after the abduction of General Victor Obillo.
The bombing of the LRT and his impeachment woes marked the end of his administration, which
was topped at EDSA II in January 2001 with the participation of the Left and the military who
were not rebels because they succeeded.
First, behind the Strategy of Total Approach, the Four-Point Agenda, other programs, and
Estrada’s policy of all-out-war against the Muslim rebels, was well-planned to strategically
weaken the separatist groups and bring them to the negotiation table. This action was well-versed
when Sec. Alexander P. Aguirre, then National Security Adviser, defended the military
operations that although the government was committed to a peaceful solution, the military will
not allow the MILF to continue illegal activities of raids and extortion (Jayme 2001 [Aguirre
speech and article, 2000, 2]:9).
Second, the militarization of the MILF conflict paved way to the destruction of communities and
lives. The MILF camps that were “liberated” by the military dwelt large civilian populations. For
instance, Camp Abubakar had a population of 30,000 while Camp Bushra Sumiorang had 57,000
(Jayme 2001 [Intengan, 2000, 7]:9). It was even documented by UNDP that from January to
August 2000, around 218 soldiers and militiamen were killed, 357 civilians and 456 from the
MILF. Hence, more civilians died in evacuation centers than in combat bringing the total civilian
deaths to over 700. Nearly one million civilians were displaced from their homes with most
going to evacuation centers and the rest living with their relatives and friends. This massive
displacement also increased the pool of potential insurgents.
In fact, there was a high mortality rate especially among children. The refugees were afflicted
with diseases such as acute respiratory infection, infective diarrhea, skin infections, measles and
chicken pox. The centers were overcrowded and resources such as food rations were dangerously
low (Jayme 2001 [Tabang Mindanao, 2000]:9).
Third, Estrada’s programs for peace and development in Mindanao conflict were only good in
paper but were not implemented accordingly, based from those who worked and had first-hand
accounts with the war. Hardly any of those resources supposedly allocated by the government for
development reached the community; this is attributed to the high level of corruption in
government agencies (Jayme 2001 [Abadiano, interview, 2001]:9-10). The war itself had cost an
average of 18 million pesos a day (Jayme 2001 [Intengan, 2000, 7]:10). The stakeholders and
actors of Mindanao considered MCC as “insufficiently consultative and participatory”.
According to Oquist (2000), they did not represent Mindanao or communicate its purpose and
activities. The MCC reduced the participation of local leaders and centralized decision-making to
the higher levels of national government.
Fourth, the social effects were seen as “hardening of psychological boundaries” between
Christians and Muslims mainly in the Socsargen and Sultan Kudarat areas (Jayme 2001 [Fr.
Intengan, 2000, 6]:10).
Fifth, while insurgency is multi-dimensional with economic development being the fundamental
aspect of the problem, it must be recognized that poverty is not the sole root cause of insurgency.
Poverty per se is not the root cause why people rebel against an established authority. Rather, it
is the people’s experience with a certain degree of development, which if nor sustained, leads
them to have a feeling of discontent and therefore encourages them to revolt and secede against
the government (Quilop et al.,2007).
Sixth, there are political differences between the MILF and the Moro National Liberation front
(MNLF). Also, there was a split in the MNLF and some of the leaders broke away from Nur
Misuari’s leadership to form the Executive Council of the 15. The Council “retired” Nur Misuari
as Chairman and gave him the title of Chairman Emeritus. Chairman Nur retaliated by expelling
those who he now labels as “traitors”. It seemed that the Council of 15 was supported by Libya,
Indonesia and Malaysia. However, Nur Misuari was still backed by the OIC and Saudi Arabia.
On 4 August 2000, the MILF and the Council of the 15 met in Kula Lumpur and agreed to form
a Bangsamoro Solidarity Conference that would be a forum to discuss issues of the Bangsamoro
people (Jayme 2001 [Mercado, 2001]:10-11).
Seventh, on 17 January 2001, President Estrada was impeached for his alleged involvement in
illegal gambling operations and tobacco tax kickbacks. When the impeachment trial failed, the
Filipino people took the streets. On 20 January 2001, through People Power II, Vice-President
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was sworn in and ascended into power as the next President of the
Philippines. Immediately, she called for a ceasefire and peace talks (Jayme, 2001).
By and large, the policies of President Estrada were seen less favorable for peace in Mindanao.
The Estrada Administration was slow in organizing a peace panel to talk with the MILF with the
perception that the MILF was a “small project Under Estrada’s regime, the hostilities consumed
more than half of year 2000 and brought the negotiations to a halt. On 30 June 2000, the deadline
of President Estrada for signing a peace agreement with the MILF lapsed. The armed
confrontations became a full-blown war that ended only after the military overran MILF camps,
including Camps Abubakar – Bushra (Hermoso [org. Agustin, 2003] 2007).
Large Scale Military Operations
Many view that the battle fought by the AFP and the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces of the
MILF (BIAF), the military arm of the MILF, considerably marred and stalled the progress of the
GRP-MILF peace process. For instance, Pulma (2002) noted that at the outset, formal talks were
impaired due to the bombing of Madrasah in Buldon that resulted in the death of ten students and
their teacher.
Peace talks under the administrations of Ramos and Estrada, which, occurred from 1997 to 2000,
were conducted under the Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities, according to then
Secretary Alexander Aguirre. However, while there were peace negotiations between the two
camps, frequent armed skirmishes, bombings, harassments and other hostilities were prevalent
between the AFP and MILF forces.
AFP data indicate that while the peace talks were ongoing, the MILF had violated the ceasefire
agreement on many occasions. These violations included harassments by mortar fire or sniper
shots at the military detachments or patrols, armed checkpoints and raids of illegal occupations
of some villages.
Hence, there were MILF-initiated offensive operations in Central Mindanao starting off with the
setting of roadblocks along the Talayan-Shariff Aguak National Highway and the occupation of
the Talayan Municipal Hall. Following these incidents were the series of attacks on various areas
of Central Mindanao, to wit:
(1)attacks on AFP units in Carmen, Cotabato;
(2)the bombing of super five buses in Rizal, Zamboanga del Norte, the bombing of buses aboard
M/V Mediatrix in Ozamis City and a radio station in Cotabato City;
(3)the sabotage of power lines of the National Power Corporation in Lanao del Norte and
Zamboanga Peninsula; and the extortion activities of MILF, manning checkpoints along the
Narciso Ramos Highway from Matanog Maguindanao to Malabang, Lanao del Sur.
Right Hand Effort
Nevertheless, the year 1998 saw a fruitful period for both the Government of the Republic of the
Philippines (GRP) and MILF. The first meeting between the two parties in that year was held on
February 6 in Marawi City where the Agreement to Sustain the Quest for Peace was signed. This
was followed by another accord known as the Agreement Creating a Quick Response Team that
would respond to armed confrontations between the AFP and MILF so as to prevent civilian
displacement and destruction of human lives and properties (Pulma 2002 [org. Lingga,
In the event, President Estrada had to tackle the Mindanao conflict caused by the Southern
Philippine Secessionist Groups (SPSGs) from the start of his term. On 18 August 1998, he issued
a Presidential Memorandum of Instructions (MOI) ordering the GRP Panel to negotiate with the
following parameters:
(1)that negotiations be conducted with the mandates of the Constitution and the laws of the land,
(2)that it should seek a principled and peaceful resolution with dignity for all concerned (Jayme
2001 [org. Peace Consultative Meeting, 2000]:6).
On 27 August 1998, GRP and MILF signed a vital accord known as the Agreement of Intent
(AOI). This was the first historical document during the Estrada administration, which provided
both panels the mandate to reach a pacific settlement of conflict and promote enduring peace and
stability. Towards the end of the year, both parties came up with Resolution No. 2, as a result of
the meeting in Da’wah Center, Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguinandano. The resolution created a
Joint Monitoring Contingent (JMC) that would oversee the peace situation in Minabay, Buldon,
On 10 February 1999, both parties signed two important documents:
(1)the document acknowledging Camp Abubakar in Maguindanao and Camp Bushra in Lanao
del Sur as MILF camps, and
(2)the agreement to reaffirm the pursuit of peace.
Four months later, the government panel members visited Camp Abubakar, Camp Bilal, Camp
Bushra Somiorang, Camp Rajamuda, Camp Darapanan, Camp Omar and Camp Bad’re. These
visits comprised Phases I and II of the identification and verification activities.
The GRP-MILF peace talks formally opened on 25 October 1999 in Sultan Kudarat,
Maguindanao with an aim of lasting peace in Mindanao through a meaningful autonomy
program and a consolidation of peace efforts. On 19-20 January 2000, took place the first formal
peace talk in Sultan Kudarat again with then Undersecretary Orlando Soriano as the head of the
GRP panel. The second was from 1-2 March 2000 in the same place, this time with Usec.
Edgardo Batenga, and the third on 8-9 March in Cotabato City. Hence, an emergency meeting
was also held on 27 April 2000 due to the brewing war climate (Mercado, 2000).
Combat Units, Combat Support, Units, Intel
Yap (2007) further argued that the pivotal role of “intelligence gathering, handling and
utilization together with strategic communication” in both the civilian and military operations,
whether the purpose is to physically or psychologically isolate the insurgents and used by
concerned agencies, and careful planning and constant review must be undertaken, so as to adapt
to the possible adjustments that insurgents might take into effect in the process.
In fact, AFP data shows that as the over-all strength of AFP/CAA personnel increases through
the years, the effectiveness of counter-combating insurgents is receiving fruition based from this
strategy (see graph 4 on AFP/CAA Personnel).
COMPONENTS (Success and Failure Factors)
Leaders carry out a process by applying leadership attributes such as beliefs, values, ethics,
character, knowledge and skills. Although, some personality traits may lead people naturally into
leadership roles based from the trait theory.
Based from the study of Abraham Maslow (1954) who felt that human needs were arranged in a
hierarchical order. Maslow posited that people want and are forever striving to meet various
goals. Because the lower level needs are more immediate and urgent, then they come into play as
the source and direction of a person's goal if they are not satisfied. A need higher in the hierarchy
will become a motive of behavior as long as the needs below it have been satisfied. Unsatisfied
lower needs will dominate unsatisfied higher needs and must be satisfied before the person can
climb up the hierarchy.
Under the Estrada administration, two distinguished generals managed to effectuate military
strategies on countering insurgency from 1999 to 2001 that certainly paved way to the slight
decrease of insurgents in remote places around the country. Two Chiefs of Staff of the AFP, first
by General Joselin B. Nazareno from 2 July 1998 to 8 July 1999 and then succeeded by General
Angelo T. Reyes from 8 July 1999 to 17 March 2001.
However, analyzing the regimes of Philippine presidents from 1986-2000 (Aquino to Estrada),
the 1987 Freedom Constitution has been used as the fundamental law of the state. Thus,
globalization and free trade among nations and the rise of civil society took significant strides in
their administration. Pro-business, pro-poor and pro-environment inculcated in their policies and
restoration of democratic institutions, competing in international trade, and promoting
sustainable human development has been the top priority of the government. People and civil
society are active participants in governance; decentralization and political autonomy as
progressive actions are used in terms of principles and propositions in administering public
Primary Effort on Combat Operations
The NISP according to Yap (2007) provides the general guidelines and framework on the
convergence approach to address insurgency. It recognizes the multi-dimensional nature of the
problem. It is committed to eliminate the root causes of insurgency and neutralize the insurgents
exploiting these conditions. However, several government responses to insurgency such as NISP
has been descriptive rather than prescriptive.
Leftist groups through philippinerevolution.net argues that Estrada's Oplan Makabayan
(OPMAK) presents a distinctive shift from Ramos' Oplan Kaisaganaan. Although just as
reactionary and counter-revolutionary, Oplan Kaisaganaan attempted to expand on political
methods of dismantling the revolutionary movement even as it called for unrelenting military
offensives against the guerrilla fronts of the New People's Army (NPA). It exploited the grave
setbacks suffered by the Party and the movement due to the serious internal deviations and errors
perpetrated by revisionists and opportunist renegades, as well as the temporary financial and
commercial upswing brought about by the influx of foreign capital into the country.
Furthermore, AFP data shows the LCM trends, also indicating strengths and firearms of the
renegade groups as one of the largest group of insurgents in the country (see graph 5 and table 3
on LCM trends).
Estrada's Oplan Makabayan once again raises "counter-insurgency" as the top priority of the
AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP), sets aside "modernization", brusquely maligned
and terminated the peace talks, is quickly expanding the Citizens' Armed Forces Geographical
Unit (CAFGU) anew and has intensified military offensives to "suppress" the revolutionary
movement. AFP-PNP and CAFGU forces have been widely deployed in NPA guerrilla fronts.
Surveillance, suppression and terrorism against the revolutionary and progressive forces have
been intensified in the countryside and cities.
However, it was also published in luwaran.com that the MILF has described the latest approach
to the insurgency problem in Mindanao by the AFP, which is civil-military operations, as a more
lethal than brute force. It was stressed by the MILF Committee on Information, told in its
influential website, Lurawan, that this approach has a chilling effect on Moros fighting the
government who are less in ideological armor, saying this was tested during the early years of
the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) when practically everybody surrendered to the
government, if the basis of counting is government statistics. A high-ranking MILF even stated
that this strategy was mainly due to the policy of attraction pursued by the Americans that
worked effectively against the Moros who were up in arms.
Upon many realizations on primary efforts on combat operations, Yap (2007) sees that the way
AFP should look at the insurgency determines how the government should indeed plan the
campaign. There is a need to know and understand the nature, characteristics and dynamics if
insurgency taking place. Second, what works in one place may not work in another place or even
in the same place at another other time. Hence, the problem of LCM may not be the same as the
issue of MILF and ASG. Third, it has been an open book that counterinsurgency is a business not
only in the military establishment, but of everyone. Fourth, the folly of democratic space in
which amnesty did not work very well.
Although, nearly all Presidents extended amnesty to the insurgents in one form or another, just
the same, the response was not an overwhelming success (see graph 6 on survey indicators of
Philippines democratization). Fourth, there also still flaws in the NISP version 3, which is
verbose and explicative and not prescriptive. On the other hand, It was deemed that special units
like the Scout Rangers are effective against the armed component of the insurgents. Corollary is
the importance of small leadership. The pivotal soldier has a vital role in projecting his
organization and the government as protector of the people. The more successful field
commanders are those who have superior inter-personal skills to forge excellent working
relations with the local officials and NGOs. Effective intelligence was also a vital key to
previous government success and strategic communication is vital in any counterinsurgency
Oplan Balangai
The Armed Forces of the Philippines implemented the Campaign Plan Balangai in 2000 as part
of its implementation of the national peace and development plan, which contained the “total
approach” strategy.
Total Strategy Approach
Estrada’s short-lived presidency also perpetuated the “Strategy of Total Approach” (STA). This
comprehensive strategy employed security and socio-cultural-economic components to address
the various armed conflicts. In addition, alongside agricultural modernization, capability
enhancements and indigenous networking and community organizing were also carried out.
However, Aguirre (2000) believed that STA covered various policies and programs that would
address the multi-faceted dimensions of the armed conflicts and insurgencies in the country. The
STA is embodied in the Four-Point Agenda of the government with regards to the MILF:
(1)The Government shall pursue peace negotiations with the MILF within the framework of the
Constitution and the concept of meaningful autonomy;
(2)The Government shall assert and uphold its authority under the Constitution (i.e. preserve
territorial integrity, maintain law and order, and protect the civilian population through effective
military and police actions);
(3)The Government shall pursue socio-economic development programs in the Muslim areas that
would develop and uplift the living conditions of the people and serve as confidence-building
measures and moral encouragement for the MILF to embrace autonomy; and
(4)The Government shall continue with the full and effective implementation of the GRP-MNLF
Peace Agreement as proof of their sincerity and goodwill to resolve the Mindanao problem
politically (Jayme, 2001).
Using the clear-hold-consolidate-develop methodology of the Philippine Government, it meant
to provide the AFP with a clear plan and roadmap in confronting insurgency within the overall
framework provided by the National internal Security Plan (NISP) and which highlights the
importance of linking the AFP Internal Security Operations (ISO) plan to higher national plans
and policies.
“Use of US Doctrine vs. Protracted War”
Even the Estrada regime’s short-lived Oplan Makabayan and its all-out war in Mindanao
followed the US doctrine. Hence, it is believed that every regime’s counter-insurgency program
in the Philippines is directed, approved and supported by the U.S. government.
The Philippines, accoding to Alfonso (1999), had practically depended on the U.S. for the
development of its armed forces and relied heavily for its defense against external aggression
(see graph 7 on total military spending in US dollars). Hence, this so called “special relation”
governed the nature and dynamics of Philippine-American political and military relations
defeating the status of the philippines as being an independent nation and stunted the country’s
overall growth.
However, according to Sosmeña (2008), as insurgency evolved, counterinsurgency assumed
several names. The civil-military action programs initiated by military units with civilian
authorities of a government under siege. Guerilla warfare at a time was a neutral term used both
by insurgents and counterinsurgency specialists in some parts of Central America and Southeast
In the Philippines, however, current counterinsurgency strategy revives the Magsaysay Doctrine
whereby the frontal role of the military is balanced with achieving development objectives with
both as program priorities. Hence, there are several military-led efforts designed to root out the
causes of rebellion.
However, cognizant of the relevant 1986 Constitution provisions and laws that guided the
revitalized defense cooperation, both countries negotiated and concluded a Visiting Forces
Agreement (VFA) in 1999 . Among the many exercises, the better known is ‘Balikatan’, being
the largest in scale and maximize the interoperability between the Armed Forces of the
Philippines (AFP) and the US.
The Philippines, accoding to Alfonso (1999), had practically depended on the U.S. for the
development of its armed forces and relied heavily for its defense against external aggression.
Hence, this so called “special realtion” governed the nature and dynamics of PhilippineAmerican political and military relations defeating the status of the philippines as being an
independent nation and stunted the country’s overall growth.
Historical Strength of the Bangsamoro People
Scholars such as Harrison (1963) and Murphy (2000) believed that the spread of Islam in
Southeast Asia, along the Straits of Malacca, was brought by the Indian Muslims and Arab
merchants. By 13th and early 14th centuries, at least 200 years before the Spanish explorers first
introduced Christianity to the Philippines, Islam was already introduced in southern Philippines.
At that time, the inhabitants there were animists who lived in small, autonomous communities.
Thus, the Muslim traders quickly converted the indigenous population into Islam.
According to the accounts of Daquial (2001), he deemed that most of Filipino historians and
scholars who have written about the history of Mindanao mostly based their stories from works,
narration, diaries and researches of foreign or western writers. Having been a Muslim from
Mindanao himself, he thought that other narratives do not accurately emulate the historical
environment at the time and are only reflective of the situation during the 1500’s and not prior to
that. However, reversing the tide, he stressed that in order to get the side of the Bangsamoro
people on the history of the armed struggle in Mindanao, it is best to lift the writings of a
Bangsamoro scholar (Mawlana Alonto) from an insider’s point of view.
In Alonto’s narratives based from Baquial’s interviews (2001), he reckoned that the struggle of
the Malay Bangsamoro people began almost 500 years ago, when Spain invaded the three
independent Muslim principalities, the sultanates of Sulu and Maguindanao, and the
Confederated Sultanates of Ranao, which then governed mainland Mindanao and the islands of
Basilan, Sulu and Palawan. The Spanish invasion of Mindanao and Sulu, and their attempts to
subdue and colonize the Muslim sultanates took place twenty-nine years after the fall of Granada
in Spain, the last Muslim state in the Iberian peninsula.
After subduing the non-Muslim Malay inhabitants of Luzon and Visayas and converting them to
Catholic Christianity, Spanish colonialism planned also to expand in southern Philippines,
mostly dominated by Muslim principalities and sultanates. They first destroyed the Muslim
principality of Manila, which was ruled by Rajah Sulayman and was the only Muslim-ruled
territory on the island of Luzon and forced the survivors of Rajah’s principality to embrace
Christianity, having been created Manila as the seat of power for the Spanish conquistadors.
Then, Luzon and Visayas were consolidated under the Spanish crown and named it as Las Islas
de Filipinas or the Philippine Islands, in honor of the Spanish king Philip II. After a successful
establishment of pax hispaniola in the two major islands in the country, the Spaniards invaded
Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago. But the Muslim sultanates resisted the Spaniards throughout
the 350 years of Spanish colonization in the Philippines. But, Spanish presence in Mindanao and
Sulu was restricted to some coastal areas, where they established military bases. The war
inflicted untold and unwritten hardships on the Bangsamoro Muslims, who were subjected to
persecution and genocide as the Spaniards attempted to eliminate the Islamic faith, just as they
had in Spain. But the Bangsamoro Muslim sultanates managed to survive.
When the Spanish-American war broke out over Cuba in 1898, the Bangsamoro Muslim
sultanates, whose allegiance was to the Uthmaniyyah Khilafat in Istanbul, were still largely in
control of their respective domains. Meanwhile, the arrival of the United States, ushered a new
phase in the Bangsamoro people’s struggle. After defeating Spain, the US took over many of the
erstwhile colonial possessions. It was during the American rule that the annexation of the
Bangsamoro homeland into the Philippine nation-state system was secured.
For another 50 years, the Bangsamoro Muslims fiercely resisted the US rule, even though
antiquated weapons (such as the Malay kris, and flintlock rifles, and obsolete canons captured
from the Spaniards) were no match for the machine guns and artillery of the Americans.
Even Filipino and American historians agree that the Muslims of Mindanao and Sulu proved the
hardest to defeat during the American occupation of the Philippines. One such encounter
exemplified the Muslims resolve to pursue jihad in defense of their homeland. Hence, it is
prominently retold that in emulation of the shahdah of imam Husain at Karbala, the Sultan
fought the American army to the last man inside the fort, in what is now known among the
Filipino Muslims as “padang karbala”. The Bangsamoro mujahideen took it as a personal duty to
Allah to continue to fight to the death, even if a Muslim leader surrendered. It became common
for a lone Muslim mujahid to attack American soldiers and camps, killing many of them before
losing his life. Hence, the Spanish and Americans disparagingly called this act as “juramentado”
or amok but Muslims referred to this as “sabil” or “prang sabil”, from the Arabic jihad fisabilillah (holy war in the way of Allah).
In 1941, American rule of the Philippines was interrupted by the Second World War. The
Japanese Imperial Army invaded the country and the Bangsamoro people now fought the
Japanese invaders. After the war, the Muslim sultanates were much weakened, militarily and
economically, by more than three centuries of intense war. Organized military resistance was
broken by the military superior Americans, who now tried a policy of seduction. Many Muslim
leaders in Mindanao fell for this trick and ended up collaborating with the Americans. The
Bangsamoro masses nevertheless pursued their resistance in many ways, and supported Muslims
who continued to defy American rule through guerrilla warfare. A major part of the US strategy
was the opening of Mindanao to Christian Filipino settlers from Luzon and Visayas. When the
US finally granted independence to the Philippines on 4 July 1946, the Bangsamoro homeland
was officially annexed to the new Philippine republic despite vehement protests from
Bangsamoro leaders and the masses. The US and their Filipino surrogates based the validity of
Moro annexation on the 1898 Treaty of Paris.
Historical Background of Muslim Insurgents
According to Castro (2002), the Philippines is a multicultural mosaic composed of various
ethnolinguistic groups. In the 2000 edition of Ethnologue, lists the presence of at least 151
languages spoken by 76,498,735 Filipinos in the Philippine archipelago. Language is, of course,
a primary criterion in ascertaining ethnic identity together with other factors such as religion and
other facets of culture.
Filipino scholars on Bangsamoro like Daquial 2001, Buazon and Castro 2002, traced back the
existence of the MILF in the early 60’s when some of the students from Mindanao who were
studying in the Middle Eastern universities, covertly organized themselves in preparation for the
launching of an Islamic movement that would aim at liberating the “Moroland” from the clutches
of Philippine colonialism and foster the revival of Islamic rule in the area.
Zachary Abuza (2005) noted that the MILF (see graph 8 and table 4 on MILF capability) has
waged a secessionist campaign in the southern Philippines since 1978, when they broke away
from the secular MNLF (see graph 9 and table 5 on MNLF capability). He further argues that,
their avowed goal is to establish an independent homeland for the Moro peoples that will be
governed by sharia (Islamic law).
Quilop et al. (2007) argues that in gauging the competencies of MILF, the following capabilities
were revealed:
(1)capability to conduct guerilla operations and launch terrorist activities such as kidnapping and
bombing operations;
(2)high mobility due to mastery of terrain and ability to establish temporary satellite camps in a
considerably short period of time;
(3)highly dispersed forces and units;
(4)ability to easily assimilate themselves with other Muslim threat groups and civilian Muslim
(5)capability to utilize sabotage operations to extort money from commercial establishments;
(6)ability to deploy forces and acquire firearms using small indigenous and commercial
(7)capacity to use Muslim religious groups and or “dawah” and “Madaris” or Islamic schools as
centers of propaganda, recruitment, and as means to influence Muslim communities;
(8)capability to effectively launch propaganda through the local media and its existing website
(9)ability to provide long-term basic support for its members and their families;
(10)capability to gather information from civilian contacts with regard to the deployment and
operations of government forces;
(11)capacity to conduct regular training and re-training of BIAF elements to maintain military
preparedness of its forces.
Though initially, further argued by Abuza, MILF was armed and supported by the Libyan and
Malaysian governments, and by the early 1990s, it had lost much of its state support. To that end,
the MILF forged a tentative relationship with Al Qaeda, receiving money through Saudi
charities, as well as limited military training, though while trying to build up its self reliance.
While they always remained focused on the “near enemy” and the establishment of their own
homeland, they were willing to take advantage of the support that transnational groups offered
them; in exchange, they had to give some assistance to groups, such as Al Qaeda’s regional
affiliate, Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), in pursuance of the war against the “far enemy.”
While the MILF is not a transnational group that seeks to establish a pan-Islamic caliphate
(known in Southeast Asia as Nusantara Raya), they have given assistance to groups such as JI
(see graph 10 and table 6 on JI capability) and the ASG (see table 7 on ASG capability). Hence,
the ASG according to Paredes (2003) is perceived to have a strong links with militant Islamists
from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Algeria, Jordan, Tunisia, Iraq, Libya and to some extent Syria
and Lebanon, with whom they fought together against the Soviet in 1979.
It was also noted by Paredes (2003) that just like the military offensive in 2000, the military
should be able to check the MILF’s mobile warfare, assisted by the ASG, in creating terror.
Speculative reports had that Abu Sayyaf has offered its services to the MILF. Many of its youths
are eager for urban partisan warfare.
All in all, firearm strengths of the insurgent groups in the Philippines have been gaining wide
concerns due to the increasing influence and logistics (see table 8 on Firearms Trends).
Meanwhile, AFP data shows that LCM has gaining strengths in remotest areas (see table 9 on
trends in Guerilla Fronts).
As far as institutional requirements in policy formulation and implementation is needed for
counterinsurgency, Sosmeña (2008) believes that the highest umbrella government institution
that defines and formulates policies concerning national security is the National Security Council
(NSC) which is chaired by the President.
This structure is supported by the Council members, which come from the Executive Department
as well as from Congress. The Chief of Staff of the AFP, the Chief of Staff of the PNP and
Director-general of the National intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) sits as the Council
Advisers. In some instances, the private sector is also represented in the National Security
In his assessment, it appears, however, that there is no central committee at the national level,
which is in charge of planning coordination as well as monitoring and evaluating an integrated
civilian-military counterinsurgency policies and programs. The sub-national equivalents of the
NSC at the regional and local levels are not clear. What is visible at these two levels are the
Peace Order Councils whose primary function is the maintenance of peace and order, to include
other police matters.
He then concludes that the implementation of NSC policies is somehow disrupted by the
institutional deficiencies, which negate the full accomplishments of security objectives. On the
other hand, the local government can play a very crucial role in the counterinsurgency campaign.
There is, however, a need for most local officials to develop a culture of security. What is
prevailing among local executives is dichotomous thinking whereby internal security is
considered as wholly the responsibility of the military and police, and development as a purely
civilian function.
National strategy call for a holistic approach in responding to insurgency. At all levels
policymakers at all levels should rethink carefully effective counterinsurgency measures that will
not only improve security but also protect the freedoms of society. Increase and recruitment of
AFP personnel has leveled off combat operations with insurgent groups, given that the
Philippines is fast growing in number, the government should continuously train, recruit new
soldiers, and spend resources for the protectors of the state (see graph 11 on the variability of
population to money spent per person).
Since the dawn of the information age, insurgents and terrorist organizations are making use of
the cyberspace for their own nefarious purposes. They are using the internet to spread
propaganda, employ recruitment, and to gather intelligence on potential targets. Examples would
be the lurawan.com of the MILF and Philippinerevolution.net of LCM, both cyber capability
which represents itself through the cyberspace, especially in a ‘flat world’ where local connects
with global, certainly influences the internalization of local ideologies and religious movements,
which ascribe to a global brand of insurgency and terrorism.
By the twenty-first century, the internet has become one of the most talked-about
communications channels, not just because of its explosive growth but also because it permits
the dissemination of any kind of data. The internet goes further than any previous medium in
overcoming distance, paying scant regard to national boundaries. Nevertheless, state censorship
will become impractical, according to Hague and Harrop (2004). As articulated by Friedman
(2005), the internet has significantly expanded the opportunities for terrorists to secure publicity.
Until the advent of the internet, where terrorists’ hopes of winning publicity for their causes and
activities depended on attracting the attention of the tri-media.
The strategy of the total approach was to use military action as vital and necessary, although, it is
not a sufficient solution to deter and resolve insurgency. It must be resolved by a package of
policies and programs that effectively and simultaneously address the economic, social, political
and military aspects of the situation. The SAT, for instance, through security component shall
deter or directly address violent conflict, including the following:
- The AFP with the support of the PNP shall conduct internal operations, particularly
intensifying CMO and intelligence operations, to protect the people and maintain law and order;
- The AFP shall develop and implement the appropriate military strategy / campaign plan within
this national strategic framework (National Peace and Development Plan, 2000).
Information and communications, according to Wee (2008), has been regarded as important
dimensions of modern warfare. Their value proved to be indispensable factors in the national
power equation. Hence, in the complex national security environment that we have today, the
one who controls both the means and the manner in which the information is delivered controls
the mind. The one who controls the mind, controls the ends of national security.
Furthermore, according to Cabalza (2007) the twenty-first century has beckoned the rapid and
massive importance of the information age. The boom of the Internet, Information and
Communication Technology (ICT) system, wireless and 3G technologies have indeed
inescapably transformed today and tomorrow’s pace of living. The birth of the dotcom era,
likewise decongests and shrinks the world into a global village. In effect, insurgents with cyber
capability have learned and acquired the technology and the internet to spread propaganda,
employ recruitment, gather intelligence on potential targets, or worst may launch cyber attacks.
He further argued that as information and communication technologies continue to invade and
pervade human life, the risks for cyber crimes and cyber terrorism, without doubt, would
continue to grow. Our very global way of life depends on the secure and safe operations of
critical systems that depend on the cyberspace. Ensuring cyber security requires a high degree of
competency and technical expertise from concerned agencies.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) through the www.lurawan.net and the current
website of the CPP through the www.philippinerevolution.net, use the internet and other ICT and
3G technologies in advancing their causes, which the adversary have utilized to reach out to the
public and get their sympathy in a deterritorialized world.
The internet is not only revolutionizing the way the government does its affairs: it is dramatically
changing the contours of the national security landscape by redefining the concept of warfare. To
defeat an enemy, the information age not only merely requires rendering one’s opponent
physically incapable of posing as a threat but also strategically defeating the other in the war of
ides. Insurgency, in a sense, has become a propaganda war (Wee, 2008).
Cyberspace has also led to some government and private experts to conclude that terrorists are at
the threshold of using the internet as a direct instrument of bloodshed. The new threat bears little
resemblance to familiar financial disruptions by hackers for viruses and worms. This capability is
used for communicating with terrorist cells in the Philippines and most part of peninsular
Southeast Asia as well as throughout the world, gathering intelligence on potential targets, or
spreading propaganda and recruitment.
A primary cause of alarm is the reality that insurgency using the means of cyberterrorism is
another tool of destruction as are explosives and other deadly weapons. Furthermore, the
resources to launch a cyber attack are very easy to access and one may not even know that the
attack has taken place until only sometime after it was launched. Therefore, it should be
highlighted that prevention of such attacks requires more coordination and concerted efforts
among experts, concerned agencies, and even adversaries. The perceived notion that a
convergence of insurgent groups may employ IT as useful medium does not robotically mean
that information infrastructure will constitute the next target. For insurgents to exploit it,
extended use and familiarization with technology is a necessary step before deciding to turn
against their enemies. In the process of acquiring and learning the use of IT for strategic and
organizational purposes, they will more likely apply it as an offensive weapon to destroy and
disrupt. Knowing the strengths of any terrorist groups, especially in their mission to instill fear to
civilians and cause economic disruption for a nation-state. The devastations that cyber terrorism
and cyber crimes can cause to a nation-state, damaging or destroying critical infrastructure
targets, are indeed immense, and also problematic for varying factors (Cabalza, 2007).
According to Jayme (2001 [org. Peace Consultative Meeting, 2000, 4]:8), under the Estrada
administration, his Peace Process followed what they call the Six Paths to Peace:
(1)Pursuit of social, economic, and political reforms;
(2)Consensus-building and empowerment for peace;
(3)Peaceful, negotiated settlement with the different rebel groups;
(4)Programs for reconciliation, reintegration into the mainstream of society, and rehabilitation;
(5)Addressing concerns arising from the continuing armed hostilities;
(6)Building and nurturing a climate conducive to peace.
As the President, he issued Executive Order 261 on 5 July 2000, which called for the
establishment of the Mindanao Committee Council (MCC). The MCC would be the overall
coordinating body to integrate, synchronize and accelerate the implementation of all plans and
programs in Mindanao. Decisions by the MCC immediately overrule decisions of any
government agency on areas affected by the conflict, subject to the limitations of presidential
powers. President Estrada sat as Chairman with the Executive Secretary as Vice-Chairman.
Members included the various Cabinet Secretaries. A technical committee and an advisory
committee assisted the MCC. Furthermore, EO 267 created the Presidential Task Force for
Relief and Rehabilitation of Central Mindanao. Issued on 17 July 2000, the EO had the task of
coordinating efforts of different bodies to provide basic services, education, infrastructure and
health services to the areas affected by conflict in Mindanao (Jayme 2001 [org. Office of the
President, 2000]:8).
All in all, the Estrada regime held four peace consultative meetings with representatives from
Mindanao and with the Women Leaders of Mindanao from the period of March to April (Jayme
2001 [org. Peace Consultative Meeting, 2000]:9). On 14 August 2000, foster peace and
development, a Regional Peace and Economic Summit was also held in Iligan City. Through the
national Peace, unification and Development Council (NPUDC), a “Balik-Loob” program was
envisioned. This was an amnesty program to provide livelihood assistance to former rebels
(Jayme 2001 [org. Peace Consultative Meeting, 2000,6]:9).
Finally, in terms of amnesty with communist and secessionist groups in the country, President
Estrada issued Proclamation No. 21 on 23 September 1998 amending the Ramos Proclamation
No. 347, in favor of the MNLF/MILF and military rebels. It had a good harvest of 6,047
applicants of which 3,700 were granted to CPP/NPA/NDF. Then, Estrada issued Proclamation
No. 390 in favor of the MILF on 29 September 2000. However, Congress approved the
proclamation only on 7 February 2001, after his ouster. It was to gather 2,781 applicants of
which 1,991 was granted (Garcia, 2008).
In fact, Garcia (2008) added that amnesty are bestowed because grants of amnesty are – based on
international – “given as part of a final peace agreement or during peace talks, together or
independent of other measures, such as ceasefires or temporary cessation of hostilities.” Our
experience was more of temporary cessation of hostilities favorable to both parties albeit more to
the amnesty-giver. But impunity seems to be an issue to consider as far as the amnesties to the
CPP/NPA/NDF, military rebels, and MNLF/MILF are concerned.
Under Oplan Makabayan and Human Rights Violations
The leftist party which represents the Communist Party in the Philippines claim that the AFP's
mindset during the Estrada Administration has brought out in the open, particularly the AFP's
failure to shed its fascist, martial law mentality; its contempt of human rights, due process and
civilian authority; and its intolerance of legitimate political dissent leading to paranoia and
anticommunist hysteria.
In the written report published at Philippinerevolution.net, the communist group ascertains that
aside from subverting the peace talks, OPMAK, in the short span of its existence, has
exacerbated the situation of the people in the countryside and cities. It has led to the more
rampant and intense abuse of human rights, especially of the poor in the countryside and cities.
Extrajudicial killings, torture, illegal searches and arrests, food blockades, abuses against women
and other forms of fascist atrocities have grown in number and have even worsened. Legal
progressive organizations and personalities in urban areas are hounded and suppressed.
Economic Cost
President Estrada deemed that the role of the state is to enforce a level playing field on economic
and political activity, deliver necessary social and infrastructure services, implement programs
and policies designed to assist the poorest among our people through the vicissitudes of the
development process and empower them in to full participation in the nation’s life.
At the time when the GRP is waging war with the secessionist groups in Mindanao, the country
has just been recovering from the ill effects of the Asian Financial Crises that shook the financial
system of the entire region of East Asia (see graph 12 on economic and social factors).
President Estrada, proudly proclaimed his first year accomplishments, accompanied by his
efforts to promote his Angat Pinoy 2004 policy. In his accomplishment report, he stated that the
problem was to help the country “escape recession, the Asian Financial Crisis, El Niño and La
Niña. He kept the economy on the growth track with only 2% in 199 from 1.2% in 1998,
agricultural modernization through AFMA, generated investments from ecozones, promoted
“rediscovery” for ecotourism, and kept Philippine Airlines (PAL) afloat. He also placed the poor
at the mainstream of development efforts by “preferential option for the poor” through the
following: a) the organization of the National Anti-Poverty Commission – Lingap para sa
Mahihirap” with MBN and P2.5B fund; b) continuation of asset reform program; c) “Kalusugan
para sa masa”; d) socialized housing – “Ahon Nayon” to empower families in 5th and 6th class
municipalities. He maintained peace and order. Lastly, Estrada implemented a policy to protect
the environment and enhanced ties with the international community.
However, Medenilla (2008) agrees that although developmental projects and programs are potent
tools for social equity, there may be unintended reverse effects to the region if these are not
properly and strategically planned. It may, therefore, be a fodder to an insurgency that thrives on
poverty and social injustice. For example, if the location of the project is perceived to have been
decided for the benefit of a favored few, the project may even exacerbate social inequity and the
gap between the rich and the poor.
In terms of development, according to Medenilla (2008), no country in the world has ever
attained national security without developing its road network. For example, the road network
development primarily addresses the economic dimension of national security, thus, it also has
critical implications on other dimensions, including socio-cultural and military dimensions. At
the very least, the construction of roads and bridges creates short-term jobs that may help float a
sagging economy. In the long run, because of multiplier effect, the resultant improved level of
service of the national road network expands the productive capacity of a country and generates
more sustainable employment. It improves over-all mobility, reduces transport cost and travel
time of people and goods and, therefore, facilitates trade, travel for employment and other kinds
of linkages among people.
However, Paderanga (2007) defines hard infrastructures as consisting of power, water, transport,
which subsumes roads and bridges. On the other hand, soft infrastructures, which are also
essential to development, consist of good governance and human infrastructure, which refers to
skilled and educated workforce.
The concern with efficiency is understandable considering that roads and bridges are capitalintensive investments, and funding them in Third World country always poses a challenge. A
cash-strapped government like the Philippines uses bilateral Official Development Assistance
(ODA), Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) scheme, toll fees, proceeds from privatization of assets
and other strategies to supplement taxation revenues to finance expensive but necessary roads
and bridges.
After all, the economic dimension is another problem that had impinged upon the peace talks
between government and the MILF purported by the non-implementation of the 1996 GRPMNLF Peace Agreement (Pulma, 2002). It was assessed that several Muslims including then
ARMM governor Nur Misuari lamented that the government had not done its part in
implementing the accord mainly in terms of development programs and projects in the Special
Zone for Peace and Development (SZOPAD). In fact, huge funds and support from international
agencies have been conferred to Mindanao but apparently, the significant part of the region and
its people continue to dwell in poverty.
As a response, to spur economic development in Mindanao, the Estrada administration had
created various ad hoc groups and agencies tasked to carry out development plans and programs
within the island (see graph 13 on survey indicators of Philippine economic progress). However,
this posed an issue on the redundancy of agencies and overlapping of functions that seemingly
delay economic development, and in turn, diminished the credibility and accountability of the
government officials who run the agencies.
Thus far, Pulma (2002) named four powerful agencies that attempt to address the economic
problem in Mindanao. These include the following: National program for Unification and
Development (NPUDC), Cabinet Oversight Committee on Peacekeeping and Development
Operations (COC), Mindanao Coordinating Council (MCC), and the Task Force for Relief and
Rehabilitation of Mindanao (TFRCC).
Problems and Challenges
Security Governance through the “Angat Pinoy 2004”
President Estrada pushed his security governance in many ways aside from his imposing all-outwar policy against the insurgents in the country. He also envisioned the “Angat Pinoy 2004” by
reducing poverty through sustained growth and effective targeted support programs for the poor
and vulnerable sectors of the society.
Security governance can also be translated to economic security, thus, President Estrada deemed
that economic growth with social equity, attained through multi-stakeholder approach involving
a dynamic and internationally competitive business sector, a vigilant and responsive civil society
and an efficient and impartial government.
Components of his crusade include the following: poverty alleviation, food security, effective
governance, and sustainability sectoral growth through productivity improvement. The target of
the policy consist of the following:
1.Provision of opportunities for employment and income generation;
2.Provision of food, shelter and basic utilities for the people;
3.Improvement of the over-all efficiency of the economy through acceleration of infrastructure
and privatization;
4.Promotion of Peace and Order;
5.Provision of a strong, credible, and participatory leadership free from graft and corruption and
political patronage.
Strategies were also thought of to implement these policies. In terms of agricultural
modernization, President Estrada ensured to increase resource-based export earnings; ensure
food security; improve livelihood of rural population; meet objectives of environmental
protection. Second, he advised that delivery of basic social services should prioritize resources
for health and nutrition, education, housing, social security services, implement other social
safety net and human capital investment programs. Third, accelerating infrastructure
development. Fourth, continuing commitments to deregulation and privatization, strengthening
the regulator. Fifth, maintaining macroeconomic stability and strengthen financial system to
minimize the vulnerability of the country to external shocks introduced by internationally mobile
capital. He also stressed that ensuring macroeconomic stability and domestic resource
mobilization; coordinate fiscal, monetary and financial/exchange rate policies, cooperate with
international efforts to address the impact of international capital market movement, strengthen
supervisory and regulatory capabilities of agencies over financial and corporate sectors,
rationalize government expenditures, ensure fiscal discipline, and strengthen banking. Lastly,
reforming governance by re-engineering and right size the bureaucracy, more equitable sharing
of resources with local government units (LGUs), active partnership with non-government
organizations (NGOs), people’s organization (POs), strengthen economic diplomacy, strengthen
five pillars of justice system (courts, prosecution, law enforcement, corrections and the
Security Governance vis a vis Peace process
Jayme (2001) pointed out several prescriptions for peace and development in Mindanao eyed
during the Estrada administration that can still be considered by the present regime. These
recommendations were copied from various sectors in the framework of the Options for a WinWin Solution proposed by UNDP Coordinator Dr. Paul Oquist:
The Effective Operationalization of Autonomy for Peace and Development - the first step to
achieve this is to return to the negotiation table and the peace process. The first point in the TenPoint Program for Peace in Mindanao of the Bishop-Ulama Forum (BUF) was the call for an
immediate ceasefire (Ledesma, 2000). This would have allowed emergency assistance to reach
the affected communities during the Estrada administration.
The Construction of Effective Autonomous Institutions – the UNDP Mission report shows that
decentralization of authority from the national government to the local government units would
increase the participation from the people of Mindanao.
The Allocation of Extraordinary Resources – various funds from government resources and
international donors must be focused on the rehabilitation and development process rather than
on military operations.
Communications, Consultative and Participatory Interfaces – the government should actively
seek the participation and consultation of the other stakeholders in Mindanao especially from tripeople (Muslims, Christians and the Lumads). Hence, the religious leaders of Mindanao
(Christians and Muslims) must intensify their efforts towards peace in their communities, and the
media must present accurately the facts and sentiments of the people of Mindanao and avoid
labels that can increase prejudice (Ledesma, 2000:3).
Progressive Demilitarization – an essential part of the peace process and rebuilding is the halt to
the military build-up in Mindanao. The civilian population should not be armed by the military to
prevent vigilantism and revenge violence. The disarmament of the MILF and MNLF has proven
to be an explosive issue but it must be a voluntary effort by both organizations. Orquist (2000)
suggested that by strengthening legitimate and local institutions, they can address these local
conflicts in their own terms and prevent the situation from complicating further by external
On the other hand, Sosmeña (2008) countered that previous reviews on Philippine
counterinsurgency programs where efforts of the government have not satisfactorily achieved its
objectives. Hence, this had purported negative effects of policy dissonances that characterize the
overall counterinsurgency strategy. He, however, recommended that Congress should urge the
Executive Department to review its policies on insurgency, questioning what, therefore, seems to
be the urgent directions to take in, and the following options to be assessed, are:
- Organize an interdepartmental agency that will formulate responsive policies as well as
coordinate the counter-insurgency plans and programs of the government.
- Involve local governments consciously in counterinsurgency operations.
- Review optimal adoptability of the Internal Defense and Development (IDAD) concept.
- Respond satisfactorily to rising expectations of the citizenry.
- Fast track program on good governance.
- Military “More Dominant Again”
According to Hernandez (2006), successive Philippine constitutions from 1935 to 1987 without
exception set out the role of the military in Philippine democracy. This role is performed within a
framework governed by the principles of the supremacy of civilian authority over the military of
all times.
Traditionally, she argued that the Philippine military’s role has been confined to external defense
against foreign aggression, internal defense against domestic armed threats, and maintenance of
peace and order.
She sees several factors that explain why democratic civil-military relations fail to be realized or
why the military continues to play a significant political role in the Philippines.
Of the nine roles of the military in Philippine politics, six are prevalent during the time of
President Estrada, these are the following:
First, this can be traced to the 1987 Constitution. Though it restored the principles of the
supremacy of the civilian authority over the military at all times and civilian control of the
military, separated the police and the PC from the AFP, among other arrangements favorable to
reducing the political role of the AFP, it also added another role for the AFP – as “Protector of
the People and the State.”
The military’s popularly perceived role in political succession from Marcos to Aquino, and
Estrada to Arroyo has given it much political leverage over the administration it helped to install
in power. The appointment of increasing number of retired military officers to important
government positions, including in the cabinet, is evidently a consequence of their capital role in
political secession. This tends to strengthen the military’s political influence in government,
which means that its political role will remain in the foreseeable future.
Domestic conflict has persisted for over three decades (see graph 14 on security and military
factors). The military is the primary force in countering the NPA, the MILF, and various armed
groups fighting the government such as the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). Global terrorism since the
September 11, 2001 attacks against the US has allegedly made the Philippines part of “the
second front” against terrorism. Alagappa has argued that where coercion in governance is
needed, the military’s role in politics is likely to remain. Thus, so long as domestic armed
conflict persists and the military continues to be the government’s principal agency in fighting
insurgents, the political role of the AFP is unlikely to wane.
The continuing dependence by the government on the military for political survival has further
made the military a political actor of importance. Coup attempts and other destabilization
movements to topple a sitting president only leads to the government’s reliance on the military’s
support for political survivor.
Retired military and various civilian groups including those from the political opposition
continue to court military support behind their personal and political agenda.
The government’s unwillingness or inability to punish those who violate the law criminalizing
rebellion, coup d’etat, mutiny, and similar acts emboldens those who have been implicated in
previous destabilization attempts against the government as well as those who are enticed to
follow this path.
Responses and Concerns
Effectivity of Total War in Confronting Protracted War
According to one study conducted by the National Defense College of the Philippines Strategic
Study Group (NDCP-SSG), the following were the common functions of the aforementioned
agencies during the Estrada administration:
1.Formulate plans, policies and programs
2.Provide over-all guidance
3.Implement policies, plans and programs
4.Direct any office, agency
5.Coordinate, prioritize and synchronize
6.Encourage participation
7.Identify and mobilize resources
8.Monitor and evaluate progress
Because of delays and/or non-implementation of the development projects, this however, led to
the dissatisfaction from the people of Mindanao and also created a negative influence on the
GRP-MILF peace negotiations. It questioned the sincerity of the government because it did not
the implement the peace accord and developmental projects in Mindanao.
Damages Far Outweigh Victory, Social and Political Cost
According to Pulma (2002), a month after the fall of the Camp Abubakar, allegedly the largest
MILF camp, the Philippine government offered reward money to anybody who can give
information that would lead to the capture of Hashim Salamat, Chairman of the MILF; and Al
Haj Murad, MILF Vice Chairman for Military Affairs; and Eid Kabalu, MILF Spokesperson.
Then, Secretary Alfredo Lim of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)
claimed the government was offering P5 million reward money for Salamat, P3 million for Al
Haj Murad, and P1 million for Eid Kabalu, in that order. The bounty, defended by Secretary
Lim, was intended to facilitate the arrest of the three MILF leaders in order to completely restore
peace and order in Mindanao.
In addition, the said reward money was put up because of the MILF’s alleged involvement in the
death of around 50 civilians in August 2000. The government also recognized the need for the
reward money since the MILF call for a jihad or holy war, against the government. Indeed, as a
quick response, MILF Eid Kabalu reportedly said the government’s order for the capture of all
costs the top leaders of the front, had prompted the MILF to boycott the talks and imperiled the
resumption of peace talks between the two parties.
Pulma (2002) also addressed the issue that during the Estrada administration, the GRP-MILF
peace process was also challenged by the presence of the so-called “third force”. The media
turned out to be the third force, giving a powerful vehicle to deliver information and
misinformation (Pulma, 2002). According to Undersecretary Orlando Soriano, former Chairman
of the GRP Panel negotiating with the MILF, media is a means by which false reports can be
conveyed. For instance, the exaggeration of broadcast media, which may jeopardize the
negotiations between the government and MILF. Media was also used as a means of gaining
publicity stunts for politicians. As a consequence, both the government and MILF find it difficult
to build and cultivate trust and sincerity due to exaggerated news and false media reports. Hence,
this further escalates enmity between the two camps.
Other Analyses
The Estrada administration had catapulted its strength at the height of MILF’s political struggle
in Mindanao, after the MNLF failed to achieve its objective to govern the Bangsamoro people.
Hence, the MILF took the helm and strengthened its base by embracing an ideology that
emphasizes the role of Islam in its struggle for autonomy and self-determination. Apart from
these developments, the MILF has continuously evangelized the past as it offers them
legitimacy. As compared to the MNLF, the MILF remains consistent following the precepts of
the Holy Koran.
The Use of Civil-Military Operations
The military operations are one of the practical methods with which we pursue our nation's
policy objectives. These actions take place to prevent conflict, support civil authorities, win
wars, and secure peace. Military operations involve more than the simple application of forces,
arms, and equipment. Each operation also has a civil dimension. This dimension includes people
in the area of operations, within the region, around the world, and within our own nation. The
civil dimension requires that commanders consider how their actions affect, and are affected by,
the broad presence of non-combatants.
Civil military operations are applicable at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of war. In
every case it is needed to operate in close contact with civilians and their governments. There is a
need to carefully create, nurture, and maintain positive relations between the military and the
people, governments, and nongovernmental organizations in the area of operations. Hence, the
activities that the commander undertakes in order to create and foster positive relations between
military forces and civilians are known as Civil-Military Operations.
Because of the protracted conflicts in Mindanao, the civil military operations is a practical
method with which GRP through the AFP can continuously pursue for a strategic, operational
and tactical levels of war because there is a need to carefully create, nurture, and maintain
positive relations between the military and the people, governments, and nongovernmental
organizations in the area of operations. Hence, CMO affects the national security, especially in
assessing the effectiveness of the development role of the AFP in alleviating poverty, halting
war, promoting economic growth, and counter-insurgency in Mindanao.
Oliveros (2008), nonetheless, prescribed that the use of civil-military operations in southern
Philippines should be looked at objectively and holistically. As to the analysis of national
security implications of the preferred option to the political, socio-cultural, economic and
military dimensions, the following were evolved:
Politically speaking, he prescribed that the policy option would promote national stability and
would insulate the nation from internal and external threats. It would likewise foster a
harmonious civil-military relationship that would eliminate conflicts and foster interdependence
in performing related or mutually reinforcing tasks necessary for the national and regional
development. A closer relationship would exists between the people of Mindanao and the
national government through the AFP that is effectively contributing to national development
while religiously guarding the state. Hence, the gap between the people and the government
would be bridged so that mutual trust and confidence among secessionist groups would generate
legitimacy of the government. With this, the people would be empowered to share in governance
and participation through CMO by taking part in the determination and pursuit of development
In terms of economic perspective, he stated that there should be a strengthened capability of the
Engineer Units, the availability of manpower, and foreign aids in Mindanao will pave way for
the coordination in development programs and projects, would spur economic growth in the
region. This would bring prosperity and growth and ultimately alleviate and reduce poverty. The
basic infrastructures would provide more investments and income opportunities. The range of
choices would widen and the people would be able to live decently, thus, a sustainable economic
development in Mindanao could be attained.
Looking at the Socio-cultural aspects, the rich culture of Mindanao would promote pride and
identity and cultural cohesiveness, particularly by assimilating the Muslims in Philippine
national consciousness. This would come about with the closer relationship and cooperation, as
long as dialogues and negotiations are open between the GRP and separatist groups. With
continuous talks that would translate to the success of peace agreements, ultimately, confidence
will bring security of the state and that development in Mindanao, would make people go about
their ways of life without fear of anything. Furthermore, a secured life would go a long way in
attaining a peaceful, intelligent, law abiding and moral citizenry.
Militarily, closer cooperation among the people, other government agencies and the AFP through
the effectiveness of the CMO would help enhance the capability of the AFP to fulfill its
constitutional mandate. It would likewise increase the capability to accomplish other statutory
functions such as preserving the national patrimony; protecting the people from the ill effects of
wars; and assisting other government agencies in enforcing foreign and domestic policies and
international commitments. More so, strengthened Engineer Units of the AFP would make
possible the speedy completion of more infrastructure projects, promote social equity, and
ultimately alleviate poverty.
Abuza, Zacharya., (2003) “Militant Islam in Southeast Asia: Crucible of Terror,” Lynne Rienner.
Aguirre, Alexander P., et al., (1990) “Readings on Counterinsurgency,” Pan Service Masters
Consultants, Inc., Quezon City: Philippines.
____________ (2000) “Philippine Structural Risk: Peace and Order in Mindanao,” Luncheon
speech delivered before the Manila Workshop on SME Development in the East ASEAN
Growth Area, 26 June 2000.
Anderson, Benedict, (1983) “Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of
Nationalism,” London: Verso.
Buazon, Leslie E., (2002) “The Philippine Nation-state, Minority Culture and Globalization,” in
Aguilar, Carmencita (ed.) Political Culture and Globalization, International Federation of Social
Science Organizations, Manila: CSSP Publication.
Cabalza, Chester B.. (2007) “Cyberterrorism and its Implications in Global-Local Discourse in
Southeast Asia,” presented during the 2nd Singapore Graduate Forum on Southeast Asia Studies
of the Asia Research Institute of the National University of Singapore on 26-27 July 2007 at the
National University of Singapore.
Castro, Nestor T., (2002) “The Internationalization of Ethnic Minority Movements in the
Philippines,” in Aguilar, Carmencita (ed.) Political Culture and Globalization, International
Federation of Social Science Organizations, Manila: CSSP Publication.
Daquial, Don Ferdinand A., (2001) Unpublished Thesis. “The Jihad as a Factor in the MILF’s
Struggle for Independence, Its Implications for National Security,” National Defense College of
the Philippines.
Gracia, Commo. Plaridel C., (2008) “Amnesty: Problems and Issues,” in National Security
Review, pp. 45-55, National Security Review, National Defense College of the Philippines,
Quezon City: Philippines.
Hermoso, Dickson LtCol. P., (2007) “GRP-MILF Peace Process: Review and Prospects,” in
National Security Review, pp. 59-77, National Security Review, National Defense College of the
Philippines, Quezon City: Philippines.
Hernandez, Carolina G., (2006) “The Military in Philippine Politics: Democratization,
Governance, and Security Sector Reform”, in Morada, Noel and Tadem, Teresa (eds.) Philippine
Politics and Governance: An Introduction, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City:
Jayme, Catherine Denni R., (2001) “The Challenge for Peace in Mindanao: Counter-Insurgency
Policies of the Estrada and Arroyo Governments for Southern Philippines,”
Medenilla, Ardeliza R. (2008). Unpublished Thesis, An Assessment of the Prioritization of Road
and Bridge Projects as an Instrument to Promote Economic Growth and its Distribution”,
National Defense College of the Philippines.
National Peace and Development Plan (2000).
Oliveros, Alfredo S., (1998) Unpublished Thesis, “The Development Role of the Armed Forces
of the Philippines,” National Defense College of the Philippines.
Paderanga, Cayatano W. Jr., (2007) “Infrastructure in Philippine Development,” Discussion
Paper 0710, School of Economics, University of the Philippines, Quezon City.
Pulma, Ritzel V., (2002) “GRP-MILF Peace Negotiation: History, Challenges and Prospects,”
National Security Review, Volume XX Number 1, 1st Quarter, National Defense College of the
Philippines, Quezon City: Philippines.
Sosmeña, Dr. Gaudioso C., (2008) “Policy Analysis and Counterinsurgency,” pp. 63-71,
National Security Review, National Defense College of the Philippines, Quezon City:
Quilop, Raymund Jose G., et al. (2007) “Putting an End to Insurgency: An Assessment of the
AFP’s Internal Security Operations,” Office of the Strategic and Special Studies, Camp General
Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City: Philippines.
Wee, Dickson G. (2008) Thesis (Unpublished) A Comparative Study of the DND and CPP
Websites: Internet-Based Communication As A Tool To Enhance National Security. National
Defense College of the Philippines, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
Yap, Romulo F., (2007) “A Review of the Government’s Counter-insurgency Strategies,” pp.
33-52, National Security Review, National Defense College of the Philippines, Quezon City:
Newer PostOlder PostHome
Blog Archive