China Says We Ain't Afraid Of Nobody
June 4, 2012: Abu Sayyaf is increasingly a bunch of bandits, rather than a terrorist threat. The group has turned to crime (extortion, kidnapping and theft) to support itself and there appears to be little personnel and resources left for terror attacks. There are a few hundred members left, mainly on Jolo and Basilan islands, and these are constantly pursued by thousands of troops. Fewer and fewer Abu Sayyaf men are being found on the larger islands, at least not many who are planning terror attacks.
The stand-off with China over who owns what in the South China Sea continues, but there are no warships facing off at each other. Now the United States has stepped up and reminded China that the Philippines has a powerful ally and that future negotiations must take that into account. China has not responded, other than the usual "we ain't afraid of nobody" stuff. That remains to be seen.
Court proceedings move slowly against those accused in the massacre of 57 political activists and journalists in November, 2009. Many believe that the powerful clan the accused belongs to will be able to kill or intimidate witnesses to back down and there will be no convictions. So far, three witnesses have been murdered, and more are believed in danger. Some believe that the national government was under pressure to somehow not punish the well-connected among those arrested. It's all about guys with guns. The largely Moslem south is awash in guns, as well as religious hatred. The 2009 massacre was a local dispute, and there are plenty more like it down there. But the big problem is the private armies that politicians, major businessmen and the heads of some clans, maintain. These are in addition to the MILF (which sometimes overlaps with the non-separatist private armies). There are more guys with guns in those private armies, than there are police and soldiers in the south. The government keeps the peace by paying off the leaders of most of these pro-government militias. This is usually done with government money or jobs. But it is also done with assistance when someone gets arrested. However, the 2009 massacre suspects are under a spotlight, and making the charges go away for any of these guys, will be noticed. Thus the slow movement of the courts in this matter is seen as attempt to wait out the eager press. Eventually, the reporters will have to move on to more headline worthy subjects.
The government plans more corruption prosecutions of senior (and retired) officials. The ultimate goal is to eliminate most corruption throughout the government. This is especially urgent for the national police, whose many corrupt members make it very difficult to fight crime (especially anything involving corruption).
|"The chief aim of all government is to preserve the freedom of the citizen. His control over his person, his property, his movements, his business, his desires should be restrained only so far as the public welfare imperatively demands. The world is in more danger of being governed too much than too little.
It is the teaching of all history that liberty can only be preserved in small areas. Local self-government is, therefore, indispensable to liberty. A centralized and distant bureaucracy is the worst of all tyranny.
Taxation can justly be levied for no purpose other than to provide revenue for the support of the government. To tax one person, class or section to provide revenue for the benefit of another is none the less robbery because done under the form of law and called taxation."
John W. Davis, Democratic Presidential Candidate, 1924. Davis was one of the greatest trial and appellate lawyers in US history. He also served as the US Ambassador to the UK.