Skip to comments.Bush pledges money, training for RP military
Posted on 10/18/2003 3:51:07 AM PDT by Steel Wolf
US President George W. Bush on Saturday pledged to contribute training and an unspecified sum of money to help the Philippines military as it embarks on a five-year modernization and reform plan.
"Today, President (Gloria Macapagal-)Arroyo and her government committed to a five-year plan to modernize and reform your military," Bush said in remarks prepared for delivery to lawmakers here during an eight-hour state visit. "My country will provide technical assistance, field expertise, and funding," he promised in what was the first speech by a US president to a joint session of the Philippines Congress since Dwight Eisenhower in 1960.
Bush also vowed to help the Philippines bring Muslim Abu Sayyaf rebels "to justice" and promised to work with Southeast Asian nations to dismantle the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah group. "My government and yours are pursuing a common objective: We will bring Abu Sayyaf to justice," he said. "And we will continue to work with our friends in Southeast Asia to dismantle the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist network and other groups that traffic in violence and chaos."
On Friday, a senior administration official said Washington wanted to help Manila battle local extremists but acknowledged that a pledge to provide refurbished combat helicopters had hit a funding snag. "I'll be honest with you, we haven't found funding yet. I'm sure we will by the end of the next fiscal year, but we're not there yet," he told reporters on condition of anonymity.
Security concerns ran high during Bush's visit here, and he was late almost an hour in getting to the Congress because "large crowds of people" blocked his route, said White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan. "There were large crowds of people on the motorcade route, and the (US) Secret Service wanted to make sure it was secure. So they worked with Philippine authorities to make sure the area was secure," she said.
Also, according to many local newspapers, Janjalani, Abu Sulaiman, and other top ASG leaders are being pursued by government forces. The infamous JI bombmaker Al Ghozi was recently killed while resisting arrest during a National Police raid, and some speculate that the rest of the ASG leadership could soon face a similiar fate.
I am glad to have a report from the area, as opposed to American press reports. Thank you for the information!
|Family and friends take one last look at the body of terrorist Fathur Rohman al-Ghozi before his burial in Madiun, Indonesia on Friday. One of Asia's most wanted terrorists, al-Ghozi was buried in his hometown after a one-day delay for an autopsy which revealed that he was likely shot at long range. - AP|
The Philippines does have a corruption problem. Open sources are very clear on insurgents being able to purchase arms and equipment from high ranking military officials. Terrorists and criminals routinely buy their way out of capture or prison. Al Ghozi's 'escape' from prison is a perfect example, albiet a brazen and clumsy one. The U.S. hostages of the Abu Sayyaf also reported that the ASG would often pay their way out of trouble when they were cornered. A game of cat and mouse that benefited both sides.
Most of this has been able to flourish because the southern Philippines has been a relative backwater until recently. Now that the scrunity is intensifying, it will be harder for people to play both sides.
I've heard the claim that elements of the military have staged bombings to frame the terrorists. The problem is that both sides play dirty. The insurgent / terrorist groups could claim that to distract attention from themselves. The military could sponsor attacks to make the insurgents look bad. Both are plausible. My gut feeling with this is that the military is innocent of this, or if so, it was done by an actual rogue group.
Most of the 'militia' type groups, such as the Guardians of Mindinao, would never support attacks on their own people, even to make the enemy look bad.
Civilian groups formed to protect their particular town or locality? Are they at all effective?
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