Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Non-Continuity Factor Reminiscent of September 11th, at Ipil too, in 1995

Key figures newly positioned in important jobs, like many manning the flight control and air safety offices in New York and Arlington on September 11th, give that whiff of plausibility as being an incompetent, rather than the betrayal of a conspirator, as oath-sworn defenders are abject failures at doing their damn jobs. It happened in 1995 at Ipil too.

Editorial .Continuity

April 8, 1995, Manila Standard, Editorial, page 8, "Continuity",

Brig. Gen. Regino Lacson, who has just lost his job as chief of the Southern Command, appears to be the scapegoat which the administration and the military establishment have offered to the public in the wake of the tragedy at Ipil. There is no question that General Lacson, by virtue of his position, was responsible for what President Ramos has described as the "height of negligence," and like the good soldier that he is, General Lacson has accepted the responsibility.

But even as General Lacson accepts his removal without protest, his superiors should recognize that the general in many ways was a victim of circumstances. He had occupied his post for less than two months--a post which, according to Ramon Farolan, the retired general who writes for the Star, is so complex that "it takes at least eight to ten months to really become effective in terms of familiarity with forces and the environment."

Ordinarily, one would expect that the commanding officer's newness on the job would be offset by the experience of his staff members and his immediate subordinates. This was not true for General Lacson. The vice commander, Col. Jose Balajadia, has been with the Southcom for only a few months; the chief of staff, Navy Capt. Rolando Garcia, assumed the post three weeks ago; the assistant chief of staff for intelligence, Col. Rodolfo Alvarado, has been on the job not much longer.

"So, we had a situation where the commander, the chief of staff and the assistant chief of staff for intelligence were newcomers, with the vice commander only a few months older," General Farolan points out. "Is it any wonder that there would be a failure of intelligence?"

The information provided by General Farolan makes us ask a different question: Why did the military high command allow such a situation to develop?

Surely, the persons who make appointments in the miltary should have realized how imprudent it would be to have the most important posts in the Southcom filled by officers who were new to the area.

When Lt. Gen. Orlando Soriano left the Southcom last February to become army chief, the AFP's appointing powers should have made personnel decisions that would ensure a large amount of continuity in the higher echelons of the Southcom.

But the AFP's appointing powers failed to do so. Many of General Soriano's key subordinates were reassigned at about the time he left. Perhaps, he wanted to take these key people with him. But the reason is irrelevant. The Southcom lost key officers.

Another question is raised by the appointment of Maj. Edgardo Batenga--a man who retired in a few months--as the new head of Southcom. Does this appointment mean that the AFP is maintaining the dubious practice of having the Southcom headed by a general who never completes his tour of duty?

It wasn't planned this way, but it happens. The Southcom is such an important job that sometimes, it is given to a younger, talented general who is expected to use it as a stepping-stone to higher things, and at other times, it is given as a consolation prize to a soon-to-be-retired general who sought but did not get the job of army chief or even AFP chief of staff.

As a result, the Southcom post usually has been held by generals who don't stay very long. They retire (like Lt. Gen. Thelmo Cunanan) or they get promoted (like General Soriano); in either case, the result is a lack of continuity in the way the Southcom goes about its mission.

The AFP high command may ascribe the Ipil tragedy to the failures of their intelligence people. Maybe, they should start taking a second look at the officers in charge of staffing and assignments.

"It wasn't planned this way, but it happens."

It WAS planned that way and it doesn't make any sense, does it?! Nothing happens in politics by accident. If it happens, you can be sure it was planned that way.

Abu Sayyaf top guns are captured
Filipino Reporter; March 30, 1995

May 12, 2008, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Changing of the guard, by Ramon J. Farolan, Diigo,

August 24, 2009, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Op-Ed, ‘MILF territory’—are we a failed state?, by Ramon J. Farolan, Diigo,


May 31, 1995, Seattle Times News Services, 2 Muslim extremist leaders escape jail in the Philippines,

MANILA, Philippines - Two ranking officers of a Muslim extremist group blamed for a spate of bombings and raids in the southern Philippines have escaped from their Manila jail cell, police said today.

Khadafy Janjalani and Juvenal Bruno, described by police as ranking leaders of the Abu Sayyaf fundamentalist group, escaped Monday through the ceilings of their cells at the national police headquarters, a police spokesman said.

Janjalani is the brother of Abu Sayyaf chief Abubakar Janjalani, while Bruno is the group's intelligence officer. They were arrested on southern Jolo Island in February and brought to Manila for questioning.

Police blamed Abu Sayyaf guerrillas for a savage raid on the southern town of Ipil in April in which 53 people, mostly unarmed civilians, were massacred.


January 11, 1995, Manila Standard, page 3, Pakistani nabbed with explosives, by Bert Ignacio and Arnold Atadero,

Government intelligence agents have arrested a Pakistani suspected of being on a mission to assassinate Pope John Paul II or to disrupt his state visit to the Philippines starting tomorrow, informed sources said yesterday.

The sources said the suspect, named Said Hamid, 26, arrived in Manila last Dec. 6. [...]

They said Hamid's companion, identified as Yagi Jadad, a national of Morocco, managed to elude the police dragnet. [...]

In another development, several hundred Evangelical Protestants marched through Manila streets yesterday to protest the visit by Pope John Paul II.

The protesters carried banners reading "The Vicar of Christ is The Holy Spirit Not The Pope" and "Prepare For The Coming Of The Lord Jesus, Not The Pope" as they marched past the University of Santo Thomas where the pontiff will say Mass on Friday.

Pope John Paul will spend five days in the Philippines...

Although 85 percent of the 66 million Filipinos are nominally Catholic, Protestants number several million and are the fastest growing religious group in the Philippines.

April 18, 1995, The Manila Standard, page 3, Abu Sayyaf men execute 14 hostages, by Rudy Saavedra,

Abu Sayyaf guerillas brutally killed 14 of their civilian hostages on Friday in an island off Tungawan, Zamboanga del Sur as the captives begged for their lives, a critically wounded hostage who miraculously survived the carnage told reporters here.. Restituto Segundino, 24, who was snatched April 6 by fleeing Muslim bandits that pillaged Ipil town two weeks ago, told newsmen from his hospital bed that his fellow hostages were hacked to death by their captors after telling them "we'll set you free."

Segundino, a farmer, sustained 13 hack wounds from his neck down to his buttocks was rescued by pursuing troops of the Army's 9th Special Forces from among a pile of six other slain hostages. "I was left for dead by the bandits," he told reporters at the AFP Southern Command hospital here. He said he was lucky to survive the carnage and thanked the soldiers who rescued him.

The lone survivor said the bandits ferried them (hostages) to Pina Island, off the town of Tungawan on Friday night and executed them the following day.


"Maawa kayo sa amin. Huwag ninyo kaming patayin," Segundino quoted some of his fellow hostages pleading minutes before they were savagely killed. Military officers led by Armed Forces Southern Command chief Maj. Gen. Edgardo Batenga showed to newsmen a bladed weapon locally known as barong similar yo what was used by the bandits in the massacre.

Government troops recovered on Sunday morning six of the slain hostages in an advance state of decomposition and ferried the bodies to this city on board two Air Force Huey helicopters.

Earlier, the bandit group killed six of their captives as government troops backed up by helicopter gunships closed in on them at barangay Sto. Roserio, R.T. Lim, Zamboanga del Sur last April 7.

"They (Abu Sayyaf) have already killed 12 hostages," Batenga told reporters after the recovery of six more bodies on Sunday. He added the terrorist group is holding six more civilian hostages. But hopes to recover them alive dimmed yesterday after Saturnino claimed the bandits executed mercilessly the remaining hostages.

"This is how savage they (Abu Sayyaf) are. I could not see any motive why they have to kill their innocent and helpless hostages," Batenga said. Earlier the military said the captives were being used as human shields by the terrorists as they fled to the mountains to elude pursuing government troops.

Of the six bodies recovered on Sunday, only one was identified as that of Victorino Aballe, village chief of Tiayon, Ipil, Zamboanga del Sur while the five others remain unidentified.

The bodies of the six slain hostages were badly mutilated with one victim decapitated. The terrorists earlier killed Patricio Gregorio of Barangay Maasin, Ipil; Ernesto Arances of Barangay Dona Josefa, Ipil; Ernesto Revantad also of Barangay Maasin; Romulo Assister who was hacked to death on April 7; Timoteo Batoto, 51, who was killed on April 10, five days after he was abducted at Barangay Candis, R.T. Limtown and Anna maria Dequilla, 18.


Thirty-two other hostages were able to escape their captors amidst the exchange of gunfire between pursuing soldiers and the terrorists.

Also on Sunday, two helicopter gunships pounded Pina Island with rockets and machinegun fire killing six of the over 100 bandits that were able to slip through a military cordon at Tungawan mainland.

In the afternoon of the same day, two more terrorists on board motorized outriggers were slain after a brief gunbattle with Marine troopers off Sacol island, east of this city, military reports disclosed.

Batenga said that the military has accounted for 42 terrorists killed in a series of gunbattles and airstrikes launched by Southern Command after the Abu Sayyaf guerillas raided and looted the Christian-dominated town of Ipil last April 4 which left 53 people dead.

Batenga also claimed that government troops captured another suspected member of the terrorist group in Tungawan on Good Friday, bringing to five the number of captured bandits under military custody now.

Basug was picked up by military intelligence operatives in Tungawan on suspicion he is "a sympathizer/follower of the Abu Sayyaf." Batenga confirmed the arrest of Basug and said the military is trying to ascertain his participation in the Ipil attack.

But Basug's wife Vilma, told reporters here that her husband is not a Muslim extremist but a candidate for councilor in the municipality of Tungawan running under the KBL-PMP ticket. She said she will press the military to free her husband through the Commission on Human Rights.


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