Who backed Maute?
Occam’s (or Ockham’s) Razor, the philosophical principle which states that the simplest explanation is probably the most correct, is very likely in play here. That, and the axiom of “Cui bono,” which postulates that whoever stands to benefit the most from a crime is at the head of the line in the search for its perpetrators.
The politicians—together with their principals and their various lackeys—ho are critical of President Rodrigo Duterte had a field day yesterday accusing the government of masterminding the terrorist crisis in Marawi City while the Chief Executive was in Moscow, of all places. According to this fantastic theory, the action of the ISIS-inspired Maute Group was planned by the Duterte administration to give the president an excuse to declare martial law in Mindanao.
The accusation followed an earlier narrative gleefully spread by the same group of politicians asking where Duterte was while Marawi was being besieged by Maute terrorists waving the dreaded black ISIS flag. When it became clear that Duterte would be cutting his historic trip to the Russian Federation short in order to address the crisis personally, they shifted to the more conspiratorial theory that the President himself had staged the crisis.
In other countries that have been attacked by ISIS and its affiliates (and wannabe ISIS affiliates like Maute and the Abu Sayyaf Group), the citizenry is immediately galvanized into action and united in purpose. Such is the power of terrorism to simultaneously unite and horrify that the world community itself unconditionally sympathizes with the victims and offers all sorts of assistance.
In the Philippines, opposition politicians think nothing of using a terrorist attack to further their partisan agenda. Like funeral parlor owners, they see only good in having the bodies pile up, because it gives them the opportunity to earn their ghoulish living.
But even the most cursory examination of the events of the past three days immediately explodes this “Duterte did it” theory being propounded by the Yellows. Let’s begin with Duterte leaving with a 300-member delegation for his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Why on earth would Duterte haul himself—and his biggest delegation of Filipino government officials and businessmen to go abroad so far—halfway around the world to meet a man he has always said he admires if he was only preparing an alibi for when the Maute attacked Marawi? And why would he cut short his trip when he hadn’t met Putin yet, even if he did convince the Russian leader to talk to him right before he flew back home in a huff?
Occam’s Razor will not allow such a complicated scenario. More likely than not, the Maute perpetrated their attacks on a Marawi hospital and other installations, causing massive panic and evacuations, because Duterte was about to meet Putin—in order to embarrass the Philippine leader while he was away on his important trip.
Who set up the Maute, who are known (like their terroristic brethren the ASG) to accept huge wads of cash for their work? Somebody who would benefit from the attacks and Duterte’s embarrassment, that’s who.
Which leads us directly to “Cui bono?” And that “cui” is definitely not the jet-lagged Duterte, who spent exactly 24 hours in Moscow and nearly two days in a plane coming and going.
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One of the most curious incidents was the presence in Marawi City of Liberal Party Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino a few days before the Maute siege. I’m not saying that “Bambam” Aquino, who became senator by impersonating his dead uncle Ninoy, was in Marawi to make sure everything was in place for the terrorist attacks—but if the Yellows can accuse Duterte of planning a terror strike with absolutely no evidence, then Aquino’s presence in Marawi is a bit more substantial.
Then, Vice President Leni Robredo got into the act, attending a security briefing at the military headquarters shortly before Duterte arrived yesterday. Nobody appointed Robredo caretaker of government while the president was away, of course, and she certainly has shown no prior interest or aptitude in counter-terrorism; but there she was, suddenly “taking charge,” even when it became clear that Duterte was returning—or perhaps to cover her tracks if she is accused of being in league with the Yellows in setting up the Maute.
Then there was the aforementioned outcry from the Yellow camp of Aquino and Robredo about Duterte’s supposed absence during a crisis and its later morphing into a denunciation of the president for fabricating an excuse to declare martial law. If that’s not a coordinated follow-up attack, like the impeachment, the ICC filing and Leni’s videotaped speech before a UN body, I don’t know what is.
(A famously pro-Yellow newspaper even uploaded five photographs supposedly depicting the carnage in Marawi, which were later proven by Cebu-based media personality Mike Acebedo Lopez to have been taken four years earlier in Cotabato. The photos were later taken down with profuse apologies—but not before they had circulated on the Internet for hours.)
The coming days will probably show, when the proper investigating bodies start conducting their work, who really backed the Marawi terror attacks. If Duterte is found to have planned them, well, he’s even more Machiavellian than anyone has ever given him credit for.