Thursday, November 3, 2005

The Julius Babao Affair and the Missing Terrorist

A possibly very important terrorist has gone missing . Again. Tyrone "Dawud" Santos has allegedly been "with" the mastermind of the 2002 Bali Bombing: Dulmatin, with a $10 million price tag on his head. Probably also involved in last months Bali-II bombing as well.

Curiously, this latest "disappearance"--bail jumping really--comes right on the heels of this controversy in which President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has accused the early morning talk show host of ABSCBN networks, Julius Babao, of having been involved with paying for the release on bail of the same Dawud Santos when the latter was first arrested in March, 2005 on a weapons charge. Read about that whole thing in this PDI story: Arroyo Links Broadcaster to Bailout of Terror Suspect. Here is the angry riposte of the nation's largest network, denying any involvement in the matter last March and blaming Jonathan Tiongco, a person closely associated with Environment Sec. Mike Defensor.

Dan Darling of Rantburg has just posted on this matter, but I think he's got some of his facts wrong...(or at least his spelling of Filipino...no biggie.)

Here was my earlier post when the story broke a few days ago.

Last Monday morning, I caught a very interesting AM radio interview of Jonathan Tiongco with Ali Sotto. He begged off answering the direct and obvious questions, and emphasized how "deep" ("masalimuot") this whole affair is involving Dawud Santos and the Rajah Solaiman Movement of "balik-Islam" or Filipino Christians "returning" to Islam. He seemed to imply some kind of intelligence operation was afoot. But this could've been self-serving misdirection. Mr. Tiongco is a shadowy character and it's not clear what his relationship is to the various dramatis personae.

Newsweek covered the Rajah Solaiman Movement last May here, shortly after the group was discovered.

Now the Main Stream Media is rightly up in arms over the tar and feathering of newsmen as "terrorist-coddlers". The maladroit use of the Extortionist and Fantabulist of Philippine Media, Ramon Tulfo to "leak" the accusation of the president against Julius Babao is backfiring on the Palace.

But it seems fairly obvious that BOTH Babao-ABSCBN and Jonathan Tiongco were involved in the March release on bail of Dawud Santos. At the very least, the newsman and his organization were after a story, legitimately, I would say, though if they actually paid for Dawud's bail, that would be unethical at best, and at worse, foolish. Now Julius Babao and ABSCBN do not dispute that they left with Dawud last March in an ABSCBN van, presumably to interview Dawud for a scoop. Tiongco's involvement is a little murkier, but Julius Babao has fingered him as the true source of the P200,000 bail money used by Dawud. Tiongco is involved in Gloriagate, having been used by Mike Defensor as an audio expert to doctor some disks.

But Malacanang may be cruisin' for a bruisin' with the people who buy up ink by the barrel and man the 24/7 news channels with its resort to Goebbelian tactics.

The real story here is that the President, fatally wounded by the unresolved crisis called Gloriagate, has been unable to rally her countrymen to an honest to God war on terror. Her inconstancy in Iraq last year has not helped convince them it is a matter of great importance to them and not just the Anglosphere.

The absence of an anti-terrorism law is precisely the reason Dawud Santos was able to gain release on bail last March. Yet in all the years since September 11, President Arroyo has not delivered on a promise made to allies to get such legislation passed. It is one of her greatest failures as a leader. She has been unable to make the case for the War on Terror convincingly enough to overcome ideologically-motivated forces opposed to the entire idea of a war on terrorism, because she herself does not seem to believe it is necessary.

Now, if the Palace tries to use scare tactics and witch hunting on the Media to scare up approval of badly needed legislation in this area, the deep civil libertarian tradition in the press and civil society will rise up and stymie her with a charge of authoritarianism and dictatorial rule. Which the Left would love to happen, because then they can hit two birds with one stone: one illegitimate President and the full participation of the Philippines in the allied effort against Al Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiyah, and the truly dangerous killers lurking in these islands.

Boy and when it rains, it pours.

2 comments:

Rizalist said...

blogger.com was down for a few hours this afternoon. but seems to be back online again. Just saw Mon Tulfo on TV. He is the journalist that the President supposedly talked to "off the record" to deliver the original accusation against the tv reporter, Babao.

Rizalist said...

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