Wednesday, August 20, 2014

MILF: Editorial -- One at a time

Editorial posted to the MILF Website (Aug 19): One at a time

One cannot fight several battles at a time. It has to be one battle after the other. This is the credo of the MILF in the face of several challenges before the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) becomes a reality.
It is like saying that we cross the bridge when we reach it. But this is not in a way forgetting the forest, because the tree is part of it.

This frame of mind and way of handling situation, the MILF, after 17 long and harsh years of negotiation, has managed to sign the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) in 2012 and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in 2014. These two agreements are indeed historic, which can only be surpassed by one that is above and over an autonomous arrangement with the government.

To illustrate this point: After the long years of protracted negotiation, the MILF has led the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) in crafting the BBL, which underwent real deliberations and multi-layers of decision-making. It was difficult as it was time-consuming. Today, the real happening is in the Office of the President (OP) where the proposed BBL is under scrutiny; after which the battle will shift to Congress, then to the conduct of the plebiscite in which people will approve (or disapprove) of the BBL. That is not the end of the trials and tribulations. It is almost certain that people or groups will question the constitutionality of the BBL before the Supreme Court. All of these scenarios are risks-laden, but the MILF is not cowed at all.

This explains the reason why the MILF refuses to answer questions on the basis of supposition; e.g., suppose Congress will not pass the BBL, suppose the BBL is not ratified, suppose the BBL is declared unconstitutional.

“Man shall have nothing except what he strives for,” says the Holy Qur’an. This is the basis of the MILF working formula. It is rare or not at all that success comes in handy or on a silver platter. There are no rewards without risk. Taking risks is part of the undertaking.

Be this as it may, the good news, however, is that after several delays, the MILF and the government are currently struggling to finish an “agreed version” of the BBL for submission to Congress, after the President certifies it as urgent bill. It is not an easy undertaking but what is good is that both parties are in a problem-solving exercise. They have also set aside rigidity in favor of creativity, so that even hard issues are not handled fairly well.

With the rate, the Parties are going in resolving the remaining issues in the BBL; chances are that it will be submitted to Congress very soon.

MILF: GPH, MILF panels need more time to prepare an agreed version of draft BBL

Posted to the MILF Website (Aug 20): GPH, MILF panels need more time to prepare an agreed version of draft BBL

The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels need more time to prepare an agreed and final draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), as they failed to submit it to President Benigno Aquino III last August 18.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles relayed the information to Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. that the panels failed to make it last Monday and need more time to prepare a final draft.

"Ayon kay Secretary Ging Deles, lahat ng mahahalagang isyu ay natalakay at nailinaw na. Ang ginagawa lang ng magkabilang panig ngayon ay inihahanda ‘yung mismong draft Bangsamoro Basic Law na ihahain sa Tanggapan ng Pangulo," he said in a press briefing.

But Coloma said, Deles did not indicate any specific date as to when the final version of the bill would be submitted to the President for his review before he forwards it to Congress.

"The parties are targeting submission of final draft to President within the week and submission to Congress by the end of August," he said, further quoting Deles.

The Palace official said there was nothing to be worried about despite the delay again in the submission of the draft to the President, stressing that the leadership of both the Senate and the House of Representatives have expressed their support for the early passage of the draft BBL. (Source: SDR/Sunnex)

MILF: Vice President Binay visits Maguindanao, supports Bangsamoro

Posted to the MILF Website (Aug 20): Vice President Binay visits Maguindanao, supports Bangsamoro

In his recent visit to Cotabato City and Maguindanao, Vice President Jejomar Binay expressed support to the creation of the Bangsamoro government in 2016. Binay however, denied his visits here and to various towns in Maguindanao were part of the early campaign trail for his presidential bid in 2016, MindaNews reported.
VP Binay was welcomed by both administration and opposition leaders during his visit on Sunday. August 17 and Monday, August 18.

Binay expressed his support to the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) on Monday in Sultan Kudarat town as it celebrated its 67th foundation anniversary.

Once passed by Congress and ratified by the constituents, the BBL will entrench the Bangsamoro government to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The creation of the Bangsamoro government was envisioned by the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the final peace agreement of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed last March 27.

Binay chanted Takbir thrice in expressing support to the passage of the BBL, which the crowd exuberantly responded with “Allahu Akbar” (God is the greatest).

Datu Tucao Mastura, former Sultan Kudarat town mayor and the provincial stalwart of the United Nationalist Alliance, Binay’s political party, lauded the vice president’s support to the BBL.
It is an “expression of giving importance to the dream of the Bangsamoro people,” Mastura said.
Also in attendance during Sultan Kudarat town’s foundation anniversary were ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman, 6th Infantry Division commander Brig. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, top ARMM police officials, and several local government officials of the province. He also met with members of the Archdiocese of Cotabato and members of his Alpha Phi Omega (APO).

While in Datu Odin Sinsuat town on Sunday for the inauguration of a Seniors Citizen Building which his office funded, Maguindanao Vice Governor Datu Lester Sinsuat, a Liberal Party stalwart, introduced Binay as “the next President of the Republic of the Philippines.” Binay thanked the young vice governor for the “endorsement,” and later “denied that he was in the province to campaign early for his 2016 presidential bid.”

Binay was joined by former Tarlac Governor Margarita “Ting-Ting” Cojuangco, Paranaque Rep. Gustavo Tambunting and Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian in his trips. (Source: MindaNews, August 19, 2014)

CPP/NDF: Tribute to Nila “Comrade Edna” Montes

NDF propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Aug 19): Tribute to Nila “Comrade Edna” Montes

Fr. Santiago Salas (Ka Sanny)
NDFP Eastern Visayas Chapter
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Eastern Visayas condoles with the family and friends of our dear Nila “Comrade Edna” Montes, who died of illness last August 15, 2014 while under the custody of the Government of the Philippines (GPH). She served the people for more than 30 years as a proletarian revolutionary cadre of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA), and had last served as the deputy secretary for education of the Party’ s Southeast Samar Committee. Although she was diagnosed and being treated for a serious illness since 2012, she never wavered in her love for the people and in her determination to carry out her revolutionary tasks.

Comrade Edna was arrested by the military of the GPH on trumped-up charges in Guiuan, Eastern Samar last July 4, 2013. Although she was already very sick and needed hospital confinement, she was denied the humanitarian consideration her legal counsel appealed for. This is also guaranteed by the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law signed by the NDFP and GPH. Instead, she was detained in unhealthy and shabby prisons in Oras and Dolores towns in Eastern Samar, far away from the medical care she needed. She suffered like other political prisoners under the US-Aquino regime, whose high officials and their accomplices currently accused of corruption and plunder, on the other hand, enjoy special treatment under luxurious “hospital arrest.” The reason she was rushed to but died on the way to the hospital in Tacloban City on August 15 was that her previous treatment had been left unfinished because her GPH military custodians demanded her return to detention, against the protests of her legal counsel and doctors.

But to the very end, in the face of enemy persecution, Comrade Edna held her head high, refusing to bow to the enemy’s persecution and remaining steadfast in her revolutionary commitment. Despite her fatal ailment, she never collaborated with the enemy and betrayed the comrades and the masses. She raised the prestige of the revolutionary movement and set an example by her selflessness, dedication and self-sacrifice.

Comrade Edna came from a relatively well-off petty-bourgeois family in Samar, but had been orphaned at a young age. She was studying in college in Manila when she was first organized as a mass activist in the youth and students movement in the anti-dictatorship struggle against Marcos in the 1970s. She was recruited into the Party and was collectivized in the regional support group in Manila. Up to the early 1980s, she did liaison work, linking the Party in the region and in Manila. Afterwards, she was in the staff of the Visayas Commission, where she was discontented with the decadent lifestyle of the counterrevolutionary traitor Arturo Tabara.

The mid-1980s came with major challenges for Comrade Edna, at the time when the revolutionary movement was following the wrong line of premature regularization and military adventurism. Comrade Edna returned to Eastern Visayas with her husband, Comrade Paulo. She was assigned to the Political Department of the then regional battalion of the NPA in Samar. Comrade Paulo served as a member of the Battalion Party Committee and a political officer of a company in the battalion. The other comrades in the battalion praised Comrade Edna for serving as a model for the “Red Detachment of Women” in the people’s army in her remoulding, self-sacrifice and problem-solving.

But Comrade Paulo was martyred not long after their deployment in a guerrilla offensive in San Jorge, Samar. Comrade Edna was also wounded in an incident and suffered from personal crisis while convalescing. But after a time, Comrade Edna recovered her morale and revolutionary optimism, wholeheartedly dedicating herself to the masses and to the revolutionary struggle.

Comrade Edna did regional propaganda and education work in the early 1990s. She was one of the anchors in the revolutionary VHF radio program Radyo Katalwasan. When the Second Great Rectification Movement began in Eastern Visayas, she was one of those who ensured the reproduction of education materials to guide the comrades. As a comrade recalls of that time, she would be busy all day typing, as well as smeared all over with ink from running the mimeograph machine. The rectification movement reinvigorated the comrades including Comrade Edna, and they strived to once again strengthen the Party in ideology, politics and organization.

In 1996, Comrade Edna was deployed to Southern Leyte to help in the recovery work there after the setbacks during the time of the wrong line. A Red commander who was also her comrade in the collective said the conditions at the start were very difficult. There were only seven comrades when they started. They traveled long distances to organize the peasant masses in far-flung barrios. They subsisted on root crops and could only eat rice once a month, if there were any. The Red commander relates you would never think Comrade Edna came from the petty bourgeoisie, as she never once complained at the hardships, but sharing weal and woe with other comrades and the peasant masses. She lived up to being a proletarian revolutionary fighter of the CPP-NPA in political work as well as joining guerrilla offensives in the armed struggle. She proved to be a good leader in territorial work and the people’s army grew from a handful to being an undersized company in due time. Because of her exemplary work, she was raised to the Party’s Leyte Island Committee in 2003.

Comrade Edna also remarried during this time to a peasant comrade and they had one daughter. But they encountered irreconcilable differences in the marriage and were divorced in 2005. During the same year, she was deployed to Eastern Samar as a member of the provincial Party committee. But she did not let her personal problems get in the way of her political work.

In 2010, when the provincial Party committees were reorganized to better carry out comprehensive work, Comrade Edna began serving as the deputy secretary for education of the Southeast Samar Committee. A staff member of the committee recalls that the enemy attacked during the plenum and the comrades had to withdraw to a distant barrio. During the retreat, even the younger comrades were left exhausted by the forced march. But they marveled that Comrade Edna was one of the few comrades who could still call on a peasant household and happily converse despite her own tiredness. She showed enthusiasm in dealing with the comrades and masses of all ages. She was sharp and direct in speech in striving for the correct line, never tiring of educating other comrades, and showing humility and selflessness.

Comrade Edna also persevered in striving to build a revolutionary family. She was a communist mother who faced the challenge of being far from her children because of her revolutionary tasks. She remained steadfast in the face of loneliness, distance and the disappointments from time to time of her children. Comrade Edna understood that the poverty and neediness of her children were the same as that felt by the masses of the people. She had no doubt and overcame her family problems as part of her sacrifices as a revolutionary.

Even when Comrade Edna was arrested in 2013, she still rose above her circumstances and proved herself as a proletarian revolutionary cadre. Because of her prestige, friends of the revolutionary movement sent her food, cooking utensils and other forms of support even while she was in detention. She never minded sharing what she received, and befriended as well her fellow detainees and the jailguards.

Comrade Edna knew the US-Aquino regime was corrupt and rotten to the core, and thus persecuting her because she was on the side of the people’s resistance. Despite being under duress, despite suffering from a fatal illness, her revolutionary determination remained firm and unshakeable in the face of the enemy. When her treatment was stopped and she was being taken away from the hospital by the military guards of the GPH, her last message to the comrades was: “Padayon kita!” (Let us persevere!)

Let us avenge Comrade Edna, not by the simple act of killing the enemy in battle but by defeating the class enemies and overthrowing the rotten reactionary system. Let us emulate her example of selflessness, self-sacrifice, simple living and diligent struggle. Let us salute and continue her legacy as a proletarian cadre, a woman, a fighter for the revolutionary cause!

AFP welcomes new ISAFP chief

From InterAksyon (Aug 20): AFP welcomes new ISAFP chief

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday welcomed Brigadier General Arnold M. Quiapo, who assumed the post of chief of Intelligence Service, AFP (ISAFP).

In a simple ceremony at the ISAFP Headquarters, Brig. Gen. Quiapo formally replaced Major Gen. Eduardo M. Año who earlier took a new post as the commander of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division last July 25.

Before being appointed ISAFP chief, Quiapo was the Commander of the Army's 301st Brigade, 3rdInfantry Division, based in Dingle, Iloilo. He held the position from December 2011 to present.

During his tenure as commander, the 301BDE conducted simultaneous signing of Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Council (JPSCC) Implementing Plan on Security for  All Vital Government and Private Projects, Undertakings, Facilities and Equipment with Iloilo Provincial  Police  Office,  Guimaras  Provincial  Police  Office  and  Iloilo  City  Police Office in July 2014. He also spearheaded numerous Bayanihan, and Community Development projects in the 301BDE area of responsibility.

He was also the Chief of Staff of the Training and Doctrine Command, PA in Tarlac; Group Commander, K-9 Company of the Army’s Intelligence Service Group; and Battalion Commander of 39th Infantry Battalion, 6thInfantry Division, Philippine Army in Mindanao.

Quiapo is a member of the Philippine Military Academy “Matikas” Class of 1983. He took specialization courses and training both in military and civilian schools here and abroad. He graduated the Overseas Joint Warfare Course at the Australian Defense Force Warfare Centre; Counter Terrorism Training at PMA; and Command and General Staff Course at CGSC, TRADOC, PA.

He holds a Masters in Business Management from the University of the Philippines and Master of Arts in Security Studies at the Australian Defense College.

A decorated military officer, Quiapo has received, among others, five Bronze Cross Medals, Military Civic Action Medal, Silver Wing Medal and two Distinguished Service Stars.

China rejects Manila protest on ships, complains of detentions

From InterAksyon (Aug 20): China rejects Manila protest on ships, complains of detentions

China rejected Philippine complaints on Wednesday about Chinese survey vessels operating in a gas-rich area of Manila's exclusive economic zone, and has lodged a separate complaint about the detention of Chinese workers, as tensions persist.

President Benigno Aquino III said over the weekend that two Chinese survey vessels had been sighted at the Reed Bank, which the Philippines also claims.

In a statement faxed to Reuters, China's Foreign Ministry said that Reed Bank was Chinese territory.

"Survey activities being carried out by Chinese survey ships are appropriate, legal and beyond reproach," the ministry said.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, believed to be rich in deposits of oil and gas resources. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also claim the sea where $5 trillion of ship-borne goods pass every year.

Tensions in the South China Sea between the Philippines and China began in 2011 when Chinese patrol boats harassed a survey ship hired by Anglo-Filipino Forum Energy PLC, which won a contact to explore the Reed Bank.

Another two to three Chinese ships have been seen regularly on patrol around Scarborough Shoal, another part of the disputed South China Sea.

Last month, Forum Energy PLC obtained an approval from the Philippine government to extend by one year its drilling plan for a natural gas project in Reed Bank. The company is now expected to complete by August 2016 drilling for its appraisal wells to assess the size of gas or oil discoveries.

Relations between Beijing and Manila have also been strained due to the detention of Chinese fishermen caught in waters claimed by both countries.

In a separate incident, the Chinese embassy in Manila lodged a complaint about the detention on Tuesday of more than 50 Chinese suspected of working illegally in the country.

The embassy is demanding that the authorities handle the case swiftly and fairly and treat those detained properly, the embassy said in a statement.

Philippine immigration authorities said the 55 Chinese had been picked up in raids across Metro Manila as they were believed to working without the necessary permits.

Task group formed to solve Zambo trader’s abduction

From MindaNews (Aug 20): Task group formed to solve Zambo trader’s abduction

A task group has been activated to address the abduction of a businesswoman seized here Monday evening by gunmen believed to be members of a kidnap-for-ransom group (KFRG).

Activated was Task Group Michelle, which was named after the victim, Michelle Panes, 36, a businesswoman from Purok 5, Barangay Labuan, this city.

Senior Supt. Angelito Casimiro, Zamboanga City police director, will act as the task group commander since he doesn’t have a deputy for operations that is supposed to head the body.

Casimiro said Wednesday there was no demand yet from the suspects, who are believed to be based in the province of Zamboanga del Norte.

The suspects abducted Panes and her husband, Noel, while they were tending their grocery store at around 7:45 p.m. Monday in Purok 5, Barangay Labuan.

Panes’ husband managed to escape while he was being forced to board on a motorboat locally known as “jungkung.” The couple’s grocery store is located less than a hundred meters away from the shore.

The gunmen fled towards the direction of Zamboanga del Norte.

Panes was the third to be abducted in Barangay Labuan by gunmen believed to be KFRG members based in the province of Zamboanga del Norte.

The first was Olivia Barredo, also a businesswoman, who was seized in the evening of March 3, 2011. She was released on April 22, 2011 in a secluded place in R.T. Lim, Zamboanga Sibugay.

The second was Flordeliza Ongchua, a teacher, who was seized on November 13, 2012 and was freed on December 24, 2012 in downtown Jolo, Sulu.