Tuesday, January 17, 2017

MILF: Editorial -- On violent radicalism

Editorial posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jan 16): Editorial -- On violent radicalism

The rising radicalisation of peoples especially the younger generation continues to be the concern of everybody. The MILF is not an exception. 

But radicalization, per se, is not bad, because it is way to shortcut the pathway if the normal course is so circuitous, rough or bumpy. The word radical” is popularly used to designate individuals, parties, and movements that wish to alter drastically any existing practice, institution, or social system.

Radicalism is also used to evoke associations with extremism, instability and an absolutist approach to politics. Many governments have a propensity for dismissing people and ideas with such labels.

Terms like "socialist", "communist", and “leftists” are frequently hurled at those who dare to promote substantial programs that address poverty, or suggest that government provide what many other "developed nations" deem fundamental services. Anyone who openly identifies with such positions is assumed to have nothing legitimate to contribute to public debate, irrespective of the plausibility, merit, and true ideology informing their arguments.

The truth, however, is that radicalism can become a problem if the proponents use violent to achieve their aims. This is the reason why the MILF through its peace implementing panel, with support from the European Union and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (CHD), hosted a two-day conference in Davao City on January 12-13 on the “Role of Bangsamoro Youth in the Pursuit of Peace in Mindanao”. It was well-attended, mostly youths from 18-35. The resource persons ranged from scholars of Islam to senior leaders of the MILF, MNLF Nur Misuari, and MNLF Moslemin Sema. Atty. Bong Parcasio and Hatimil Hassan represented the two MNLF factions, respectively, while Mohagher Iqbal spoke for the MILF.

Parcasio had made a well-prepared presentation, and Hassan, on the other hand, had to cut short his stay for an important trip overseas. Iqbal’s presentation dealt on the MILF responses to violent radicalism in Mindanao. He started his presentation by citing some of the verses of the QurĂ¡n related to violent radicalism, which Islam prohibited, to wit:

Allah says: “… Whosoever kills an innocent human being, it shall be as if he has killed all mankind, and whosoever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind…” Qur’an Chapter 5, Verse 32

“And fight in the way of Allah those who fight with you, and do not exceed the limits, surely Allah does not love those who exceed the limits.” Qur’an, Chapter 2, Verse 190

“But if they cease, Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful,” Qur’an, Chapter 2, Verse 192.

Prophet Mohammad (pbuh), as narrated in Hadith Sahih Bukhari, said: “On the morning of Al-Aqabah, while he was on his mount, the Messenger of Allah said to me: "Pick up (some pebbles) for me." So I picked up some pebbles for him that were the size of date stones or fingertips, and when I placed them in his hand he said: "Like these. And beware of going to extremes in religious matters, for those who came before you were destroyed because of going to extremes in religious matters."

Iqbal then summarized the MILF responses to violent radicalism, as follows:

1)      MILF issued an official declaration that we are against any form of violent extremism whether religious, political, economic, cultural, etc. Islam and the MILF are against any of its forms;

2)      MILF has formed a task force to study and address the spread of violent extremism especially religious, in the light of the rise of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The group also made extensive research on the history of this group and the personalities around it especially Abubakar Al-Bagdhadi, who was imprisoned by the Americans in Iraq but released from jail in 2009;

3)      MILF sparingly uses dialogue to reach out to known radical individuals or their relatives and explain to them the stand of the MILF on Islam, problem in Mindanao, and global injustice. Our main focus are young people in and outside of schools, colleges, and universities. We also use the social media in many aspects. In a modest degree, we have scored some successes;

4)      MILF establishes linkages with other groups, organizations  especially religious, both Islamic and non-Islamic to spread the message of peace, because all real religions teach peace amongst peoples;

5)      MILF signed with government some agreements specifically the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) to interdict and isolate kidnap-for-ransom groups and other criminal gangs operating in or near MILF communities. Kidnapping is almost zero for years in areas where the MILF is strong especially in Central Mindanao; and

6)      MILF’s catch-all approach is to strengthen the MILF in all aspects, because a strong organization can deal with anyone or anything in a position of advantage. If there are no open areas and the strength of, say MILF, is greatly felt, then newcomers cannot linger on.


MILF: 109th Base Command holds Advocacy on Understanding the Bangsamoro Peace Process

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jan 16): 109th Base Command holds Advocacy on Understanding the Bangsamoro Peace Process

COLUMBIO, SULTAN KUDARAT ---- The 109th Base Command of Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), Eastern Mindanao Front of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front under Base Commander Haji Abas Bukol held Kanduli with Peace Advocacy on Understanding of the Bangsamoro Peace Process with the theme “Winning Just and Dignified Peace through CAB Implementation” at Damakling Rehabilitation and Dawah Center, Camp Bunawan, Barangay Bialong, Columbio, Sultan Kudarat on January 15, 2017.

On his opening message, Commander Bukol said that peace must always be sustained wherever the BIAF members go. They shall be a model peace agent in the community where they live in.

“MILF policy against illegal drugs begun since 1994 before President Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs started. BIAF is strictly implementing the campaign against illegal drugs in the communities of the Bangsamoro.

 Illegal drugs are the source of evils that destroy the minds of the youth who are the hope of our homeland. Besides, these drugs can also be the cause of conflict in the community. Islam prohibits all sources of evils in whatever form. Therefore, we must stop the prevalence of these drugs brought by strangers in our communities”, Bukol added.

Melanio Ulama, BTC Commissioner who hails from the Teduray tribe, a Temuay (Datu) himself) and MILF Peace Implementing Panel member told the audience, “We are here for peace that we have been seeking for. Whatever your religion is, whoever you are, you are included in the peace process in Mindanao.”

“Bangsamoro Basic Law recognizes the rights of indigenous people and the Christian settlers”, he stressed.

“Moros and Indigenous people who lived peacefully were the native inhabitants of Mindanao since time immemorial. Now, we are living with our Christian brothers who are settlers from Luzon and Visayas. All of us are seeking lasting peace in Mindanao. So, we must love each other to win just and dignified peace through CAB Implementation”, Ulama added.

LGUs officials who delivered their messages that declared commitment of support were Datu Amir Musali, Mayor of Columbio, Sultan Kudarat, Datu Abubakar Paglas, Mayor of Paglas, Maguindanao, Datu Abdulkarim Lankuno, Mayor of Paglat, Maguindanao and Jojo Ortiso, Sangguan Bayan member of Tulunan and a representative of Mayor Reuel Limbungan of Tulunan, North Cotabato.  

Other speakers included Shiekh Khalifa Nanado, of MILF Supreme Court, Shiek Abdulfatah Delna, Shiek Badrodin Duka, Sheik Abdulrahim Mulilis, CCCH Member, Mogawan K. Manunggal and Professor Esmael A. Abdula, Executive Director of Kalilintad Peacebuilding Institute Inc. and BLMI Steering Committee Member.

Abdula explained the stages of the Bangsamoro Struggle for Right to Self Determination, and the gains of the GPH-MILF Peace Process.

Abdula narrated the Bangsamoro armed struggle from 1968-1997 and cited the bloody war during Martial Law, the Estrada – All-out war of April 2000 &  Gloria Arroyo– All-out war  of February 11, 2004 and the 2008 offensive launched by Comdr. Bravo and the late Aleem Ameril Umbra at the aftermath of Supreme Court’s junking of the MOA-AD.

Abdula also mentioned the signed agreements, particularly the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamaoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), signed on March 27, 2014 that recognized the legitimacy of the cause of the Bangsamoro people in Southern Philippines and provided for the creation of a Bangsamoro new political entity.

BIAF commanders, PNP Columbio, AFP 38 IB, religious sectors, academe, indigenous people and women sector also attended the program.


MILF: Malaysian Deputy Defense Minister visits MILF Leadership

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jan 18): Malaysian Deputy Defense Minister visits MILF Leadership

Ghazali Jaafar, MILF 1st Vice Chairman on Political Affairs welcoming Malaysian Defense Minister Dato Mohd Johari Bin Baharum upon his arrival at the MILF Plenary Hall, Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

Dato Mohd. Johari Bin Baharum, Deputy Defense Minister of Malaysia made a courtesy call to the leadership of Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Thursday afternoon, January 12, 2017. Aside from his delegation, the International Monitoring Team, headed by Maj. Gen. Datuk Wira Zamrose Bin Mohammad Zain and company, the GPH and MILF members of Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities, AHJAG and OPAPP representatives were also in attendance. 

Most of the MILF Central Committee members were present headed by 1st Vice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar along with 2nd Vice Chair Ali Solaiman to welcome the Malaysian officials.

Jaafar in his message expressed thanks and gratitude to the Government of Malaysia for facilitating the GPH-MILF Peace Talks resulting to the signing of the FAB and CAB, and for the deployment of Malaysian Royal Forces to the International Monitoring Team.

IMT played a very important role in monitoring the observance of the ceasefire mechanism by the GPH and MILF and overseeing the situation in the conflict-affected areas in Bangsamoro homeland. The presence of the IMT helps in keeping high the morale, hope and optimism of the Mujahideen and the Bangsamoro for the success of the peace talks, Jaafar added.

Jaafar also mentioned the challenges that the peace process had faced during the previous administration, the obstacles that cause the non-passage of BBL, but still believed that those obstacles can be addressed thru initiating dialogues with stakeholders.

DM Baharum in his speech said, “I stand before you today to assert my leadership and utmost respect of the Malaysian Government to the struggle of the Moro people for the autonomy power in forming up the Bangsamoro Government in determining a better future for all in Mindanao.

After so many years of conflict and so many lives lost, it is momentous act of courage for the MILF and the Government of the Philippines to sit together”.

“We must be steadfast and resolute”, he added.

He underscored that through negotiated settlement can lasting peace be achieved and a good governance e can secure the ambition we all share: a strong prosperous Bangsamaoro.

In his final message, 1st Vice Chairman Jaafar appealed to the peace-loving citizenry of the country to rally behind them in moving every stone for the passage into law of a CAB-Compliant BBL.


MILF: ZC Moro Community Leaders, peace advocates converge, discuss social and political issues confronting Bangsamaoro people

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jan 18): ZC Moro Community Leaders, peace advocates converge, discuss social and political issues confronting Bangsamaoro people

Zamboanga City Moro Community leaders and peace advocates converged on January 16 at Barangay Lunzulan, Tumaga, Zamboanga City and tackled social and political issues confronting the Bangsamoro People. The discussion centered mostly on the Bangsamoro Peace process and signed agreements. 

The group also discussed about small entrepreneurship program that has been initiated and established by its group’s key officers by substantiating its concepts and practice of self-reliance among its members in micro economic enterprises.

Tirso S. Tahir, an Officer of Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI), Hadja Rashieyda Majid, Regional Director for Mindanao Women Advocacy and the head of Social welfare Committee (SWC) Zamboanga Chapter, Moro Community and religious leaders participated in the meeting.

Issues on Mindanao Peace Agreements and updates on the peace process were succinctly emphasized by Tahir.

The centerpiece of group discussion was on the prospect of shifting of political system from unitary to Federal System of Government and its inevitable implication to Bangsamoro Peace agreement such as the Comprehensive agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and Bangsamoro Enabling Law (BEL) that will be drafted by the newly reconstituted BTC.

In the course of our advocacy in the Moro communities, we must make it clear to the people what is more beneficial and suitable to Bangsamoro aspiration that will ultimately solve the Moro Political problem and correcting the historical injustices committed to the Moros. Is it through Federalism or Bangsamoro Enabling law based on CAB and other Peace agreements signed by GPH and Moro Fronts?, one peace advocate asked.

It is a matter of solving the problem and not simply twisting or managing the problem. The Moro-decades armed-conflict can be finished off by current administration if sincerity and political will prevails over other supplanting agenda, Tahir said.

The Moro Peace Advocates and Community Leaders in Zamboanga city is continuously intensifying its peace advocacy in Moro dominated areas as their inherent and inviolable rights both in social and political development as well as empowering them to become responsive in peace-building endeavor.


CPP/NPA: US Interbensyon, itigil

NPA propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Jan 17): US Interbensyon, itigil (Stop US intervention)

Jaime “Ka Diego” Padilla
Melito Glor Command
NPA-Southern Tagalog

17 January 2017
Press Release
Ngayong araw muli nating gugunitain ang malagim na insidente ng malaking pagkawasak ng Tubbataha Reef sa Palawan. Binabati namin ang mga militanteng humarap sa US Embassy upang tutulan ang panghihimasok ng US, ibasura ang mga batas na nagpoprotekta rito at singilin sila sa pagkakasadsad ng USS Guardian sa Tubataha Reef.

Winasak nila ang isang world heritage park kung saan ipinagbabawal na maglayag ang mga barko para panatilihin at ipreserba ang kalikasan. Ito rin ang tirahan ng mga isda at iba pang lamang dagat na pangunahing pinagkukunan ng kabuhayan ng mga mangingisda sa bansa.

Ang presensya ng barkong pandigma ng US ay paglabag at pagyurak sa ating soberanya. Bunga ito ng mga di pantay na kasunduang pinirmahan ng mga nauna nang rehimen gaya ng Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) at ngayon, ang Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

Sa ilalim ng mga kasunduang ito, wala ni isang sundalong sakay ng USS Guardian ang nanagot sa malaking pagkwasak ng Tubataha Reef. Hindi rin sapat ang kumpensasyon na binigay ng US sa Pilipinas upang manumbalik muli ang Tubataha Reef.

Nakakabahalang masninanais pa ng reaksyunaryong gobyerno na proteksyunan ang kapakanan ng mga dayuhang yumuyurak sa kalikasan at pambansang soberanya ng bansa. Higit sa lahat, hinahayaan nilang isabatas at maging ligal ito.

Kailangang tuluy-tuloy na manawagan ang buong sambayanang Pilipino na ibasura na ang mga hindi-pantay na kasunduan sa pagitan ng Imperyalismong US at Pilipinas. Hinahamon namin ang gubyernong Duterte sa postura nitong anti-US na isagawa ang pagbabasura sa mga batas na ito.#


Photo: Arrival Honors

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jan 18): Photo: Arrival Honors


ARRIVAL HONORS. Newly-promoted Maj. Gen. Jon Aying (right), 3rd Infantry Division commander, with Brig. Gen. Jose CaparasJr AFP, Assistant Division Commander was accorded military honors upon his arrival yesterday at Camp Gen Macario Peralta in Jamindan, Capiz.


No peace deal expected soon as NDF extends timeline of talks

From Rappler (Jan 17): No peace deal expected soon as NDF extends timeline of talks

The 'ground' also wants to withdraw its 5-month-old unilateral and indefinite ceasefire, according to the National Democratic Front

OFF TO 3RD ROUND. File photo of government and NDF negotiators signing a joint statement after the 2nd round of talks in October 2016. Photo courtesy of OPAPP

OFF TO 3RD ROUND. File photo of government and NDF negotiators signing a joint statement after the 2nd round of talks in October 2016. Photo courtesy of OPAPP
The communist National Democratic Front (NDF) wants to impose a new timeline for its peace talks with the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, throwing a monkey wrench into government plans to complete the negotiations by August 2017.
Ahead of the start of the 3rd round of formal talks later this week, January 19-25, the NDF issued a statement extending the timeline for a final peace deal by at least 2 more years or by 2019 at the earliest, as it began to question the sincerity of the Duterte administration.
"The panel wants to remain optimistic because it is acutely aware of the Filipino people's high expectations and demand for genuine change. But the panel is also very much aware that the people are tired of promises from politicians and the Manila government that are routinely broken," the NDF said in a statement on Tuesday, January 17, signed by NDF chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili.

The government and NDF negotiators will begin to discuss in Rome details of the proposed Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms or CASER, the so-called heart and soul of the peace process that aims to address widespread poverty in the Philippines, and the Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms or CAPR.

The NDF statement is demanding the successful implementation of CASER and CAPR for 2 years before they go back to the negotiating table to discuss the final agreement to complete the talks, the Comprehensive Agreement on End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces (CAEHDF).
As early as the 1st round of talks in August 2016, the NDF had expressed doubts that the talks could be completed in a year. The new timeline, in fact, is longer than an earlier pronouncement by Agcaoili that the talks could still be completed within 2 years. (WATCH: Rappler Talk: Fragile talks with the Philippine Left)

This development puts an anticipated meeting between Duterte and exiled Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison in doubt. Duterte had expressed hopes for substantial progress in the talks before his personal meeting with his former professor. (READ: Duterte awaits meeting with Joma Sison)

'Ground' wants to withdraw ceasefire
The NDF said its combatants also want to withdraw the 5-month-old ceasefire because of delays in the release of prisoners and alleged military violations of the ceasefire. (READ: Gov't in backchannel talks to protect ceasefire with Reds)
"The strong sentiment of the NDF forces on the ground and the masses in many parts of the country is for the withdrawal of the NDFP unilateral ceasefire because of broken promises on the release of political prisoners and violations of the ceasefire by the GRP," the NDF statement said.

Agcaoili had warned about this in a Rappler Talk interview after the new year. (WATCH: Rappler Talk: Fragile talks with the Philippine Left)
The chances for the bilateral ceasefire agreement – the joint deal that is expected to address the 2 complaints raised by the NDF – to be signed in Rome are also "growing dim," according to the NDF statement.

Duterte said there will be no more releases until both camps sign a bilateral ceasefire deal that will guarantee a prolonged ceasefire by imposing common rules for the military and the New People's Army.

A joint ceasefire deal is also where the two camps can address alleged ceasefire violations committed on the ground.
The releases and the joint ceasefire deal were meant to make the environment conducive for the difficult talks on CASER, CAPR, and CAEHDF.
Agcaoili had said talks should continue even as fighting resumes on the ground.
"The Parties can continue with the work of forging agreements on SER (socio-economic reforms) and PCR (political and constitutional reforms) to address the roots of the armed conflict and thereby ensure just and lasting peace," the statement said.