Saturday, November 3, 2012

Moros embark on PR blitz

From the Manila Standard Today (Nov 4): Moros embark on PR blitz

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front has embarked on a public relations blitz in various parts of Mindanao to explain the Framework Agreement it signed with the government last Oct. 15 and stave off criticism of division among Muslim factions. Mohammad Muntassir, head of the MILF’s Department of Da’wah (preaching), the rebel group has formed at least six teams and tasked them to undertake a “massive information drive” in the areas of Sulu-Tawi-Tawi-Basilan, Zamboanga peninsula, Lanao, Davao, Maguindanao-Cotabato, and South Cotabato, according to a statement posted in the MILF’s website Muntassir said each team will be accompanied by a member of the MILF Central Committee who will serve as leader in the discussions. The same statement announced that “some 600 MILF political and military leaders, including some MNLF foreign-trained commanders attended the one-day seminar in Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao last Oct. 31.” The MILF issued the statement after its rival organization, the Moro National Liberation Front, revealed that at least four key MILF commanders have defected to the MNLF because they felt that the agreement “a deception by the government and a conspiracy with the Americans to attain their secret objective in Mindanao....”

MILF: MILF pays homage to martyrs of Ahlul Sapad

From the MILF Website (Nov 4): MILF pays homage to martyrs of Ahlul Sapad

The Central Mindanao Front of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces - Moro Islamic Liberation Front (CMF, BIAF-MILF) paid tribute to the greatness and courage of the MILF mujahideen who were martyred at Ahlul Sapad in Matanog, Maguindanao. In an emotion-filled prayer kanduli and peace assembly held at Sapad, Butch Panegel, Deputy Front Commander of the CMF - BIAF, awarded the Certificates of Martyrdom issued by BIAF through Gordon Sayfullah Khan, CMF – BIAF Front Commander, to the families, sons and widows of the shuhadah, of the more than a dozen martyred Bangsamoro Mujaheddin.... Panegel proudly recalled the reason why late Chairman Salamat called it Ahlul Sapad, saying "this is the place where fierce combat to the last man standing took place between the gallant MILF mujahedin and the Philippine Marines, where we saw our martyred brothers and the cadavers of the Marines laid on the ground side by side, and where, as we all know, some of our MILF high-spirited fighters fought with bare hands against the Philippine Marines after they went out of ammunition's...."  The Prayer Kanduli and Peace Assembly was organized to celebrate and pray for the success of the historic GPH – MILF Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro in Malacanang Palace which was witnessed by President Aquino, Prime Minister of Malaysia and MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim....

Thousands support peace rally in Lingig, Surigao del Sur

Philippine military press release posted to Mindanews (Nov 1): Thousands support peace rally in Lingig, Surigao del Sur

BAGANGA, Davao Oriental- More or less 2,500 marched in Lingig, Surigao del Sur on Tuesday in support of the government’s peace building efforts that banner sincere messages of reconciliation and unity. The said peace march is a culminating activity for the four-day peace building seminar conducted to re-orient people in former conflict-affected areas especially in the hinterland barangays of Bogac, Rajah Cabunsuan, Pagtilaan and San Roque. One placard bearing the message “para sa kalinaw ug kalambuan” (for peace and development) says it all as the people in that municipality had long experienced the horrors of violence and armed threat that slowed the progress and threatened investors. “Now, Lingig is ready to take off. We remind our young people not to be enticed to join again the armed rebellion. Lingig deserves to be peaceful and progressive,” Mayor Henry Dano said. A total of five former rebels coming from the local communist movement fronts surrendered to authorities and 67th Infantry Battalion also joined the peace march. “The NPA deceives our young people into joining them. All I received in three years with them were broken promises of a bright future”, said. Colonel Paterno Morales, of the 701st Infantry Brigade based in Mati City, enjoined the people to “converge with all stakeholders for peace”. “We invite those who are still in the communist movement to avail of the government’s social integration program and to become our partners in our journey to deliver peaceful, developed and resilient communities to our people,” he added.
701ST Brigade Acting Public Affairs Officer
Sitio Magay, Brgy Don Martin Marundan,
City of Mati, Davao Oriental

"Love of God and Love of Neighbor” is this year’s Mindanao Week of Peace theme

From MindaNews (Nov 4): "Love of God and Love of Neighbor” is this year’s Mindanao Week of Peace theme

This year’s theme for the Mindanao Week of Peace (MWOP) on November 29 to December 5 is on love of God and love of neighbour. “ Love of God and Love of Neighbor, A Challenge for Mindanao,” is this year’s MWOP theme; last year’s was “Common Word between us and you: Love of God, Love of Neighbor.” In a three-paragraph joint statement, the Bishops-Ulama Conference said “the great majority of believers in Mindanao today are Christians, Muslims and Indigenous Peoples” who all believe and worship a Creator whom they call by different names – God, Allah, Magbabaya – and who express their beliefs and perform acts of worship “according to their respective cultures, traditions and environments....”  The MWOP is a take-off from the annual Zamboanga Week of Peace introduced by the Peace Advocates Zamboanga. Mindanao’s Bishops-Ulama Forum (now Conference) opted to make the celebration Mindanao-wide beginning 1999. Backed up by a Presidential directive, the MWOP begins every last Thursday of November. Taking off from the BUC’s theme, the theme for this year’s MWOP in Zamboanga City is “Together for Sustainable Peace in Mindanao....”

From battlegrounds to playgrounds: smiles and hopes for peace in Datu Piang

From MindaNews (Nov 4): From battlegrounds to playgrounds: smiles and hopes for peace in Datu Piang

At its peak, 41,000 bakwits from Datu Piang’s conflict areas and neighboring towns, including Midsayap and Aleosan in North Cotabato, sought refuge in the poblacion from the outbreak of armed hostilities that greeted the botched signing on August 5, 2008 of the already initialed Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) between the government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). On this Wednesday morning of October 24, 2012, the covered court and the gazebo are being spruced up with colorful pandala (decorative flags) for a wedding reception the next day. The town hall is no longer a “ghost” hall as there’s a flurry of activities and Mayor Genuine Kamaong is up on the second floor in his office, receiving visitors, including Hadja Kadiguia Kasim, barangay captain of Liong. Both officials have expressed optimism the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), signed in Malacanang on October 15, would bring peace....

In two areas where MindaNews stopped to ask the MILF mujahideen what they feel about the recently signed Framework Agreement and how they define “normalization,” they would break into a smile, recalling their feelings while wathching the October 15 signing in Malacanang on TV, one group manning a detachment saying they watched it in an area in North Cotabato while the other group, resting near and under one of the many bridges along that long stretch to the Datu Piang poblacion, narrating how they and their comrades were teary-eyed as they watched the proceedings from the MILF’s Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao....

BY THE RIVER. MILF guerrillas at their temporary base under a bridge in Datu Piang, Maguindanao on October 24.  MindaNews photo by Carolyn O. Arguillas

3 top NPA officials fall in joint PNP-Army drive against rebels in Compostela Valley

From the Daily Tribune (Nov 4): 3 top NPA officials fall in joint PNP-Army drive against rebels in Compostela Valley

The Compostela Valley provincial police office’s massive anti-insurgency campaign is reaping fruits with the arrest of three high-ranking leaders of the New People’s Army and five wanted persons in the area, the local police chief confirmed. Called the Strategic Plan Safe ComVal, the joint efforts of the province’s police command and the Army command stationed in the area made the arrest in just 72 hours since it was implemented a week ago. “We already arrested three high ranking NPA leaders and five dreaded criminals, all in the order of battle, in just three days of joint operations,” Senior Supt. Camilo Cascolan, Philippine National Police (PNP) provincial commander in the area, told the Daily Tribune in a long distance call.... Compostela Valley is a known hotbed of NPAs all throughout the Philippines. Known for its world famous Mt. Diwalwal, where 70 percent of gold in the country are sourced, the locality is where the NPA command is most active given the number of fronts. The command engages government soldiers frequently. All the rebel leaders caught have bounties in their head, an indication that they are really in the order of battle of the government, according Cascolan who is just on his first month of being the provincial commander of the area.  He declined to give the name of the arrested persons as there is an instruction from the PNP Region XI that identities of all arrested persons must be made secret until they are turned over to proper authorities and proper criminal charges are filed before the court. The arrested rebels will be charged with rebellion, sedition and illegal possession of firearms while the five felons will be charged with kidnapping, murder and robbery. “Compostela Valley is number one when it comes to the number of NPAs. It has eight front committees and three PBCS. But with our new strategic plan, we have enhanced cooperation and strengthened the anti-insurgency campaign....

MILF counters discontentment with 'massive information drive'

From InterAksyon (Nov 3): MILF counters discontentment with 'massive information drive'

Realizing possible backlash from the majority of the Muslim people in Mindanao, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has formed at least six groups for “massive information drive” to explain the Framework Agreement (FRAG) on the Bangsamoro. According to Sheikh Mohammad Muntassir, head of the Da’wah Department of the MILF, the groupings are ordered to spread out to the Sulu-Tawi-Tawi-Basilan area, the Zamboanga Peninsula, the Lanao area, the Davao area, Maguindanao-Cotabato area, and South Cotabato area.... Since the FRAG was signed recently, the MILF has embarked on peace forums in different parts of Mindanao to inform the Muslims about the Bangsamoro political entity amid negative reactions from the defunct Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)....

Ex-MILF fighter hopes to come home

From Rappler (Nov 3): Ex-MILF fighter hopes to come home

30 minutes from Cotabato City in the south, Darapanan is the main camp of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. With the signing of the peace framework, MILF combatants and civilians there face great change ahead. This report from Paterno Esmaquel. (Watch video)

A Davao taxi driver who introduces himself as Ali is a former soldier of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The 38-year-old left the rebel group's Maguindanao home base four years ago.

“ALI,” FORMER MILF FIGHTER: Nakakasawa na rin ang giyera eh, kasi walang nangyayari. Ikaw nagugutom ka. Lahat, takot, kaba, hindi mo alam kung mabubuhay ka pa o hindi na...Tapos malalaman mo,'yung mga nag-utos sa 'yo, nasa aircon, may sasakyan, magaganda...
(War can be exhausting. It doesn't achieve anything. You go hungry. You live in fear, uncertain if you will survive. Then you'll find our your commanders stay in air-conditioned rooms, ride fancy cars...)
But he sees a spark of hope in the the initial peace agreement between the MILF and the Philippine government. The deal aims for an end to the Muslim rebellion, as well as a vibrant economy that will hopefully lead to peace.

ALI: Maganda ang ginawa ng gobyerno ngayon. Gumawa ng paraan itong si Noynoy na ma-kuwan, ang gulo ba, magawan niya ng paraan na matigil, kasi para ano, makabalik na rin kami sa mga lupa namin.
(The government did a commendable thing. Noynoy found a way to put an end to conflict, so that we can return to our homeland.).....

.... Ali says he lives a comfortable life in Davao. But he keeps an eye on the future Muslim region.

ALI: Kahit papa'no, nandoon ang kabuhayan namin, lupa namin, hayop namin, nando'n. 'Yung ibang mga kamag-anak ko, nandoon. Siyempre doon ka na rin lumaki...
(At least our livelihood is there, our land, our livestock, and even some of our relatives. Of course I was also raised there...)
For now, people like Ali will have to wait for a truly peaceful region they can call home.

Her own motherhood statement

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 3): Her own motherhood statement

“Mama PJ” was a favorite moniker her friends and fellow activists at the University of the Philippines Los Baños gave her, probably because she had always been maternal.
Not surprisingly, Pamela Jane Lapiz decided to live the role anew when she left her own family to become mother to poor, distant communities in Quezon. Lapiz was 29 when she joined the New People’s Army, and 45 when she perished in an encounter between the Philippine Army and the communist rebels in Lopez, Quezon in April this year.... Lapiz met her husband in her freshman year. “It was the height of protests against tuition fee increases and PJ was among those very active in the campaign,” the husband, also an activist in college, recalled. The two fell in love almost at the same time that they went underground as members of the Communist Party of the Philippines.... Even with a child to raise, Lapiz and her husband continued to work with non-government organizations. She joined a peasant group, while he organized trade unions. In 1988, the two went back to school to reorganize the underground youth group Kabataang Makabayan.... Lapiz had a second daughter in 1992. In 1996, she decided to join the armed rebel group....

Bayan: Lt. Col. Paniza’s statement, a prelude to whitewash

BAYAN Press Release posted to the leftist, often pro-CPP Davao Today (Nov 3): Bayan: Lt. Col. Paniza’s statement, a prelude to whitewash

Military spokesman Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza’s latest statement on the Tampakan Massacre case is a prelude to whitewash, said multi-sectoral group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)-Socsksargen today. According to Paniza, the military inquiry found “the soldiers were negligent when they engaged in shootout” and “there is a violation of the rules of engagement.” “It is a prelude to whitewash. In the first place, there was no firefight that took place between the military and any armed groups during the incident. Paniza, the 10th Infantry Division and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are flagrantly concealing and covering up the cold blood massacre and the barbaric act of the elements of the 27th IB against two-month pregnant woman and her children by hyping that there were just “negligence” and simply ‘violation of the rules of engagement’ of the involved soldiers” said Ryan Lariba, secretary general of Bayan- Socsksargen.... Bayan-Socsksargen called on the people from the local, national to international community to vigorously oppose the ploy of the AFP to cover up the most brutal act of terrorism carried out by 27thIB against innocent civilians, women and children.

Karapatan seeks punishment of top military commanders in death of B’laan family

From MindaNews (Nov 3): Karapatan seeks punishment of top military commanders in death of B’laan family

Let the axe also fall on the heads of the top military commanders having jurisdiction in the mines development site of foreign-backed Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI) where a mother and her two sons where killed last month, human rights group Karapatan urged yesterday. Reverend Jurie Jaime, Karapatan-Southern Mindanao spokesperson, said in a statement the government should hold accountable not only the 13 soldiers but also the commanders of the 27th Infantry Battalion (IB) and the 10th Infantry Division (ID). The 27th IB, headed by Lt. Col. Alexis Noel Bravo, has direct supervision over the soldiers involved in the operation that killed Juvy Capion, 27, and her two sons Jordan, 13, and John Mark, 8. The battalion is under the 10th ID headed by Brig. Gen. Ariel Bernardo.... Jaime stressed that “a civilian-led investigation would ferret out the truth because we have to consider the accounts of the witnesses that pointed out that the incident was a massacre.”
Sought Saturday for comment that top military brasses should also be held accountable, Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza, 10th ID spokesperson, said in a text message that Karapatan’s call “was their prerogative. We cannot do away with that.” “Besides, we are also in pursuit of truth and justice,” he added....

MILF forms six groups for info drive on peace pact with govt

From GMANews (Nov 3): MILF forms six groups for info drive on peace pact with govt

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Saturday said it has organized six groups to undertake a "massive information drive" on the newly signed framework peace agreement it signed with the government last Oct. 15. In an article posted on its website, the MILF said the six groups are to to explain the agreement, which seeks to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with the Bangsamoro political entity. "Members of the MILF number several hundreds of thousands throughout Mindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and Palawan," the MILF said in a report on its website. Chief MILF peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal admitted it is not easy to understand the agreement, which he said had provisions constructed "ambiguously" to give both parties some elbow room. In explaining the ambiguous provisions of the pact, Iqbal said there are times the "rigidity of meaning" poses serious problems for both sides in trying to address the concerns of special audiences. For his part, MILF Da'wah Department head Sheikh Mohammad Muntassir said the six groups will be assigned to:
  • Sulu-Tawi-Tawi-Basilan
  • Zamboanga Peninsula
  • Lanao area
  • Davao area
  • Maguindanao-Cotabato area, and
  • South Cotabato area.
Muntassir said members of the MILF Central Committee were assigned to the six groupings and will be the lead discussants....

Army Discovers Iloilo Rebel Lair

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 3): Army Discovers Iloilo Rebel Lair

The Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) has discovered an abandoned New People’s Army (NPA) camp in Leon, Iloilo. Led by Sergeant Rene Navarro, 3ID Reconnaissance Company personnel found an abandoned NPA camp in the mountain village of Bucari last All Saints’ Day. This development came almost a week after the clash of the 82nd Infantry Battalion (82IB) with NPA rebels and resulted to the death of Private First Class John Durana last October 27. “The camp has several foxholes, kitchens, three makeshift classrooms, and a water supply,” disclosed Lieutenant Colonel Aldwine Almase, 82IB commander. “We believe this was used as a training camp,” Almase added. Earlier, the PA soldiers also found two other smaller camps also abandoned by the NPA after the October 27 clash. The Army expressed gratitude to the residents of the nearby villages of Bucari, which is also a popular tourist destination of Leon town. “We owe this discovery of the camp to the people in the hinterlands,” Almase said....

Respondents divided over Bangsamoro framework agreement, poll shows

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 3): Respondents divided over Bangsamoro framework agreement, poll shows

Respondents are almost equally divided over what the effect of the framework agreement would be to peace efforts in Mindanao. A total of 4,047 respondents replied to the poll question: Do you think the framework agreement on the Bangsamoro territory will pave the way for a lasting peace in Mindanao?  Of the total number of respondents, 1,574, or 38.89 percent, said “Yes’’ to the question, while 1,530, or 37.81 percent, said “No’’. A total of 943, or 23.3 percent replied “Maybe.’’  The unofficial survey covered a two-week period since the signing of the framework agreement in Malacañang. The poll ended at 5 p.m. Friday.

Disarmament tough hurdle on road to peace, says British envoy

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 3): Disarmament tough hurdle on road to peace, says British envoy

The disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of Moro Islamic Liberation Front guerrillas could become a bottleneck in the events leading up to the final peace agreement but it is one of the most important steps for peace, British Ambassador Stephen Lillie said. In a recent visit here, Lilie said “the tough task ahead would lie on the issue of disarmament.” “This is a very sensitive issue that both sides should talk about and should come into an agreement,” he said. Lillie cited the case of Northern Ireland, where the issue of DDR also became a sticky issue before the Good Friday Agreement came into being.... Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles earlier said that there was no denying that DDR, along with other issues, will not be easy to settle.” Some MILF commanders were reportedly unwilling to lay down their arms even after the final peace deal was signed, citing the case of their former comrades under the Moro National Liberation Front....

MILF chief negotiator Igbal respects Leonen nomination to SC

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 3): MILF chief negotiator Igbal respects Leonen nomination to SC

While they have yet to craft the final peace agreement, Mohagher Iqbal won’t stop Marvic Leonen from joining the Supreme Court. “We’ve had good rapport,” said Iqbal, chief negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front who had sat across Leonen, government peace panel chair, in a series of negotiations in Malaysia to craft the framework agreement signed on October 15. “But you can’t choose your partner....’’  Iqbal said he respected Leonen’s acceptance of his nomination to the high court to fill the vacant post of associate justice. “That’s his personal preference. We respect his preference,” he said by phone. “I see Leonen’s entry [into the Supreme Court] as a positive development. I would not look at it as a negative development.” He did not elaborate. Malacañang officials declined to say whether they were prepared to let go of Leonen before the government and the MILF could craft the final agreement by year-end....

First district of Maguindanao seen to be a peace hub

From the Philippine Star (Nov 3): First district of Maguindanao seen to be a peace hub

Residents of Maguindanao are convinced the first district of the province is to become a “peace hub” as a result of the government’s separate overtures with the two Moro revolutionary fronts whose largest camps in Mindanao are located in the area. The main bastion of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Camp Darapanan and the enclave of the most dominant group in the Moro National Liberation Front, Camp Ibrahim, are located in Maguindanao’s Sultan Kudarat and Datu Odin Sinsuat towns, respectively. Surprisingly, most investments of Chinese traders in Maguindanao are concentrated in Sultan Kudarat, apparently undaunted by the town’s being host to the MILF’s main headquarters, where there are thousands of guerillas in its surroundings. The mayor of Sultan Kudarat, Hadji Tucao Mastura, and the local police, have, in fact, been involving the MILF in maintaining peace and order in areas where there are business establishments owned by foreign investors.... The first district of Maguindanao is also host to Camp Siongco, the command headquarters of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, which has dozens of peace-building projects complementing President Benigno Aquino III’s confidence-building efforts in Muslim communities. Records of the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team and the joint government-MILF ceasefire committee indicate a “zero encounter” between forces of the 6th Infantry Division and the MILF in the past 15 months....

PNP links up with NYPD to combat terrorism, transnational crimes

From InterAksksyon (Nov 3): PNP links up with NYPD to combat terrorism, transnational crimes

The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the US New York Police District have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to strengthen each other's efforts against transnational crimes, PNP Director General Nicanor Bartolome said. The signing of the MOU took place in Camp Crame onWednesday evening with NYPD representative Lt. Gustavo Gutierrez. Gutierrez is currently assigned at the NYPD’s satellite office in Singapore. The office covers 17 countries including the Philippines. "The MOU indicates the cooperation of our two police forces in preventing and combating transnational crimes with emphasis on illegal drugs, terrorism, anti-smuggling, human trafficking, maritime fraud and cybercrime," Bartolome said....

.... Last June, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) charged that personnel of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other US intelligence agencies have been maintaining an office inside the Custodial Center in Camp Crame. The CPP claims that US officers are being allowed to interrogate some prisoners with alleged terrorist links. In a statement, the CPP said: "The FBI maintains an office inside the detention center itself and a unit in a nearby condominium." The group cited a letter sent last April by rebel detainee Alan Jazmines and his co-detainees to the Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights, Commission on Human Rights and Department of Justice. PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr. denied the allegation. Jazmines' group claimed that three of the prisoners inside the Custodial Center were Indonesian nationals who were arrested in Malaysia and Indonesia, then detained at the prison facility at the behest of the US government....

Col. Azul, new 101stIB Commanding Officer

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 2): Col. Azul, new 101stIB Commanding Officer

First Infantry Tabak Division Commanding General, Major General Ricardo Rainier Cruz III has installed the new Commanding officer of the 101st Infantry, Three-Arrows Brigade based at Del Pilar, Zamboanga del Norte. In a simple ceremony held recently at the Brigade’s headquarter Col. Amadeo Foster Azul officially assumed as the new Commanding Officer of 101st IB, replacing OIC Brigade Commander, Col. Glenn Macasero. Macasero was designated as Officer-in-Charge of the Brigade last October 2, 2012 after former Brigade Commander Jet V. Belarmino was assigned to the Special Operations Command, based in Cavite. Azul, a member of Philippine Military “Matikas” Class of 1983, was the former Chief of Staff of the 7th Infantry Division based in Nueva Ecija prior to his appointment as the 101st Infantry Brigade Commander....