From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jun 18): Soldier, Cafgu member shot dead while attending Sorsogon fiesta
NAGA CITY, Philippines — A soldier and a member of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit in Bicol were shot dead by suspected members of the New People’s Army in the house of a barangay (village) official in Irosin, Sorsogon on Monday afternoon.
Lieutenant Colonel Medel M. Aguilar, acting spokesman of the Army’s 9th Infantry Division in Pili, Camarines Sur, said Staff Sergeant Arnold Porcalla and Cafgu member Oliver Delloson were shot dead inside the home of Barangay Captain Bernardo Lerio in Barangay Patag, Irosin at 3 p.m. Monday.
Aguilar said Lerio had invited Porcalla and Dellosa to join the celebration of the barangay fiesta but he believed Lerio did not know of the presence of the armed men.
“Otherwise, the barangay captain and maybe other people would warn our personnel,” he said.
The two victims sustained injuries from high powered firearms of still undetermined caliber, he added.
Porcalla was the commander of the Army’s Mapaso detachment under the 22nd Infantry Battalion, a Cafgu unit in Sorsogon.
Aguilar said they have already solicited help from Sorsogon police in the investigation of the incident.
It further said, “Eight months after the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and four months after President Benigno Simeon Aquino III said peace was “abot-kamay” (within reach), notes on how to resolve the contentious issues on the three remaining annexes have been exchanged but no date has been set for the resumption of the talks as the panels have yet to break an impasse on the wealth-sharing annex.
The other week, Malaysian facilitator Tengku Dato’ Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed came to Maguindanao to deliver “notes” from the GPH with regards to the positions of the government on wealth-sharing and to iron out differences between the two panels but parties remain as far apart as or even farther apart than it was in the last talks in April.
Last April 11, the panels in a Joint Statement at the end of their talks in Kuala Lumpur said they would “meet again after the May 13 Philippine elections” and affirmed their commitment to “finally settle these issues soon so that all three annexes may be signed without undue delay.” So far, no date has been set for the resumption of the talks.
To be able to complete the comprehensive peace pact that would pave the way for the creation of the “Bangsamoro Region” four annexes are supposed to be completed and signed but so far the transitional arrangements and modalities annex was signed by both parties last February 27. It had been eight months since the inking of the FAB and the two panels failed to complete the annexes supposedly completed by end of 2012.
Even before the year end, Mohagher Iqbal, MILF Chief Negotiator stressed the importance and urgency of the peace talks and urged its counterparts to finish it before the 2013 mid-term election but it has been two months since the April talks and a month after the elections and no agreement on the three annexes have been signed.
Today June 17, eight months had passed since the October 15, 2012 signing in Malacaňang of the FAB, leaving the Aquino administration only 36.3 months to set up what has been touted as its legacy project; the establishment of Bangsamoro new political entity that will replace the ARMM.
Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer told MindaNews on June 9 that the facilitator “arrived on Friday (June 7) and we have exchanged notes and messages on the issues related to the wealth and power sharing annexes.” “All avenues to hasten the resolution of the difficult issues are being tapped before the full panel formal talks,” she said. Earlier, Ferrer told MindaNews the date of the next talks would be set only “after exchange of notes and most issues are resolved.” In published news article at Luwaran.com, MILF official website, an MILF Peace Panel member who requested anonymity commented that, “Initialed by two regular members of the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) negotiating panels, the latter (MILF) has no plan to abandon that document, saying backtracking by any of the two parties is a serious drawback to the peace process”.
“The peace negotiation is an exercise in futility if there is no stop to this changing of positions by the government negotiating team.” “We are not renegotiating the initialed document,” he said, adding, however, that he believes the talks will only prosper if the two parties follow sincerely the matuwid na daan (straight path) policy, which is also the cornerstone of President Aquino administration.
GPH Chief Negotiator Ferrer told MindaNews that “wealth-sharing matters initialed at TWG level (were) based on common understanding (that they) shall be subject to review by principals.”
But only Ferrer appears optimistic the talks would resume “very soon.” Iqbal remains firm the MILF will not re-negotiate the initialed Annex on Wealth-Sharing.
On April 11, Ferrer told MindaNews that there were only two remaining key issues in the Annex on Power-sharing: “the allocation of the powers across the different items pertaining to transportation and communications and the concept of regional waters.”
The report also said that in the April talks, Iqbal said that “except for those that are in harmony with the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), we don’t accept the changes introduced by government on wealth-sharing.”
“Two changes of positions in a row within the span of two months is alarming,” Luwaran quoted Iqbal as saying. Given these stance of both panels where either side is not “giving an inch” to resolved the percentage of sharing on the region’s wealth, the peace process is deemed stalled. The government is to blame for backtracking from its original position where the annex on wealth-sharing was signed at the TWG level.
In one of his statements President Aquino likened the stage of the peace process then to the “Heartbreak Hill” of the Boston Marathon. Four months after, the peace process stuck at the “heartbreak Hill”.
Earlier, members of civil society groups asked President Aquino to evaluate the members of the GPH Peace Panel but even then they left to the president the final say on the matter.
Many observers are now assessing the situation. The international community particularly the International Contact Group (ICG) should enter into the scene and see what they can do to fast track the negotiation. An impasse or too much delay in forging a comprehensive compact agreement will make people on the ground doubt the sincerity of the government. A deadlock at this point in time is disastrous to the peace process and the government side is to blame. The peace process should not be likened to a meticulously crafted “castle made of sand” that easily crumbled when slightly hit by a wind.