Thursday, July 11, 2013

IPSP ‘Bayanihan’ a failure, admits AFP chief

From the Daily Tribune (Jul 12): IPSP ‘Bayanihan’ a failure, admits AFP chief

More than two years after the implementation of the military’s Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) “Bayanihan,” which is designed to render communist insurgency irrelevant by 2016, the strength of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) remained at more than 4,000 or almost the same when the campaign was launched in 2011.

This was admitted by no less than Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista during a press conference after presiding over a command conference at Camp Aguinaldo yesterday.

Bautista said that the strength of the NPA is pegged at present at “a little more than 4,000.”

Military data showed that the NPA has an estimated strength of 4,043 in end 2011. The IPSP “Bayanihan” was launched January 2011. In end 2010, the AFP placed the NPA strength at 4,384.

It was gathered that as of this time, the NPA manpower is pegged at 4,070.

In spite of this, Bautista claimed significant gains brought about by IPSP “Bayanihan,” which is his brainchild during his stint as AFP deputy chief of staff for operations or J3.

“We have neutralized 323 NPAs, most of them surrenderees and that is how we want it (for them) to abandon (armed) struggle,” Bautista said.

Firearms exchanges, Bautista said, is at 203 to 47 in favor of the government.

“These are not our criteria now for measuring our performance...we are looking at the peaceful condition in different localities...if there is development, if there is economic progress in the areas that is the ultimate,” Bautista said.

Bautista also mentioned the declaration of 29 provinces as free from communist influence. He said three more provinces will be turned over to the local government within the year.

“Our intent is render armed struggle irrelevant, we have significant number of surrenderees from the ranks of the NPA, notwithstanding, there have been continuous recruitment,” Bautista said.

Bautista said that the NPA is most active in Eastern Mindanao, specifically in Compostela Valley and adjacent provinces.

“The campaign remains on track, the ‘Bayanihan’ timeline of 2016 we will win the peace,” Bautista said.

AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Domingo Tutaan Jr. said that the NPA took advantage of the people’s misery during calamities in their recruitment. He particularly cited the NPA’s recruitment in some parts of Mindanao during the onslaught of typhoon “Pablo.”

MILF panel walks out of KL talks

From the Daily Tribune (Jul 12): MILF panel walks out of KL talks


Members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) walked out of the peace negotiating table in Kuala Lumpur yesterday as they rejected a wealth-sharing annex that was rehashed in Malacañang after being initialed by negotiators of both the MILF and the government at a previous meeting.

The walkout happened late in the afternoon with the MILF members leaving the venue of the peace talks without signing any documents presented by the government panel.

A report from online news service Rappler cited a text message from MILF peace panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal describing the result of the currrent negotiations in Malaysia with the government on the creation of the Bangsamoro substate as “fruitless talk.”

Iqbal also indicated that the proposal for the wealth sharing annex presented by the government was “too rigid.”

The MILF contingent left without giving any commitment to return to the negotiating table today, the report said.

President Aquino’s spokesman Edwin Lacierda was with the negotiating teams, apparently sent by Aquino, but he refused to comment when asked about what transpired during the meeting.

Earlier, Aquino said a long meeting was held the other day that lasted until midnight to draw the government panel’s agenda in the talks.

“We finished at about midnight, last night, going over the budget, and some details about our ongoing negotiations on the annexes on the Framework Peace Agreement with the Bangsamoro. So, it took us quite a long while, and I had to admit the energy level was a bit down this morning…,” Aquino said.

Last July 8, in Kuala Lumpur,  before the talks resumed, members of both panels had discussed the delays in the peace process and tried to resolve them through letters.

At the  opening of the peace talks held at the State Room of the Palace of the Golden Horses hotel in Kuala Lumpur,  Mohager Iqbal, MILF peace panel chairman, had revealed  that MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim “decided to write” President Aquino a letter to reiterate the “unwavering commitment of the MILF to resolve the conflict peacefully” and “politely informed him (President) of the growing frustration of the people and some members of the MILF as a result of the delay of the talks.”

The meeting in Malacañang last Wednesday began at 10 am and lasted until 8 pm in the evening.

Aquino did not mention, however, the exchanges of notes with the MILF leaders.
Iqbal said Murad explained to Aquino that the delay was perceived to be not coming from the side of the MILF but from the administration.

Iqbal did not say what Murad’s recommendations were but said “the President responded positively to the letter.”

“I am so sorry I cannot disclose the content of the letter because I don’t have the mandate to do so. Our chairman did not allow that copies be made except one that is intended for the Facilitator for the record of the Malaysian Secretariat,” Iqbal said.

Iqbal did not say when Murad wrote the President and to whom it was coursed.
Aquino had his meetings with Murad three times: on Aug. 4, 2011 in Japan; on October 12, 2012 in Malacanang at the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB); and on Feb. 11, 2013 at the launching of the government’s socio-economic initiative, “Sajahatra Bangsamoro” in Cotabato province.

None among the officials of the office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) had made mention that letters were have been exchanged between Murad and Aquino.

Iqbal noted that the last time the panels met in Kuala Lumpur on April 8 to 11, they agreed to exchange notes and to meet again after the May 13 elections.

Malaysian facilitator, Dato’ Tengku Abd’ Ghafar bin Mohamed, who shuttled between Manila and Maguindanao on June 6 to 8, had played a crucial role on how to resolve the contentious  issues on the remaining three annexes by serving as courier in the exchanges of notes between the parties.

Iqbal in his opening statement for the current talks in Malaysia, however, hinted of the feeling of frustration from the MILF.

“It has been two months and 29 days since we met here last April 11 for the 37th GPH-MILF Exploratory Talks where we agreed “to exchange notes on the coming days” and “to meet again after the May 13 Philippine elections.” That did not happen,” he said.

During the “long period of uncertainty in the talks, so much negative speculations have filled the air. It is not good to hear these, but they were all expressed loud and clear. To many, the impression is that there is an impasse of the peace talks,” he added.

He added the official explanation coming from government that they needed time to conduct a due diligence study on wealth-sharing is less discernible because “the annex on wealth-sharing, alongside annex on power-sharing, has been on the agenda since July 2012; and members of the two peace panels have initialled the annex on wealth-sharing on Feb. 27, after no less than two from each peace panel led by their respective chairmen, had agreed on the final text of this annex during several rounds of executive sessions.”

“The parties must find a political solution that is above the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and below independence. If we faithfully subscribe to this formulation, the parties can move the process very fast. There would be no back-and-forth movements like what happened for the last more four months,” Iqbal added.

“We express our grave concern over the reported government’s changing policy on our relations with development partners and the GPH instruction to these development partners to slow in their engagements with the MILF,” he added.

MILF negotiator sees an impasse in peace talks with PH gov’t

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 12): MILF negotiator sees an impasse in peace talks with PH gov’t
The peace negotiation between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) face rough sailing in Kuala Lumpur, with no assurance that the MILF would return on Friday to resume talks.

“We’re heading for an impasse,” MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said in a text message to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

This was the same message Iqbal gave the government panel as their meeting adjourned on Thursday.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles and presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda are in Kuala Lumpur to reiterate the government’s commitment to the peace negotiations.

The government panel led by chief negotiator Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer has asked for an extension in the talks in Kuala Lumpur to further discuss with the MILF panel the wealth-sharing annex.

However, a source privy to the negotiations said the MILF panel was not certain if it would return to the venue of the talks on Friday to discuss the controversial annex.

“The MILF is still thinking if they would return on Friday. The MILF has nothing to lose. It’s the government that is trying to beat its deadline,” said the source, who requested anonymity for not having been authorized by parties to the peace talks to speak to the media.

Polly Cunanan, spokesperson of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), confirmed that the government requested for another day of negotiations.

The government was hopeful that the wealth-sharing annex would be signed during this current round of talks. The MILF earlier protested the changes the Aquino administration wanted to make in the annex even after the document prepared by the technical working group has been initialed.

The MILF said it would stick to the initialed document.

The OPAPP said on its Facebook account that the technical working groups of the government and the MILF signed the joint report on the normalization annex.

“They agreed to further discuss and find agreeable language in the next meeting,” the OPAPP said.

AFP assessing Oplan Bayanihan

From InterAksyon (Jul 11): AFP assessing Oplan Bayanihan

The Armed Forces of the Philippines is assessing its counterinsurgency program, Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan, at a conference in Camp Aguinaldo on Thursday.

The assessment, to be led by AFP chief General Emmanuel Bautista, will be followed by a press conference at 2 p.m.

Bautista was among the military officials who formulated the Bayanihan strategy, which seeks to end the 44-year old communist insurgency in the country, one of the longest running in the world.

The conference is also expected to assess plans for the military to shift to external defense in the face of intensifying territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea.

With Chinese incursion into disputed territories becoming more aggressive, Manila has been rushing to acquire more modern equipment for external defense and has sought arbitration before the United Nations.

Oplan Bayanihan replaced the counterinsurgency programs of the past administration -- Oplans Bantay Laya 1 and 2 -- which were blamed for an upsurge in human rights abuses, particularly extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.

However, human rights groups say there has been no letup in the abuses under Bayanihan.

And the first half of this year saw a spike in attacks by communist rebels on government forces and large business establishments across the country that have claimed scores of lives and led to several millions of pesos in destroyed properties and infrastructures.

Among these attacks were recent ambushes in Mountain Province, which killed a police trainee and wounded nine others; in Allacapan, Cagayan where eight members of the Special Action Force died; and in La Castellana, Negros Occidental in which a policeman and eight civilians were killed.

The rebels have also suffered their own setbacks, including the recent deaths of eight guerrillas in Sorsogon, among them the National Democratic Front spokesman for the Bicol region and his staff.

Peace talks between the government and communist rebels have also been stalled and recently, the government said it is not keen on returning to the negotiating table.

AFP data shows NPA strength hasn’t waned

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 11): AFP data shows NPA strength hasn’t waned

About two-and-a-half years after the Armed Forces of the Philippines launched “Oplan Bayanihan,” the counter-insurgency drive has failed to dent the communist rebels numerical strength, data presented by the military chief Thursday showed.

AFP Chief of Staff General Emmanuel Bautista said there were 4,384 New People’s Army guerrillas when the anti-insurgecy campaign was launched on January 1, 2011. Today, he said there are still “a little over 4,000″ rebels, or a decline of only about nine percent.

The NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has been waging a Maoist rebellion for 44 years now and more than 30,000 people have died in the conflict.

At its peak in the late 1980s, the guerilla strength was estimated to be more than 26,000.

In a press briefing after the command conference on the mid-year assessment of internal security operations at Camp Aguinaldo, Bautista attributed the seemingly paltry impact  of the drive to the communist rebels recruitment that outpaced the number of surrenderees.

“We have significant number of surrenderees from ranks of the NPA…there have been continuous recruitment and it’s unfortunate the recruits they’re getting are from the youth from farmers, indigenous people,” he said.

Bautista was one of the proponents of the “Oplan Bayanihan,” the military’s blueprint to achieve peace. It involves the participation of stakeholders and a “greater emphasis on non-combat dimension” to end rebellion. The drive aims to make insurgency insignificant by 2016.

“The campaign remains on track—the Bayanihan timeline by 2016. We will win the peace and if you join us win the peace, all of our people join us win the peace, we can achieve that earlier. It’s for all of us.  It’s for our people,” Bautista said.

The government’s Internal Peace and Security Plan  or “Oplan Bayanihan” is geared towards “winning the peace and not just defeating the enemy.”

The government has been holding on-and-off peace talks with the insurgents since the mid-1980s but the negotiations have frequently stalled over rebel conditions like their demand that jailed comrades be freed.

In recent weeks, the communist rebels have stepped up large-scale attacks.

“What we have realized after six months of this year, on the peace overtures of the government, the [NPAs] responded with violence and it is sad that many of these were directed on civilian and non military targets, in fact there is increase in NPA human rights violations,” Bautista said.

The military also claimed that the NPA guerillas were also able to squeeze P200 million in campaign fees from politicians during the last mid-term elections.

For the first half of the year, Bautista said the military has “neutralized” 323 insurgents, most of them surrendered to the government.

“But as I said these are not our criteria now for measuring our performance.  For example we are looking at the peaceful condition in the different localities,” he said.

He said that Eastern Mindanao remains a communist hotspot and the region will be a “focus area”  of the “Bayanihan” drive.

“Remember we’re doing that as we also undertake [rehabilitation] efforts in Pablo-affected areas. That’s the sad part of it because there is heightened violence in those calamity areas,” Bautista said.

When asked if there were any snags in the implementation of the counter-insurgency drive, Bautista stressed the need to engage more stakeholders, adding that “strategies are dynamic.”

“We will intensify efforts in second semester to sustain the campaign to win peace for people,” the military chief said.

Shifting from Negotiating Mindanao Peace Deal to Monitoring its Implementation

Posted to  Asia Foundation Website (Jul 10): Shifting from Negotiating Mindanao Peace Deal to Monitoring its Implementation (by Steven Rood)

As the focus of building peace in Mindanao shifts from negotiating details to the actual implementation of agreements between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), The Asia Foundation has been asked by both parties to join the five-person Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT). This team, meeting for the first time this week alongside the 38th Exploratory GPH-MILF talks, will independently monitor and evaluate the implementation of all agreements, assess progress, and submit reports, both confidentially to the two sides and more broadly to the public. 

For nearly four years now, since the institution of an International Contact Group (ICG) for the GPH-MILF peace negotiations, I have been privileged to be a formal part of this exciting and historic process. Now, with somewhat mixed emotions, it is time for me to change roles.

After a few months, the government and the MILF began to search for a modality that would allow them to return to the negotiating table, to talk rather than to fight. In 2008, negotiators thought they were close to an agreement, dubbed the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), but when the terms were revealed in August 2008, a debacle ensued. While the government panel and witnesses were in the air, flying to Kuala Lumpur to witness the signing of the agreement, the Supreme Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order against the MOA-AD, and eventually declared it unconstitutional. There was an upsurge of violence in which some 750,000 people were internally displaced.  After a few months, the government and the MILF began to search for a modality that would allow them to return to the negotiating table, to talk rather than to fight. At the same time, many countries and organizations concerned with the peace process were offering advice, making suggestions, and pointing to experiences around the globe. In the end, when hostilities formally ceased in July 2009, a new institution in the peace process was born: the International Contact Group, consisting of four countries (United Kingdom, Japan, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia) and four international nongovernmental organizations (The Asia Foundation, Conciliation Resources, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, and Mohammadiyah). The ICG has since been striving to encourage progress in the talks by providing advice and expertise, and by working to build trust.
Participation in this “hybrid” ICG has been rewarding. Witnessing at close range how diplomats work through their official contacts, their communication with their home offices, and their understanding of protocol has been an enlightening experience (and debunked many stereotypes we hold about diplomats). My INGO colleagues, with their experience and knowledge base of other conflicts and peace processes, have brought wider perspectives into the peace process. At the beginning of our tenure, for a couple of years, we often felt that our job was to help maintain confidence in the peace process – particularly when bumps in the road occurred. For more than a year now, though, since the parties began to move relatively rapidly toward a comprehensive agreement after signing decision points, I can confidently say that we have made substantive contributions from the sidelines as GPH-MILF working groups tackled hard issues on transitions, wealth- and power-sharing, and normalization.

Malaysia’s leading role as facilitator since it was invited by the Philippine government in 2001 has had an enormous role in moving the peace process forward. The resources and skills of the secretariat staff provided necessary logistics and continuity. Then, in mid-2011, when the euphoria of the meeting between President Aquino and MILF Chairman Murad Ebrahim was followed by the lows of “rejections” by each side in the negotiating room and the tragic Al Barka incident in Basilan, skillful facilitation restored confidence in the negotiation process and laid the groundwork for the successful breakthroughs of 2012, culminating in the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro in October 2012.

Since that time, there has been long, and sometimes slow, negotiation over details. The seriousness with which both panels and their respective secretariats take this process is heartening to an observer. Many are worried that the time is growing short since the timetable for implementation has the new Bangsamoro being a fully operational elected government by July 2016. For me, knowing the dedication and sincerity of the people inside the negotiating room, I am confident that a comprehensive agreement will be reached in the near future.

Previous agreements, such as the 1996 Final Peace Agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), did not have a systematic monitoring apparatus acceptable to all parties. This GPH-MILF peace process tries to learn lessons from the past (and from global experiences), and thus has set up this Third Party Monitoring Team led by former European Union ambassador to the Philippines Alistair MacDonald, and consisting of representatives from two domestic organizations (Mindanao Human Rights Action Center and Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute) and two international organizations (The Asia Foundation and the Turkish Human Rights and Freedoms (IHH) Humanitarian Relief Foundation).

I, like many, experienced the emotional high of the signing of the Framework that held out the prospect of peace between Filipinos and Moros. This is motivation enough to spend the next three years monitoring implementation of the Bangsamoro with a view to helping the process along.

Steven Rood, The Asia Foundation’s country representative in the Philippines, has been representing the Foundation in the ICG since 2009, and is now the TPMT representative from the Foundation. He can be reached at The views and opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and not those of The Asia Foundation.

PNoy sends Lacierda to KL for talks

From Rappler (Jul 11): PNoy sends Lacierda to KL for talks

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Are they close to an agreement?
In an indication of the significance of this round of talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), President Benigno Aquino III sent his spokesman, Secretary Edwin Lacierda, here to huddle with represenatatives of both sides.

Lacierda arrived here Thursday afternoon, July 11, along with Presidential Adviser on Peace Teresita Deles, as both parties tried to hammer out an agreement on wealth sharing between the envisioned Bangsamoro political entity and the central government on the scheduled last day of the negotiations.

They did not join the formal talks, which started in the morning. Instead, Lacierda and Deles met with members of the government peace panel team, led by chairman Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, and two members of the MILF peace panel – chairman Mohagher Iqbal and Roberto Alonto — in a separate room. Malaysian Facilitator Tengku Dato' Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed was also present in the meeting.

In that closed-door meeting, Lacierda "relayed a message" from President Aquino III to both parties, according to a source who refused to elaborate.
The meeting only lasted 10 minutes, and the panels resumed their session right after.

As of posting, Deles and Lacierda were still in the venue of the talks, waiting for developments on whether the annex on wealth sharing – one of the annexes needed to complement the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro – can be signed.
It's unusual for Cabinet members who are not directly involved in the talks, to pay the peace panels a visit in Kuala Lumpur.

For this round of talks, both parties are racing against time to seal a deal on how to share wealth between the envisioned Bangsamoro political entity and the central government.
READ: GPH-MILF talks 'still upward struggle' - Iqbal

They could not agree on the details of sharing revenues from taxes, block grants and natural resources. The government refused to sign any documents twice – in March and April – even after an initial draft was completed in February. At the time, the government said it needed more time to conduct due dilligence.
An agreement would be a breakthrough in the peace process, since wealth sharing is tied to the issue of power sharing, which is also on the agenda.

READ: MILF on stalled talks: 'Frustrated, angry'

Frustration grew after both sides failed to schedule any talks right after the May mid-term elections as what was originally planned, prompting MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim to write a letter to Aquino.
The delay is making MILF members anxious even as a breakaway group is stepping up its attacks in central Mindanao.

Gov’t, Moro rebs reiterate commitment to peace talks

From the Philippine Daily  Inquirer (Jul 11): Gov’t, Moro rebs reiterate commitment to peace talks
Cordial letters, prayers and a pair of pens for luck.

These were the things that chief government negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and members of the government peace panel brought with them to Kuala Lumpur for the four-day exploratory meeting with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which started last Monday.

President Aquino and MILF chairman Murad Ebrahim recently exchanged letters to “reiterate the commitment of both parties” to the peace negotiations, a source privy to the talks told the Inquirer on Wednesday.

In a statement, Ferrer said the pair of pens were given to her by friends, who were as hopeful as the rest of the panel members that the final peace agreement would soon be signed.

“And we all know on what occasions we have special use of pens. That’s why I have these pens with me in this trip,” Ferrer said.

On the other hand, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles “has called on her prayer warriors” to include the peace negotiations in their novenas and daily masses.

The talks have entered a difficult phase with the MILF expressing its dismay that the government wanted changes in the wealth-sharing annex of the peace agreement even after the document was initialed by the parties’ technical working group last February, not to mention a three-month lull in the negotiations due to the May elections.

MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal had said that the talks were deadlocked because the MILF would not agree to any changes that the government would propose on the wealth sharing annex.

The government has submitted a document containing its proposed changes to the annex before the parties left for Kuala Lumpur, but Iqbal said the MILF would likely stick to what had been signed in February.

The source said that it was Chairman Murad who had first sent a letter to Aquino “due to the delay in the resumption of the talks.”

MILF to join BIFF if peace talks fail

From the Gulf Times (Jul 11): MILF to join BIFF if peace talks fail

The attacks launched by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) of Ameril Umbra Kato were a prelude to a wider conflict if peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) bog down.
Abdulrakman Jalil, a member of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) monitoring team based in North Cotabato, said such a scenario could happen because the MILF leadership recently made a pact with Kato’s group to merge and fight the government together if the Bangsamoro framework agreement failed.
Jalil’s information dovetailed with the claim of Ustadz Pendi Colano, chairman of the Sellatan Kutawato State Revolutionary Committee, sub-wing of the MNLF based in Central Mindanao, that a certain Abdul Kadir, an MILF leader, recently admitted that they were ready to resume attacks on government targets if the talks continue to drag and eventually collapse.
“We are just playing along with the government’s whims because we know how big the funds OIC [Organization of Islamic Conference] member countries gave to the MILF. We also know the government won’t keep its promise to approve the framework agreement,” Colano quoted Kadir as saying during their conversation yesterday.
If all the contending issues and concerns about the Bangsamoro framework agreement are not addressed properly, a “serious declaration of war” could ensue, he added.
Colano also said he received information that the BIFF was going to sow hostilities that will displace thousands in Maguindanao province.
He said the attacks were part of an “internal agreement” between the MILF and Kato and were meant to be used as leverage in the talks to pressure the government of President Benigno Aquino 3rd into signing the agreement.
Colano believes the information he got was reliable because of the series of attacks by the BIFF on military and civilian targets.
He said he believes the MILF led by Al Haj Murad and Gadzali Jaafar has a hand in the attacks “which really showed that there was an internal agreement between the BIFF and the MILF.”
Yesterday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) leadership said the attacks launched by the BIFF were meant to sabotage the talks.
“This only shows that BIFF forces are out there primarily to derail our current peace negotiations with the MILF,” Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, chief of the military’s Public Affairs Office, said.
Zagala was referring to the string of bombings, the latest of which was at a restaurant in Cotabato City that left one dead and three others injured.
He pointed out that since the government and the MILF signed the initial framework agreement last year in Malacañang, there has been relative peace in Central Mindanao. It was interrupted when the BIFF made its presence felt again before the start of Ramadan.
The bombings also coincided with the resumption of the government’s negotiations with the MILF in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Earlier, the spokesman of the 6th Infantry Division, Col. Dickson Hermoso, said the BIFF was “trying to get the attention of the government after they were left out of the peace talks and were declared a lawless group”.
The 6ID has jurisdiction over Cotabato City and the rest of the provinces in Central Mindanao that include Maguindanao and Cotabato, among others.
The BIFF was founded by Kato, a former commander of the 104th MILF base command, following disagreements with MILF leaders over the group’s negotiations with the government.
Before the Cotabato bombings, the BIFF also clashed twice with troops from the 6ID that left one junior officer and four enlisted personnel dead.
MILF peace panel head Mohagher Iqbal gave his word that despite differences with the government panel, they remain committed to the peace process.
The two sides ended their three-day exploratory talks yesterday, which discussed, among others, the controversial wealth sharing agreement.
In his opening statement, Iqbal mentioned that “there are many spoilers who are waiting in ambush”, referring to the delays in the resumption of the peace talks.
“As a negotiator for more than ten years, I have learned a lot of hard lessons. My experience tells me that there is no easy part of any real life negotiation. For this reason, I know that the road ahead of the current peace talks is still full of humps and bumps,” Iqbal said.
“But this is no reason to cause the failure of these talks. Sincere and committed partners in peace process will always find creative formula to get through any differences. If they don’t find one, this means one of the parties or both of them change policy from solving the conflict to not solving it,” he added.
Iqbal likewise mentioned that Murad wrote a letter to President Aquino reiterating the unwavering commitment of the MILF to the peace process “but politely informed him of the growing frustration of the people and some members of the MILF as a result of the delay of the talks.”
“The problem is that the delay is perceived not from the MILF side but from government,” Iqbal said.
Colano said they have been prodding Murad and Jaafar to join forces with the MNLF in urging the government to fully implement the long-standing phase 1 provisions of the final agreement signed on September 2, 1996 and to usher in the start of phase 2.
He lamented that former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and even Aquino have ignored the 1996 peace deal.
“The term of [the] Aquino administration is [fast] approaching [its end], and we believe that he [Aquino] could not accomplish the objectives of signing the Bangsamoro framework because there is no sign or signal that the negotiation between the MILF and the GPH would succeed because of several grounds of conflicting issues against the fundamental law of the land or [the] Constitution which needs to [be] ironed it out before both negotiating panels could agree and finally sign what have been agreed from the peace talks,” Colano said.
Colano said Aquino must initiate a positive course of action by implementing phases 1 and 2 of the 1996 accord because it is “truly a legal and potential ground of dismissing other agreements claimed by the MILF and BIFF.”

323 NPA rebels 'neutralized,' AFP chief says

From ABS-CBN (Jul 11): 323 NPA rebels 'neutralized,' AFP chief says

Government troops either killed or captured 323 New People's Army (NPA) rebels in the first semester of 2013, Armed Forces chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista said Thursday.

Most of the communist rebels who were "neutralized" voluntarily surrendered, Bautista told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

"We have neutralized about 323 NPAs, most of them are surrenders and that is how we want it - for them to abandon armed struggle," said.

Bautista estimated the current strength of the communist rebels at "a little over 4,000" armed fighters.

Government forces also seized 203 various firearms from the NPA, while losing 47 guns.

Bautista many of the NPA rebels are concentrated in Eastern Mindanao, including Compostela Valley.

"That is where they are most active, and that's also our focus area," he said.

The Armed Forces, in a press statement Thursday, said government troops launched 350 operations nationwide against rebels in the first half of 2013.

Majority of the military operations against rebel forces were focused in Eastern Mindanao.

NPA rebels, meanwhile, launched 173 attacks during the period, according to AFP data.

The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

The Maoist rebellion, which has been raging for 44 years, has claimed at least 30,000 lives.

President Benigno Aquino hoped to end the rebellion before his six-year term expires in 2016, but the government said in April that peace talks had collapsed due to rebel demands such as for the release of captured comrades.

In recent months, the communist rebels have launched more assaults, often targeting unarmed soldiers, police and civilians.

Cops maintain high alert in Sorsogon vs further NPA attacks

From GMA News (Jul 11): Cops maintain high alert in Sorsogon vs further NPA attacks

Police in Sorsogon maintained high alert against possible attacks by the communist New People's Army, a week after an encounter that killed eight insurgents in the province.
Sorsogon police chief Senior Superintendent Ramon Ranara said teams are deployed in areas where NPA sightings had been reported, radio dzBB reported Thursday.
Ranara said they are not taking chances after the NPA vowed to retaliate for the death of eight ranking members following an encounter on July 4.
He said they are expecting harassment attacks in Casiguran and Gubat towns.
It was referring to Bicol spokesman Frankie Joe Soriano, a.k.a. Ka Greg Bañares.

Also killed were:
  • Christine Puche (Ka Nel)
  • Ted Palacio (Ka Gary)
  • Pehing Hipa (Ka Miloy)
  • David Llunar (Ka Rey)
  • Romero Añonuevo (Ka Nene)
  • William Villanueva, Jr (Ka Jay)
  • Ailyn Calma (Ka Kevin)
"I appeal and call upon all parties involved to initiate a meaningful dialogue to start in the local level in order to preserve life and explore all avenues to implement doable formula for a lasting peace," Lee said.
"To this end, I am offering the resources of the Provincial Government as an initial step and reaching out to our brothers in the hills and the military for an end to the hostilities," he added.

Photo: AFP lays down peace, security master plan

From GMA News (Jul 11): Photo: AFP lays down peace, security master plan

AFP chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista (center) along with other AFP officers talks on the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) 'Bayanihan' program during a press conference at Camp Aguinaldo on Thursday, July 11. The IPSP Bayanihan is anchored on the government's overall peace framework and national security guidance.

Bangsamoro Transition Commission receives initial funds

From the MILF Website (Jul 11): Bangsamoro Transition Commission receives initial funds

Some P30 million was released by the Budget Commission to the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) recently.
The news was relayed to the BTC chair Mohagher Iqbal in Cotabato City. He was at the thick of preparation for the resumption of peace talks in Kuala Lumpur.

BTC has 15 commissioners, eight from the MILF including the chair, and seven from the government. However, they agreed among themselves that they will work for the common interests of the Bangsamoro who they are committed to serve.

Five of the commissioners hailed from Sulu (Abdulla Camlian, Raissa Jajurie, Ambassador Akmad Sakkam, and three-termer Asani Tammang), three from Lanao (Maulana Alonto, Akmad Benito, and Said Sheik), two from Maguindanao (Iqbal and Johira Wahab), two from the indigenous tribes (Melanio Ulama and Froilyn Mendoza) and one native Christian (Peter Eisma).

Maguindanao is the largest Moro tribe in terms of population, followed by Maranaos and then Tausog of Sulu.

The amount was part of the P100 million initial budget earmarked for the BTC to cover administrative and operation expenses from March 15, this year when the 15-man commissioners were appointed by President Benigno Aquino III.

BTC Executive Director, who requested not be named yet, told Luwaran that he personally thanked at least two cabinet secretaries, Teresita “Ging” Deles and Butch Abad for their help in making the fund available for the BTC, which had met thrice, first by government expenses and the other two shouldered by the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue (CHD).

He also thanked three personnel under Secretary Deles of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) who helped the BTC personnel in the entire process namely, Antonio Florida, Louie Montalbo, Rosalie Romero and their entire staff.

He disclosed that another meeting of the BTC would be scheduled right after the meeting in Kuala Lumpur from July 8-11. The parties would discuss the three annexes (power-sharing, wealth-sharing, and normalization) which have been a nightmare for the last one year since July last year.

When asked for the immediate next release of the remaining budget, he said, “We are now starting to figure out our next move especially if the parties sign the three sticky points in the talks.”

BRP Ramon Alcaraz to arrive in Hawaii this weekend

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 11): BRP Ramon Alcaraz to arrive in Hawaii this weekend

BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16), the second Hamilton-class cutter in Philippine service, will be arriving in Hawaii this weekend.

"She will be arriving in Hawaii this weekend for its second stop over. She will be there for re-provisioning, re-supply and re-fueling," Philippine Navy spokesperson, Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic, said.

He added that the voyage to Hawaii has been going smoothly and perfectly.

"All her systems are functioning perfectly so far," Fabic stressed.

The BRP Ramon Alcaraz left San Diego, California for its Hawaii port call Saturday morning (Philippine time).

The Filipino frigate docked at San Diego, California for re-fueling and re-provisioning last June 28.

Hawaii is the second port call the Filipino frigate will make as it cruises back to the Philippines.

She is expected to be in the country by first week ofAugust and in commission by September.

BRP Ramon Alcaraz successfully concluded her Panama Canal crossing last June 18.

With this achievement, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz becomes the first Filipino warship to cross the historic waterway under her own power.

The Philippine frigate departed Charleston, South Carolina last June 10.

Prior her arrival at the Panama Canal Zone, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz made a brief stopover at Mayport, Florida to successfully test fire her 76-mm Oto Melara automatic cannon and speed trials attained at 25 knots without any difficulty.

The ship's top speed is placed between 29 to 31 knots.

On July 2, Concepcion D. Alcaraz, the widow of Filipino naval hero Commodore Ramon Alcaraz, visited the BRP Ramon Alcaraz, the namesake ship of her husband, during its port call in San Diego, California.

During her visit, Mrs. Alcaraz signed copies of the book "Mrs. Alcaraz, A Biography" and "Commodore Alcaraz; First Victim of President Marcos".

She was accompanied by granddaughter Hailey Marshall and daughters Ramona and Efigenia in their short tour of the Filipino frigate.

Consul General Maria Hellen De La Vega and the Filipino-American community in California also visited the BRP Alcaraz in July 1.

Commodore Alcaraz gained distinction in World War II by shooting down three Japanese Zero fighters who tried to attack his ship, Abra (Q-112), during the first months of the war.

BIFF attacks out to derail peace talks with MILF -- AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 11): BIFF attacks out to derail peace talks with MILF -- AFP

With the series of attacks against soft military and civilian targets in North Cotabato and Maguindanao, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday announced that this only demonstrates the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF's) scheme to derail the ongoing peace talks with the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

"We suspect that BIFF forces that recently (perpetuated) a bomb explosion in a restaurant in North Cotabato (is out) to derail our current peace negotiations with the MILF," AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said.

One person was killed while four other were injured in that attack.

Due to this development, Zagala added that government forces will always be on alert to prevent a repeat of similar incidents.

"Of course we also have to face the reality that they are determined to do such actions so vigilance should not only be with government forces but also the people to help us in order to prevent any more violent incidents such as this," he stated.

Zagala also pointed out that ongoing peacekeeping operations by the government forces against the BIFF will not affect the ongoing Ramadan commemorations.

Roxas downplays rift between PMA and PNPA grads in PNP

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 11): Roxas downplays rift between PMA and PNPA grads in PNP
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Manuel Roxas II on Thursday downplayed the reported rift between graduates of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) and the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) serving in the PNP.

Roxas said that during his seven-month stint as DILG chief, who has direct supervision over the PNP, he has not felt any “friction” among officers coming from the PMA and PNPA.

Instead of sowing conflict among officers within the 140,000-strong PNP, Roxas called for cooperation in the ranks.

”I have not felt any rift. What is better is to strengthen the areas of cooperation and clarity in the issuance of orders so that there will be no peer system between PMA and PNPA,” said Roxas.

Earlier reports showed that there is an ongoing study on the possible re-entry into the PNP ranks of graduates of the PMA, the country’s premiere military school. The move was spearheaded by the PMA Alumni Association Inc.

Since the PNP Law was enacted in 1992, the PMA has stopped sending graduates to the PNP. The PNPA became the main source of commissioned officers of the PNP.

The PNP leadership admitted there is a technical working group looking seriously into the matter.

Roxas said that he himself will thorough study the idea.

”I will study it first. I think we should look at it first. The law is clear that (officers of the PNP) must come from PNPA, which is civilian,” said Roxas.

AFP sustains momentum against rebels

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 11): AFP sustains momentum against rebels

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday announced that it has sustained momentum against the New People's Army (NPA) for the first six months of 2013.

Military-initiated engagements from January to June this year increased by 38 at 350 compared to the 312 recorded from the same period last year.

From this figure, the Eastern Mindanao Command recorded the most engagements with 252 as compared to 207 from last year’s first semester.

AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said these figures are considerably higher than the NPA-initiated violent incidents recorded at 173 from January to June this year, although they have conducted 11 incidents higher than from the same period last year.

He added that the number of apprehended NPAs is also significantly higher this year at 99, as compared to 50 from the first semester of 2012.

Zagala also pointed out that the AFP’s alleged mission-related human rights violations (HRVs) have declined since the implementation of IPSP "Bayanihan" in 2010.

In the first semester of 2013, the AFP posted seven alleged HRVs, an optimistic figure compared to 22 of 2012; 37 of 2011; and 51 of 2010.

There are a total of 164 HRV cases since 2010 including cases that are personal in nature.

Out of these, 47 were resolved and were submitted for listing in the Commission on Human Rights, while 117 are pending resolution or for further investigation.

Recent developments in the national effort to address human rights violations in the country also prove that the government is serious in stopping abuses.

Just last April, the Interagency Committee headed by the Department of Justice signed and approved its operational guidelines.

At the same time, the Technical Working Group also compiled the 101 priority human rights cases that are under investigation or are on trial.

Zagala said the AFP Human Rights Office’ efforts in inculcating the principles of Human Rights, International Humanitarian Laws, and the Rule of Law among soldiers are also ongoing through various trainings, workshops, advocacy campaigns, and information dissemination held at all levels of the military organization.

The AFP is expected to maintain its control on the momentum of internal security operations in 2013 through human rights-based focused military operations targeting the NPAs.

"The AFP will continue to implement a multi-faceted approach to address the root causes of insurgency in support to the agenda of the government for national development," Zagala concluded.

Military official welcomes the surrender of Comval top rebel leader

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 11): Military official welcomes the surrender of Comval top rebel leader

EASTERN MINDANAO COMMAND, Camp Panacan -- The military welcomed the surrender of a top rebel leader who used to operate in the municipalities of Compostela Valley Province to the 25th Infantry Battalion under the 10th Infantry Division Tuesday.

Major General Ricardo G Rainier Cruz III, commander of EastMinCom, said that surrender of Narciso Pulbos-Ruben, also known as "Joan", "Judy" and "Dodo" only proved the effectiveness of the peace and development outreach program.

He encouraged other rebels to go back to the society's mainstream like Ruben. “Please take advantage of the government's integration program. It will provide you an opportunity to return back to your families and communities through the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) of the government and together we shall solve our problems the peaceful way,” Cruz said.

He said the more than 40 years of armed struggle have not solved the problems of the society and even bring more senseless deaths and miseries to thousands of Filipinos, consequently destroying the future of many Filipino youth.

Cruz urged the rebels who want to follow Ruben to actively support the program of government to peacefully resolve all armed conflicts in the country.

He said the action of Ruben is unprecedented in Mindanao being the first top rebel leader to surrender to the authorities with the rank as party secretary.

Cruz assured that Ruben Narciso will undergo a process where he can avail the livelihood under the CLIP of the government and will receive cash remuneration for the surrendered firearm under the AFP Guns for Peace Program.

Cruz and Major General Ariel Bernardo, commander of the 10th ID led other officers of the military in presenting Ruben to Army chief Lt. General Noel Coballes and to the public Wednesday following the regular meeting of the Philippine Army Multi-Sector Advisory Board in a hotel here.

Coballes lauded the troops for the latest achievement and also credited the effectivity of the PDOP in encouraging more rebels to surrender.

“Ruben’s surrender only shows, that the Philippine Army is doing the right approach in dealing with the insurgency problem,” he said.

Captain Severino David, deputy commander and spokesperson of the Eastern Mindanao Command said Ruben yielded a .357 caliber revolver during his surrender.

He said Ruben bared during initial investigation the extent of his involvement in the armed movement.

“Ruben joined the New People’s Army in 1997 and held various positions such as member of the Samahang Yunit Propaganda, team leader of a medical staff, political lecturer of the Pulang Bagani Command 5 until he was elevated to the position as front secretary of the front committee 34 operating in the areas of Compostela Valley,” he said.

In a separate interview, Ruben said the hardships of the life on the run and the broken promises and disappointments in the rebel organization forced him to change perspective and returned back to the folds of the law through the peace and development team of the 25th IB.

He wished to be given the chance to live a normal life with his family.

Records from the EastMinCom revealed that a total of 123 communist rebels surrendered to government from January up to the present, this year.

NPAs released abducted village councilman

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 11): NPAs released abducted village councilman

The village councilman who was abducted and held for more than a week by rebel armed group was released 6:00 p.m. Wednesday at a remote village of Loreto town in Agusan del Sur, as confirmed by military, tribal chiefs and the municipal crisis management committee head.

The release of village councilman Edgar Bantuasan was confirmed by both Maj. Judith B. Loayon, Civil Military Operations officer of the 401st Brigade, Philippine Army and Tribal chief Marcos Gonzales,(Datu Makahinlo Gubat) one of the tribal chieftains who had helped in the negotiations for his release. Datu Gubat said Bantuasan is now with his family at Brgy. Sta. Teresa in Loreto town, but he will be brought for medical check -up or treatment at a local hospital here in the city as instructed by Loreto Mayor Dario Otaza.

In a local radio interview Thursday morning, Mayor Dario Otaza also confirmed Bantuasan’s release last night. Otaza said on the same interview that there was no payment made whatsoever as far as the crisis management committee is concerned in connection of the victim’s release.

Tribal chieftain Gonzales said that there were about 20 tribal chieftains from their area who had helped in the negotiations in Bantuasan’s successful release at Brgy. Johnson, Loreto in Agusan del Sur Wednesday evening.

Albay mediamen feel disgusted over Bicol police chief’s handling of presscon on ex-NPA rebel

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 11): Albay mediamen feel disgusted over Bicol police chief’s handling of presscon on ex-NPA rebel

Media practitioners in Albay have expressed disgust over the way the top police official in Bicol handled the press conference on the surrender of an alleged New People’s Army rebel operating in Donsol.

They also want an investigation into the alleged surrender of Merjel O. Nebria alias Ka Joy, reportedly vice commanding officer of the NPA Larangan No. 2 operating in Donsol, Sorsogon, as they said they doubt the information they got from him and the police.

The Celso Minguez Command of the NPA operating in Sorsogon on Wednesday came out with a statement denying that Nebria was their member.

The Philippine National Police regional office here presented Nebria to the media Tuesday afternoon.

Chief Supt. Clarence Guinto, Bicol Regional Police Office director, said Nebria’s surrender was arranged by Sr. Insp. Jim Vargas Jeremias, Donsol police chief.

Jeremias claimed it took him seven months of negotiations before he was able to convince Nebria to surrender with his .357 magnum revolver.

He said Nebria, 41, had been with the revolutionary movement for 18 years.

The surrender of Nebria came after eight NPA guerrillas were killed in an ambush in a remote village in Juban, Sorsogon, on July 4.

Among the casualties were Ka Greg Bañares, the popular NPA-National Democratic Front spokesman in the Bicol region, and his wife.

The other prominent casualty was another NPA leader identified as Ramir Anonuevo, alias ka Nene, a member of the NPA Special Operations Group.

Ka Nene has been linked by the police in the killing of labor leader and Alex Boncayao Brigade chief Popoy Lagman in 1981 inside the University of the Philippines-Diliman campus, and the killing of former NPA chief Romulo Kintanar in 2003 at a Quezon City restaurant.

During the press conference at the PNP regional headquarters at Camp Gen. Simeon Ola here, Guinto presented Nebria as a high-ranking NPA official who voluntarily surrendered because of the failed promises of the underground movement’s top leadership.

The media men present asked permission to interrogate Nebria and Guinto obliged.

Guinto, however, would interrupt questions from media men seeking even simple information, on the excuse these might incriminate Nebria.

He did not even hide his displeasure against the media for asking questions that he did not like.

When a radio reporter asked Nebria if he knew the slain Ka Greg Bañares, the alleged former NPA member answered “no.”

When a follow-up question on why he could not recognize Ka Greg when he had been 18 years in the underground movement and holding the position of a vice commanding officer, the interrogator was cut short by Guinto, saying Ka Joy was only Grade 4 and should not be interrogated that way.

Once in a while, Guinto would ask Nebria not to be intimidated by the media members as “they are intelligent and educated,” which the media men present felt as an indirect insult.

One reporter asked the the Donsol police chief about Nebria’s occupation when he joined the NPA at age 23, as a backgrounder, Guinto suddenly interrupted the question, telling the media man not to belittle Nebria.

“I know you media men are graduates and educated while Ka Joy was an elementary dropout, but don’t belittle him,” Guinto was quoted as saying.

What puzzled the media men present was why would a 41-year-old former vice commanding officer of the NPA and was with the underground movement for 18 years operating in Sorsogon would not recognize Bañares as the NDF spokesman for many years in the region.

Another media man asked Nebria as to what forced him to join the underground at age 23 and what prompted him to surrender, but again the PNP regional commander commented that “Ka Joy does not deserve to be interrogated that way.”

Rose Olarte-Orbita of ABS-CBN dzMM Radio said, “I was hurt when Guinto censured my questions, followed by an admonition from him.”

Mar Arguelles of the Inquirer asked Guinto not to be offended by their questions, explaining “editors would also ask the same questions to us when we file our story.”

But the PNP Bicol chief appeared unconvinced.

“We waited for one hour for the scheduled press conference and yet we got a shabby treatment from Guinto,” said a disgusted Rhaydz Barcia of the Manila Times.

Media practitioners, including members of the Bicol Correspondents League and the Albay-Legazpi Press Association, Inc., said they would prepare a resolution expressing disgust and disappointment over the perceived arrogance of Guinto during the press conference, saying the regional director cannot even stop illegal gambling in the region.

N. Samar officials briefed on PAMANA projects

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 11): N. Samar officials briefed on PAMANA projects
CATARMAN, Northern Samar -- Provincial officials of Northern Samar were briefed on the Mainstreaming Peace and Development in Local Governance Program (MPDLG) component of “Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan” or PAMANA projects in the province on Tuesday.

Officials headed by the new Governor Jun L. Ong of Northern Samar has also been oriented by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) about the previous and ongoing implementation of the OPAPP-funded projects in the province.

Imelda Bonifacio, Samar Area Manager of OPAPP, said the national government has earmarked a huge amount to help address the root causes of insurgency in Samar provinces particularly those conflict-affected areas.

Bonifacio added that Samar Island, to include Ong’s province, which is considered by the government as among the most vulnerable to the rebels, is one of the seven zones covered by the PAMANA program of OPAPP and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

In Northern Samar, there were four municipalities covered by the programs – the towns of Las Navas, San Roque, Silvino Lobos and Lope de Vega.

At the moment, Bonifacio informed that OPAPP has already downloaded around P424.5 million worth of infrastructure projects in Northern Samar under Pillar 3.

The OPAPP official in Samar reported that several million worth of road projects under the 2011 and 2012 PAMANA-OPAPP-DILG funded projects has already been completed and now being utilized by the community folks.

Ongoing road projects, according to Bonifacio, include the construction of 50-meter span bridge in Barangay Cagpanit-an and concreting of a section of the road stretch from Cagpanit-an to Silvino Lobos town.

The worth of the project is said to be around P195.5 million, she said.

Other ongoing projects are the concreting of a section of the Mondragon-Silvino Lubos road network worth P15 million, road network construction of Mondragon-Silvino roads worth P100 million and the P84-M rehabilitation/improvement of Silvino Lubos – Lope de Vega roads.

Started in Northern Samar and Samar in 2011, PAMANA is the national government’s peace and development program framework that seeks to build peaceful and resilient communities, by improving their lives by ensuring that the people benefit from better delivery of basic services.

Bonifacio explained further that a project agreed upon by the provinces’ respective development councils as well as peace and order councils, with participation of civil society groups would be submitted to DILG in the form of Project Proposals for evaluation.

“LGUs with Good Housekeeping Seals are given priority,” Bonifacio added.

When asked on how they will check if funds are spent for their intended purpose, the OPAPP official said: “A project monitoring team set up by the LGU and DILG regularly checks the projects.”